Saturday, April 19, 2014

Poetry By Gene McCormick

Gene McCormick has had fourteen books published: non-fiction, fiction and poetry. His most recent short story/poetry collections include Rain On The Sun (2008); Tanya, Queen Of The Greasy Spoon, (2009); An Ice Axe At Dusk (2011, March Street Press); poetry chapbooks, Lives Of Passion: Edward And Antoinette, (2013, RWG Press), Livin’ The Blues At Cranky Jack’s Bar & Grill, (2010, BoneWorld Publishing/MuscleHead Press), Naked Skeletons (2010, Pudding House Publications) and a series of self-illustrated broadsides. His writing and art regularly appear in select literary publications; a number of his poems have been converted to music and performed professionally. McCormick lives in Wayne, Illinois.

Cold Coffee

There is a man sitting over in the corner by himself watching as I count out thirteen dollars to myself, all I’ve got today. A ten, three singles. He’s not a threatening presence, just there maybe verifying that all I have is thirteen dollars—as if that needs verification. Sure as hell don’t need a money clip to hold thirteen dollars, four bills. Have a money clip back at the house, gold-tome-plated metal with the head of the racehorse John Henry. Don’t use it because even there were a need for it, it is clamped too tight to easily slide bills in and out. It never really loosened up but probably would if it got used more. As things stand, it is like brand new, waiting for new money. Well, I have enough money to buy a cup of coffee; two cups and a decent tip. Said she’d meet me here at nine-thirty. It’s just past that now and it’s not like her to be late though I don’t really know that for a fact and as a matter of fact it’s not like me to be early.

God, I hate to wait for people.

She isn’t shilly-shallying, no shilly-shallying going on at all as she stands staring in the bathroom mirror, thighs flush against the sink ledge, moving small pastel-colored bottles and jars of creams, gels and liquids about, thoughtfully, preparing a composition as though setting up a chess board. She stares at the bottles, shakes her head almost imperceptively and shifts them about again and again, faster, and then still faster like a terrier with a toy mouse. Finally, squeezing some cream onto the tip of her index finger, she writes to him, to each and all, a message on the mirror.

“It doesn’t matter if I’m late.”

He looks at the clock on the wall, then at the man sitting in the corner who looks back at him.

She lays flat on her back on the cool bathroom tile floor, eyes open. It’s uncomfortable.

Okay, he decides she’s had enough time to get here. He pats his pants pocket, feeling the dollars and heads across the street to the Super Walmart.

Against all odds, she falls asleep on the bathroom floor, the tiles now warm to her body.

Tuesday Is Trash Day

Because it has a short, strong spring,
every time someone pushes through 
the screen door it slams twice:
bam, then bam again, bouncing off
the door jamb emphasizing a 
coming or going—one of the few
things around the house that 
works well, if at all.
But her, her leaving…
Saying goodbye to her was like
taking out the trash and the hell with
the screen door banging twice.

Sunny-Side Up

Laying about, a red pajama sleeve 
bunches about the crook of her elbow,
its folds mimicking petals and leaves
of, say, a rosebud or chrysanthemum
made of 60% polyester.
Momentarily gazing at her floral elbow,
Della straightens the sleeve and resumes
staring at the ceiling, one hand resting
on her inner thigh.
Her bed partner is immobile, turned away
as early morning school busses rumble by
and as she begins to move her hand.

Twenty minutes later in the kitchen,
she cracks eggs on the edge of the skillet
and fries sliced potatoes for her man,
slouching at the table.
“Working a split shift today, hon?” he asks.
“Yeah, breakfast for you and lunch at the diner.”
“Just asking.”
“Screw you.”
“Don’t break my egg yolks.”
“Screw you.”

Della reaches for the coffee can of tip money,
counting exact change for bus fare.
“I need beer money,” he says.
She tilts the entire can of change into her purse.
“Screw you and screw your damn beer,” she says,
slams the screen door, heads to the bus stop.

Jazz After Hours : Jammin’

In a retail storefront, rented space just large
enough for an afterhours jam session, two guys, 
day jobs done, chill, make small talk and ease 
into after dark jazz improvisations.

The taller dude stands as erect as a bugler at revelry,
trumpet in hand, spitting some “April In Paris”
while the sax shoves his glasses up his forehead 
and goes with some mellow testing
and then, seamlessly, it is a jam, an oblique riff
with the trumpet on top of the sax, backing off
as the ax starts flowing tamped velvet, 
the sax guy into it, grinding the balls of his feet, 
closed slits for eyes.

Easing off the horn, the trumpeter sits cross-legged 
on the floor pulling myriads of musical instruments 
from sacks and wicker baskets: harmonica,
a children’s xylophone, cow bells, chimes, 
a baby blue kazoo, a penny whistle, ping pong balls
all the while rocking side to side mix-managing 
musical tools while the sax man contributes 
African skin drums and a kalimba. 
They are their own audience; a half hour, an hour 
passes blowing-pounding notes that don’t bounce 
or reverberate around the empty room; 
the essence of cool, they breathe and slide.

Two animated young Latino girls pass by outside,
hearing the blues from the shady storefront.
They try the door, holler Yo! It rattles but is locked.
(The door is an old wooden one with chipped and 
peeling white lead paint, warped from tens of years 
of Midwest weather but still able to keep 
things out and things in. A shade covers 
the window portion). The girls shrug and move on, 
unnoticed. The music continues.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Seven Poems By Alan Catlin

Alan Catlin has been publishing for five decades from the mimeos to the internet and everything in between. He has well over sixty chapbooks and full length books of poetry and prose to his credit.  Forthcoming is a memoir with poetry, “Books of the Dead,” about the deaths of his parents , Kafkaesque and brutally intense, and that’s just the legal and medical aspects of death, and a chapbook of poetry from Night Ballet Press, “Beautiful Mutants”


“Now the time has come
There’s no place to run
I might get burned up by the sun
But I had my fun”
  Chambers Brothers, “Time Has Come Today”

All he had was time:
time to kill or be killed,
time like a Stones song that
never ends after a tour of duty
as desert dee jay, Rave spinner
at Lalafellujah: Summer Festival
of Death, flash dancing tracer rounds,
one visions in night vision goggles,
heat seeking missiles and phosphorus
grenade launch pad ignitions to Eminem,
white is black, hip hop rap song psy ops
extravaganza.  Iron maiden, Number
of the Beast Midnight Madness,
lighting candles and watching them burn,
every mother’s son one of the chosen
children of the damned, chlorine bleached
on the bleeding edge of a drowning pool,
letting the bodied hit the floor, the bodies
no one has time to bury as Enter the Sandman
plays, drowning out calls to prayer
just this side of paradise, Gates of Eden
reconfigured as toppling like dominos,
house of cards minarets, saving the city
by razing it.

Bright Lights and Dragons

There may be worse ways
to wake up but, if there is one,
I haven’t found out how yet.
Once I focused my eyes enough
to actually see, I discovered that
whatever it was I had been doing
the last few days involved facial
tattoos and heavy duty dissipation.
I wasn’t even sure what day it was.
What month, when I thought about it.
Man, I hate when that happens. 
The more I looked at that tattoo,
the more I wondered, “What the hell
did I get myself into this time?”
This could be serious shit given
the complexity of the lines and 
the fierceness of the design, suggesting
something that could involve black magic
and blood sacrifice.  That stuff is
never brings good news. Not in my
experience anyway.  Damn.
My head hurt too much, hell, all of me
hurt so much, that thinking wasn’t
going to be part of the agenda today.
My eyes looked so blank and clear
you could show home movies on
them though I wasn’t sure  if I was 
seeing stuff or experiencing  vivid acid 
flashbacks. I sort of hoped it was flashbacks 
given all the blood on the walls, sheets, 
floor, even my body, though I couldn’t 
localize anything that could be described 
as an actual wound. Damn.  Well, no doubt 
the pain would pass but the black ink 
dragon crawling across my cheek, 
jaws spread wide enough to swallow 
my eyeball was going to be forever. 
Damn. I guess if I see someone 
who looks the same way, I’ll know who
 to ask what happened and where do 
we go from here. 

Stretched Out on the Pavement, Near Lillian’s, Saratoga
Springs, April 2014

She goes from, “Hey, Honey, got
any spare change?” to: fallen-and-I-
Can’t-Get-Up supine, a 9-11 call 
in progress, mumble core feature 
extra with a speaking part,
“Must have been something in
the water.” She claims, looking up
at nothing in particular, flat on her back,
not concerned about who is listening.
“They’re bottling it now. It’s local water.”
The lead ET asks, ”What is it, 86 proof?”
“No, what are you crazy? It’s a 110.
It’s special. I could tell you where to buy
some but if word gets out, all the Rummies
will want some too and I’ll be out of luck.”
“Your secret is safe with me, sweetheart.
Don’t go anywhere now.  I’ll be right
back with your gurney.”
“Some of my best days end this way.”
She says to the clouds.
No one wants to know how the bad ones end.

Black Leather Jacket and Motorcycle Boots

The sewn-on patch on his dress leathers,
cut down to a vest, says, “Every inch a 
biker.”  His name in script, beneath his
motto for living, says, “Curly: don’t mess
with my ride or my woman.” The hierarchy
of importance among the two significant others, 
scars between/through fading tattoos, suggest 
his willingness to live by his creed.  

His age indeterminate but gray in his unkempt 
beard indicates he is among the elders of his tribe, 
somewhere past the age of 40. As old maybe as
45.  He shaves his head. Gingerly bends to his task, 
polishing the chrome, the mirror clear, free-of-scratches 
body of his machine.  

The angel of whatever death cult he belongs to 
rises from the ashes on his jacket,
a succinct phrase states the nature of their
way of life: Love the Pain.  The way he moves
this ravaged body indicates he has seen more 
than  his share, and expects to experience more,
before the last ride down whatever Route 666 
he will eventually dump his bike on, a hero’s 
spontaneous funeral roadside: flames in the desert,
a blackened spot, then nothing.

One Stop Neighborhood Banking

Talking to cops, they tell you it’s 
a good thing  most criminals are 
stupid or our jobs would be close
to impossible now that the bad guys
are better armed and have more
to lose than ever, thanks to the drug
trade.  Just last week, we pulled 
down this clown who robbed his
local bank, handed over a note asked
for money and the teller laughed.
“Are you serious? she said.
“Totally, girl, hand over the cash.”
She hits the silent alarm, gives him 
her drawer and waits for The Man.
The guy got away with it for like
three minutes. She knew who he
was, knew where he lived, right
around the block, probably had his
cell number too, as the guy had
just asked for her date a week ago.  
You’d like to enter into his thought
process for a couple of minutes:
“Man, that stuff was good.  Sure could
use another blast.  But I’m tapped, Man.
Hey there’s a bank right around
the corner where that hot chick works.
Hell, I’ll just wander over and withdraw
some money.  She won’t care.
It’s not her money, right?”

The Man on the Windshield

Jumps off thruway
overpass, lands on car
doing 70, maybe, 80 m.p.h.,
goes airborne, lands on
windshield of second car,
rebounds off the soft
shoulder/verge. Lives.
Says, the whole experience
gave no meaning to phrase,
“Bad acid flashback.”
Says, it was his third suicide
attempt.  Failed. Sues everyone
involved. Loses. Walks with 
a limp now. Looks like shit.  

Blood Thirsty Cannibals

The cabbie who was going to
kill himself, dropped me where
Madison meets Lark downtown.
Later, I would think, he must have 
been marking his declining years 
by how may teeth had fallen out 
and it was  almost time to die.  
There were a few stories going 
around about how he did it but none 
of them involved an open coffin so 
we’ll never ever know for sure
if my thoughts were valid.

I had a reading on Central upstairs
at the Boulevard after a slow day
working the bar on a New Year’s Eve. 
There was a major weird vibe just being
where I was, near seventy degrees out,
in work clothes, sober and seriously 
needing a drink. Didn’t matter much 
where, I thought, picked a bar and 
wandered in.  The mauve neon should
have been a dead giveaway but I wasn’t
thinking atmosphere what I was thinking
was Johnny Walker Red now. Called for 
a Rob Roy and stared into the face of the most
clueless person who had ever stood behind
a bar. Then I saw all of his lip licking friends 
in the backbar mirror staring at me as
if I were chum on the waters. Jesus Harry
Christ, I thought, tried again. 
“You’ve heard of a Manhattan, right?
Think Scotch instead of Rye, and pretend
you are making one of those with a whisper
of Dry Vermouth and lemon twist.
You know how to do a lemon twist, right? 
If not, I’ll show you. Make it one of those
mini-shakers and pour it over ice and no on
gets hurt, okay? There might even be a nice 
tip in it for you.”

Drinking was my avocation in those days
and I took my work seriously sort of like 
a blood thirsty cannibal before the main meal.
Thought to myself, that wasn’t a half-bad
title for a poem. I had over an hour to kill
before the reading.  I could get a lot of work
done in an hour. All I needed now was
to keep the piranha at bay, some bar napkins
to write on and a pen.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Peycho Kanev at Zombie Logic Review

Peycho Kanev is the author of 4 poetry collections and two chapbooks. He has won several European awards for his poetry and he’s nominated for the Pushcart Award and Best of the Net. Translations of his books will be published soon in Italy, Poland and Russia. His poems have appeared in more than 900 literary magazines, such as: Poetry Quarterly, Evergreen Review, Columbia College Literary Review, Hawaii Review, Cordite Poetry Review, Sheepshead Review, Off the Coast, The Adirondack Review, The Coachella Review, Two Thirds North, Sierra Nevada Review, The Cleveland Review and many others.


Universe       Mountains       Oceans of dust       Time

The hours did their job       The clock winder       The flock

I can hear those tic and tocks across the hallway but I did not noticed

until now       the timekeeper has no hands.

I am

I am the man lying comfortable in these lines

I am the one picking spider webs off the clockwork of the Universe

I am one person in front of the mirror smoking his pipe

clenched fist with dirty fingernails, that is who am I

snapping mouth singing soft lullabies, that is who am I

I am roaring lion playing with a ball of black yarn

broken beads dancing in the fairy tale, that is me

I am all

without it I am nothing.

Memories Passing by

I’m 30 now, then, (I was), and
like my friends would say: “drunk”,
and might add: “like a novelist”, but I’m
leaning on this wooden fence and talking to this
damsel in red. I think she was older than me
and wiser, yes. And then she was gone, I think…

My memory is nothing more than dirty gauze…

Dancing under the glowing of the street lamp, two
bodies and the darkish-red substance all in one, splitting
with the music, rising to the clouds, sapience and

This living resembles a poem, a short story,
a novel…

The reader now lives outside of the narrative, closely
to the covers, in the last page, the blood is pumping, rusty
razor and veins are dancing in our collective memory their
endless waltz.

 Time the book to be closed.


It’s dark in here
even during this sunny day.
The light cannot penetrate
through the mirror -
it’s reflecting only me.

Table full of empty bottles
and glasses covered with spiders
and dust.

Window with bars and dirty

I am looking outside.

Men are walking around
with hands like

The leaves of the trees
are shaking,
but there is no wind.

The Others

They sit in the white and green caf├ęs
and talk about serious issues. I
heard them say: None are more hopelessly
enslaved than those who falsely believe
they are free. I drink my beer, thinking of
all of those in tiny cells, looking at
the barred windows, waiting for the pigeons
of tomorrow. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Six Poems By Poet Peter Burzynski

Peter Burzynski is a first-year PhD student in Creative Writing-Poetry at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.  He holds a B.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a M.F.A. in Poetry from The New School University, and a M.A. in Polish Literature from Columbia University. 

In between his studies, he has worked as a Sous-Chef in New York City and Milwaukee.  His poetry has appeared on The Best American Poetry, Kritya, and Bar None Group websites as well as in the Fuck Poems Anthology. He has poems forthcoming from BORT quarterly and the Great Lakes Review.

After Common Era

& the world begins with a click.  
It’s the only explanation for why 

we ration thought.  & then it twitters 
out of control, trading thoughts 

for gossip & the things we would need 
to build a proper bone.  & it grows 

impatient with tongues & teapots.  
& it wants what it can have, what 

it can’t have, right away.  Then it breeds 
& that’s when we make windows 

out of sand & press images onto them 
with our feet. & it grows worn, but not 

old.  & it takes a lot of rock & grain 
to scrape, & harvest, & grow.  

& it will grow emptied, plucked 
down to the bone.  

Dearest Vagina (A Vagina Dialogue)

Hello vagina, I have written a song
to you, but must warn you that you are not
the only one.  I am always singing
to vaginas.  All of them like you
and all of them not.  Troubadour 
or gigolo, which is wrong?

I hope you dance with me vagina
because I’m better at dancing 
than playing the lute or the lyre.
But I can sing, vagina, you’ll see.
Tell me about yourself.
Do you have any hobbies?

I like to sew and play chess.
I’ve been called Hermaphrodite,
vagina, but you don’t know that
because you’re so poorly read.
What do you think of Modigliani
faces? Over-boiled, their faces look 

so terribly unenchanted by my own.
They would spit into the feathers
of my beard and leave me dripping
my fluid self from all my solid
pores.  They’re that cruel, vagina.
Do you prefer French or German

cheeses?  What wouldn’t you 
believe? Do you think I could live
in a snow globe? I’d be super then.
I’d eat powerkraut to keep me alive
and grinning.  The snow globe 
would be brimming with flower, 

heated, but there would be terrible 
storms of crayons falling from 
the sky. I’m frightened, vagina, 
some of them are still in their packs.  
I bruise like an old tomato. Death
will string us in the trees. But you need

not worry, vagina. The Baroque period 
has made you immortal.  You will live 
on by healing with your happy powers.  
You will push out princes and picketers. 
You will live by feeding your hosts 
their daily vitamins and small electric quakes.  
You, multi-foliate vegetable, will go on.

Six Kilo Freedom Fry

If you don’t like France
in your French Fry
just skip the potato
and drink the grease.

Unintentional Impressionism 

Looking down from the mountain
I see you robed as a courtly bovine 

Queen leaning on drapes of red 
and black, pushing against each 

other in the distance. I realize 
that you are oh so far away.

Vast Veranda 

Broken, friend, no more
swords, talons, tongues.
The birds haven’t woken,
we haven’t really begun
the scratching and the tugs.
Airy Aryan breaking his belt
at the buckle, waiting for 
the God-damned sun.

You're Well


this poem is
peaches and whisky
soaked cigarettes
and little bags of coat hangers

Friday, April 11, 2014

Five Poems By Holly Day

Holly Day was born in Hereford, Texas, “The Town Without a Toothache.” She and her family currently live in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where she teaches writing classes at the Loft Literary Center. Her published books include the nonfiction books Music Theory for Dummies, Music Composition for Dummies, and Guitar All-in-One for Dummies, and the poetry books “Late-Night Reading for Hardworking Construction Men” (The Moon Publishing) and “The Smell of Snow” (ELJ Publications).

A Story About God

When my father was ten, his mother died
and he went outside into the street after her funeral and screamed
at God. He said, “Take me,
you fucker!” to God, and his younger brother, my
uncle, was so scared he ran
into the room they both shared and hid. Later, when
my father came back, my uncle asked him what Hell was like
why God had let him come back, if he had seen
their mother, what she was wearing. 

            The Vampire

The vampire comes in through my window and sees I have written more poems about him. He thumbs through the stacks of loose-leaf paper, leaves bloody fingerprints on the crumpled edges. I watch him from my bed, eyes half-closed, pretending to be asleep, watch him as he shakes his head, snorts derisively, scribbles something nasty in the corner of one sheet, crosses out all the words I’ve used improperly with a bright red pen.

            The Beautiful Things

I read through my son’s emails
wonder at the beautiful things he’s
written to girls, wonder at the sincere
man emerging through these words. My son
the poet, I think, savoring the
unbidden phrase. My son, the
writer. I should have known
he would grow up to be this man. I shut down
his machine, think about
the conversations we
should have been having about writing, and art,
and music, wonder how I can broach
the subject of his poetry
without revealing I’ve been reading through
his emails, without letting him know  I know
all the wonderful things he’s been
saying to other girls.

The Elephant

when an elephant is young, he
is tied to a pole
too heavy for his little body
to move it its own.

he spends his first years
tied to this pole, is encouraged
to pull hard against it
to test his limits
to give up.

for the rest of his life
he will believe
he’s not strong enough to break free
from his chains, will simply accept his bondage
to the same limitations
he was strapped to
as a child.

            They Will Discharge Me Soon

white walls, soft
floor, white goes all
up and down the
ceiling to the floor
bright eyes watching me
through the small square
window—you won’t

get in my
head tonight  sharp
metal objects in doctors’
pockets keep me up
all night long—how
can being scared all
all the time make me
better, make me well
enough to go back home?