Monday, March 30, 2020

J. Rohr


Chained up entrances change businesses
From shops to mausoleums,
Though the neon still shines
Promising some soul simmers in the hollow.
Raindrops pelt tap a hat brim
Beating out a polyrhythm prediction:
The flutter of a heart grasping at silence.
Forty years in the same space
Feeding folks with a greasy spoon
The neighborhood always welcome,
Always thankful,
No more.
The grave is dug, and the corpse is sold
To pay the last bill.
Strolling rain swept pavement
Knowing the road isn't long enough
To walk anywhere better
Picture a swan dive into concrete,
But first spend days trying that cologne,
Whiskey Regal, so many here own.
Asleep, dreaming of sleeping,
Until one night the wolves howl
Out of an alley chomping at gold
Biting off fingers to swallow rings.
They break like piƱatas.
Never knew you had in you,
Yet here we are.
So, sign the confession.
Let us know you went down
Knocking out teeth like a hammer;
Carnival barking,
“Un lugar solitario
Proves la vida no vale la pena.”

J. reads "Down Like a Hammer":

Subscribe to Channel 52 for first view of new videos.

J. confesses: "This poem is the type of noirish narrative I always enjoy. The city’s a vivid character, indifferent host to people eating each other to survive the graveyard metropolis, while cops make confession a trap rather than release. It’s also a crime anyone could commit. Dark times welcome sharper fangs."

J. ROHR is a Chicago native with a taste for history and wandering the city at odd hours. In order to deal with the more corrosive aspects of everyday life he writes the blog and makes music in the band Beerfinger. His Twitter babble can be found @JackBlankHSH.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Charles Rammelkamp


But I’d be a fool
to tell you my name.
It doesn’t matter.

But I knew all about
Fanny Kaplan’s confession
to the Cheka, the first Soviet secret police.

"Today I shot Lenin,"
she said. August 30, 1918.
"I did it on my own.

"I will not say from whom
I obtained my revolver.
I will give no details.

"I considered Vladimir Lenin
a traitor to the Revolution
The Bolsheviks banned our party.

“I’d already spent eleven years
in hard labor, after my assassination attempt
on the Tsarist official in Kyiv."

Fanny put two bullets in Lenin,
weakened for the rest of his life.
She was executed four days later.

Charles reads "I Gave Her the Gun":

Subscribe to Channel 52 for first view of new videos.

Charles confesses: "Fanny Kaplan was peeved at fellow Russian Jew Vladimir Lenin for banning her party, the Socialist Revolution Party. The SRs had won a plurality in Russia’s first-ever democratic election, following the October Revolution of 1917, but the Bolsheviks disbanded the Constituent Assembly in January, 1918, and the SRs were crushed in the course of the Russian Civil War. Fanny couldn’t let that pass, after all she’d been through! In my forthcoming collection from Apprentice House about Grigory Rasputin, Catastroika, Kaplan's assassination attempt on Lenin is covered from a couple different angles. 'I Gave Her the Gun' is another, from the unnamed co-conspirator’s point of view."

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. Two full-length collections are forthcoming in 2020, Catastroika, from Apprentice House, and Ugler Lee from Kelsay Books.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Robert Plath


my mother
always called
for my father
when a mouse
still squeaking
was stuck
to a glue paper
trap beneath
the kitchen sink
& she’d turn
her back & say,
i can’t watch
as he balled up
the amber trap
mouse & all
squeezing it
in his big meaty
fist & growling,
another no good
fucking pest
& tossed it
in the garbage
as we sat hiding
in our cold cells
on busted box

Gerald So reads "The Ogre's Wife":

Subscribe to Channel 52 for first view of new videos.

Rob confesses: "This poem was inspired by these sticky traps my father set for mice. He really did crush them and throw them out while they were alive. Once when he wasn’t around I heard one under the sink squeaking and it was stuck, so i took scissors and cut around his feet. After an hour he was free and ran away with these tiny shoes on. And of course I relate to the mice while growing up in that house."

ROBERT PLATH is a 50-year-old poet from New York. He has over a dozen books out. He is most known for his collection A Bellyful of Anarchy (Epic Rites Press). He lives alone with his cat and stays out of trouble. See more of his work at

Monday, March 9, 2020

Rena J. Worley


Slow brake to a stop
In my big black Cadillac
Offering a lift for your hitch
No threat
No risk
No hazard
Trust me like an uncle
Ride in my tan leather
Drink or two on me
Twist the dial
Laugh me a tune till
Unfamiliar route exposed
I then devour mounting fear
In your widening eyes
In your trembling voice
And smirk at your realization
When child locks click
Speed escalates so
No curb roll
No outcry
No dodge
From blunt head bash
Into unconsciousness
Through the menacing night
To a remote dwelling
I’ll strap you in
I’ll lock you down
Terrorizing torture featuring
Brute disfigurement
Psychic beatings
A long night of play
To a shallow dirt grave
No marker
No mourners
No trace

R.J. reads "Cadillac Prey":

Subscribe to Channel 52 for first view of new videos.

R.J. confesses: "On US 127 North, I watched a totally black Cadillac SUV - even Escalade was black on black - fly by. Windshield and windows so heavily tinted one could not see a shadow within. Why the obscurity? What dark secrets hid inside? Who dimly viewed the world from behind the shrouded glass?"

RENA J. WORLEY is a Word Artist residing in rural Michigan. First published in The Five-Two on May 27, 2019.

Monday, March 2, 2020

C.W. Blackwell


We were young when we found her
and old after that.

The three of us halfway to Arana Creek
stopped to find that old Ford
stuck in the oak tree.
Eddy Clarke swore it was by the bluff
where the ground grew steep
and periwinkles
peppered the deer trails
with lavender leaves.

Ron saw her first,
sprawled in the weeds and dirt,
beset by strange insects --
creatures heralded by that singular stench.
We wept as larvae danced
in the tender cups of her ears.

Maybe it was the girl they’d been looking for;
the one across town
whose window they found
in the frozen hours before dawn.

We called from Eddy’s place
and the cop asked
what was the color of her eyes?
but no one would say
for fear of seeing her face
in our minds.

Now thirty years on
I saw Ron in a waterfront bar
in the Rio Flats
and he’d grown fat
and rolled his own cigarettes
and sold car parts on the internet
to the Japanese.

The creek was high that day
and we watched as it quickened
and bled to the bay
and Ron with a hand on my shoulder
held up his cigarette and said:


Her eyes were the color of tobacco smoke.

We were young when we found her
and old after that.

C.W. reads "Eyes the Color of Tobacco Smoke":

Subscribe to Channel 52 for first view of new videos.

C.W. confesses: "I grew up in a neighborhood that bordered a very large forest, and my friends and I would spend hours exploring the old trails there. Once when I was eleven, I discovered the corpse of a woman who had died in an accident several days before. The poem is a combination of these memories."

C.W. BLACKWELL was born and raised in Santa Cruz, California where he still lives today. His passion is to blend poetic narratives with pulp dialogue to create strange and rhythmic genre fiction. He writes mostly crime fiction, dark fiction, and poetry. His recent work has appeared in Pulp Modern, Aphotic Realm, Econoclash Review, and Mystery Weekly Magazine.

Monday, February 24, 2020

Duane Spurlock

scarlet flies on white
jammed slide in Pop’s .45
finger twitch dead Clyde

Gerald So reads "scarlet flies on white...":

Subscribe to Channel 52 for first view of new videos.

Duane confesses: "I’ve been writing some haiku lately, working to pare down descriptions to the fewest words that communicate a scene, and thinking about limited animation. These weren’t crime-related, but then I got to thinking about The Five-Two, and this popped into my head. Bang."

DUANE SPURLOCK is related to a long line of long-winded tall tale tellers. Recent books include Airship Hunters, an SF tale co-written with Jim Beard and set in 1897, and Fighting Alaska, a north-western tale set in Alaska during the 1900 gold rush and featuring Wyatt Earp, Rex Beach, and Tex Rickard.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

30 Days of The Five-Two (2020)

April is National Poetry Month, as "inaugurated by the Academy of American Poets in 1996. Over the years, it has become the largest literary celebration in the world with schools, publishers, libraries, booksellers, and poets celebrating poetry’s vital place in our culture."

The Five-Two joins the celebration with a month-long blog tour. For 2020, I'm inviting Five-Two alumni to promote their latest projects on the tour. As in past years, the tour is also open to anyone to guest-post about Five-Two poetry. Email me a link to your entry or the entry itself to post here.

I'm fine scheduling multiple tour stops on the same day or about the same poem. Everyone has a different perspective after all, and I'm glad to add entries even after April 1. To book a date, email me

The official hashtag of National Poetry Month is #nationalpoetrymonth. Our specific Twitter hashtag is #30OfThe52.

Participants and promoters of the tour may download the badge image above and add it to their entries or follow these instructions to copy-and-paste the image HTML code.

All April revenue from Five-Two and Lineup books and merchandise is donated to the nonprofit Academy of American Poets, supporting poets at all stages of their careers and fostering the appreciation of contemporary poetry.

  • Wednesday, April 1 -
  • Thursday, April 2 -
  • Friday, April 3 -
  • Saturday, April 4 -
  • Sunday, April 5 - Charles Rammelkamp on Faye Turner-Johnson's "Just Shoot 'Em"
  • Monday, April 6 - Poem of the Week
  • Tuesday, April 7 -
  • Wednesday, April 8 -
  • Thursday, April 9 -
  • Friday, April 10 -
  • Saturday, April 11 -
  • Sunday, April 12 -
  • Monday, April 13 - Poem of the Week
  • Tuesday, April 14 -
  • Wednesday, April 15 -
  • Thursday, April 16 -
  • Friday, April 17 -
  • Saturday, April 18 -
  • Sunday, April 19 -
  • Monday, April 20 - Poem of the Week
  • Tuesday, April 21 -
  • Wednesday, April 22 -
  • Thursday, April 23 -
  • Friday, April 24 - "Euphrates of Tears" by John Kaprielian
  • Saturday, April 25 -
  • Sunday, April 26 -
  • Monday, April 27 - Poem of the Week
  • Tuesday, April 28 -
  • Wednesday, April 29 -
  • Thursday, April 30 -