On gray, windy and cold days like this in Los Angeles I think about blowing up buildings, running for president, rescuing all the animals that sit on death row at the local humanitarian purgatory, that some call by their more commonly known misnomers, shelters, and organizing elementary school children for an insurrection (they are the ones most negatively affected in society’s hierarchical web; why aren’t there armies of little kids patrolling the school ground, monitoring the staff, demanding the most up-to-date resources, demanding teachers impart the wisdom of pessimism, the philosophy of skepticism, the art of war).
Once upon a time there was public education in the U.S., or so I am told. But it’s always felt more like a factory job for the underage, a place where the valuable skills of trading time and labor for compensation in the form of grades, symbols, numbers, shit things that are ascribed meaning by the ruling powers (we call them The Administration). We come out ready for a lifelong commitment of deadness, a career of wage slavery and spiritual numbness.
But in my better moods I read poetry. And the type of poetry that matters is as follows.
The Editor of Poetry, the eater of worlds
Advice to the Fifteen Year Old with the Patchy Beard
By Zach Fishel
Keep growing it.
The yellow stains of cigarette butts
Are prettier than the splatters of your soul.
Wear old clothes,
They illustrate how much of everyone else you carry.
When she says forever,
She is leaving on a Sunday.
Honesty is the only poetry and big
Words cant hide you from it.
It’s ok that strangers will send you Christmas cards.
Nobody is worth the light in your eyes.
There will come a point when you feel like a
Nutcracker without a jaw,
Your brother’s will help you put the gun
Never move in or let someone
Move in on you because
They always leave.
Beer, broads, Bukowski, bourbon, bbq, breasts, bourbon, Baudelaire,
Coffee, cigarettes, cheap wine, candles, change, crawfish, cunt,
They are all B or C words, and the only good things
Stay away form the alphabet.
Keep numbers you don’t want so you
Never have to take phone calls that you don’t need.
Every girl is a regret, but they will lead you to one
That is worth it.
Write your blood on the walls of every city,
Guard rail and town.
Stop thinking you suck.
You’re better than anyone will ever know.
Even if you will never be full,
Your beard will be.
Bio: Zach Fishel is currently attending the Univ. of Toledo for a M.A. in Literature. He is an editor at Literary Lunchbox and a recent pushcart nominee. His work has appeared in The Legendary, Yes, Poetry, Amphibi, Madswirl, Earthspeak, horrorsleazeandtrash, fourpaperletters, and many others. When he isn’t pretending to play mandolin or getting tattoos, he teaches other people how to tell the temperature by a crickets chirps.
By Robert Laughlin
Walt Whitman sang “The shapes arise!”
Aspiring to unite us.
The shape of our republic now
Would give him laryngitis.
Bio: Robert Laughlin lives in Chico, California. He has published 100 short stories and 200 poems; his website is at www.pw.org/content/robert_laughlin.
By Joseph M. Gant
in the land of the free,
home of the brave
cancer ate her bones away.
too much of this is true.
as evolution, gone awry— cells
that leeched to sacred marrow,
doctors drained her savings,
while accountants tallied down her days
in the land of the free
the home of the brave
and capital trust
in medical saviors.
treatments of the highest degree;
dollars in the face of dark progression
draining all that could not end
until she did. broke and full
of blackened toil, eaten now and dead forever;
the land of the free—
the home of the ghouls.
Bio: Joseph M. Gant is the author of Zero Division, a massive poetry collection published by Rebel Satori Press. He edits poetry books for S A M Publishing and feeds potato chips to his cat.
It’s Not Insomnia
By Josh Gaines
“It’s not insomnia
That’s keeping you awake.”
Shaking his head
With two fingers
On the pulse wrist
“You’re just dead
And didn’t know it.
There’s nothing we can do”
The doctor wrote down
A time of death.
He rounded up
Like it didn’t matter.
“You’re dead,” he said
“It doesn’t matter.”
“But I just feel tired!” I said.
“Give it time,” he said
“You’ll come around.”
I walked out
With a certificate of death
And a prescription
That I couldn’t read.
I wondered what it was.
At home, my dog
And my wife were missing,
Like somehow, everyone knew
I had died.
People apologized to me
Or cried or drank to my memory,
But the bar wouldn’t serve me
“Look I can pay you in two days!” I said.
“You’re dead,” they said
“Your credit is no good here.”
I had to move some place
Where no one knew me,
Where no one could tell.
I started wearing all warm colors
Even in winter.
I started picking dead people
Out of crowds.
I found where all the dead people
Go to hang out;
I can’t tell you where it is
If you were dead
You’d just know.
I cashed in my own
Life insurance policy,
No one said a thing
Just stamped the forms
And shook their heads.
When I slept,
I dreamed of being alive.
I filled the prescription
But the pills didn’t seem to DO anything.
I called my doctor
And he refused to talk to me.
They said he’d taken it real hard,
Gave me a number to call
For an embalmer,
Who was also dead.
His office sent a refill script
To me in the mail—
The note with it said, “We’re sorry for your loss”.
Bio: Josh Gaines is an Oklahoma poet currently attending the MFA Writing program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Indentation of Something
By David Mac
Add to the darkness
the long stirring,
the bitter landscape.
Add the screaming rain.
to twist in the dust.
Don’t look back
on your feet,
are my shoes big enough?
are my balls?
am I prepared
for what’s going down here?
Drinking will soften the blow,
it will make it
not so tough.
This is the world and you have
to make an impression,
leave an imprint,
You have to change
if it’s worth it,
By Jennifer Givhan
I watched my son’s birthmother labor the night, kept time
by the beat of his heart. When she turned left-side-over in bed,
his heart slowed. The baseline dipped each time she moved.
My world lapsed, seconds lost in a thump. My husband and I
huddled like cats; her mother slept fits in the recliner.
If God exists, he exists in the capacity to wait.
In lace-up, low-top Converse, my son
clomps hard wet dirt alongside the Rio Grande, with pitch-
forked stalk he saved from a dried wildflower (it was “wild”),
scrapes dead nopales beds, lingers on the “dead” part,
says he had a cactus once, though I know of none.
When I ask him where it went, he says it died.
Today as every day he repeats,
I love you mama
Don’t say bad words, mama.
You miss your tía, don’t you, mama?
The baby fusses. He tells her
It’s all right sister.
Some nights, he sings me to sleep.
By Jenny Catlin
Stuck on the train with Bag Man again.
Just what the sentence of a long night needs.
Punctuation stink and empty Ralphs bags. Chapped skin.
Hard to judge psychosis by its cover,
Bag Man knows I keep a regretful eye on him.
He is one gold tooth winking at me with the aid of a thick wet tongue
missing fingers constantly readjusting bags.
The bags around his ankles
The one around his neck, like part of a Zorro costume.
Rustling obscenely at every stop, he hails-one dirty fist in the air
Normandy, Vermont, Western.
He plastic crumples, so many activists and college photography projects.
Always too near on the empty car,
leering stench and prophecies my way.
Calistoga Mud Bath
By Brett Peruzzi
Covered to my neck
in a pool of hot mud
winter seeps from my bones.
Encased in a mix
of peat, clay,
and volcanic ash,
I feel a part
of the earth itself.
There is no feeling
of being dirty,
but rather more purified
than water can achieve.
I tip my head back,
close my eyes,
and savor the weight
in this viscous bed.
Like a weed
warmed by spring soil
I will not leave
until I am
Bio: Brett Peruzzi writes, plays blues harmonica, and agitates for causes he believes in, in Framingham, Massachusetts. His poetry and prose has previously appeared in Exquisite Corpse, Sahara, Pine Island Journal, and other publications. He is currently working on a book-length memoir.
WITHOUT SEEING THE SUN
By Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal
I went a month without seeing the sun.
I went a month without eating meat.
I would only drink water and milk.
I was sober for two weeks and a day.
I was able to take a day off sleeping.
I tried to put an end to my nightmares.
I took my pills religiously for two weeks.
I gave my wife a week off cooking.
I gave her money to go on vacation.
I told her to pretend we were not married.
I told her it was a mistake to waste
her life being with me. I begged her
to find meaning in her life.