Dregs Cecil Taylor (piano)/3 Phasis by Ian Mullins


Cecil Taylor (piano)/3 Phasis

that year I listened
to so much Cecil
that everything else
sounded soft
and straight, mono
where he pulsed stereo,
all time beating on,
beating back,

sound waves whispering
that musicians take soundings
by tuning forks struck
down their throats,

vibrating to a pulse
Cecil first heard
when his fingers were deep
in the dregs; scraping dishes
in a restaurant spinning
his sides

dirt on his hands
but still dreaming off-beat

Ian Mullins ships out from Liverpool, England. Laughter In The Shape Of A Guitar (UB) struck few chords in 2015. Almost Human (Original Plus) was let loose in 2017. Masks and Shadows (Wordcatcher) took off in 2019. Take A Deep Breath (Dempsey & Windle) followed in 2020.

I PROMISE TO DIE by John Tustin


Another night alone here
In every sense
With all my senses intact for now
And all my nonsense, too.

The room is dark,
Sharp with the moving shadows of the night,
The footsteps louder in the distance than they were the night before –
Made with the black boots of inevitability.

The lightning strikes closer.
The thunder pierces the ear with her bolts.
I’m so tired but I can’t sleep yet.
I will. I’ll sleep eventually
And I’ll rise again
Until I finally can’t.

Not won’t: Can’t.
Life, it can’t kill me.
Only death can kill me
And I hear her black boots clomping on the wet grass
In a distance still far but closer.

The moon outside no shinier, no duller –
Just being the moon.

I promise to die
Only when it’s my time to die
And not to die just because I surrender,
Because I’d rather,
Because I’m afraid.

I’ll only die when the sound of the black boots is blood boiling in my ears.
Only then will it be the time –
I say in my mind with a resolute finality,
Looking up through the window as
The moon smiles the wan crooked smile of someone unbaffled and indifferent,
Stoic and eternal.




John Tustin’s poetry has appeared in many disparate literary journals since 2009. fritzware.com/johntustinpoetry contains links to his published poetry online.

Cigarette Couple by Brian Harman

Cigarette Couple

Lit by the intersection’s traffic signal
and suburban street lamps,

the cigarette couple’s smoky breath
travels into the cold night,

a man and woman
in worn blue jeans and jackets

cross the empty crosswalk
in perfect stride with one another.

I watch from inside my car,
in the right lane at the red light,

listening to a Mudcrutch song,
Orphan of the Storm,

lyrics telling a Katrina story
over a prayerful organ,

strummed guitars
spurring on thoughts of the couple

as orphans themselves,
on the run for a long time,

their synchronicity of puffs
and strides and lack

of facial expressions,
unheld hands, a symbol

of the unconditional,
things that are unspoken,

whatever their life is now
from how it was,

abandoned in the streets,
a burning between their fingers,

ashes falling on the way to the curb
back into the darkness.

BRIAN HARMAN is a poet living in Southern California. He received his MFA in creative writing from Cal State University, Long Beach. His work has been published in Chiron Review, Nerve Cowboy, Misfit Magazine, and elsewhere. He is the author of Suddenly, All Hell Broke Loose!!! through Picture Show Press.

Green Flames by George Gad Economou

Green Flames

green flames leap through fissures, great cities turn
into lush jungles, ancient forests become
abandoned stone ruins—skyscrapers collapse, sewers are
elevated to the clouds, gutter rats fire up
Cuban cigars—yellow plumes of smoke shot up to
purple clouds washing away blue blood from
cracked sidewalks—lonesome man on a winding
highway, wild-haired and wild-eyed, with a shotgun
takes down all adjectives—brothers from other lives,
morose nights under exploding stars—one last night,
homes burned down, banks exploding, the high men
go low, down to the melting core—burn it down!—
burn it up!—knock it back, throw it down—flames leap
through fissures on former avenues—planes float, ships fly—
children play, men cry—pacifists bleed, soldiers drink—when the
first spaceship landed no one looked up—throughout galaxies love
was sought, it resided nowhere—“pour it strong, Jim”—the end comes!
the cry of the madman in the corner—rum to raid banks, bourbon
to conquer the thinning highway—growls, here they come—we’re
dead—no one
gives a damn.

George Gad Economou holds a Master’s degree in Philosophy of Science and resides in Athens, Greece. His novella, Letters to S., was published in Storylandia Issue 30 and his short stories and poems have appeared in literary magazines, such as The Edge of Humanity Magazine, The Rye Whiskey Review, and Modern Drunkard Magazine. His first poetry collection, Bourbon Bottles and Broken Beds, was published by Adelaide Books in 2021. 

The Enemy of My Enemy Is Probably Also My Enemy, Just Without a Goatee. By CL Bledsoe

The Enemy of My Enemy Is Probably Also My Enemy, Just Without a Goatee. 

For example, no man can wear beige
and remember the taste of the sun. Look,
Jim, just because you went to private

school doesn’t excuse you from a responsibility
to understand physics. It doesn’t matter how
good you look in lacrosse shorts when they

come to reclaim the fields. Sweat soured
on skin like a father’s gaze. A bell that never
stops ringing. I want to laugh like we used

to, talking shit about the pines. Maybe
you’re right, Jim. Maybe there’s nothing
but quiet cars. The flimsy logic of regret.

There’s a certain way of forgetting
that happens every night when you try
to catalogue what remains. It has to do

with never going into the kitchen,
which is the best way of keeping
the floor clean.

Raised on a rice and catfish farm in eastern Arkansas, CL Bledsoe is the author of thirty books, including his newest poetry collection, The Bottle Episode, and his latest novel The Saviors. Bledsoe co-writes the humor blog How to Even, with Michael Gushue: https://medium.com/@howtoeven Bledsoe lives in northern Virginia with his daughter.

Take Five, Decades Later by Mark Young

Take Five, Decades Later

Supposedly it is a music
that keeps you young, the
Dave Brubeck Quartet re-
dux, combined age around
300 years, more white hair
than a polar bears’
convention. They try to
belie their age. It is a form
of floating. But. The music.

Is. Old. & without the
transcendent magic of Paul
Desmond they are only
old men going through
the motions / paying the
rent / presenting the past
as it was, not what it should
be with fifty years to change
it in. They want to dance,

but this recycled air is not
for pirouetting. But. They. Go
through some easy steps
until the elderly Brubeck
plays Brahms’ Lullaby as
an encore for the elderly
audience & everyone & the
elderly band realizes it
is way past their bedtime.

Mark Young’s first published poetry appeared over sixty-two years ago. Much more recent
work has appeared in Mad Swirl, Scud, Ygdrasil, Mobius, SurVision, Arteidolia, Unlikely
Stories, & Word For/Word.

car alarm by Ethan Cunningham

car alarm

no one heeds a car alarm blaring
battle-cry wolf
dial 911 for a papercut
yelp for police when you flinch
urban chirp lulls citydwellers to sleep
they’ve slept with the wolf cries so much
when a masked assailant attacks in the night
these windows are deaf to the sound
better you did not speak at all
then your throat would gong and feet would come running

Ethan Cunningham’s recent works appear in The Drabble, HASH Journal, Modern Poetry Quarterly Review, and others. He lives in California.