Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Please Edit Upon Your Convenience by John Patrick Robbins

It was the usual fare for someone people truly didn’t give a damn about.

Stacey was burnt out, and her fire was extinguished long before they placed her in that coffin.

Richard would run into her on occasion whenever he stopped in Tinks to have a beer. She held court always with that dead look in her eyes.
Still, she quasi-came to life every time she saw Richard with an odd mix of happiness and shame.

She was far from the beauty she had once been, but Richard had to admit there was something there as she was an ever-willing vessel, and man's desire to hunt was unending no matter what lay in wait at home.

The funeral was small as everyone in attendance, at best, seemed to be going through the motions.

Richard felt Luther nudge his side to see a flask being offered in his hand.

“Fuck, man, might as well have a drink. You know Stacey would be kicking them back if she was still here. Fuck, I hate funerals.”

“That she would, man, and I will pass, but thanks.”

Richard replied as he watched the stranger pass down the aisle en route to Stacy's open casket.

The man looked oddly familiar, but Richard wasn't sure; there was something out of town about him. His clothes seemed far too stylish, unlike the locals who all had that set of clothes for occasions just like this.

“Who the fuck is that?”

Luther asked as Richard tried his best to ignore his already semi-drunk friend.

The stranger stood over Stacey for what seemed like an odd amount of time. And just as quickly turned and was headed back up the aisle as he paused, looking down at Richard, who at last could not believe who he was gazing upon.

It was like seeing a ghost from his past who hadn't aged like shoe leather like so many of Richard's friends from either working endless hours underneath the sun or the effects of heavy drinking.

“Hey, boys, it’s been a while.”

Joe said, looking at his former friends, seemingly oblivious to the fact there was a funeral service going on.

“Wanna get out of here, or would you rather listen to Reverend Windbag try to fumble for nice things to say about somebody he didn't truly know or give a fuck about?”

Luther almost burst into laughter as Richard quickly nudged him, shooting him a look as he followed their old friend out of the church.

Outside, the conversation was as awkward as one could expect it to be as the three men who, growing up, were more like brothers pretending it hadn't been almost twenty-some-odd years since last they spoke.

Joe Carson was a big-time success story. A man who had moved on in life, never once looking back, and for that, Richard both admired and held utter disdain for his former friend.

Joe had it all; he was a business mogul. He was the former CEO of one of the largest film studios in the world; he was in magazines, his name attached to blockbusters.

It was odd seeing some guy you used to kick beers back with his name in the credits of films his kids bled his pockets to see.

“I’m having a dinner down at Blue Pete’s. Rented the place out. Figured you guys may want to join me; that way, we can remember Stacey how she should be remembered. You know she always loved what she considered that bourgeois bullshit.”

“Man, she would flip if she saw you now, Joe. I bet it must be something dating all those hot-ass starlets and shit. Fuck, you really live the life. You know she framed that cover of you on Entertainment Weekly.”

Luther said gleefully as the idiot overgrown child that he was, still living at home now on disability, slowly drinking himself to death.

Richard simply wanted to punch him in the throat as he practically humped their former friend's leg.

Joe tried to appear amused as he smacked Luther on the shoulder.

“I’m glad some things never change, old buddy. Look, how bout you guys hop in my limo? The restaurant’s booked; everything’s on me. I know it doesn't make up for lost years but shit, let’s have some fun; what do ya say?”

“Hell, yes! Let's go!”

Luther said as he, without hesitation, headed towards the limo. Richard just stood with Joe watching their friend, gleeful as ever, hop in the car.

There was an awkward silence as Joe pulled a pack of smokes from his pocket, offering Richard one.

“Funny, I thought you California types would be vaping some weird ass watermelon cucumber bullshit, if not smoking at all.”

“I’m still me, dude, so cut the shit and pull the twig out of your ass, okay!’

“It’s weird how you bounce back here like nothing ever happened, and expect you waving money around is going to impress me. Truth is, I hate most of the crap you produce. All that fruitloop crap with dudes running around in spandex, it’s pure shit, and you know it! You just got lucky and got away you smug prick.”

Joe flashed that shit-eating grin at his old friend that drove him bonkers all those years back as he blew smoke in Richard's face.

“Yeah, it must have really been grand. Staying here, achieving nothing in life, marrying that lard ass bitch we used to all make fun of. Wow, you really aimed high, asshole, and you're correct; those films are total shit. It's why I don't watch them. I just laugh all the way to the bank. While you bust your ass every day at a job you hate, just praying you can keep food on the table and hopefully make the mortgage.”

“Go fuck yourself, Joe. You ain't shit here, and you never were anything more than a punk I had to protect, like that idiot drinking your limo’s bar clean.”

“Yeah, but at least unlike you and me, he is fucking happy being the loser he has chosen to be. Now, if you're done sulking, you cocksucker, let's have some fun, get wasted and forget all the goddamned melodrama, whatcha say? I mean, we can always swing by the store to pick up some Midol and tampons for your bleeding vagina, you moody prick.”

Richard busted out laughing, as Joe always had a way of making him laugh even when he was bound and determined not to.

It was a surreal experience hanging with Joe after all these years, as his former best friend was still very much there. Yet, it was more like seeing a ghost. The Joe they had once known was dead and gone. The man that stood before them now was more like an empty shell.

It’s said power corrupts, but when you’ve reached the level that Joe had, it was something far more twisted altogether. He seemed like a fucking alien, more so amused as he looked upon his former brothers like odd lab experiments.

The restaurant's emptiness made it that more awkward, for this was the place the seniors gathered before graduation as it was just an odd tradition to pack this quasi-snotty bar restaurant that held its nose up in spite of being stuck out on the backroads of Virginia Beach, ass-deep in the swamp.

“God, this fucking place used to seem more than it truly is, you know, guys?”

“ I just can't believe you rented it out for us, man; it's great!”

Joe shook his head, laughing to himself as he stood up, looking at his friends.

“Guys wait here; I got something special for you both.”

“Man, this is like a fucking dream! I can't believe it; you know, I don't know how anyone could accuse Joe of all that bullshit the media is doing right now.”

“Shut the fuck up, Luther! I’m sure that's the last thing Joe wants to talk about. Besides, we're here to remember Stacey, or have you already forgotten that already, you drunk prick!”

Richard snapped just as Joe emerged from the kitchen, a platter in hand with champagne upon it.

“I figure old Stacey would have loved this, boys. I mean, she thought so much of this place, and besides, this was the last time we were all together drinking this lousy fizzy bullshit.”

Joe said as he carefully set the platter of drinks down, looking to his friends as he took a glass and held it up high.

“To Stacey, and to us, and all the bullshit we can never forget or at least damn sure can't erase.”

Both Luther and Richard complied in awkward silence as they clinked glasses as Joe took his seat.

“Fuck boys, lighten up; there’s nobody here. The staff left soon as dinner was served. I’m buying this dump anyways; I figure it will make a great tax shelter. God, this stuff tastes awful, don't it ?”

“Why the hell would you want to own this place, man? I mean, being you live on the other side of the country and all.”

“I guess it's all the fond memories, Ritchie. I bet old Stacey never forgot that night, huh, pal?”

Richard just glared at his clearly buzzed former friend as Luther just sipped at his champagne in total silence.

“You really going to bring that shit up? You know, it seems like you, of all people, would want to forget that night, you know what I'm saying, dude?”

“Guys, come on, can't we just enjoy being together.”

Luther interjected as Joe shot him a look.

“It’s funny, Luther. I used to always question why you stopped her from leaving. I mean, you didn't partake in any of the action you just watched, after all.”

“Hey fuck you, Joe! Both of you guys were out of it. If I had let her walk out to the road and a cop had picked her up, we would all be in deep shit, alright. I just reacted, was all.”

Joe burst out in laughter.

“Yeah, you reacted alright; damn near broke her fucking jaw. You could always hit like a sledgehammer. Too bad you never had any balls to think for yourself, you worthless drunk!”

Luther shot up, almost knocking the table over. Richard grabbed his friend as Luther threw the remains of his champagne on Joe, who only seemed further amused by the outburst.

“He’s not worth it, dude; let’s just get the fuck out of here, man. He’s not himself anymore.”

Richard said as it was all he could do to barely contain his best friend from ripping Joe a new ass.

“Ahh, I’m so glad to see how loyal you are, Ritchie, to your retarded lap doggie. Tell me, have you ever realized the reason he really stopped her? Because old Luther here has always been in love with you, right buddy?”

“Fuck you!”

Luther screamed out, enraged as just as quickly he doubled over in pain.

“Fuck, something’s wrong. Goddammit, fucking hurts so bad, Rich.”

Richard could barely hold his friend up as he began to vomit violently upon the floor as he struggled to carry him to the restroom.

“Man, this isn't normal; maybe I should go to the hospital, Rich!”

“It’s alright, man; you just drank way too much. I’m gonna call Gloria and have her pick us up so we can get the fuck away from this narcissistic cocksucker!"

Richard left his friend doubled over in pain as he hit the door, ready to snatch a knot in Joe's ass; as he approached the table, he was now in utter hysterics.

Richard pushed Joe to the floor, which only seemed to amuse his former friend even more as Richard grabbed him by the throat, picking him up and slamming him against yet another table.

“What the hell is wrong with you? You sick fuck, why the hell did you even come back here?”

“What, Ritchie, this old ghost gives you chills when you realize what we truly got away with?”

Richard snapped, clocking Joe, who fell over the table, hitting the floor like a sack of potatoes. And as Richard stood over his former friend, still shaking from rage, it took all his strength to not simply stomp his head in.

“Don't ever come back here again, you motherfucker! And you will be dead also if you ever turn your face up here again, you understand me!”

“It’s hilarious you're so pissed off about her still; in truth, I was never all that into Stacey. I mean, she was your girlfriend and all. I don't know, maybe it was the booze and her dancing down on the water, or maybe it was her cries as we raped her. I have to admit it’s a hell of an addiction you left me with Ritchie. I mean, the power is fucking exquisite, isn't it?”

“You son of bitch! I’ll fucking kill you!”

Richard yelled out as he began to kick Joe's ribs in, blindly within his rage.

He didn't know how many times he kicked his former best friend; he only stopped when he felt like he was going to pass out.

He collapsed in a chair, as Joe coughed trying to breathe as just as suddenly Luther stood at the bathroom door. Blood covered his shirt as he muttered something collapsing to the floor. 

And as Richard stood up, he was met by an ear-shattering pain as he fell to the floor in agony from being shot in the gut.

“You stupid prick fucking prick, you think I would let you win!”

“Joe, please!”

Richard cried out as Joe began to unload the gun on his former friend.

Richard, still not dead, could not utter a sound as he was on the precipice of death.

Joe tossed the revolver as he looked at Luther, who just glared back at him.

“Goddammit, what are you cocksuckers made of?”

Joe said as he stumbled out the door as there stood that prick, Harvey - everyone referred to as the Judge - with his pack of goons and some goth chick.

“Thanks for all the help, you cocksuckers; that prick damn near killed me! What the fuck did I pay all this money for in the first place?”

The Judge took Joe by the arm as a six, six mountain of muscle grabbed his other, and they took him to his limo.

“Well, you see, son, you paid us to clean up the mess. Besides, I think you handled yourself fine; no worries, just some bruised ribs to heal.”

“Yeah, well, what was in that poison I gave to Luther? He’s still not dead; I can't have any loose ends. The media is after anything they can dig up. It will be just a matter of time before they come sniffing around this place.”

The Judge just smiled as he sat his roughed-up client in the seat. “Don't worry about anything, just catch the first flight out of the country, let this stuff all cool off; at least you aren't any worse off than that perverted dwarf Polanski.”

Joe couldn't even reply, as no sooner had he said that, he slammed the car door, and he was off heading towards his ticket away from the bullshit as others were left to clean up the mess as always.

Joe Carson knew his career was over, but he at least would have his freedom.

He thought about that night, like when some dog raiding a hen house gets its first taste for blood. He realized what it was to truly live and never once looked back.

It was weird how Stacey Jordison never once tried to cash in on her moment to truly seize it all, unlike the starlets and bottom feeders he was surrounded by now.

Joe realized, for some, a scar was best hidden from all. He also knew full well he and his so-called brothers had put her in that coffin long before her death. As for them, it was a moment where they lost all control, and for Joe, an evergreen of his true birth.

Power was the ultimate aphrodisiac; he had since become insane with it and the ultimate pleasure of killing the stars behind a delusional soul's eyes. It was that tormented sunset of the broken toy’s creation he loved the best.

And looking at the screens lie, seeing yet another damaged, tortured soul thinking to himself as people viewed the tortured artist and his ultimate gratification in knowing.

I created that.

Thank you for reading my work, my newest book Are We Dead Yet? Is published Black Circle Publishing and is available on Amazon.

My work is dark as so often is life.
The page is all that matters the person behind it seldom does.

Keep reading please.

Sunday, January 22, 2023

OLD ROCKS by Strider Marcus Jones

my vanity
remembers me,
sitting with introspection
on old rocks
that blocked
the sea-
choking insurrection.
i had bought claret wine,
but had to save it, for another time
that never came to me-
after nerves and mischief,
conspired with those divine
to hide the schlocky corkscrew
in a drawer's cemetery.
at the bottom of belief,
our compound, compromised and withdrew
back into what it knew-
with old rocks,
and the ticking, tocking sound
of two invisible clocks,
sitting on the ground,
but apart-
in the same, silent, wishsongs heart.

Strider Marcus Jones – is a poet, law graduate and former civil servant from Salford, England with proud Celtic roots in Ireland and Wales. He is the editor and publisher of Lothlorien Poetry Journal https://lothlorienpoetryjournal.blogspot.com/. A member of The Poetry Society, his five published books of poetry  https://stridermarcusjonespoetry.wordpress.com/ reveal a maverick, moving between cities, playing his saxophone in smoky rooms.

His poetry has been published in numerous publications including: Dreich Magazine; The Racket Journal; Trouvaille Review; dyst Literary Journal; Impspired Magazine; Fleas on the Dog; Melbourne Culture Corner; Literary Yard Journal; The Honest Ulsterman; Poppy Road Review; The Galway Review; Cajun Mutt Press; Rusty Truck Magazine; Rye Whiskey Review; Deep Water Literary Journal; The Huffington Post USA; The Stray Branch Literary Magazine; Crack The Spine Literary Magazine; A New Ulster; The Lampeter Review; Panoplyzine  Poetry Magazine and Dissident Voice.

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

I Expect Too Much by Ian Lewis Copestick

Just looking
through crap,
on my phone.

Stories about
people, so - called
celebrities, most
of them I have never
heard of.

And I've noticed
that nearly all of
the supposedly
attractive women,

they all look the
same, or at least
very similar. It's
like there's a factory
somewhere, churning
them out.

I can't see any
difference between
them. They all seem
to have the same eyes,
the same plucked eye
brows. The same lips
pumped full of shit.

The same Botox filled
zombie expressions.
And the same empty

I'd love for one of
these pointless
butterflies to prove
me wrong.

If just one of them
had read Dostoevsky,
or Celine, even Kerouac,

or had written a few
poems of their own.

Not even that, just
some little thing to
show that they've got
a working brain of
their own.

Perhaps I expect too

Ian Lewis Copestick is a 49 year old writer (I prefer that term to poet ) from Stoke on Trent, England. I spend most of my life sitting,  thinking then sometimes writing. I have been published in Anti Heroin Chic, the Dope Fiend Daily, Outlaw Poetry, Synchronized Chaos, the Rye Whiskey Review, Medusa's Kitchen and Horror Sleaze Trash

Monday, January 16, 2023

Aeroplane to Las Vegas by Luis Cuauhtémoc Berriozábal

An aeroplane took me to Las Vegas.
It was the only time I ever flew.
That was four or five years ago.
I was on wine and anxiety pills that day.

The friendly skies were a little bumpy.
I looked out the window all the way.
The cities looked like a real life map.
People below were nowhere to be seen.

I felt nothing at all, no fear or anxiety.
I would have preferred to go in a car.
The aeroplane took me to Las Vegas.
What happened there, I will never tell.

 Luis was born in Mexico. He lives in California and works in the mental health field in Los Angeles. His poems have appeared in Ariel Chart, Blue Collar Review, The Dope Field Daily, The Rye Whiskey Review, and Unlikely Stories.

Sunday, January 15, 2023

Silk Road by John Drudge

In another place
Watching the rain
In the stony cold
With less light
Than pressure
Behind the eyes
And under the skin
Digging up bones
In a long dead world
For sustained relief
As pills 
And powders
Rot the ancient road

John is a social worker working in the field of disability management and holds degrees in social work, rehabilitation services, and psychology.  He is the author of four books of poetry: “March” (2019), “The Seasons of Us” (2019), New Days (2020), and Fragments (2021). His work has appeared widely in numerous literary journals, magazines, and anthologies internationally. John is also a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee and lives in Caledon Ontario, Canada with his wife and two children.


Thursday, January 12, 2023

To Hell with Words by Dan Provost

You can only
describe so many
times how sad you are.
How the world seems to
be in such a hurry to
cut your balls off—
That tears are a waste.
Violence runs rampant
behind your neighbor’s fence.
Only so many phrases explaining
how you hurt.
Before, you lose ambition—
accept another rejection.
Give up
& crawl off to die—without
needy acceptance from poems,
love, hate, or envy.

A former collegiate offensive lineman and football coach for 26 years, Dan Provost’s poetry has been published both online and in print since 1993.  He is the author of 15 books/chapbooks.  His latest, Wolf Whistles Behind the Dumpster was released by Roadside Press in November 2022.  He has been twice nominated for The Best of the Net and has read his poetry throughout the United States.  He lives in Berlin, New Hampshire with his wife Laura, and dog Bella.

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Earth and Sky by Lauren Scharhag

I stroke you with the four winds
your grasslands shiver and you
chase me to the horizon on the backs 

of rivers and ocean waves
to that place where we meet and 

yearnings cease. I write you love poems
in rainbows and lightning bolts
prismatic sonnets and jagged
passionate declarations on the violet-

black scroll of my midnight skin 

bring you rare gems of St. Elmo's fire. 

I give you warm rain caresses and 

teasing icy hail patter and the feathery brush 

of snow making your core burn 

that much hotter. sometimes I 

penetrate all the way down to your 

deep places and you burst at the seams
runoff and wet ephemera inundating 

deltas and plains. I empty myself

of everything until I am transparent 

as glass so that I may give you the stars. 

you sigh into my blankness 

make my particles collide 

craving your every leaf and flower
you quake me you make me and I 

envelope you our give-and-take unending 

until I fall and when I do it will be 

into your embrace only into your embrace 

and in your arms you will catch 

heaven’s shards.

Lauren Scharhag is the author of fourteen books, including Requiem for a Robot Dog (Cajun Mutt Press) and Languages, First and Last (Cyberwit Press). Her work has appeared in over 150 literary venues around the world. Recent honors include the Seamus Burns Creative Writing Prize, three Best of the Net nominations, and acceptance into the 2021 Antarctic Poetry Exhibition. She lives in Kansas City, MO. To learn more about her work, visit: www.laurenscharhag.blogspot.com

Please Edit Upon Your Convenience by John Patrick Robbins

It was the usual fare for someone people truly didn’t give a damn about. Stacey was burnt out, and her fire was extinguished long before the...