Cabin Fever

A poem by John Maurer


A snowcapped car crash
is idyllic in a morbid way
To see nature is still
something to be survived
despite all the property deeds
we don’t own this


The ecosystem will chew you up
and spit you back out as it has been doing
for billions of years to your earlier evolutionary stages
Corpses don’t own a thing and your assumption
that you won’t be one soon confuses me


I spend every moment of every day
astonished that I make it to the next breath
that my heart coincidentally keeps beating


John Maurer is a 26-year-old writer from Pittsburgh that writes fiction, poetry, and everything in-between, but his work always strives to portray that what is true is beautiful. He has been previously published in Claudius Speaks, The Bitchin’ Kitsch, Thought Catalog, and more than seventy others. @JohnPMaurer (johnpmaurer.com)

Empty Photo Album

A poem by John Maurer


Let the incense fall to ash until the religion does

See it as a hearth not a forest fire, from an arm’s length

Your enemy starts beating you as soon as you consider them an enemy

Once you forfeit the cranial square footage to them for squatters’ rights

_______________________________________

Second thoughts are like second children; mistakes

Another attempt at something you failed massively at before

At the risk and pain of others, in the name of narcissism 

No sacrifice makes up for ending a life or creating one

_______________________________________

Take only photos, leave no ancestors

Leave no survivor who is stronger than you

or accept that power isn’t beyond grasp

but not of worthwhile pursuit to hold


John Maurer is a 26-year-old writer from Pittsburgh that writes fiction, poetry, and everything in-between, but his work always strives to portray that what is true is beautiful. He has been previously published in Claudius Speaks, The Bitchin’ Kitsch, Thought Catalog, and more than seventy others. @JohnPMaurer (johnpmaurer.com)

The Mended Heart

A poem by Fred Pollack


A new technology allows them
by the thousands to go back and try
to warn their younger selves. But younger selves
are older selves, the classics of
one’s canon, their follies its heroic age.
Trust isn’t the problem: the visitors
bring their own Facebook pages,
instas, etc.; their hosts think
it’s cool to see
what happened to people they never
liked anyway. They don’t quite grasp
the horror of living
in familiar basements, never escaping;
they don’t expect to escape.
Meanwhile, confronting insults they
still use, as well as hallowed liquor cabinets
and amazingly cheap pills,
the visitors find themselves …
Gays get in bed with themselves.
Straights drool for, are revolted by,
or both, later versions
of lovers. Nothing works out.
No one returns. History loops
and stops, or perhaps more accurately
begins to correspond
to lack of historical awareness.

Trajectory

A poem by James Croal Jackson


I equate falsities with wheat; groves as tea-
leaves in lands of blue sun. I confuse distance
with fair weather– idols in my mind: the beach

or Joshua trees. Golden fields have I never tilled.
Toiled, yes, in my lugubrious way, driving through
vast swaths of America, pasteurized pastures often

teeming with cows. Thinking of scale, it is
impossible to be upset at mathematics. But
I do aim anger at trajectory. For years I had

my eyes closed, pointed at a spinning globe.
When I opened them, in Mom’s basement,
my feet were planted where I remembered.


James Croal Jackson (he/him) is a Filipino-American poet who works in film production. He has two chapbooks, Our Past Leaves (Kelsay Books, 2021) and The Frayed Edge of Memory (Writing Knights Press, 2017). He edits The Mantle Poetry from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Check out his website.

Same as It Ever Was

A poem by James Croal Jackson


I am reliving and reliving the remote
control buttons then buttons
in your bed, golden room of silk
and how many times did we drink
like that? Dropping beer after beer
at Zeno’s then groaning summer sleep
right after. What were we dreaming
about? The cat was snoring and
what an endless loop! Blinking
awake and wanting to crush
night back with aluminum eyelids


James Croal Jackson (he/him) is a Filipino-American poet who works in film production. He has two chapbooks, Our Past Leaves (Kelsay Books, 2021) and The Frayed Edge of Memory (Writing Knights Press, 2017). He edits The Mantle Poetry from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Check out his website.

At Glenstone

A poem by Fred Pollack


Can a palace be modern?
Palace frou-frou, modern machine.
In any case, the palace
can be seen from many points,
and sees more,
as from the hypothetical upper pool
above its fourth floor.
I keep forgetting how they made their money,

which doesn’t matter: art
is the whole; what buys it,
what motivates the purchase, part.
Cheers from Basquiat.
Rothko questioning the usual suspect.
The peace of Yves Klein.
He who believes he stands in front
is off to one side of the shrine.

Intermittent rain
on the paths, the new trees, the built hills
whose looming topiary hobbyhorse
and vast squat lattice
are worthy goals.
I saw my dearest at the end
of a hundred-foot-long granite naturally-
lit hallway as art.

When the trees grow up, the collectors
will see the pilgrims vanish, reappear.


Fred Pollack is the author of two book-length narrative poems, The Adventure (Story Line Press, 1986) and Happiness (Story Line Press, 1998), and two collections, A Poverty of Words (Prolific Press, 2015) and Landscape with Mutant (Smokestack Books, 2018). In print, Pollack’s work has appeared in Hudson Review, Southern Review, Salmagundi, Poetry Salzburg Review, Manhattan Review, Skidrow Penthouse, Main Street Rag, Miramar, Chicago Quarterly Review, The Fish Anthology (Ireland), Poetry Quarterly Review, Magma (UK), Neon (UK), Orbis (UK), and elsewhere. Online, his poems have appeared in Big Bridge, Diagram, BlazeVox, Mudlark, Occupoetry, Faircloth Review, Triggerfish, Big Pond Rumours (Canada), The Drunken Llama (2017), Misfit, and elsewhere.

Not a True Believer

A poem by David Lohrey


America is the only country in the world that doesn’t
maintain public toilets. Enclosed spaces invite indecency.
Even the homeless get horny. They defecate in the open
like monkeys in Delhi. The streets reek. Men and women strut
around like pigeons. Their depravity has gone viral.

Nobody objects to the Bushes (and their billions);
it is Nancy and her lust for fine China that draws rebuke.
We fear hunger. We can smell fear. Most would prefer
war to lust. Charles Manson was more highly regarded
than Timothy Leary.

You can’t blame a man like Obama who wants to be rich. What’s
50 million dollars between friends? After eight years in the White
House he is bidding for his own basketball team. Greed is not
unseemly. But we don’t like that man in the White House
who eats McDonald’s.

Whitman called for a poetry of exaltation. Brecht: a poetry of thought.
We got a poetry of despair, written by alcoholics and the lonely.
We’ve embraced the William Gaddis school of gigantism, like
Soviet architecture and aerial photographs of four-leaf clover
interchanges. Like elephant turds, they are impressive.

Construction has been funded, but nothing’s been set aside. 3000 public
schools were built in the 1930s, but there’s no money for upkeep.
Students tear pages from school books to wipe their asses. The pipes
on the 3 rd floor are plugged with Dante. The girls’ bathroom is
flooding. The Principal’s answer is to tell the students to stop reading.

Kirwood McMann head custodian at PS109 preaches every Sunday morning
at the Magnolia Street Church of Christ. He recites the oracles of woe as he
unloads 43 rolls of toilet paper from the trunk of his 7-year-old Cadillac Sedan
de Ville. When I complained to him about my filthy classroom, he looked
up and said, “Why you gotta say “filthy” when “dirty” will do?”

Rev. McMann tries many times to explain to me the ways of the world. “The
people,” he preaches, “have forgotten how to do right. This country is filled
with wealth taken by theft and violence. Sundays are too long. People can’t wait
to get back to cheating the helpless. And you say your floor is filthy. It is you,
you sir, who is filthy!”


David Lohrey’s plays have been produced in Switzerland, Croatia, and Lithuania. His poetry can be found in Otoliths (AUS), The Drunken Llama (US), Tuck Magazine (UK), Expanded Field Journal (Netherlands), and Dodging the Rain (Ireland). His fiction can be read online at Terror House, Storgy Magazine, and Literally Stories. David’s collection of poetry, MACHIAVELLI’S BACKYARD, was published by Sudden Denouement Publishers (Houston, 2017). He lives in Tokyo.

Twanging Voices

A poem by Fred Pollack


That little bald bisexual with an earring –
you know the one –
whose work will always be better than yours
until the destruction of the sun –

For him the theatrical metaphor
was useful, i.e., valid,
even liberating. Not for me.
If the play’s the thing, what’s the theme?
Does it have legs? Who are its backers?
If we took it on tour, would it pay?
Worrying thus, I perform for ghosts,
or like a ghost for a thin and musty
audience of reals.
Early and late I muff my lines.
Have little dramatic sense.
Enjoy a more primitive, declamatory form, and
yearn for solutions:

Hamlet rejects hallucinations.
Juliet says it won’t work.
Lear takes Cordelia’s point (or else
she bullshits him like her sisters).
Caesar gets word who the conspirators are;
his troops invade the Senate and arrest them.


Fred Pollack is the author of two book-length narrative poems, The Adventure (Story Line Press, 1986) and Happiness (Story Line Press, 1998), and two collections, A Poverty of Words (Prolific Press, 2015) and Landscape with Mutant (Smokestack Books, 2018). In print, Pollack’s work has appeared in Hudson Review, Southern Review, Salmagundi, Poetry Salzburg Review, Manhattan Review, Skidrow Penthouse, Main Street Rag, Miramar, Chicago Quarterly Review, The Fish Anthology (Ireland), Poetry Quarterly Review, Magma (UK), Neon (UK), Orbis (UK), and elsewhere. Online, his poems have appeared in Big Bridge, Diagram, BlazeVox, Mudlark, Occupoetry, Faircloth Review, Triggerfish, Big Pond Rumours (Canada), The Drunken Llama (2017), Misfit, and elsewhere.

Grievances for Descamisados

A poem by David Lohrey


I, too, am a passéiste. a passéiste am I, a believer in a Golden time.
There’s been no birth but I am suffering from post-partum depression.
Something’s been taken away. I do not have my eye on the next best thing.

I’m proud but not of myself. I’m not even proud to be an American.
So much has been done, although, nothing by me.
We’ll abolish all private property except our house.

I am a sampler of the exquisite, a witness, perhaps some would say an intruder.
I remain grateful. The tea is fine. I don’t care for much of the company.
My fantasy is to live in a Faulkner novel.

I have found a nice quiet table here at the club. If I am left alone, I will thrive.
I want to get me an emotional support peacock and move into Flannery
O’Connor’s old house. One does still hear dreadful stories.

Perhaps it can be said, I regret everything, but that doesn’t keep me from feeling nostalgic.
Yes, it was all a mistake. Every humiliation and those very few triumphs. The greatest
birthday present I ever got was a potted tomato plant. It cost $.79.

I treasure every smile; there have been few. Look where we are. We’ve become brawlers,
like skinny guys at ball games, those nasty, boney thugs with tattoos, the kind who
like to start fights. Who takes advice from a poet?

This is finally who we are, in steel-tipped boots, drunks with shriveled dicks. People who save
up to go to Rome and end up in the local jail for pissing on the statues. I saw my first film
by Truffaut in the Mission; got my first piece of ass on Craig’s list.

We have become a disgrace. The story begins with our lovely heroes waving and passing out
Hershey bars to children. Next thing you know, we are urinating on corpses.
This is why we can’t have nice things. Who’s afraid of red, white, and blue?

We’ve become boxers who bite our opponents. We’ve become women who want to be raped.
We’ve become men who piss themselves. Heavens to Murgatroyd, that’s about it. This
is our common tale of woe. Some thrive in the present, others not.

We’ve become the kind of people children aren’t allowed to play with. We’re degenerates. Yes,
I know a good thing when I see it. I live in the past. I do not look ahead.
Tomorrow might prove an improvement, sure, why not? It’s today I can’t stand.


David Lohrey’s plays have been produced in Switzerland, Croatia, and Lithuania. His poetry can be found in Otoliths (AUS), The Drunken Llama (US), Tuck Magazine (UK), Expanded Field Journal (Netherlands), and Dodging the Rain (Ireland). His fiction can be read online at Terror House, Storgy Magazine, and Literally Stories. David’s collection of poetry, MACHIAVELLI’S BACKYARD, was published by Sudden Denouement Publishers (Houston, 2017). He lives in Tokyo.

A Ghost Bids Farewell to His Last Lodging

A poem by Fred Pollack


Kubin has me cradling my head
(with a gnarled European grin)
in my arms. It must be heavy:
the torso, in prison togs, looks off-center.
Had I met a Wilhelmine headsman, tailed and tophatted?
Or that efficient chute they favored later?
I must say he captures the expression,
but my clothes are the comfy beige of aged
Americans, and my head where it belongs.
The room is already bare, not yet rented;
what used to be there suffices for goodbyes.
Towards the end, on what has since become
the Other Side, some idiot
said I had a “God-shaped hole”
in my life and offered cheaply to fill it
with his hole-shaped God.

Around that time there were other noises:
shrieks, sobs, a rhythmic thwacking
fleshier than sex. If you imagine next-life audio
as a Seventies-style “Wall of Sound,” you’ll
be disappointed: cries as sparse
as sirens in a rich white neighborhood,
though carefully selected
according to an aesthetic
about which I can’t even speculate.

Now I’m off. I might enjoy Kubin’s Munich,
towns bombed or not yet bombed, even
my own several slums. Except
it isn’t the job of the deceased
to enjoy anything; only to resemble
in random streets someone who can’t be there,
causing a little thrill of pain.
To haunt is to pass through, not to remain.


Fred Pollack is the author of two book-length narrative poems, The Adventure (Story Line Press, 1986) and Happiness (Story Line Press, 1998), and two collections, A Poverty of Words (Prolific Press, 2015) and Landscape with Mutant (Smokestack Books, 2018). In print, Pollack’s work has appeared in Hudson Review, Southern Review, Salmagundi, Poetry Salzburg Review, Manhattan Review, Skidrow Penthouse, Main Street Rag, Miramar, Chicago Quarterly Review, The Fish Anthology (Ireland), Poetry Quarterly Review, Magma (UK), Neon (UK), Orbis (UK), and elsewhere. Online, his poems have appeared in Big Bridge, Diagram, BlazeVox, Mudlark, Occupoetry, Faircloth Review, Triggerfish, Big Pond Rumours (Canada), The Drunken Llama (2017), Misfit, and elsewhere.