Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Poetry By Luke Welch

Luke Welch is currently incarnated as a nerdy, middle-aged, white guy in Rochelle, IL. If he behaves he's sure he can incarnate as someone or something cooler in his next life. Some of his poems will be appearing in the upcoming premier issue of Gemstone Piano Review.

Learning to Fly

If it's meant to be 
it will happen.  
If it's not
then the universe has other plans.

The girl doesn't call you back.
Someone else gets the job.
The hurt bird you found in your path
is supposed to tell you something.

Take it home and learn to care for it.
It may be your own wing that needs to heal.
And someday the bird may teach you to fly.
You would have missed that opportunity
working under a mountain.

And your soul love waits,
soaring in the clouds
in the sky over the sea.

***

Corpse Eaters

When the paper pyramid of capitalism
burns at last
and the richest among us
have fled to their bunkers

then we are free.

Stores empty. 
Gas tanks.
Pharmacies.

It will be hard at first.
We think we need these things.
But they are addictions.

All around us the Earth
provides all we need.
All we have to do is say 

Yes.

The once-rich, shivering under ground,
will imagine us eating each-other up here.
They'll send up drones and watch

and be astonished to see us
working together in gardens,
gathering at night to sing

of the dark times,
when we lived as zombies
in the thrall of vampires.

***

It's Over Now
I've broken the last heart.
Left the last house burning.
I'm alone in the world.

I'm the main character in a story
that no-one wants to read.
The crow laughs in the tree.
The clouds pass over
like empty pages.
The days go by like an old man
walking circles in the park.

I stop for a moment,
feel the sun kiss my face.
Is that it, finally?
The love I've been looking for
all these long years?

***

Worthless
Once everyone knows
you're a liar and a cheat,
and you've lost your job
and your spouse or girlfriend or boyfriend
or all of them at once.
When everyone knows your degrees are just paper
and even your smiles are photo-shopped,
then there's nothing to do but be yourself,
as wretched as that is.
You could haul your worthless ass
to the curb with the garbage
or you could start over,
admit you're shit
and see where it takes you.
There are a lot of people
the world has given up on.
Maybe you can organize them,
demand equal rights for fuck-ups.
You can form your own voting block
and get political candidates
to drive down in their fancy cars
to give speeches to win your votes.
They'll fit in well.  Hell,
every one of them
is just a liar and a cheat
waiting to be discovered.

***

Assholes

At the Garden of the Gods National Park,
where gods are planted,
grown, pruned, and brought to fruit,
I am sitting atop a cliff
watching the sun go down
over three thousand acres of pristine forest.
I'm in ecstatic reverie
when some younger people take the next rock over.
Pretty soon they're talking, quite seriously,
about bungholes,
how no two are alike,
how they pucker like a mouth,
like a flower, waiting to open,
and I can't help but listen with great interest.

Humanity!
Each of us stretches
from the mud beneath our feet
to the heavens, just above our heads.
Only we can recognize
the divinity in a neighbors' asshole
while the sun sets in glorious display,
as around us, young gods
bloom like flowers on the rocks.

Monday, August 20, 2018

James D. Casey IV Poems


James D. Casey IV is a southern poet with roots in Louisiana & Mississippi. He currently resides in Illinois with his Muse, their retarded dog, and two black cats. Mr. Casey has authored four books of poetry, and his most recent title is Owls in Hot Rods with Pink Elephants and Dead Bats released August 2, 2018. His work has also been published extensively by several literary magazines and small press venues. Mr. Casey spends his days writing poems, but also enjoys practicing magick, and cooking Cajun cuisine.

Walking Dead Memories Like Dogs

a man lost 
in the jungle
of time
walking dead memories
like dogs

the moment you know
you know

20,000 leagues
under the sea
walking the dead
walking the dead

as long as there's
song
as long as there's
rain
as long as there's
fire
as long as there's
me
as long as there's
you

let's walk
we don't have
to talk


Poet James D. Casey IV


Let's Rattle

A know it all
with nothing to say.

Hate in an icy heart,
and a John Goodman face.

Who the hell
am I?

Who the hell
are you?

If you can see me,
and I can see you,
are we still ghosts?

A fantastic sensation
like the tongues of a
thousand red foxes
licking my skin.

Fuck me?
No.
Fuck you.

Come on, snake, let's rattle!


Fickle Muse

naked with the wind
a fickle muse
who'd rather be dead
or out of their mind
or high

little did she know
I was thinking
the same thing

bitch

I have far more
important things to
do
than waste my
precious time
with your busted
soul

you are
not
the boss of
me


Silent Riot

who would've thought?
who would've dreamed?
rusty steel wings
could fly.

get out of your head,
climb inside,
we are the
only masters
of this
creation.

take the city
by storm
in our UFO
named
Silent Riot.

plundering
pillaging
space
pirates
here
on this
pale
blue dot
full of
monkeys
with guns
and money.

we wear them
crowns
we rule them
all.

let's take their
weapons
and steal their
women!

even if they are
one in the same.

Two Stories By Kurt Thingvold

Kurt Thingvold is a writer from Rockford, Illinois
                                          Before Genesis 
We existed before time. We are the originators of this universe, we are the first. From the explosion to the birth of each individual star, we were before. We have watched the beauty of the universe unfold over billions of years, we are consciousness.  We have spent eons discussing creation, the point of everything existing. Life, creation – calculations and engineering with the right amount of star dust. Infinite amount of planets created from curiosity, life of all kinds across the infinite space.
We monitor this life from no place, yet everywhere.  We are the conscious of the universe, my sibling and I. we have only regretted one creation, the creation of man.  A destructive species, filled with anger and malice. My brother Lucic, wanted to create something in our image, one that would be able to live the full life, and absorb our knowledge. I, Ja’va wanted these humans to create libraries to form all of the fact of the universe. Both a common goal for our new pets.  We had both agreed it was beneficial if we do not interfere in their lives, nor their affairs. We had spent eons designing these creatures, we only wanted the best for these beings – However, wishes and expectations are never within reason, only in fantasy. We had set the seed – six million years ago, we were both delighted to watch them take form, and to learn from each other. At first we were skeptical, we could not imagine they would grow, their curiosity set them apart from the rest of the creatures, we named Irth.
Irth was the prime candidate for our experiment. It had many harsh conditions from quakes, to storms, and even wild fires. We watched as they adapted learned to hunt, and build shelters, with no involvement from my brother and I.  It was wondrous creation at first, we did not notice the decline at first. Only that something had happened, we never took evolution into effect, we saw the other species start to progress to adapt in their world. Whether it was intentional the humans started to change too. Once they ran from vicious predators, now they had turned the tides.  They were the predators, only they started to over hunt. Killing other species, for food, shelter and the occasional trophy. Life was starting to take course, we expected them to grow to learn, and one day they started to record data. In the grand scheme of things, this is what Luci had wanted, and I had wanted. They would draw pictures on their homes to tell stories of their days, of the past.  As the years grew, they would move and inhabit different parts of Irth.
As the creatures grew they began to speak in their own tongues. Think of what their meaning was.  One time 2,016 years ago, Luci decided he would establish communication to the creatures. It bothered me into a fury.
“Brother, let us communicate. Let them know of our laws, our wishes. Without them how can we expect them to complete our wishes?”
“They do not need that, they will learn our wishes on their own. We both agreed to never meddle in their affairs, as it could turn what we want into impossibility.”
“Bah!” He said.
“I fear if we make our presence known to these creatures it would be a mistake, and endanger them. It could mean we would have to act, wipe them out and start anew. Creation takes time, and we both bore easily.”
Against my wishes, my brother did interfere. With the humans lives.  He would grow bored, make them do outlandish acts. Sacrifice their sons, burn bushes and shrubs. Have them create laws for all to follow. What he did not expect was – For the creatures to follow through establish groups that would worship my brother and I. They would kill each other in our honor, I could no longer take this brutality, killing and claiming, destroying their home. For creators who wished to have them do nothing but gather knowledge and build themselves.  I willed a meteor to strike earth to cease these creatures from being. Luci was not keen on the idea, and altered the rocks course at the last minute.
“Wait!”
“Why? Can you not see what they are becoming? They do not gather the knowledge we wish them too. They fight, eat, and populate. They are horrid beings, ones that care only for themselves, and our will.  Which has been misconstrued, thanks to you.”
“Brother, you cannot expect something to know your will at first. They must be shown the way to knowledge and its importance to them, and ourselves.”
“There are very few of them that gather knowledge…and when they are gathering, and start to think for themselves. They’re punished by the others, does that seem fair? Does it seem fair, we are allowing them to fester in ignorance? If that is their reason for being, I say we destroy what is left, and start again.”
“No”, Luci shouted. His temper was getting the better of my brother. “They are still young, they need time to mature. Who is to say in five hundred years the humans have not changed?”
I could not disagree with my brother. I had not given them the proper chance to mature, maybe this religion was fad. They would begin to see: Yes, they were created but for no other than to educate themselves and to store our knowledge. I have hoped they would mature enough to communicate with us, to join us in the stars and watch the universe.
In the time since my brother had interfered with their way of being. They still believed in us, while a few doubted we even existed, I encouraged the creatures to doubt our existence. I could tell my brother relished in the fact, though he listened when they requested things.  He did nothing, he watched.
We watched the humans attempt travel in the universe, not going very far.  I admired them for gaining knowledge to explore, to see what we could see. It was quite fascinating to see something grow, however, that was a few and not the majority.  While, the few were accomplishing a great many things. The majority were still violent, causing wars for their own insecurity, dealing underhanded threats. I had watched as their whole world fighted, not once but twice.
I will not say for one instance, I love these humans as my children. Luci does, and wants every chance for them to grow. I wanted them gone, eradicated from existence. I made one last attempt to wipe them from Irth.  I had conserved enough energy to summon a meteorite to crash into the planet, a final time.
I released the rock and watched it hurdle towards the little planet.  My brother didn’t notice at first. I had selected a rock close to the planet, when my brother awoke, he had realized what I had done, and willed the rock to move ever so slightly, to avoid impact.
“They have to live! They have to thrive! What about these creatures bothers you, so.”
“They are destructive, their tiny bit of advancement does not forgive their behavior.”
“What about the animals on the planet, who kill and each other’s young? Or fight over territory, who do nothing more than breed and kill. Do you see them doing anything like the humans. They are young, they are not as bright as we would like them to be. That does not give us the right to take their lives away – Yes, we created them; offered them life. As creators we don’t have the right to take them away, can we not come up with a more reasonable options?”

I “They have something the animals of Irth do not. Thought intelligence, the animals on earth cannot think, they cannot build civilizations. They are a cancer to creation, they breed and attack each other, for no other purpose than they can. Vile creatures, who kill because they dislike.”
“ How is that any different than what you have been doing? Attempting to take their live, you dislike them, so, you try to eliminate them. You are acting as they are.”
My brother had struck a chord; I had been acting as they would. Taking a life for the simple fact: I could not stand them. If I am wrong, I am wrong.  My brother had just proven so.
“Then dear Luci, what do we do with these creatures?  I will not attempt on their lives anymore, but do tell. What do you suggest?”
My brother deep in thought. “We quarantine them. If they are as dangerous as you say. We will not allow them to leave their galaxy. We will let them explore but only so far. We will not allow them.  We will limit their current intelligence to make it so they can not leave.”
I would not disagree with my brother.  It had been millennia since we had agreed on something, we would not let them leave. For the good of other species and for themselves.
After our deal, we watched the humans grow and prosper. They were still a violent species, they made attempts with each other to seek out peace, even forming a planetary government. Once that government was set in stone, they explored and prospered, seeing other planets and systems. While still staying inside their galaxy, even making alliances with other planetary species.
Eventually, like every other species in the universe they succumbed to extinction. My brother was saddened by this event.  We had learned so much by their existence, if we decided to create again, we would learn from our mistakes. Only time will tell if try again.

Broken Angel
For years I had been a fan of the theatre, seeing plays and mingling with the cast and crew. I recall one August night, as I was heading out of the office and heading to a new play, which was put together by the local theatre group. Thoughts of wonder and surprise filled my head. It had been months since anything new came to town. I was quite bored with “Death of a Salesman.” More of the mainstream plays that toured these parts of the country. My dream was to see a Broadway play; to feel the warmth of the sign lights hit my face. I could see it now a play just for me, one that all the actors knew my name and congratulated me on sight. The play wasn’t just for me, I was the writer and director of a new hit. The fantasy played in my head for a few more moments.
I could see the theatre, and it could not have been a few blocks away. My pace quickened.  When I finally arrived, the line wrapped around the building. I glanced at my watch 5:45PM, I had more than an hours’ time before the show started.  As I approached the line my body started to grow cold, and chills laced my nerves. As I grew closer to the line, I noticed all the patrons were pale, their eyes sunken in and dark lines ran underneath. Each breath sounded as a sigh. The line moved slowly, an inch a minute.  I glanced down at my watch again, and the time had not chaged. It seemed like forever and the line would shuffle towards the box office, it was unnerving at first, but then it felt as though it were rhythmic. I had finally made it to the box office, the Ticketmaster wore a grim look about him.  I asked to purchase a ticken, and the man smiled. I felt a chill run through me. His thin lips parted, and a hiss of words spewed forth.
“This show is on us…come in and enjoy.”  I nodded and walked through the door, and took my seat in the front row.
The bar was packed, I couldn’t see more than five feet in front of me.  I managed to make my way to the counter to see if the bartender was close, he was working his way to me juggling bottles, and letting the liquor fill each glass the bottle made contact with.  He finally reached me and smiled.
“What can I get you?” He looked around to ensure no other customers needed him that moment.
“I’ll take a glass of the finest scotch. I want the top dollar, nothing is too cheap for me tonight!”
He smiled at me, and disappeared into the back room. He couldn’t have been gone for more than thirty seconds. He popped the cap, the golden nectar poured into the glass, the bartender twisted his hands and no drop hit the counter.  I slapped a twenty on the bar and told him to keep the change. He smiled and moved farther along the bar to finish his mission of not having an empty glass in the house.
I moved back to my table, sipping my beverage with every other step.  The band was playing a familiar song, and could not help but to get my feet moving.  I closed my eyes and imagined the beat moving me to a different time and place, the scotch helped warm my body and the music helped warm my soul. I opened my eyes again, and I saw her.  The most beautiful angel I’ve ever laid eyes on. Now to get me wrong I’ve seen plenty of women in my day; most the girls could not even lay a candle to her beauty. Her soft white skin, the red lips, and blonde hair you could trim and sell at the pawn shop for fifteen-hundred an ounce.  She glided towards me, her eyes captivating me, I couldn’t hold back my heart. I smiled and tipped my hat to her. She chuckled, and sat next to me.
“Aren’t you kind of dressed up for a place like this?” she looked me over.
“I can’t say I really am…I?” I was confused by the question.  I always wore the coat, and hat.
“ I just like a man who knows when to be classy, and who knows a good scotch when he sees one.” She licked her lips. “Tell me…do you want to dance?”
I didn’t give it a second thought. I put my drink down, and headed to the dance floor with my angel.  The way she moved, the way she looked, couldn’t hold a flame to the passion that was starting to build in my heart.  We walked to the floor, and magic overtook my body. She drew me closer, and I could smell lilac. She was intoxicating, I wanted to be a part of her world. I placed my hands around her hips, and we moved rhythmically with the music.  If this was what falling in love at first sight was like, you could not pay to take the feeling away. We danced together for what seemed like hours, every moment felt as though time had slowed down. The band had finished playing the set, and we moved back to the table.  She sat across from me, and placed her hand on her cheek. She never stopped smiling.
“So what do you do?” I asked her.  She played with her hair for what seemed like forever giggling.
“Well…what do you want me to be? I can be an actress, or a secretary.” She licked her lips, as though she was hungering for something more.
We spent the rest of the night dancing, and joking.  Her laugh filled me with a joy I had never felt before. My soul felt something different from her, my heart was beating differently, and my blood felt like lava.  I could feel the passion building up inside, all I needed to do was brave up. I will always admit, I’m not a handsome man, nor am I the most hideous creature in existence. Her attraction towards me threw me for a surprise.  When the barkeep called “Last Call” We stumbled outside together.
When I walked through the theatres doors, I was greeted by a familiar sight, but everything felt different.  Something was off…
The hall contained a balconies painted in gold, the seats were made of a red denim cloth, under- neath the cloth.  Form fitting foam, made the cushions. The isle lights shone, giving the theatre an ominous glow. The stage was the true beauty, it was raised several feet above the first row of seats, each edge of the stage had an angel.  The angels were at least twenty feet tall forming an arch, on the top of the arch above the angels hand was a single golden heart. The stage closed off by the black and red curtains.
I found my seat, looking at the gold plated number on the neck rest of the seat. Cautiously I sat, and watched as the other patrons glide and fill the seats of the theatre.  I managed to make my way to the front of the theatre, scouring for my seat. The seat was in the perfect location, not too close to the stage, not too far. I smiled as I took the seat.  The lights dimmed, and began to flicker as piano music began to fill my ears. Fog began to fill the rows of seats. If this was an indication of the play to be performed, I was in for a treat.
Moaning filled the theatre.  I happened to catch a glimpse of several specters floating down the aisle, their piercing red eyes scanning the crowd.  Once the phantoms reached the stage, a macabre dance was performed, they would twist and turn. Appear and disappear to the sound of the piano.  I did not feel afraid nor did I feel uncomfortable. It was not a chilling experience, it was rather unique. I pondered for a minute or two, how the effect was orchestrated. Were there projectors hidden around the theatre, or were these ghosts maneuvered by wires.  I took deep consideration on how they were constructed as well. Dummy heads, and cloth? I marveled at the spectacle. When they stopped their dance, the spotlights shone center stage.
We had finally made it back to her place.  It was a small studio apartment, a bed and a makeup table.  Nothing too extravagant could be seen in view. She walked over and plopped on the bed. She looked at me and smiled, waiving her finger for me to come over and join her.
“You know..I don’t normally bring men back on the first date.” She said as she was crawling on  me and kissing the base of my neck. She laughed as she rolled off.
“I don’t normally sleep with woman that I know nothing about.”
“Well let me change that fact. What do you want to know about me?” She said in a seductive, yet quizzical smile.
“Well what do you do? What’s your name? I just want to know the basic things about you.”
Rose up from the bed, and moved away and did a little dance, and twirled around the room.
“I, my good sir am an actress.  I sing, dance, and even act in the local theatres.  I like the finer things in life. Wine, meat, and soaks in the tub with a good book.” She stumbled closer to the bed, and crawled back on top of me. We spent the next several minutes kissing and fondling each other.  The next few hours were passion and lust come to life. It had seemed like several hours, the clock only shown a half hour had passed, I looked into her eyes and she looked back into mine. Whether or not this was a one night stand or a shack up, I knew I was in love with this angel, and I knew from the moment I woke up next to her that this was the happiest moment of my life.
A man rose from the center of the stage, he bowed and waved to us in the crowd, he slowly opened his mouth to speak.
“Welcome my friends, the souls of the lost to the most macabre show this side of town.” He hopped down from his platform and moved to left stage bending over, he peered into the eyes of the audience. “We have…what you might say as the most disturbing tale in the history of the theatre.”
I had always been a fan of the dark themed plays.  The special effects are outstanding, the narrator is really into his part, I thought.  I watched him dance around the stage singing a few lyrics, and entertain the audience.
The narrator went back to center stage, he bowed to the audience again, making sure they knew he was about to present his sad tale.
“Love…nothing greater can be compared. What if this love evolved from hate? Both are the extreme of the save emotion. Love is joy and happiness! Hate is strong and powerful!”, He clenched his fist and shook it in the air. “What if… I ask you? If hate were mistake for love? Would there be evil?  Our story is about a misguided love…and one you will never soon forget!”
As the final word was spoken, the narrator glanced into my eyes.  I was feeling thrills through my body and I could not wait for the play start.  The lights went completely out, and the spotlight shone center stage. The curtain parted slightly, a familiar looking blonde stepped out.  My heart fluttered, she had returned to the theatre. Part of me smiled, and the other was filled with dread. When had she returned? Why didn’t she let me know she was back, and the biggest question to answer -why had she returned?
She had taken to the stage and bowed before the audience; she began to dance to the music the organ began to bellow, her movements were limp and chaotic, she moved around the stage continuing her broken dance.  The organ began to slow and her movements became more erratic, she laid on the floor once the organ stopped. The crowd began to sound their eerie groans and applause.
The lights went dark, the stage crew began to change the scene. Once the lights shone again, the scene was a familiar place.  It was the bar where we had first met…an exact replica. Extras started to fill the scene, actress moved to the center stage at the bar.  The only error in this scene was the music, it was so full of dread and anger. Not the bright colorful jazz ensemble the night we had danced.
A man in a grey suit emerged on to the scene, he crept towards the actress, not full movements slow methodical movements. Like a predator sneaking to prey, he was in earshot of the beautiful blonde, she noticed him and they both started to converse. He laughed and she laughed, the man edged closer, and began to smell his prize.  He ordered her a drink, and with the flick of the wrist added something to the cocktail. She took a swallow of the beverage, and her words started to slur, the blonde tried to stand up. The man in grey was there to catch her, but not before running his hand up her dress, and kissing her neck.
All the pieces were starting to place into their positions, I suddenly grew uncomfortable and tried to stand.  I was stuck to the cushion. I couldn’t bear to watch it anymore, I tried to move and the chair kept me in place. I was forced back in the chair by some mysterious force.
The gray man was helping her out of the scene.  I remembered her name now…Angel, it was Angel. I knew what was going to happen next, someone was going to break the wings of the beautiful angel.  I wouldn’t let the play go on.
Both actors were on set and beginning something tragic, if I couldn’t move I could scream.
“Stop! Stop this play! I cannot handle another minute of this atrocity!” I screamed as loud as my lungs would allow.  
The whole theatre grew quiet, and I could feel the presence of being looked at all around, I turned to my neighbors.  Their eyes were sunken, a mouths misshapen and replaced by a black void. Their cold bony hands forced my hands down on the seat.  The audience began to moan in pain.
The players on stage stopped. The actress turned to look at me.  Her eyes shone red, and her mouth full of sharp needles. She floated from the stage hovering in my face, I could smell a sweet odor emanating from her maw.
“You didn’t heat me scream stop… You didn’t hear my words at all!”, her words came like the hiss from a snake. “I bet you didn’t hear or feel anything at all.- yes, I remember that night. You longed to have me for yourself…you had been watching me for weeks, no, months.” her beady red eyes scanned me over, the creature seemed to smirk at me.
“I…I…”, are the only words I was able to get out.
“Used me for your own gain…to take a love that wasn’t bequeathed to you because of some fantasy in high school?” What was angel brought her claws to stroke my face.
Words no longer able to come from my mouth, I just watched as the creature eyed me over.
“Once I awoke, you never had the decency to cover my frail body up…you left me vulnerable on some god-forsaken bed.  I started screaming, that’s where the hits started coming from…you were frustrated and angry your prey…started to relize what was going on.”
She was right. I was afraid of what I was doing, I didn’t want my neighbors to hear her scream.  I started to beat her, strangle her. When she started to run, I cornered her by the window and pushed.  I remember her body falling, it was like watching a snow globe fall in slow motion once her head met the concrete, and it shattered releasing its contents all over the ground.
I remember everyone saw the body fell.  I started to feel weak, feel angry, I had to think fast.  When the cops showed up to my door to ask me what happened, I told them it was a mistake.  She was a lady I had picked up from the bar, we were having a good time together. Once we had finished she started with the drugs, she had something in her system.  She tried to kill me, and I fought back. The more I told the story after the incident…the more I believed it.
The cops took me for questioning, I repeated the same story several times. The autopsy came back that there were indeed drugs and alcohol in her system.  The police dropped the charges after that. I thought I had gotten away Scott free.
The creature smiled, watching me squirm about remembering the past.  
“ I’m glad you remember that night…because you always will…you will always remember this feeling of self-loathing and hatred, you will be tormented with this memory for an enternity…not just as you see it…but it will be continued to show to you as something you enjoy…to feel the torture I felt..”
What had been angel lifted its hand and placed it on my chest.  I could feel searing hot pain and pressure. My chest felt like it was on fire.  My vision started to blur…I remembered the theatre as my heaven a place, where I could go to get away from things. Now it would become my hell.

For years I had been a fan of the theatre, seeing plays and mingling with the cast and crew. I recall one August night, as I was heading out of the office and heading to a new play, which was put together by the local theatre group. Thoughts of wonder and surprise filled my head. It had been months since anything new came to town