Monday, January 27, 2020

J.B. Stevens


The TV flickered blue and crackled and who doesn’t have Netflix?
I blame my-self, but not really
Burning toast reminds me of Mom.
Pawn shops and street corners and "it fell off a truck". Nothing worth the risk.
I unplug the toaster.
I step over the mess. Milk mixed with blood and it looks like Pepto-Bismal.
Tears in bloodshot-eyes. I can’t hear her, the duct tape is tight and strong.
“Stop. I don’t care. Stop.”
My mask is still on. I won’t hurt her, no reason. I don’t like hurting people. I told her, but she didn’t believe me.
Tommy is dead. The woman- fight or flight- we know which one she’s about.
Tommy’s dead, he can’t talk. There’s no reason to hurt her. I hope she understands.
The tape is tight.
The knife is still in there. Deep.
No cash- leave the TV- leave Tommy. Fuck Tommy.
Oxycontins left over from the boob job. Xanax left over from the divorce. It's a good day.
Fuck Tommy. It’s his fault, going in like this is an action movie. Scaring this poor woman. More for me.
Oxy and Xannie and fuck Tommy. A good day.

Chandler Smith reads "Xannie":

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J.B. confesses: "I was inspired to write this poem by two events. First, I read an article about a murderer (who doesn’t deserve to be named). This murderer had an outburst in court where he exclaimed he was the true victim. The second event was this article."

J.B. STEVENS lives in the Southeastern United States with his wife and daughter. His writing has been published by Mystery Tribune, Out of the Gutter, Close To The Bone, Thriller Magazine, Story and Grit, Punk Noir Magazine, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, Criminal Element, and many others. He can be found online at and

Monday, January 20, 2020

Richard Spillman


He’s forty maybe, with tired eyes,
and skin so dark his tattoos
shift like deer in a forest at night.

He asks what I did and laughs
when I mention the protest march:
why would I care about that shit?

He tells me he’s in for murder,
not here but in Loosiana, some guy
with more mouth than brains,

and offers a cigarette, which I take
though I don’t smoke. Sharing a cell
with a killer makes me congenial.

He compares jails: Mississippi
was bad, but in Los Angeleez,
they got some crazy people there.

You talk about banks playing
with money like kids with bubbles,
for the joy of watching them pop.

He’d just seen Mandingo on Prime
and couldn’t get over the shock.
“Bred like horses,” he says.

I admit I knew, and his eyes
seem to measure my part in it.
Then he says he knew, too,

about the bankers, everybody’d
heard about that, but hell,
what can you do, you got to live.

Gerald So reads "Smoking in Jail":

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Richard confesses: I updated 'Smoking in Jail,' but the narrative is true to fact. I'd been arrested during a protest, and frequent hearings were held to encourage a plea deal. I moved, one of the notices didn't reach me, so like many asylum seekers, I ended up in jail."

RICHARD SPILLMAN is the author of In the Night Speaking and of a chapbook, Suspension. His poems have appeared Poetry and Rattle, The Southern Review and Gargoyle, and lots of other places.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Richie Narvaez


For E.A. Aymar

When I woke up this a.m., I didn’t think I was going to have to kill anybody, but some days you stretch a bottle of gin and half a pack of Morley’s, other days you’re at the bank to empty your account & you find yourself stopping a heist-hostage situation before lunch, three gutter punks wearing Hendrick’s Plus-Size Back Seam Thigh-High Stockings™ for masks hollering for the aging patrons and the one turtle-slow teller to get down, shut the hell up. You find yourself Captain Kirk-rolling on the cold marble to come up blasting the leader to kingdom come, pivoting to echo bullets in his partners’ faces. You find yourself in the sudden silence standing akimbo, nodding to no one, then walking away, chest out, unthanked, unloved, unknown because that’s the way you like it, the way I need it. However, there’s one cheerful fellow at the door, his hand up. So I raise my hand to slap it, I deserve it, why not. But he’s actually just waving hi to someone behind me, so I, I pretend I need to tug on my ear just then and keep on walking. The smell of gunfire fresh in the afternoon air.

Richie reads "Death #556":

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Richie confesses: I recently re-saw the Jack Palance movie I Died a Thousand Times, and it made me wonder about what each particular death could be. This poem's death was inspired by a social media post I read by the author E.A. Aymar. Please forgive me, E.A.

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 in May.

Monday, January 6, 2020

Robert Cooperman


At first, I wondered
why a governor who signed
an open carry law gleefully
as a kid tearing into
his Christmas present,
would also sign an executive order
freeing non-violent offenders.

Then it hit me: he wanted
those released felons hunted
by gun-loving supporters.

Sure those prisoners weren’t guilty
of armed robbery or manslaughter,
but who’s to say they won’t graduate
to more vicious crimes?
Besides, they defrauded, kited checks,
sold drugs to kids, bored housewives,
investment bankers, doctors, lawyers,
judges, morticians, and grannies,
thus contributing to the gutting
of America’s greatness.
So they deserve their heads blown off.

Not mentioned, they were released
into big game parks, to be tracked, stalked,
and blasted, their carcasses gutted,
cleaned and butchered into cheap cuts
of meat for neighborhoods
that were otherwise food deserts.

A win for the governor, his legislators,
supporters, and of course the deserving poor.

Gerald So reads "Oklahoma's Open Carry Law":

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Bob confesses: "A dear friend from Oklahoma wrote a while ago that the new governor had almost simultaneously instituted an open carry law and an amnesty for various classes of non-violent prisoners. I wondered why, and came up with this modest proposal/solution, sort of inspired by Swift and the story, 'The Most Dangerous Game'"

ROBERT COOPERMAN's latest collection is The Devil Who Raised Me (Lithic Press). Recently published was That Summer (Main Street Rag Publishing Company). Forthcoming from FutureCycle Press is Lost on the Blood-Dark Sea.

Monday, December 30, 2019

Bruce Robinson


It’s raining. It’s pouring. A car is
idling beside a swamp field
somewhere beyond the turnpike.
It has no lights, but there’s smoke
from the field, smoke from the exhaust,

the smoke is visible

even without the light of multiple impressions,
the trunk’s closed, it had been open,
now it’s closed. You’ve got two guys
standing around, their boots staining in the marl,
they’re watching without much interest
the last bubbles popping from the bog.

One of them coughs.

Bruce reads "Alembic":

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Bruce confesses: "Most of what we read about Iron Age cadavers who apparently met violent deaths describes bodies discovered in the peat bogs of northern Europe; I’ve reconfigured the ritual as covert disposal of a corpse in, go figure, New Jersey. Far less romantic. I’d read about bog people well before the PBS documentary, yet the idea that many bog bodies are well preserved never bothered me as I buried my own. I guess if a body’s not discovered, it doesn’t matter that it hasn’t decayed."

Recent work by BRUCE ROBINSON appears or is forthcoming in Mobius, Pangyrus, The Menteur, Connecticut Poetry Review, and Common Ground.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Charles Rammelkamp


Nancy could have kicked herself for her indiscretion,
mentioning to her boyfriend Sonny
the old guy at the bank, Mister Hughes,
one of the regular Tuesday customers,
inviting her out to lunch last week.

It had been an innocent date,
Mister Hughes old as her grandfather,
a delightful meal in a posh restaurant
she’d never have been able
to afford on her own.

"We can use this to our advantage,"
Sonny said, eyeballs like cherries
rolling in a slot machine
to a sensational jackpot.
"A lonely old guy
sniffing after the young stuff."

"It’s not like that!" Nancy protested.
"He’s just a sweet old man.
Leave him alone, Sonny!”

"Riiiiight," Sonny replied,
the calculations still spinning in his eyes.

Charles reads "The Elder":

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Charles confesses: "Having reached the age of 67, I am more acutely aware of elder abuse and the scams that are played on old folks worried about their financial security, and the loneliness that grows on them as they watch their contemporaries die one by one, their vulnerability. Our vulnerability."

CHARLES RAMMELKAMP is Prose Editor for BrickHouse Books in Baltimore and Reviews Editor for The Adirondack Review. A chapbook of poems, Jack Tar’s Lady Parts, is available from Main Street Rag Publishing. Another poetry chapbook, Me and Sal Paradise, was recently published by FutureCycle Press. An e-chapbook has also recently been published online Time Is on My Side (yes it is). Another chapbook, Mortal Coil, is forthcoming from Clare Songbirds Publishing.

Monday, December 16, 2019

J.H. Johns


They’ve wanted us to believe
that it was—
about Hillary,
the Democrats,
and Russian interference
in the 2016 election.

was it really?

was all of that
just a "school of red herrings"—
a cover—
"the real hacking?"

That the real targets
were the other Republicans,

gathering dirt on them,

so that once in office
they knew better
than to oppose him,

the reason
they keep their mouths—


Paul Churchill Mann reads "Wondering about the Real Crime":

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J.H. confesses: "Look, should we assume that Trump's overture to the Ukrainians about the Bidens—and dirt—is just simply a new development? Or, should we see it as a tactic that he has used before, leading up to the 2016 election, that if elected he could keep the Republicans in the House and Senate—some if not all—quiet and supportive? I wonder if this was not the real crime."

J.H. JOHNS "grew up and came of age" while living in East Tennessee and Middle Georgia. Specifically, the two places "responsible" for the writer that he has become are Knoxville, Tennessee and Milledgeville, Georgia. Since then, he has moved on to Chicago—for a brief stint—and New York City—for a significantly longer stay. Currently, he is "holed up" in a small town where when he is not writing, he tends to his "nature preserve" and his "back forty." His goal is to surround his house with all sorts of vegetation so as to obscure it from the gaze of the "locals." He is assisted in this task by his coonhound buddy and companion, Roma.