Cracked by Edward Lee

CRACKED

Who hasn’t,

at least once in their life,

looked in a cracked mirror,

only to realise

the mirror is smooth,

their hand already in motion

to touch the cracks

before noticing the truth,

before seeing their face fall

from sight, the vision of their eyes

the last thing to go, the shock

on their face remaining in the air

like a shimmer of heat

of a hot summer’s day?

Edward Lee’s poetry, short stories, non-fiction and photography have been published in magazines in Ireland, England and America, including The Stinging Fly, Skylight 47, Acumen and Smiths Knoll.  His play ‘Wall’ was part of Druid Theatre’s Druid Debuts 2020. His debut poetry collection “Playing Poohsticks On Ha’Penny Bridge” was published in 2010. He is currently working towards a second collection.

He also makes musical noise under the names Ayahuasca Collective, Lewis Milne, Orson Carroll, Blinded Architect, Lego Figures Fighting, and Pale Blond Boy.

Find him on Twitter:  @edwardleewriter

His blog/website can be found at https://edwardmlee.wordpress.com

Dirty Joke by Kristin Garth

A dirty joke before you understood,

Genetics predestined a young girl who 

Wanted to be good to forfeit childhood 

To the first man you ever knew. 

By elementary school, bend over 

Or reach for ploys, paper airplanes, one 

Boy who beseeched your lips to hover, 

Part for a succession of classmates’ tongues.  

You heard the snide whispers about yourself 

Young

Stung in the cafeteria

Dill pickle betwixt virgin lips

By stealth 

Little snickers

Scurrilous quips

The site of you always seemed to provoke

You were never as dirty as their jokes

Kristin Garth is a Pushcart, Rhysling nominated sonneteer and a Best of the Net 2020 finalist.  Her sonnets have stalked journals like Glass, Yes, Five:2:One, Luna Luna and more. She is the author of 20 books of poetry including Candy Cigarette Womanchild Noir (Hedgehog Poetry Press), Flutter Southern Gothic Fever Dream (TwistiT Press), and Girlarium (Fahmidan Journal).  She is the founder of Pink Plastic House a tiny journal and co-founder of Performance Anxiety, an online poetry reading series. Follow her on Twitter:  (@lolaandjolie) and her website kristingarth.com

Three Poems by James Lilley

“The Long Drop”

He took the long drop

In the morning in May ‘58

Twelve people watching

Chaplain whispered did

About confession

But he wasn’t sure what was going on

Through the gates

You can see golden sands

Sun rise over the bay

Did he see the ocean before

He swung

“Forty Five”

Andy was twenty nine,

Lived with his Ma

Walked home from work

Just a few blocks

Until a group kids started

Hanging

On the corner.

They spar names

And threw empty

Beer cans,

Flicking cig butts

Still smouldering

Oldest was about fifteen,

He started taking

The long way home

Even though it took an extra

Forty five

One day his mother

Tripped and fell

Laying dying on their vinyl floor.

He was too late

So he walked his old route

With the weight of

A 21oz Glock

In his  pocket

He got off a guy in work

When the kids came

He emptied the clip

This is for you ma.

He didn’t hit a soul

Now he’s serving twelve.

“Back of Class”

She used  to pass

Me notes under tables

At back of class

She showed me how to kiss

And roll a joint

I let her paint my nails

Black once 

To match hers

She cried when she showed

Me the scars

On her legs

James Lilley, 34, Father of three. Working as an Arcade and Casino Engineer, has been writing for year but the 2020 lockdown saw him submit and have published his first work. Has had numerous works published to date and was named Versifications Punk of the Year 2020 and has secured a deal with Close to The Bone to have his poetry collection The Blue Hour published in Jan 2021. James is a retired professional boxer and active MMA and Bareknuckle fighter.  Find him on Twitter  @jameslilley1411

All Of Which…

In amongst

the hood rats

loose gats

prison tats

back to a life

on the wrong side

of the cracks

gotta get paid

any way you can

laid off

cut loose

your American dream

vamoosed

swirling the gutter

diving back down

at first sight

of crumpled dollar signs

doped up smiles

for watered down vials

wrong avenue

wrong time of day

roaming any territory

no guts, no glory

no gang ink

just a white boy

scrabbling

to put dinner

on the plates

unlikely

to end great

we all know

which pandemic

goin’ to end first

only question

you gonna

take the time

to read the rules?

Scott Cumming never considered himself to be a writer until recently, but turns out he has some stuff to say. He has been published at The Daily Drunk, Punk Noir Magazine, Bristol Noir, Fevers of the Mind, Versification, Close to the Bone and Shotgun Honey (upcoming). Catch up with all his misdemeanours on Twitter @tummidge

Like A Rolling Stone

the family patriarch sat

at the head of the table

presiding over the

Thanksgiving festivities

he carved the turkey

he said the prayer but

didn’t believe in it

and when the subject of

his thrice-divorced grandson

the wayward black sheep

and his bastard children

came up (in hushed tones)

the old man laughed

like a velvet thunderclap

“that Joey’s a rolling stone,”

he said. “ain’t no moss gonna grow on his balls.”

J. Archer Avary is a chameleon, a product of his environment, a restless wanderer. In past lives he was a TV weatherman, punk rock drummer, champion lionfish hunter, ocean conservationist. At age 44, he still doesn’t know what he wants to be when he grows up. Maybe a poet?

J. Archer Avary was born in Albuquerque, NM. He left the United States in 2014 and now lives on a tiny island in the English Channel. 

Find him on Twitter: @j_archer_avary

Two Poems by Wayne Jermin

That’s All Her Life Was Worth

They came through the kitchen door

She didn’t stand a chance

She was cooking my favorite meal 

Waiting for me to return home from work

One quick blow to the head 

Is all it took

Her precious life stolen by opportunists

Junkies looking for their next hit

I found her lifeless on the tiles

Eyes open

Hair soaked in blood

The only comfort I take is that she didn’t feel a thing

All they took was some jewelry and petty cash

Just enough for weeks worth of brown

That’s it 

That’s all her life was worth. 

Anxiety!

Heart racing like beating bass drum

Chest tight like hangman’s noose

Beads of sweat race from my forehead

Gasping for breath like drowning waters

No warnings, no reasons and no contrast

Anxiety is a right bitch!

Find Wayne Jermin on Twitter   @waynejermin

Three Poems by J Travis Grundon

TRIGGERMAN

No Women

No children

No witnesses

For God’s sake

Never kill

A Priest

ONCE MORE, WITH FEELING

Gimme shelter

And forgive me

I’ve done it again

Please, forgive me

I fucked up

Will you let me in?

WEDNESDAY’S GONE

Wednesday morning

Wake and bake

I read the news

Wednesday’s gone

Lit like a match

I watch her burn

J. Travis Grundon is the author of more than 500 short stories, including crime fiction published with Alien Buddha Zine, EconoClash Review, First City Books, and many other anthologies and publications. He is the editor of Hoosier Noir Magazine and several anthologies, including Forrest J Ackerman’s Anthology of the Living Dead. His other work includes two years as an editor and columnist for Rudo Can’t Fail: Lucha Libre and Lucha Culture Worldwide and reviews for Life Along The Wabash. He lives in Indiana. Find him on Twitter    @JTravisGrundon

http://www.jtravisgrundon.blogspot.com

I Had A Home

I have spent years at the bottom

Circling the dead moments like a fly

Emptying my guts in the alleyway I call home

Sleeping rough and not soundly under paper-thin rags

I had a home

Not a monumental palace or manor

A humble room with my blood on the walls

With horror books on the shelves and smoke surrounding

The glass of cheap wine

That weakened my stomach

And rallied home a hangover from the depths of burning hell.

I loved it

Being an independent drunk

I was forever lonely

In isolation

Though I hated silence

I adored the atmosphere I created on my own

And the punk music that raucously battered through the speakers

And woke up the sinister ghosts and neighbours who lived monotonous lives

Back to present day

Where clarity has no answers

And my blurry eyes only see bottle labels

And the bleakness of modern America

I have made no friends

Seen no light

Not dreamt in years

And my existence seems to be awfully flawed

I made it that way

Though, dazzling no one,

And catering for my own dark destiny

The closing line at my funeral

If anyone attends

Should state that I was a man with irrational thoughts

And feelings which were altered by misery and the hand that was dealt

Mark McConville is a freelance music journalist. He also likes to write dark fiction. His poetry chapbook will be released by Close To The Bone in September 2021. 

Find him on Twitter  @Writer1990Mark

Poems by Stephen J. Golds

On That Early Morning Street 

Hot piss seeped dark into the grit 

making shapes, 

hard cases squealing like the children 

they were 

about who would open 

the bloodied, unconscious drunk’s 

damp billfold.

No one wanted piss on their hands, 

the blood was all right. 

The blood on our fists was something 

to be measured and compared 

as though it were the size of our pricks. 

Rehab

Too many relapses, interlude cold turkey. 

Weight lost, stomach cramps, 

the shits and the shakes. Hearing 

voices where there are none. Mental

movies on repeat, the screen 

holding you there, 

a detox 

most painful. 

Jane Doe 

Found off the Redwood Highway. Oregon.

Pink and beige checkered coat 

rotted through. 

Size 8 and a half 

tennis shoes.

One braided ring with a mother of Pearl stone and 

38 cents in change. 

A map of recreational sites in 

California in her purse. 

Killed and dumped 

so far away from where she was going. 

All that remained of her 

so little not stolen. 

 The Thing That Stood in Hemingway’s Kitchen 

I can’t seem to shake it off.

It clings to me, wrapping itself around my eyes, my tongue, my throat, 

sprouts from cracks in concrete on the street outside.

Taste it in mouthfuls of food and on the lips of lovers. 

Hear it in between the rain drops and in the barks of the dogs 

in the apartment on the first floor. 

See it written on cereal boxes and in the 

Faces of people waiting in subways stations and convenience stores. 

Crooked little shapes in the center of a too yellow sun. 

Standing featureless in corners of rooms too large or too small 

in the middle of fever dream nights. 

A bruise that spreads, unhealing, dripping on floors, seeping into walls. 

Speechless at the end of telephone lines. 

Hunger, thirst, want, compulsion, addictions and it. 

Ask me how I feel and I’ll nod my head and say okay because to give it words 

Is to give it breath and organs and nails and 

those fucking canine teeth. 

Stephen J. Golds was born in London, U.K, but has lived in Japan for most of his adult life. He enjoys spending time with his daughters, reading books, traveling, boxing and listening to old Soul LPs. His novels are  Say Goodbye When I’m Gone (Red Dog Press) Always the Dead (Close to the Bone) Poems for Ghosts in Empty Tenement Windows and the story and poetry collection Love Like Bleeding Out With an Empty Gun in Your Hand. He is also current Poetry Editor of Close to the Bone @scatterofashes .  Find him on Twitter  @SteveGone58

Boredom

The phone isn’t charged
I left my books at my Dad’s house
and my girlfriend makes her statement
then shuts the door

Nothing to do but think:


Convoys bring their world leaders:

Regan loved Jelly Beans
My Dad was born the same year JFK died
My Dad waved to Nixon in the 70s
Churchill like champagne for dessert

And the Queen was a mechanic during WW2

Convoys bring their pharmacists:

Marijuana
Cocaine
Klonopin
Valium
Ativan
Hash
Codiene
Tramadol
Vyvanse

Convoys bring their religious leaders:

A young Muslim boy reading the Quran

A young Muslim boy reading the bible

A young Christian boy reading the bible

A young, weak Christian boy reading the bible

An older atheist reading Whiskey labels

Convoys bring their families:

With Mom and Dad for seven

With Mom for five and see Dad once in a while

With Dad for eight and see Mom once in a while

With Dad for the rest of it and Mom is nowhere to be found

The phone reaches 50%

and I can finally stop thinking

Rami Obeid is a poet from Toronto, Ontario, Canada and is a staff member for Versification Zine. He has been published in numerous online and print publications. His chapbook “Marooned on the Shores of Malaise” is available from Whispering Wick. Follow him on twitter @obeid_ro