5 Poems by Ryan Quinn Flanagan

The Angry Crab

Sand sculpture week
at the beach.
Apparently there are judges 
but you never see 
or the artists.
All you see are sad looking people 
in ill fitting shirts,
a pasty white sunblock line 
over the nose, 
trying to forget work, wives,
husbands, kids, bills, cancer...
trying really hard not to think
about how much this little holiday
is costing,
meals and accommodation
and film for the camera
and gas,         
trying with limited success to forgive the oil companies 
for colluding 
during the August long weekend (again),
choosing to marvel at the giant sand sculptures 
the castle with turrets and moat
the winding dragon
the angry crab
the Taj Mahal...
aren’t they just marvellous?,
some fat lady of swoons
just marvellous,
answers the even fatter man 
beside her.
I loath their sweaty cellulite delusions.
I look away.
Away from the ribbons and empty roped off praise
to the sandfleas biting small children
above the water line.
To state an accepted truth, is to state
nothing at all.
Though I must admit, I quite like the angry crab.
He seems to be the only one around
not trying so hard
to be happy.

Thirty Miles Outside Cleveland

The trucker 
thirty miles outside Cleveland 
put on his indicator 
and pulled onto 
the shoulder.
A young Hispanic boy -
maybe 14 or 15 -
thanked the trucker for stopping, 
slung his sack over his shoulder,
and jackknifed up into 
the cabin.       

You=re not a serial murderer, are you?,
asked the trucker.

Not unless you're a sexual sadist,
replied the young Hispanic 

The two shared an uneasy laugh 
before the trucker turned up
his Townes Van Zandt 
and the young Hispanic boy 
offered to pay for 

Then the trucker smiled
put on his left indicator
checked his mirrors
pulled off the shoulder

and began towards Cleveland.

Piss in my Mouth

We were sitting around 
after a nice dinner together
enjoying our coffees
when she said it:
Piss in my mouth.
Come on, it’ll be fun, piss in my mouth.
She tied her hair back in a ponytail,
got down on her knees
between my legs
and started to unzip me.
I don’t know about this, I mean, Jesus woman, this is highly irregular,
can’t I just cream in your mouth like normal people do?
That’s no fun.
I hear it can be.
Come on, forget that.
She pulled it out and let it rest against my jeans.
It looked flaccid and sad like a deflated tire.
Don’t even think about it, pretend my mouth is a urinal, or something.
Right now, right this moment?
Of course silly, I’m ready now, come on, piss in my mouth.
She opened wide.              
I could see the strain of her jaw line
work its way up to her lightly freckled forehead.
She looked very beautiful.
Nothing like a urinal.
I’m afraid it doesn’t work like that, my dear.
Come on, I’m ready.
But I don’t have to go.
She started to get angry with me.
What can I do?, I asked,
a man only stands in front of a urinal
and goes when he has too,
the rest of the time he shops for pears
or puts on socks        
or checks the glove compartment
for maps of upper state 
New York.                 
You’re no fun.
She got back up to her feet
pulled her hair out of the ponytail
walked into the bathroom
and closed the door.
Leaving me cold, limp,
and dangling 
in the kitchen,
wondering just how many
a man                
had pissed in the urinal
I would have to kiss

Her Name was Nancy, I Believe

There is not much difference
between Man
and elephant,
it seems.

Fed up with torture
and confinement
a Female circus elephant 
in Oregon
escaped last week
and went on a parking lot 

Crushing cars 
and people 

It was only slowed down
when other elephants 
were employed 
to corner the rebelling elephant
against a wall
until it could be shot dead
and dragged 

The other elephants could have escaped.
They could have joined ranks
and rebelled as well,
but like Man
they chose to silence 
the lone dissenting voice 
and go on 
balancing balls
and being lead around 
like cattle.

Only Greek Gods should be Worshipped from Behind

and an altar 

should suffice
for the rest.

The Egyptians are into bondage 
with all those wrappings

but not all the time

and the Etruscans are centered around pleasure, 
but of a wholly different 

Only Greek gods 
should be worshipped 
from behind.

You can probably fit all the rest
into a single Sunday
of general penance.

 A collection plate of clanking Vishnus 
extolled from the gardens
of passing pocket lint
and old receipts.

One Poem by David Pointer

Leather Angel 
in Decline

This time early
onset Alzheimers
gets a jet kit jump
on his getaway as
Hog boy falls to his
trailer treasure—
from one percenter
to hundred percent
disability no longer
descended from leather
angels heinous crimes
division recalling his
juvenile record opening
up the dead, easy as
a sissy bar back pack
as his father and brother
both noble veterans do
their ungodly duty still

One Poem by Lindsey Dilks

Beer-Thirty AM

I wake up at 4 AM and can't go back to sleep,
so I finish off the beer from last night,
and head for another.

Ants have set up camp in the bathroom
and they've worked their way
in a slow, methodical dance
toward the kitchen,
highlighting the path from my room
to the fridge.

My roommate is passed out in the living room.
He has his own room,
but for some reason,
seems to prefer the couch,
with the TV blaring all night.

I use this as an excuse to slam back a beer
to go back to sleep,
but lately
it seems I'll use anything
as an excuse to have a drink.

So I chug another beer
at 4 AM,
and I hope I can go back to sleep
just long enough
to forget.

One poem by Anne Bradshaw

Lost Pools
That year
they had left it too late
to cut the trees,
so the limbs were strewn
down the track, ungainly, indecent,
and sap began
to ooze like secret blood,
creeping down the trunks,
a thin syrup that stuck
to my hands like black guilt.
The April skies held nothing like the sun
and I only saw the dead of grey reflected in
lost pools, the moment when I knew
what they had done.

2 Poems by Chris Butler


My face
hides from sight
and the light
of everyday.

This insipid skin
pales against
the illumination
of some serene
screensaver scenery,

stricken with
melatonin depletion
from the artificial sun
slowly seeping in.

I choke on the fog of
intoxicating smoke
and carbon dioxide,

locked in an
built around my

with no exit,

out of touch,



The living dead
walk amongst us,

brain dead consumers
marching purposelessly
up and down the endless
aisles of high priced
merchandise on shelves
just out of reach,

moaning hopelessness
for a hunger that will
never be satisfied.

LOST FOUND LOST - An essay by David P. Bates

I am absolutely lost. I thought I was lost before, even HOPED I was lost, because “lost” at least meant that maybe I wasn't doomed to the normalized “found” that surrounded me. The dull everything that screamed SHUT UP BE QUIET from every direction as if there were no direction but EVERYWHERE.

The books in class, the television at home-- my mother my father-- and my brother sister repeating mommy/daddy bullshit in both ears at the same time. I've been stomping and stomping for years now, and here I am-- lost again like I'm a teenager. Not just lost. But, finally, ABSOLUTELY lost. Whatever bearing I thought I had, is gone. Except the nagging. It pushes me to the left, and to the right, and when I struggle, it clamps down the way it always does. The nagging. Absolutely.

It comes to me softly with a low voice saying-- not why are YOU lost-- but WHY are you lost; I have this big basket of shit for you. Its bucket is made of shit and its handle is made of shit and the shit within the shit-basket is GOOD SHIT.

Here. Take it. It's full of Shakespeare and Wordsworth. Rhyme and Meter. Feet. Degrees-- Phd's and MFA's-- a few good books taught by a few good teachers in a few good schools. Have you been lucky enough? I don't think I was-- or maybe I was. Enough teachers I didn't trust making me read books I didn't like to MAKE me at least TRY to write my own work. A few good losers to inspire me to win.

BUT REALLY-- that's unfair.

or is it? Have I failed as an emotional being because I can't sit through a lecture on the virtues of a poet writing 100 years before my experience? Have I failed as a reader because I can't assimilate the nuance of a language that even my grandfather doesn't speak-- unless he's reciting “poetry”?

Why does every structured work-- the sonnet the ode-- sound like it was written 100 years ago? These structures have a STRUCTURE – rhythm, rhyme, feet, meters-- but why the archaic foulness? thee. thy. thine. reversed sentence structure? obscure references-- SURELY the modern poet can prepare the meal of language in a more edible arrangement!

Competing with the dead is a fools assignment.

If there is a god and there is no god but if there is a god--- please let me speak outside of the language I have, and damn the language that I have inherited, for its the language that I have, and I am trying to speak, i swear, but the words I have fuck me every time. I NEED MORE.

So I am lost. Finally. And absolutely. And here in these dumb places I will try to speak. The first thing I will do is stomp the voices in my head. The mommy/daddy voices. The teachers and the students trying to be teachers.

And the more I stomp the more words I'll lose-- and when I'm finally void of language, I will attempt my first poem.

It will fail.
David p Bates
March 2013

3 Poems by Allison Grayhurst

Hard As Cain

Against the down and heron white
the earth lifts up its collection plate.
Rivers and forest are overflowing with
amputees - a million voices nibbling away the sky.
Sour death against the dried thistles
and clouds are heavy with death's pungent odour.
You draw the iron, you draw the fist
until at last you too will weep for the birds upon
the hill.
            Everything's making too brutal a sense
            as the yellow lawns are sprinkled.
You cannot give in to the ruling sun nor to the misfits
and courageous. Orphaned cubs and kids blank
with disease, ruined by the sanctity of your pocket.

Heaven is in a song. You strike a match
and burn all instruments with a shrug and a wave
of your formidable hand.

In The Day

In the morning, cured,
claimed and finally welcoming the wind.
In the early afternoon,
assembling the fragments of my faith
like the bones of a bird and then giving it the key
to fly.
In the evening, close to dark,
hair-clipping all dishevelled expectations,
pin-pointing a place to lay down, to rest and witness the uneventful view.
In the night time, quietly kissing my children,
speaking of a golden tomorrow with my husband
but feeling the weight of one-more-day without.
In the bed, almost asleep, checking and re-checking
memories and failures, then unbuttoning to bathe
in the numerous blessings laid before me
this day, this year
                        deep in darkness
                                                no matter.

The Quiet That Comes

The quiet that comes
at a fork-in-the-road, quiet
as we listen to the direction of the breeze
and hope for a voice to bellow forth at our queue,
is the quiet of waiting, the time between
pressing-play and music.
The quiet that haunts and never leaves
in times of action, just stays hidden like a spider
behind the bookshelf, slowly emerging on the dark carpet for a clear view
is the quiet of awareness.

The quiet that consumes
like a poison steadily, in droplets
ingested or like a picture of a lost loved one
that follows from room to room, is the depths of a pit
where our future is carved on.
The quiet that heals after the hell
like a promise of spiritual safety,
is the quiet of peace, a gift for where ever circumstances
lead - a show of mercy after
the acceptance of our defeat.

2 Poems by Anne Bradshaw


My sister sits at my grave

and mourns the loss of herself.

She wears cool, black silk with small pearls

fastened round her neck which weep

like the babies she never had.

She leaves me her severed head

and walks home on four-inch stiletto heels

tapping out the rhythm of rain.

Flowers bloom in her wake which she never sees

but I feel their roots growing down into me.
An old habit, I would pick up the threads
that I wore each day
and patch them back together again.

But every time I felt
 less weft and weave,
         less give, less ease,
                  another stitch lost, less room to breathe…
I could hear them all breaking
as my fingers worked
and worked their strange and subtle dance

on a ripped corsage of threads
which suddenly weighed nothing, floating away
through a sliver of air
my skin revealing
secrets like

a reluctant bride’s clutched bouquet,
her lacework linen turned to stone
and the milk-white veil altered
in a gargoyle’s cold decay.

A pall of frozen silence stays my hand.
And soon my garb will be lichen,
the delicate filaments spidered
like veins through a dark glass,
and still threadbare.

Student, writer, sleep-talker

Stumbled upon Jackson Burgess today while clicking around on The Atticus Review. He is the featured poet there this month. I won't review his work here other than to say I dig it enough to share with you all and will be adding his personal page to our "Stuff We Like" section. It is my belief that he is an up-and-comer and I hope to see much more of his work in the near future. Please check him out.

Lee Lincecum, Managing Editor
Blind Vigilance Press

Who the hell is Matthew Zapruder?

That was the question I asked myself as I picked up his book from the very end of the library poetry shelf, far beyond the collected works of Ginsberg and Shakespeare's sonnets and plays. It was the title that initially piqued my interest: Come on All You Ghosts. The one hundred and eleven pages made for a slim volume, though this is not unusual for a poetry collection. The presentation of the cover was immediately endearing to me with its chalky seemingly handwritten script, and so I did what any potential reader of a newly unshelved book would do, I turned it over. The blurb on the back began "Poet, editor, translator, and winner of the William Carlos Williams award," "Okay," I thought, "where's the MFA, surely there's a MFA here somewhere." There was no mention anywhere in the blurb nor within the Author's Bio on the back page of a MFA degree, although, I found out in later research that Matthew Zapruder does indeed have one. However, to read Come on All You Ghosts, you would never suspect it. I know in saying so, I have probably opened a can I don't want to eat. To clarify: there is nothing wrong with having a MFA, Zapruder uses his to fantastic effect, however, it is purely a personal opinion that he is one of the exceptions, rather than the rule. Zapruder makes no attempt to confuse with fancy language and archaic methods. You will not need to pair this poetry collection with a dictionary in order to enjoy it, but you will need an open mind and perhaps, a little life experience. The 55 poems in this volume range from personal (although still relateable), to confessional, to the occasionally spiritual. If I were tasked with describing his poetry by using only one word, that word would be juxtaposition. Matthew has an ability to mix the concrete with the abstract in a way that leaves me simultaneously inspired and jealous. Very, very jealous. Here's an excerpt from the title poem:

Hello. I am 40. 
I have lived in Maryland, 
Amherst, San Francisco,

New York, Ljubljana, 
Stonington (house 
of the great ornate wooden frame

holding the mirror the dead 
saw us in whenever 
we walked past),

New Hampshire at the base 
of the White Mountains 
on clear blue days

full of dark blue jays 
beyond emotion jaggedly piercing, 
Minneapolis of which

I have spoken 
earlier and quite enough, 
Paris, and now

San Francisco again. 
Reader, you are right now 
in what for me is the future

The imagery he produces, at least for me, achieves its complexity through its simplicity. I find myself reading his poems, and then reading them again, not for lack of understanding, but rather a desire to peel back each layer and appreciate them at all levels of emotion that they evoke. So, who the hell is Matthew Zapruder? I urge you to find out for yourself and read some of his work. You can find more of his poems on his personal website located at http://matthewzapruder.wordpress.com/. He is also, like most writers these days, active on Twitter and maintains a Facebook page as well. The book referenced in this article may be purchased from Amazon, or on its publishers website. I for one, will be buying a copy for myself, if I can ever put this one away long enough to stuff it into my backpack and return it to the library before it is overdue.

Lee Lincecum, Managing Editor
Blind Vigilance Press.

2 Poems by Emily Sorrells

Revisiting Kiomizu-dera

I’ve looked and yet to find
a word for the shrinking
of temples and scenery
upon a second visit.

Those grand roofs once grazing
the sky, melting into mountain,
become buildings touched by
the hands of workers with tool boxes.

And, I’ve looked and yet to find
a word for the inaction
of gods. Pennies and pennies
of prayers in a slatted wooden box.

Covered in chicken wire, their faces
a kaleidoscope of aged paint
and splinters. Fragmented selves,
I now see only what’s been left out too long.

Still, I’ve looked and yet to find
a word for worrying about hair
not spirits while wafting in the gray
smoke of incense. Thinking about photos.

But trying to hold on and feel it. Suddenly
ready to leave and standing too quickly.
Mistaken for god's whisper, the vortex of air
caught between two trains.

Lighter: John Doe

I want to write a poem
with your name in it.
Strangers rolling their tongues
in your name. Names

bouncing off eardrums. Yours
sang in high chorus to the pillow
soft clouds in May, when those
last drops of rain catch on the
tips of your jet hair and splash
onto you gray shirt, diamonds
dropping to the river. Finally

Home. I want to write a poem
with your name in it. So that
you may never know what truths

I've kept onto. What lighter still sits
on the ledge of my bathroom
window -- where you smoked
and thought of leaving.

I want your name to leave me
so I give it to the strongest mouth
to feed on, breathe on, praise
out to gods on. But mine, I want

a poem to spill out about nothing,
but the darkest day of winter
and the warmest day of spring,
and not you, nothing about you.

Poem by Mitch Grabois


punk-ass misogynist teenager
even his acne malicious
his hate viral
drag racing on every highway
accelerating down the straightaway of each bone
sliding through the curves of organs

spitting molecules of blood
like unleaded gas
accelerating toward the Eiffel Tower
galloping through the Coliseum