Monday, September 17, 2018

Robert Cooperman


That 1972 Election Night,
joints went around, to keep us
from thinking about Nixon,
that crook hell-bent on turning
the Constitution into toilet paper.

Still, we had to laugh when Ray
opened an umbrella and quipped,

"I'm sitting under the canopy
of American Democracy."
Another joint, more giggles;
with weed, we could at least laugh
while Nixon bludgeoned the republic.

Now, all the pot in Colorado
can’t raise even a slight smile,
with what the Orange Nightmare
is doing: threats of border walls,
racist rallies calling for prison
for anyone who disagrees with him;
soon, goose stepping millions
thrusting arms in that salute,
while he laughs and applauds:

power an even more potent high
than a joint, or ten, of primo weed.

Gerald So reads "Four More Years":

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Bob confesses: "A bunch of us were listening to the '72 elections, depressed over Nixon's landslide. One friend opened an umbrella and declared ironically he was sitting under the umbrella of American democracy. We laughed, but now, with Trump, the times seem too dire for gags, maybe even for poems. I hope not."

ROBERT COOPERMAN is the author of many collections. His latest chapbook is the just-published Saved by the Dead (yes, the Grateful Dead). Soon to be released is the full-length collection Their Wars (Kelsay Books), That Summer (Main Street Rag) and and The Devil Who Raised Me (Lithic Press).

Monday, September 10, 2018

Etta Abrahams


"Here's how you spot a pickpocket,"
my father warned:
"He's the one who shouts
'Watch your pockets!'
"Then when you feel with your hands,
he's onto you,
and goes to work."

One of many warnings
I scoffed at:
Fifteen years old,
on my way to Times Square
to see the ball light up
1959, before explosions
tore apart the Towers
built on Battery Place
where he once worked, when
Kabul and Baghdad and Aleppo
were only names
in fairy tales, and pickpockets
were the least of our worries.

Etta reads "The Good Old Days":

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Etta confesses: "My dad's office was on Battery Place, site of the World Trade Center. He died January 2001 at 106, eight months before 9/11. I remembered his decades-old advice. Poignant."

ETTA ABRAHAMS is Emerita Professor of American Thought and Language, Michigan State University, and is co-owner of 2 Write Better LLC, an editing company.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Rusty Barnes


I knew your lock would fit no key,
that you could not be refereed,

by the way you kicked the soccer ball,
down and up the schoolhouse hall,

the punk-rock kid who couldn't sit
still or even give a rounded shit

about the things the teacher said.
Instead of listening you fled

and leapt across the school bus full
and knifed a boy across his skull,

then took him by his hairy head,
stabbed the fucker's throat till dead,

then calmly sat down in your seat
until the cops came down the street,

grabbed you roughly by the shirt,
and slammed your head into the dirt.

Rusty reads "Punk":

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Rusty confesses: "'Punk' began with a photo of a girl, who reminded me of the comic Tank Girl. I titled the as-yet-unwritten poem: 'The Girl Who Looks Like Tank Girl'. My wife told me that title sucked. Then I called it 'Punk Rock Girl', and continued to not write the poem. Then I shortened it to 'Punk', and found the poem."

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, August 27, 2018

Scott T. Hutchison


You should. You should take a stab at
a little larceny, a modicum of mayhem,
theft and vandalism in a modest amount.
And when the blues roll in on you,
put those flash-footed shoes
in the night wind. Allow alarm
to become a racing joy.

Avoid humiliation in central processing,
enduring the texture and smell of steel bed
and the piss pail--hard and stinking real--along with
the unbreakable bars, the monsters
and the screws—these
destinies reserved for the hard time future
and lockdown outcome
plaguing slow-dumb stumblers,
junked-up foggers.

But you, just do a little bit of bad.
Keep the clear mind, know the slick
sprint routes, the creative lose ‘em corners
and the daring darts into darkness—you don’t need
to hurt nobody calling down the heat--just get loose,
let your mischief do a light boil, and when righteous pursuit
is hot on your ass--breathe deep through those fiery lungs
feel the adrenalin conspire and laugh
through your hard-working thighs—be smartly scared
of the incarcerating possible, but be doubly awed
by the chaotic power of your lively escape
beneath the winking stars.

Scott reads "Running from Cops":

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Scott confesses: "Anyone having run from cops can tell you: there's a special adrenaline fire in your feet. Such running can be fun if you were only doing mischief and you got away. Then, when the heart slows down, you can kind of laugh. You got lucky. I've had that fire in my feet. I enjoy it as memory—not something I continue to choose as an experience. Even with the extra boost in the blood, I can't imagine running that fast ever again."

SCOTT T. HUTCHISON's previous work has appeared in Loud Zoo, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, and Massacre. Poems are forthcoming in Louisiana Literature, Appalachian Heritage, The Adirondack Review, The Comstock Review, and Tar River Poetry. A new book of poems entitled Moonshine Narratives is due out in late 2018 from Main Street Rag Publishing.

Monday, August 20, 2018

David Spicer


I’ve caught my share of crooks:
bank robbers, grifters, puppet masters,
loudmouth frauds. I don't hesitate
to feed my ego by bustin' their cornflake
balls even more. My favorite was a barmaid
named Tasmania who answered my questions
in the box with a pause and then,
Say what, boss?
and sometimes said,
I'd love to kiss your mustache because you
make me hotter than a horny furnace.

She gazed out to Main Street and asked,
Do you like cemeteries?
I said.
Because gravestones remind me
of mushrooms, Deputy, and I wanna eat you.
Back to business, Taz. Can I call you that?

She said, Sure. Impress me.
Why'd you to try to pass
off the grape juice for wine?
I asked.
Lawyer, she said.
I frowned like a famine in a desert.
Lumbered toward the door.
Hey, Penny Dreadful, she said,
tell me when my limo's here,
’cause you ain't got a blind steer's chance
in Pamplona of nailin' me with your bullshit.

Gerald So reads "Taz":

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David confesses: "I watch a lot of Investigation Discovery shows, and they rarely disappoint. I've always been fascinated by the interrogations that cops conduct and the idea of what would happen if a totally nihilistic, uncooperative suspect and a tough-guy cop ran into each other in 'the box'. And thus 'Taz' was born."

DAVID SPICER has poems in Chiron Review, Alcatraz, Gargoyle, unbroken, Raw, Rat’s Ass Review, The Ginger Collect, Easy Street, Yellow Mama, Ploughshares, Scab, The American Poetry Review, and elsewhere. He is the author of Everybody Has a Story and five chapbooks; his latest chapbook is From the Limbs of a Pear Tree, available from Flutter Press.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Caz Potterton


A broken doll, a millionaire's plaything
So easily replaced, there's a roaring trade
A cold eye flits over her, a pang of regret?
Perhaps a conscience?

The silk tie re-knotted around his neck
His suit sharp and sleek
He runs his eyes over a new doll
So many to choose from these days
Choices are options, a dark chuckle from within
Just like a famous burger joint – he wants it his way

His conscience is silent, it's helped him become rich
He makes his choice, lays down his coat
Smiling, he settles for the wait
"I'll do it my way" he whistles softly through his teeth

The new doll is wrapped up and handed over to him
A thick card, certificate of ownership, a limited edition no less
Another card with her name, other details...all pre-ordered

Once payment is made, he is handed a leash
Humming under his breath, he leads her away
Whilst far away, a mother’s heart breaks for her lost daughter

Handing the leash to his assistant, he chuckles once more
Thinking about Sid Vicious’s version of the song...
Maybe, that version would be more appropriate?

Gerald So reads "My Way":

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Caz confesses: "This poem was inspired by human trafficking. In this case, women provided to the person with the most money and are treated abhorrently. They become disposable like a toy – easily replaced and not considered a human being but rather a commodity."

CAZ POTTERTON is a forty-five-year old widow with an eleven-year-old son and a nutty dog. She is studying part-time with the Open University for a Bachelor of Arts with Honors in English literature and creative writing.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Nancy Scott


I was the one dispatched when a call came in
to the child abuse hot line. Denials fit
a similar pattern—a wife who wouldn’t let me
in until I agreed to interview her husband
in the basement, and would I please park
my State car in the street, not in her driveway?

As I sat in a plastic lawn chair while the washer
whirred its cycles, I questioned this chemical
engineer who worked for a multi-national company.
The allegation accused him of molesting
a four-year-old. Of course, he denied everything.
A few months later, he got caught again.
This time he landed in prison.

Now I’m sitting across from my new therapist,
who’s telling me, by way of example, how to deal
with disappointment; how he straps on camera gear
and takes the train to Philly, where sometimes
he succeeds in luring (my word) young women to pose
for outdoor "glamour shots." Promises free photos
if they come to his studio, wonders why they never
show up. Not even a call to cancel, he complains.

I'm getting a migraine. I/m tired of dealing with creeps,
especially this one in whom I've confided.
When he asks if I'm coming back next week, I say, Yes.
No need to explain why he'll never see me again.

Nancy reads "That Alternative Universe":

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Nancy confesses: "Working for the State of New Jersey was an eye-opener. I had no idea the range of mostly men, who molested children. When the licensed therapist learned I wasn't returning, he wrote the U.S. Constitution gave him the right to photograph young women and began stalking me. I went from the hunter to the hunted."

NANCY SCOTT has been managing editor of U.S.1 Worksheets for more than a decade and is the author of nine books of poetry. Her most recent, Ah Men (Aldrich Press, 2016) is a retrospective on the men who have influenced her life. She had a long career as a social worker for the State of New Jersey. which inspired many of her poems. Orginally from the Chicago area, she has resided in New Jersey for many years, but considers herself a Midwesterner.