Monday, August 3, 2020

David S. Pointer


Instead of GPS, we need
old jump hour, jive-master,
watches to navigate through
history and hidden economics
as the Victorian era Capitalist
print cartoons showed knee to
worker neck, long before the
Vietnam Conflict film footage
showed infantry soldiers atop
proned out indigenous people
as the unauthorized technique
low crawled under militarized
police policy-procedure manuals
to show up on the highly watched
streets like top grade China White.

David reads "Kneecaps or US":

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David confesses nothing.

DAVID S. POINTER has been an underground poet for many years. David once served in the United States Marine Corps military police. New work will appear in Footnotes #4 from Alt Current Press. David lives in Murfreesboro, TN with his daughters and kitty cats.

Monday, July 27, 2020

Ankit Anand


It’s the heat that gets you first, the smoke
Follows. Maybe it’s the blanket. It is
Summer, after all. Did I leave the
Stove on? I nudge him. Did I leave
The stove on? Go back to sleep, he says.

The smoke is thicker now and I begin
To cough. Something’s wrong. Crackle. What
Was that? I throw the bedsheet off, run
Open the door. There’s fire in the stairway.
It has a punk haircut; orange and blue
And purple. I grab him by the nightshirt
. It’s too large on him. Fire, I try
I try to say. Then point. His eyes widen
“Open the window,” he screams. I slip and scamper.

I see him. Standing below. My husband. What has he
Done? I deserve it. I sit. The fire burns.
He screams. My husband looks. I don’t look.

He’s charged with manslaughter. I hope he goes to
Hell. Because if he comes up here
I won’t be able to look him in the eye.

Gerald So reads "Heat":

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Ankit confesses: " wrote this poem as an exploration of passion, and the ambiguities associated with it."

ANKIT ANAND lives and works in San Jose, California.

Monday, July 20, 2020

Mehnaz Sahibzada


A red bird sat squat
beneath my mailbox
like a bomb about
to explode. It gazed up
at me as though it knew
I was capable of falling.
I opened the slot.
It was all junk mail.
The bird shifted tersely
on its plume, waiting to
be left alone. The year
had been a surge of face masks—
a market virus, the
wrath of turgid cops.
My nerves were shot.
I wondered if the bird
was injured or tired or maybe
hiding from the heatwave
of the afternoon.
I sifted through coupons
craving silence.
I blamed noise,
sheep, and those shiny
media pundits. That fiend
on a plane who once
barked, Girl, you need
to brush your hair.

The criminal who told me,
It’s easy to pretend
and the militant who shouted,
You don’t worship hate
, and the truth is
I don’t know how to talk about
cynicism. Five years ago,
I decided to be as moon
as night. Now
my memories of injustice
sleep inside a coven
where innocents burn
like cloistered suns.
The witches croon,
On the fractures
inside the skull of America
they’ve built a stripmall
that will get raided by
I want to know how
this red bird sits mute when
the year has been so loud.
Just last week I thought
I saw the same bird
nuzzling its head against
a weeping black tree that had
been reminded how
little we understood
when a postman walked
by wearing a veil,
his bag of junk mail
chanting, Buy two, get
one free
, and the city
strangling itself so kindly
as though every
mean bruise were an act
of love, and the
roses suddenly growing
backbones and
shouting, We can no
longer cultivate quiet.

Mehnaz reads "Quiet":

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Mehnaz confesses: "'Quiet' is an introvert’s response to the loudest year in history."

MEHNAZ SAHIBZADA was born in Pakistan and raised in Los Angeles. She is a 2009 PEN America Emerging Voices Fellow in Poetry. Her work has appeared in numerous publications, such as Liminality, Moira, The Literary Hatchet, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Pedestal Magazine, and Strange Horizons. Her first full-length collection, My Gothic Romance, was published in April 2019 by Finishing Line Press. A high school English teacher, she lives in southern California. To learn more about Mehnaz, visit her at

Monday, July 13, 2020

Rusty Barnes


On a steamy July day in the year
2025 a man will set fire to a trash

can in the parking lot of the former
racetrack at Suffolk Downs which will

jump to a nearby pile of wood
and spread to a set of tires

on an old Ford Focus which will ignite
an explosion which will trigger a flame

and a deluge of smoke which can
be seen from incoming planes

forced to reroute for not being
able to see and panic will ensue.

Right now that young man sits in a room
with many other people watching

fires bloom like mushrooms in the
west. He gets an erection and doesn't

know why. Years later it will come
to him that the way of pleasure

is through fire and he will take his
match and light a licking flame

which will heat his hand as he touches
himself which triggers the orgasm

which will pleasure his brain and he will
think: I love it. I love it. Let it all burn.

Rusty reads "Firebug":

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Rusty confesses: "In the late 2010s, the American west erupted with a series of wildfires which I observed from the safety of my tv screen. In my imagination, it happened next door, at the remains of the Suffolk Downs Horse Track, so I wrote this ugly poem about it."

RUSTY BARNES is a crime writer, editor and poet living in Revere MA. You can find his latest books of poetry at He maintains webspace at

Monday, July 6, 2020

Terry Dawley


Spent casings scattered
on a summer-night street

like dead brass bees
emptied of their stingers.

The spent body nearby,
emptied of its soul.

Gerald So reads "Spent Casings"

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Terry confesses:"As a police officer, I worked the high-crime hours of 8 PM to 4 AM, and on many summer nights observed spent casings scattered on a city street with a dead victim lying nearby. The simile of dead brass bees having spent their stingers struck me."

TERRY DAWLEY is a retired police officer from Erie, Pennsylvania. His work has appeared in Pithead Chapel, The Cleveland Review, Mused BellaOline Literary Journal, Soft Cartel, and Law Enforcement Today. He is an award winner of the Writer's Digest 80th Annual Writing Competition and a six-time award winner of the Pennwriters Annual Writing Contest.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Richie Narvaez


I don’t do divorce work, but Mr. Wynant folds his arms under the harsh office fluorescents behind his lawyer speechless with rage, and his sharp-suited lawyer says, “Mrs. Wynant’s going behind his back,” slides a check for 20 times my usual fee at the moment I’m late with rent, car payments, needed new brogues. “Get the evidence so we can nail her to the wall.” Three nights later, my rent, car payment, new brogues tumble out of Le Petite Crevette, holding hands, radiating chaos, giggling. “Got you,” I say, following them, finding and climbing the cold, jangly fire escape outside the paramour’s Bohemian apartment, filming them kissing, cuddling, clasping each other tenderly by the crimson glow of a lava lamp. At the climax of dawn, having secured my rent, car payments, new brogues, I get a six-pack of Old Düsseldorf, go home, celebrate solo. Next day, Mr. Wynant and his lawyer click “Play” and on the screen is a naked middle-aged man in the yellowy light of an incandescent bulb exhorting himself with a well-oiled Smith & Wesson Special. “Oh no,” I say, realizing something new about slippery flash drives, and the lawyer giggling says, “Is that — is that you?”

Richie reads "...Death #999":

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Richie confesses: "I recently re-saw the 1995 film I Died a Thousand Times, and wondered about what each particular death could be. This poem's death was inspired by cameras everywhere. Everywhere.

RICHIE NARVAEZ is the author of the anthology Roachkiller and Other Stories and the urban thriller Hipster Death Rattle. His next book, the YA historical mystery Holly Hernandez and the Death of Disco, is due out this summer.

Friday, June 26, 2020

Stop the World: Snapshots from a Pandemic

In late April, just over one month into New York's COVID-19 lockdown, I received an email invitation from cime writer Gary Phillips to contribute to a pandemic-themed anthology from Thalia Press. My new poem, "Locked In", was accepted, and the anthology will be published August 4.

On the whole, the book will include seven poems, eleven short stories, and twenty-two personal essays by George Arion, Meredith Blevins, Jacqui Brown, Robin Burcell, Tim Cahill, Taffy Cannon, Richard Cass, Sarah M. Chen, John Clark, Matt Coyle, Z.J. Czupor, J. Madison Davis, Eoghan Egan, Dan Fesperman, Kate Flora, Tami Haaland, Naomi Hirahara, Wendy Hornsby, Jody Jaffe, Paul Jeffcutt, Allen Morris Jones, Tatjana Kruse, Craig Lancaster, Adriana Licio, Lise McClendon, Mike Monson, Donna Moore, Sharan Newman, Jim Nisbet, Gary Phillips, John Rember, Travis Richardson, Merrilee Robson, Caitlin Rother, Wendy Salinger, John Shepphird, Keith Snyder, Gerald So, Marian Stanley, and Piet Tiegler.

The print paperback is available to bookstores through Ingram. If your local bookstores would be interested in selling it at $12.99, give me their contact info, and I'll have Thalia send a press release and electronic advance copy.

Individuals can pre-order online from Amazon ($7.99 Kindle | $12.99 Paperback), Barnes & Noble ($7.99 Nook | $12.99 Paperback), Apple, and Kobo.

All 2020 profits will be donated to charity at the end of the year.