Synchronized Chaos Mid-February: Grief and Joy

First of all, letting everyone know that we’ve picked a date for the Hayward Lit Hop, a community festival with different readings and events up and down B Street in Hayward, CA.

The third annual Lit Hop will take place the afternoon of Saturday, April 27th and we encourage everyone reading this who is in the area to attend! More information and a video clip showing off the Hop and how it works here on our website.

Secondly, Clare Songbirds Publishing House (CSPH) is launching its inaugural Elizabeth Royal Patton Memorial Poetry Competition. More about poet and English teacher Elizabeth Royal Patton here.

The Elizabeth Royal Patton Memorial Poetry Competition will be blind judged by a panel of five judges and cash prizes will be awarded to the top three poems. An anthology will be published with all the poems that make it through the first round of judging and each poet with an entry in the anthology will receive a free copy. All submissions must be sent via Submittable and the full rules and the link are here. The submission period will be from February 1 through April 18, 2024.

Now, for this month’s second issue, Grief and Joy. These feelings coexist here in abundance.

Rocks on a mountain trail interspersed with bushes and shrubs with red and yellow flowers. Blue sky and clouds overhead and mountains in the distance.
Image c/o Circe Denyer (Mammoth, CA)

Nosirova Gavhar offers up a playful and happy glimpse of winter while windswept canyons drive Eian Tsou’s speaker to silence.

Nigora Togaeva revels in the natural and cultural beauty and richness of the Uzbek region of Kashkadarya. Sayani Mukherjee’s work radiates the beauty of a cluster of golden poppies. Mahbub Alam remembers the wondrous scenes he’s seen in person and in his mind’s eye.

Peter Magliocco also speaks of memory, and aging and fading romantic and sexual desire while J.D. Nelson expresses his quiet weariness facing everyday life and its mishaps.

Taylor Dibbert reflects on the life of his beloved dog. Isabel Gomes de Diego surrounds us with our mortality with her images of the Chapel of Bones in Evora, Portugal while Bill Tope’s taut horror story presents retribution for thefts from beyond the grave.

Stephen Jarrell Williams speaks of different types of loss: the lack of physical and relational and spiritual homes, a departure on a train, and the fading of sunshine. George Gad Economou shares his booze-fueled dreams of leaving the past behind to move into the future.

Wooden wagon with wooden wheels on gravel. Painted in stripes of blue, purple, green, yellow, and pink.
Image c/o Circe Denyer

Faleeha Hassan’s speaker plods along on a heavy wagon ride weighed down by sorrow. Safarova Zarnigor expresses the angst of being an old soul looking for love in a new world while J.J. Campbell searches for connection in a lonely town and stage of life.

Eva Lianou Petropolou laments how the children of Gaza will come of age in a time punctuated by war. Mykyta Ryzhykh speculates on unheard perspectives and untold stories buried under rubble. John Mellender relates a night in jail after an intense political protest in mock-epic verse while Daniel De Culla makes a mockery of the obscenity of war and power-hungry leaders. Walter Shulits also lambastes American political and economic power brokers in his epic series of poems while Ian Copestick blasts racism in law enforcement.

Sabrid Jahan Mahin urges us to be strong in a harsh and selfish world. Gulsanam Qurbonova encourages readers to think positively and avoid useless gossip while Lobar Davronova encourages moderation in the use of social media.

Yoldosheva Farangiz illustrates the transformation of a boy guided away from a life of mindless distraction to one of study. Guzal Sunnatova thanks her sister and her teacher for their encouragement to write and study poetry.

Tolquinboyeva Odinaxon writes of awakenings, moving from a hot summer to a fresh new autumn school year.

Light skinned hand holds up an open book showing text out on a grassy field with leafy trees and sunshine.
Image c/o Mohamed Mahmoud Hassan

Continuing with the school theme, Sevinch Tulquinova describes technical tools that can help college students learn language. Meylieva Zebiniso discusses psychological and pedagogical teaching techniques. Madina Fayzullayeva points out resources to help students organize and cite research papers. Baratov Quvonchbek encourages students to learn fundamentals of media literacy to be able to evaluate information. Maftuna Umaraliyeva discusses methods of helping English language learners grasp idioms while Asilabonu Sobirova outlines ways to help English language learners improve their reading skills.

Alan Catlin constructs numbered short verses that link ideas and fragments in unusual, but resonant, ways. Vernon Frazer joins and juxtaposes fragments to suggest nebulous processes: the slow destruction of a reputation, the passage of human history. Patrick Sweeney crafts thoughtful one-liners that request multiple readings.

Shahnoza Ochildiyeva exults in the many wonderful summer activities available to Uzbek school children. Gulasal Nematjanavna highlights the optimism of and the opportunities open to Uzbekistan’s fresh generation of youth leaders.

Bangladeshi poet Muntasir Mamun Kiron extols the glorious historical tradition conveyed in the Bangla language. Barnokhan Ruziyeva describes academic programs in linguistics and translation that propel Uzbekistan into thought leadership in those fields.

Zuhra Ruzmetova finds nurturance in the bosom of her motherland of Uzbekistan. Others find care and companionship in more personal relationships.

Vintage black and white drawing of a man in an old 1800s buttoned down army outfit sitting to talk with a lady in a long dress.
Image c/o Dawn Hudson

Lilian Dipasupil Kunimasa celebrates life and friendship in pieces that peal with gentle musicality. Annie Johnson evokes the sweet comfort of sleep and memories of love and care.

Elmaya Jabbarova evokes the mysteries of how love begins, and how it fades. Graciela Noemi Villaverde suggests that passionate love can bring us to a form of divine eternity in our own minds while Maja Milojkovic compares deep, spiritual love to religious practice. Kristy Raines’ speaker describes a close intimate relationship that has brought her comfort and peace.

Ahmad Al-Khatat urges men who have found true love to appreciate the women dear to them. John Edward Culp invites listeners to hear love’s eternal story. Duane Vorhees describes sensuality and human thought and feeling through clever metaphor.

Jerry Langdon crafts a love poem that resembles a pop song, along with describing serious depression.

Mesfakus Salahin draws on religious and natural metaphors to convey grief. Dildora Toshtemirova mourns but looks forward to better days.

Young boy in a torn and dirty jacket looks on as a fire burns and smokes near ruins of buildings.
Image c/o Gerd Altmann

Diyora Kholmatjonova poetically grieves her departed mother while Sevinch Omonova encourages hers to find happiness in life. Nilufar Tokhtaboydva urges respect for parents due to the countless ways parents care and sacrifice for their children.

Gulsevar Xojamova provides a poignant reminder that not everyone has parental support while Akramova Shiringul Furqatjon illustrates the miracles that can happen through compassion and noticing the suffering people around us.

Nilufar Ergasheva illustrates her family and village navigating the change of seasons and a long winter, while Christopher Bernard’s poem points out small ways people hold onto warmth and the hope of spring in a bleak midwinter.

Mark Young’s “geographies” suggest maps and construction and our built and natural environments while Brian Barbeito finds the extraordinary in seemingly daily natural scenes, drawing on alien and spiritual metaphors.

We hope that this issue will help you find the beauty and grace in daily life, where pain, ecstasy, comfort and wonder all make up the panoply of our experiences.

Poetry from J.D. Nelson

February first
peanut butter sandwiches
for dinner tonight


weary of winter
my tongue goes to the space where
my teeth used to be


I’ve just missed the bus
I can walk home by the time
the next one arrives



J. D. Nelson’s poems have appeared in many publications, worldwide, since 2002. He is the author of ten print chapbooks and e-books of poetry, including *Cinderella City* (The Red Ceilings Press, 2012). Nelson’s first full-length collection is *in ghostly onehead* (Post-Asemic Press, 2022). Visit his website,, for more information and links to his published work. His haiku blog is at Nelson lives in Boulder, Colorado, USA.

Poetry from Ian Copestick

The Police Questionnaire 
Someone I know
is trying to join
the police force.

I know
I feel the same
way too
but I really love
this person.

I was asking them
how the first online
interview went.

'It's just like a kind
of questionnaire
sort of thing.
What would you do
in certain circumstances'

Me, being a natural
piss taker said;

You come across a
gang of white men
standing around, 
and a black man
on the floor, bleeding.

Who do you arrest ?

If you answered

The black man.

Welcome to the police.

Poetry from Christopher Bernard

Deep Winter

White sky blue earth

a road of wind hard as stone between them

the sun swings his walking stick as he strolls
across the boulevards of February

a small bird wings to a rain gutter
sleeved in snow
or perhaps it was only a mirage

a child sits at a window
making faces at an impending storm
it does not believe in blizzards

but it loves them

you hold my love like a globe of ice
where a soul once would have been

no the winter sovereign in your mind
will never become my final hope for spring


Christopher Bernard is an award-winning poet, novelist and essayist. His most recent books are the first two stories in the series “Otherwise,” for middle-grade readers: If You Ride A Crooked Trolley . . .  and The Judgment Of Biestia.

Poetry from Walter Shulits

George W. Bush, 43rd American president, making the Texas Hook'Em Horns sign in front of a microphone.
Homo Erectus Lives in Texas
also published in Alternate Route

(With apologies for any Texas-sized alternative truths…)                          

Texas is the nexus of the issues
that vex us…content to perplex us,
sucker punch our solar plexus, 
threaten the values that connect us.

Texans snicker that everything in 
Texas is better, bigger; maybe they 
need to rejigger the vigor with which 
they squeeze that AK-47 trigger,

and stop quacking about the benefits 
of fracking while all sentient beings 
are gasping and hacking. For migrants 
it’s nerve-wracking not knowing 

if they’ll be repatriated home or put on 
a plane to  Alaska—maybe Nome?—their                  
children sentenced to tents surrounded 
by barbed wire fence—just what exactly

was their offense? It’s scary if you’re 
trans-gender, treated like a sex offender: 
Reality be you’re no  longer free to choose 
where you’re gonna pee,

not against the “Wall,” definitely, that 
would be an obscenity because Texans
expect order at the Mexican border, 
these descendants of the Alamo

can’t take it anymo’, this migrant overflow,
now in a panic outnumbered by Hispanics,
drowning like DeCaprio on the Titanic…
and would you believe

a bi-weekly Baptist book-burning barbecue 
in Brownsville—burkas obviously banned— 
part of the catechism claiming there ain’t 
no racism or hate in the Lone Star State, 

where the Governor, a presidential candidate, 
expectorates as he defiantly states Texas 
won’t tolerate sexual reprobates—so if you’re 
bi or gay, just stay away,                                     

go play in LA—or move to some Massachusetts 
town where students tear all the statues down, 
tributes to American heroes vandalized  by          
spoiled woke zeros.                                                              
Thanks to the contortions of a Christian 
consortium, there’s a moratorium on almost 
all abortions—even in the case of rape, victims 
must escape to a more compassionate state

while gynecologists must cease and desist; 
if they resist it’s not a slap on the wrist, it’s 
jail not bail, and if that fails, a sniper bullet 
to their entrails….which leads to the 

elephant in the room—all those guns that go 
boom—it’s okay to bring this cliche into the 
melee because Texas is a blood-red state, 
and as more and more Democrats emigrate,

THE NRA whoops in elation, no more gun 
registration, Texas gonna lead the nation         
but then don’t be shocked when inside a first-
grader’s lunch box…an apple and a loaded Glock

so now teachers must pass a marksmanship test, 
buy a revolver and bulletproof vest, costly deal 
seems surreal but remember there are shootings
 in McDonalds over Happy Meals…

or while visiting a church in Texarkana, you get 
shot at by a Proud Boy in a MAGA bandanna 
because you won’t chant that hosanna—“God is 
the way, through his messenger the NRA.”

Billy Bob was really pissed, thought you were an 
atheist, damn heathen with no right to exist, but           
before he could squeeze off another round, your 
two hollow points knocked him to the ground, 

and all of a sudden you had joined the fight to smite 
those who would blight your civil rights, knew that
preserving Texas for your descendants was dependent 
on defending the 2nd amendment, found it thrilling

to see blood spilling during a mass killing, real not lame 
like in that “Mortal Kombat” game, Guadalcanal at the OK 
Corral in the high chaparral. So go to the mall y’all, stand 
tall, make ‘em fall ‘cause Texas calls: “Hook ‘Em Horns!”    

Four Diet Coke cans and water and a gun and a painting of George Washington crossing the Delaware on a night stand.
Elon Musk’s Bed Stand

Is it a covert confession, his guilt gushing, 
grabbing him by the ankles and shaking until 
truth tumbles onto the nightstand

or is the photo his personal meme, the renunciation 
of a carefully cultivated carapace, an assertion of 
who he really is…or is it nothing more than the result

of an inadvertent click of a camera capturing some guy’s 
distracted dumping of daily detritus, those pistols a ho-
hum in a country with more guns than people?

So, are we looking at some kind of hieroglyph hinting 
at a heretofore hidden hatred, or a psychopath’s
preparation to perpetrate a crime, or simply

an accidental still life of a makeshift Tupperware 
container…and that question can only be answered
by examining the nature of the objects in the picture

and probing for connections…not an easy task—like 
deciphering the previous moves that led to a position 
on a chessboard, an effort infinitely less intimidating

if you know who the players are—which in this case 
we don’t…all we have is a picture of things that at first 
glance—second and third glances as well—

simply don’t belong together, increasing the probability
the Polaroid was purposely posed and passed on to 
or purloined by some predatory paparazzi

pandering to the 48 percent of the public who parrot
the pablum of partisan politicians, cheer when a six-
year old exercises his right to bear arms

and shoots his first-grade teacher, want welfare programs 
wiped out but donate to crowd-funding so a 19-year old 
football player can drive a Bentley on campus…

regardless of who produced and procured the pic,
the question of motive remains, with a plethora of 
plausible possibilities, from that inadvertent Polaroid

to the cleansing of a conflicted conscience to a cloaked 
call to action by a captain of industry, a Congressman, 
a chief justice—or any collaborator in a cabal conspiring

to crank up a coup, to mesmerize the minuscule 
minds of those minions of mediocrity, mold them 
into a militia to make America great again—

but I digress; let’s let logic clean up this mess: What are 
the chances of an accidental photo being so perfectly  
centered on the nightstand, what are the odds

of some drowsy dude dropping four coke cans and a glass 
bottle on the table and they all remain upright—yeah, right.
So it should come as no surprise that I theorize 

the photo—regardless of whether the guy’d been hiding 
something he needed to purge or denying something he 
craved to exalt—was contrived to end all the lies,

to shed a daytime disguise, lamenting possibly repenting 
pretending to be a nonsectarian humanitarian when he has
been—and probably still is

a barbarian libertarian, lusting to grind socialists into carrion, 
espousing the genetic superiority of Aryans…all this despite 
publicly pledging to give away all his wealth—

convenient camouflage for his undercover stealth— and 
donating to the Rainbow Coalition while damning them 
faggots, lesbos and he-shes to eugenic perdition.

Please don’t run; I’m nearly done—Them guns ain’t  for fun, 
he doesn’t want his country overrun by drug-dealing migrant 
scum; from his QAnon history book he’s well aware 

that Washington crossed the Delaware to kick Beaners in the 
derriere to keep them from claiming welfare and medical care 
and putting up tents on Times Square—

it’s almost more than he can bear—repressive progressives, 
woke jokers and blowhard libtards chipping away at his bill 
of rights—and he’s been ready to fight except

he can’t sleep at night; even though those cokes are caffeine-
free, every two hours he needs to pee; rather than wake up, 
hobble and wobble, he pisses in that glass bottle—let’s hope he 

doesn’t get thirsty and take a swallow—and something else requires
extreme unction: all that sugar gives him erectile dysfunction; if word 
leaked out about this bigot’s spigot, his spineless spout,

if his undercover brothers discover that he is other than 
a big-dicked mother…he’ll be corseted in a kaftan, lynched 
by the Ku Klux Clan then punji-sticked like in Vietnam, 

or an Oath Keeper will inject acid in his ureter, then chop off his 
peter, these operations ordered by his fellow hedge fund honchos, 
banker bigwigs and tech titans frightened of a public enlightened,

of disclosure that they’re all posers—lip service to going green, 
have to protect the fossil fuel machine, pious palaver opposing 
abortion yet their pregnant paramours endure surgical contortion— 

oh how they rile up the rabble, those bedraggled cattle ever 
ready for battle, get them foaming and furious with jingoistic 
vitriol compelling but spurious…and indeed they never 

personally intercede, you’ll never see them bleed, cabalists 
with a nativist creed, a breed fueled by gluttonous greed, 
happy to let sycophants do their dirty deeds:

they’ll never be held liable, out of sight with hands on the Bible while
the riffraff en masse  kick democracy’s ass, a reactionary master class 
leads to legislative impasse, autocracy under guise of democracy, 

a Christian theocracy, a border patrol of criminals on parole, 
18 new corporate tax loopholes, retraction of affirmative action, 
inaction on police overreaction against minority factions.

Please accept my regrets—we haven’t explained yet that
Buddhist amulet: I don’t think it’s for spiritual protection 
because worshipping the dollar is his predilection,

the face in the mirror his only genuflection; it’s about misdirection, 
circumspection over who controls the insurrection. He’s taken an 
approach derivative from events in times primitive, 

a deception tour de force like the Trojan horse, a symbol of compassion 
used for good old head bashing: now don’t chuckle—in your fist 
it’s a Dharmic brass knuckle that’ll make those bastards buckle.

I’m no private eye so I can’t identify the guy and he’s so sly 
he can always buy an alibi… and frankly I’m scared shitless
I’ll end up on the militia’s hit list unless I cease and desist, but

it’s clear the guy ain’t no working class lout ‘cause money and 
clout are what it’s all about, so he can strike with impunity 
to dominate the social media community, fire millions of tweets—

dopamine for his addicted sheep— rail against kikes and dikes 
but he’s still swamped by Facebook “likes” even though he’s not 
the one who writes, his anonymity so critical politically,

and the guy is definitely American—just look at the guns he’s carryin;
no other country has drive-in windows for guns—get a burger with a
bazooka while you’re on the run, shoot up dance halls just for fun.

Help, I think I’m being tailed—I could be jailed or impaled—better 
beat a retreat before things overheat and the Wagner Group 
turns me into sausage meat…but even though I’m a coward 

I don’t want democracy devoured by Fascists empowered and my 
heart is still red white and blue so before I bid adieu I’ll leave some 
clues for you to construe and then decide what to do: 

Follow the money at an electric car company, its financials in the 
shitter but the CEO still bought Twitter, clearly overreached while 
he flaunted freedom of speech, but there’s a huge ethical  breech; 

political persuasion though a brazen online invasion leading to guns 
blazin’ in the Capitol of the nation… and then there’s the hedge fund 
wizard, a Machiavellian lizard, 

trying to grab regulators by the gizzard, set up PAC after PAC so 
Congress would have his back…next turning to the Supreme Court,
the list of possible conspirators anything but short, 

their opinions of great import, the consequences impossible to thwart, 
and I know I’m being cynical but the right wing majority has been 
clinical, dare I say criminal: The Court contorted the Constitution 

as it water boarded  Roe v Wade, state gun laws were waylaid, the EPA 
effectively spayed, federal funds for church schools okayed…and finally 
there’s the red state governor, a Harvard-educated southerner—

the chump dumped Trump and hit the stump—appalling polemic 
during the pandemic, health experts aghast when he trashed 
students wearing masks,

no migrants in his backyard—all deported to Martha’s Vineyard…
okay, I guess I deserve a reproof for playing loose with the alternative 
truth; it’s uncouth to cast aspersion linking people to subversion 

but it’s in the intimacy of his privacy that man sheds his piety and 
anxiety, and if you can infiltrate that space, get behind the poker 
face, you might find more than a trace

of a disgust for the human race; the guy just might be a traitor, a civil 
rights violator or a coup instigator….and if the night stand is an indicator,
just imagine what you might learn from his refrigerator.

Francisco Goya's famous oil painting The Third of May 1808, where soldiers with guns line up to shoot unarmed men at night with a large building in the distance. One man has already fallen in a pile of blood.
Goya’s The Third of May 1808
How Not to Enjoy a Goya

(With apologies to Goya’s “The Third of May 1808”)

Ho hum…just another line ‘em up shoot ‘em dead
picture, kind of like bowling except the pins are
made of flesh and bone, they bleed—wouldn’t it
be cool if bowling pins set off sparklers when you
crush ‘em—-and don’t reset: I mean what kind
of human cartridge cushion of sane mind

would get up just to be shot again—Muhammad Ali’s
rope-a-dope tactics don’t work too well with bullets—
so better to just be swept to the back of the alley—
ooh,a double entendre—which I’m guessing is what
happened here later but you never can tell because
shooters, like bowlers,

get blisters on their trigger fingers unless they’re
seasoned professionals in which case their calluses
are as callous as their compassion is constipated,
and remember it takes time to reload before the next
troupe of targets traipses in, while the unseen widows
lack the strength to dig a hole deep enough

to house 30 or so homicided husbands, so much heavier
than bowling pins, so it’s highly possible that the bodies
were just left where they fell, the pattern making a pretty
sick Rorschach test for any helicopter hovering overhead
or maybe a 3D topographic map of a chain of Pacific
islands being swallowed by rising seas.

Understand that this genre of painting goes beyond just
guns, to guillotines, garottes, swords and hangman’s
nooses depending on cultural protocols for mass killings
and the mood the artist wants to manufacture; obviously
guns are logistically the simplest—no need for a tree or
wooden cross, or gasoline, which is expensive—

and also extremely efficient if you want to ramp up
volume rapidly, but guns also release those hideous
poisonous gases that pollute Mother Earth…and there’s
something seductive and artsy about a masked guy
with earbuds carrying a curved sword on his massive
shoulders hip hopping,

locking and popping as he raps “Yo, you be dreading
that I be heading to your beheading; my sword go sledding,
your neck it’s shredding,” and don’t overlook the fact that
both the sword and the guillotine give us the bowling balls
needed to complete our sporty metaphor: Come On Baby,
Let The Dead Heads Role…

but why is it that it’s always a black guy who gets shot—
okay, sometimes he’s brown, let’s not get picky, just as
long as it’s a dark color, white would mean there goes
the promotion for the shooter; he’d be in deep shit…
but in any case here the marksmen sang the refrain
“the bloodstain from the brain on the plain

is in the main from enemies of Spain.” The old masters
focused on the murderous machinations of military master-
minds, barbarism through the prism of impressionism,
depicting how against Attila the Hun the Romans were
stunned then overrun and how under Pol Pot resistance
went for nought, at least a million Cambodians shot

while another blockbuster depicted how Custer failed to pass
muster, his campaign so lackluster, reputation shorn, a target
of scorn after his troops were butchered at Little Big Horn…
Meanwhile other artists were sensing a gold mine in dispensing
canvasses wrenching in their rendering of ethnic cleansing,
paintings avant-garde of bodies marred or charred,

a huge creative stride, the subjects fried, gasified in the come
hither cauldron of genocide: Hutus on patrol, decapitating
Tutsis their only goal—a Tutsi roll, get it?—Turkey showing no
mercy in making beef jerky of Armenians while Hitler used
every ruse to hide gassing the Jews who—quick learners—
butchered the Palestinians like America did its Indians—

it’s all so cruelly Darwinian—and it’s the United States that
continues to take the mass execution genre to new heights
with paintings of pop up performances in population centers
and public places big and small—Miami, Philly, Uniontown
Alabama, Tulsa Oklahoma, elementary schools, Walmarts,
Waffle Houses, abortion centers,

salivating artists rooting for more colorful mass shootings
while the NRA is tooting that guns don’t cause these shootings
or the ensuing lootings, this posse of quasi Nazis high steppin’
for their rights to carry weapons, denying that all across
the nation there is a direct correlation between the absence
of gun regulation and civic conflagration. Do you think

the bastards in the painting would have had the balls to do
battle with their victims in a boxing match, no bullets, or would
the cowards have cringed, become unhinged, no counterfeit
courage from schleppin’ that weapon…and might there be less
fatalities from police brutality if a cop wasn’t afraid of being
popped, sent to heaven by a teenager with an AK-47

but America loves winners and fun with guns has made the USA
#1 in mass killings—oh, it’s so fulfilling— and we celebrate our
success with mega- events, Super Bowls of Slaughter, post-game
festivities including billy club bashing, water cannon colonoscopies,
pursue and pepper spray the perp spectacles, and behold he’s out
cold from the perfect chokehold demonstrations.

So Mr. Goya, I don’t wanna annoy ya, but your painting just
doesn’t rate, it’s so out of date, its techniques obsolete—
like phone books, Blockbuster, Buick Le Sabres, Silvio
Berlusconi, Blackberrys, Joe Biden—I know it’s bittersweet but
you just can’t compete with the sausage meat made of men
on the street in modern mass murders, and while it’s not

something I condone, today’s artists are prone, for example,
to death delivered by drone—such a boost to testosterone—
part of a propensity toward butchery with high corpse density
or bodies stacked as high as a mountain, blood spurting like
a fountain because collectors have become jaded, the allure
of the standard school shooting has faded and unfortunately

the value of this canvass has been degraded, so if I may proffer
some advice—and I’m so sorry about the painting’s drop in price—
but if you were to give your consent, it might be possible to reinvent
your masterpiece—I know it’s a real bummer—in the format paint
by number for children six or younger: just think how you could
influence their formative years.

 Walt Shulits is a retired bond market professional and lifelong paddling fanatic-canoe, sea kayak, outrigger canoe and surf ski-who stumbled upon writing poetry while searching for a non-sport activity that would give him the same sense of living in the moment as paddling. Residing in Provence, France he spends as much time as possible in his beloved Hawaii. He tries to write poems for the multitudes who find poetry as incomprehensible as Sanskrit or as unappealing as mountain oysters.  Walt's poems have appeared in Dumpster Fire, Fleas on the Dog. Gargoyle, Griffel, Pike Press, and Wingless Dreamer.


Poetry from George Gad Economou

thoughts between the 4th and 6th glass of bourbon

we killed the poets,
we murdered the writers,
we burned the artists on the stake, letting their bones rot under the unforgiving sun.
graveyards vast littered with
shallow, nameless graves.
no one to carve a tombstone,
not a single word of praise, or love, or even compassion uttered. 
only few we kept near,
those who were too important to be forgotten;
even them, we disregard wildly, 
reading them only because we termed them classic, vintage, what else have you. 
it’s the era of decadence, the desolation has begun,
there’s nowhere to run.
dry tears in dark street corners,
every empty needle a reminder of a dead childhood dream,
talent drowning in the bottom of bourbon bottles, 
vision burned up inside cold glass-pipes. 
it's alright, the rainfall comes,
streets flooded, cars not moving, stillness,
perfect fucking stillness. 
no one breathes, no one thinks,
no one lives,
we altogether smile in unison,
a chorus of emphatic victory,
singing the songs of childhood, 
remembering dreams that were written down in white papers and with red pens,
smiling over the possibilities that would never be. 
someone somewhere throws away the trash,
someone's watching a movie,	
another reads a novel and feels enlightened, despite the retardation of the human mind;
a bonfire is lit at some distant beach, primal dancing around the flames, 
whilst elsewhere, someone runs away, 
speeding into a highway without a destination, only a sacrilegious purpose; 
a single tree in the middle of the desert, 
alone, standing tall, 
fearless, sturdy, stubborn;
no lumberjacks, no birds, no rain.
only the sand, the tree, the storm. 
the bartender pours me a bourbon neat, 
I down it, I ask for another;
it's on the house, he says—after four paid glasses, he finally gives me one for free. 
bring me the sixth; this one, he says, you have to pay for.

Bottle Thoughts

drinking once more in solitude, 
the music keeping away the whispers. 
every sip, another memory of something lost, 
a year wasted lies in the bottom of each bottle, 
and I do not miss the nights of sobriety
I forced upon myself for her sake. 
it's alright, I tell myself; I didn't quit the drink for the one that mattered,
why should I cry for the one that turned out to be irrelevant and insignificant? 
memories, mistakes; have I ever done something right?
NO, the unified answer of all the ghosts and it manages to be heard
despite the loud music through the headphones. 
one more dark, empty night. alone, yet never lonely. 
every sip tastes like different lips, as in front of me I see
all the pair of eyes I once stared into during cold nights,
as we laid under blankets made of snow. 
every sip, the reminiscent of yet another false promise,
of lies muttered in dive bars and strip clubs. 
it’s alright; another sip, it’s all gone. 
I’m once more concentrated on the darkness.
on finishing my business on this planet, 
dreaming still of the bar I saw only once, when she thought she had lost me to the needle. 
I was already given to the bottle, at 14 I had my first real sip and ever since
I never wished to escape. 
it's all a dream, an acid-trip; the forest, the mist, the ocean filled with hungry sharks. 
the shipwrecks. I'll awake suddenly, in a different bed. next to a stale wife.
a teenage son will curse me under his breath during breakfast. 
I'll lecture him, when he comes home drunk on a sunday morning. 
I'll scream at him, when I discover a pack of cigarettes in his backpack.
he'll wish I wasn't alive. and I'll lay down next to my wife, 
knowing she hates my fucking guts. 
and I'll seek refuge in dreams, but be visited only by nightmares. 
another sip, I'm still here, still plaguing the world.
still not giving a damn for all the tears I've caused, 
still unable to shed real tears. the graveyard, it comes back; 
threw my very first poems into the hole, over the coffin. nobody has ever read them,
I can't recall them. she was taken from me by the needle, along with a baby that will never
grow old to hate my fucking guts. 
I see her on a bed that isn't mine, kissing lips that aren't mine; she's happy.
and I'm happy. I still drink, and I would have ruined her, like I ruined her.
and somewhere in this ugly town still lives the third one, the cheap substitute of the other two;
potentially back in the arms of the one she betrayed for my sake. 
I don't give a shit. another sip, and she becomes, again, the bad acid-trip she truly was. 
another sip, hundreds of kisses all at once swarm the soul;
there's no warmth, only the coldness of the lies, the falsity of the promises.
another sip, time finally to embrace the darkness once and for all
and stop tormenting a heart that got tired of beating.

Gone into the Dusk

daydreaming of embraces
doomed to remain unfelt. 
more promises to be broken,
more lies to be uttered. 
shadows on the couch, 
reminding me of the yesteryears I wish never were. 
empty bottles on the floor, 
soon I'll be gone; the stains will remain 
tormenting whoever moves in next, 
pity the poor clueless soul. 
former loves, moments the heart did skip a beat; 
all gone, forever lost. 
trying to recapture the magic,
no strength left in a broken body.
the wheels keep on turning,
no reason to run. 
a syringe on the coffee table,
junk heated, the vapor penetrates the nostrils, 
back to the colors, the music; 
time to chase dragons once more,
nothing else to do.
nothing else I excel at. 
memories overwhelm the numb mind,
the hazed heart skips another beat
as images pierce the haunted dreams, 
lambent smiles of someone who’s been dead for 6 years now, 
lustful kisses of someone that forced me to break the junk habit.
gone, forever. all alone I sit in the absolute darkness 
preparing for my departure,
the return to the collapsing streets of childhood. 
visions of the nights,
wine dreams, 
I’m gone.


one final ride, 
alone in the sunset
towards a destination unknown. 
fueled with all the necessary, 
the desert filled with a crowd most bizarre,
a carnival most grotesque. 
forests, oceans, metropolises, 
all and nothing rolled into one, 
for in the last ride
you’re both alone and surrounded. 
friends and enemies alike, 
strangers and acquaintances
talk, laugh, and bicker, 
for there’s nothing else to do. 
some beg for you to stop,
others plead for you to go. 
nowhere to run,
but forth
as behind lies all that must needs be forgotten. 
one final ride, 
and it’s long, seemingly endless, 
destination elsewhere
but via vagueness grandness is born. 
nevermore time shall matter, 
nevermore love shall torture. 
one final ride, 
it commences, 
and all’s left behind, 
dreams unfulfilled, 
dragons uncaught, 
people unloved. 
one final ride, 
and it all starts anew, 
for only without the old
survival can ensue.

Currently residing in Greece, George Gad Economou has a Master’s degree in Philosophy of Science and is the author of Bourbon Bottles and Broken Beds (Adelaide Books), Of the Riverside (Anxiety Press) and Reeling Off the Barstool (Dumpster Fire Press). His words have also appeared, amongst other places, in Spillwords Press, Ariel Chart, Cajun Mutt Press, Fixator Press, Horror Sleaze Trash, Outcast Press, The Piker Press, The Beatnik Cowboy, The Rye Whiskey Review, and Modern Drunkard Magazine.

Poetry from Peter Magliocco

The Hip-Hop Mermaid

Risen from the warring shore
comes what survives the night’s blear
of human shards scattered
over earth’s sallow brow.
Fate clinging to my barnacled flesh
for the watery bower dawn breaks
over us, she said, snapping her tail.
Somehow she got into the pool
When nobody was looking,
with beaching sepia flotsam
bubbling, what bespoke ineffable
old rose–tinted morning crags
from another clime & century.
While sea worms its way into
My backyard, drenching me
into some searing sex scenes
with this nubile & naked mermaid?
I’ll leave it to your imagination,
For we tell lies beyond reason
in swirling sands of mud frost
turning like dark pudding
as the hungry elements yowl.
I devoured the battered remnants
Of her glistening fins, I plunged
into grief’s plundered port of sin.
I searched for music in her body
in this bed of tangled seaweed
songs do not linger anymore
to tantalize the jazz singer’s lips:
swelling the tide of my dementia
where we are now dissolving
& borne by lingering pathogens
only shallow sea gods are bitten by,
I feed the bloodlust’s swishing vein 
Sinking my shipwrecked sullen craft


Spiked Heels of Lunar Light

Does the echo of light fading
still reflect the concrete wave
before a silent sound banishes
candid movements about you
of rainfall smearing streets.
While your red glossy high heels
staccato-tap glistening sidewalks
before mist slithering dawn comes:
a moment’s elocution of elements
finer than your own existence as
a precious filament ignites your eyes
the angels of death dissipate before.
You are the chosen one, Moon Dog
trailing ire over jaundiced time
nearby my gibbous hidden body
your heels excavate heavenly flesh
blood-red under moonlit rays,
& beneath distant overhead clouds
Hot moisture cuts the Velveeta 
you spread over perfumed breasts
before imbibing my fallen presence.
Food for dirty thoughts feeding
Old moon-dust beneath your feet,
My yearning cries now echo across
another walkway where footfalls 
stop in soundless shadows
beyond black mascara slashes
your sightless eyes redress 
in naked night’s cruciform raiment


Eulogy for the Analog of Lost Desire

Only my sex in the ellipsis of your mouth
equals the sum of my disenchantment
reading your scurrilous epiphany at 4 a.m.,
& knowing how fucked it is for you
to post a revealing ad on Craig’s List

in order to write a book later about it;
& all your forays into the lusty disorders,
As weeds dying on the lawn of your desire
devotees of all lost amour aspire to,
hoping to escape banal boundaries

by extolling perversions to greater ends.
You text my acolyte unscathed by hate,
forsaking pristine years of bygone innocence.
Now the cock crows at the death throes
of one’s trendy sex life in empurpled drag.

No pill or superlative drug resurrects
the banished truth of old renegade heats
when there’s nothing left to betray us,
just your once revered cocky-capon god
sucking love’s mitosis of invisible microbes


Symphony with a Severed Head

White light glistens in a vase of shadow
buds suspended by watery phlegm
Of the intoxicated grandpa:
I drink the syrup of palliating Scotch

Listening to domestic disputes outside
a window dust-splotched by faulty sprinklers.
The squatter snoring nearby the tool shed
isn’t exactly a meditating guru for quietus!

No, his curse-ridden dreaming is a diatribe
of bad rap lyrics damning his Jezebel.
(The one with a bustier so silver-spangled
with nipple rings, all very shiny

Under his mental door mat of nightly stupor).
Blue light in a bottle of 100% ambrosia,
forever amber this Thursday evening
Marred by police sirens & screams.

Outside cops investigate the premises,
but I’ll be damned if I’ll go out there
Like a concerned citizen of Twitter
with my cell phone video recording all.

Let the complex go to hell in a handbasket
bulging with the last dead rapper’s head,
Severed & still bleeding-out dumb aqua
until the saints come marching in.

Peter Magliocco writes from Las Vegas, Nevada, where he’s been active in the small press as editor, poet, and artist for years. He has recent poetry in Pulp Poets Press, Literary Yard, Dyst, Lothlorien Poetry Journal, Jellyfish Whispers, The Pangolin Review, and elsewhere. His most recent poetry book is Particle Acceleration on Judgement Day from Impspired Press.