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The sun is a hornet sting in his eyes but his stagger started with that twisted sauce that dude hit him with at the coffee shop bathroom where he screwed Suzie in retribution against Samantha. The pain of that loss was still so fresh.
Empty and meaningless body contortions while staring at the underside of a piss stained toilet. Should have stayed home that day too. She wanted someone to love her, that’s why she shook when you hugged her, apologized when she climaxed and asked for more.
Two steps and a jerk of the muscles sends him down the sidewalk. Two more and the convulsions are there again in force, arms spasm outstretched and fingers go clenching at air trying smash it’s emptiness into something meaningful. Two more and the blood trails seeping from forearms that stink of vinegar and iron are drip dropping onto his shoes with a pitter patter of hope draining onto leather.
His white v-necked shirt is clean if you ignore the spots of cherry red revealed as a splatter pattern seeping from the inside. His pants are sagging and baggy, deep brown with a tan cinch belt and pockets on pockets bulging with random items. His has Nikes, now personalized with scarlet across their tips.
Fuck, fuck, fuck. Too much this time. Way too much. There. Priorities. Why? Needle. Get one. Man across the street, has the look. Get another rig. Block it out. Don’t think, just act. Shut it down.
He asks the stranger if he has as a needle and of course he does, doesn’t everyone? The stranger says that he is clean of disease and has never used it despite the crimson hue inside the chamber. The stranger points out the blood running down his forearms and warns that it might draw attention.
He stutter steps, two forward, a shuffle to the side, quick spin, dancing to the demands of the chemicals. Lips split open into a full bodied smile, lopsided to the left and sparks of intensity carve out a luminosity in his blue eyes that stretches past the borders of happiness into ecstasy beyond understanding.
His face glows with inner fire, radiant passion – he’s got a zeal about him now that belies the shit show dance moves that propel him down the street at an uneven but driven keel. He’s on a mission.
Samantha. There. By the bus depot, god she looks amazing even on the streets. I wonder if she still loves me. I told her she was Sparkles, that her fire was so bright I could see it in the darkest moments. Why?
Her moan when he hugs her says “thank god you made it here and I found you, you idiot.”
The sun is a hornet sting, the moon is a muse shining a halo of opportunity in the falling dusk.
The zeal is faded as his eyes dull to the gray of the muse and her siren song of possibilities missed. They both rest against the wall inside the parking garage which hides them. His arms are full of her and maybe the stranger, his veins are on fire and his dreams are impressions of futures that could have been, envy soaks them. He’s going to die again, he knows it.
He sits in the parking garage until the stars haze out and the moon disappears.
[Melting Neurons resides in Wenatchee, WA where he lives with his wife and stuffed owl, they both hail from Bend, OR originally. He has lived in more than 75 cities across the country at various points including Boston and New Bedford, MA. His writing centers around a lifetime filled with adventures in schizoaffective bipolar, addiction, and the dichotomy of being everything from a corporate executive to homeless on the streets for years. Someday he hopes his estranged children will discover these pieces, and he can regain a relationship with them. He is a member of the Sudden Denouement Literary Collective and enrolled in Wenatchee Valley College studying English and Creative Non-Fiction.]
Peripheral Visions – David Lohrey
They’ve outlawed torture because it doesn’t work,
but they forgot to tell my little brother.
I went to Madrid and wanted paella but all I found
was frozen pizza.
I traveled to Saudi Arabia and knew exactly what I wanted,
but found the road to Mecca closed to outsiders.
Americans claim to be welcoming. The kids in Tibet cry “hello,”
but when the Chinese visit Brooklyn, the kids shout “Fuck you.”
It’s the only language they know.
The kids in Harlem are no globe-trotters. They’ve never
even crossed the street.
Their female teacher doesn’t wear underpants, but her neighbor,
a man, wears panties. They claim it is the children who have a lot
When the infants say they are not ready for anal sex,
their teacher makes them sit by themselves in the corner.
The six-year-old is sucking her thumb is told in no uncertain terms
to remove her thumb and find a boy to satisfy.
We’re heading for Broadway to watch a play with the provocative
title, Rotten. The actors throw tomatoes at the audience, after checking
first to see how they voted.
Righteous indignation supplants despair. Feeling superior sure beats
finding fault with oneself. The world is so stupid.
Diversity works like this: first, we take over. Children of the Empire visit
and are told they’re wonderful.
After the bombing, we legalize gay marriage. Napalm in the morning,
but the bathhouses are to remain open, announces the Pentagon spokesperson.
The President is trans. Her name is Annabelle. The debate question
she couldn’t answer was how it is she manages to look so fabulous.
She bursts out laughing and then begins to sob. After a break,
she gets a standing ovation.
It has been announced that everyone in the country lives in one city,
Houston, coast to coast; zip codes may vary.
Why bother with different names like LA and Atlanta. The whole
country is one big Houston: the bars, the malls, the adult bookshops.
Now that it’s been outlawed, kissing between men and women,
there are fewer law suits. There is no population growth. What have
we learned? Men can’t get pregnant.
Houston, Illinois has higher taxes than Houston, Texas, but New York’s
Houston is the worst. People there no longer keep addresses. Their
official residence is in Puerto Rico.
I was born David but call myself Dawood, Princess of the Desert.
I like getting my nails done. What I hate is driving in the slow lane.
And my husband likes to slap my ass. I won’t go into it. First,
he bites it.
I feel diminished by modern life. The lifestyle is belittling.
How can I develop an ego? Start by killing a mosquito.
People come to Memphis seeking Elvis. They leave having made
fools of themselves. Elvis did not die in vain.
The train leaves out of Union Station at 3. Get yourself a paper.
The toilets are certain to be broken.
I never wanted anything more than love. That’s why I’ve come.
You’ve come to the wrong place.
She may be rich, but she is bitter. She wants the nurse to wipe
thrice not just once.
If only my mother had been well taken care of. She lived ‘til 93
but could have made it to 105. I’m suing. She died on the way
to the hospital.
I just want love. My lips are luscious. My dick is huge. My nails
are dazzling. My bum is plump. What the fuck is wrong with me.
[David Lohrey is from Memphis, where he grew up, and now lives in Tokyo, where he teaches and writes for local travel magazines. He graduated from UC Berkeley and then moved to LA where he lived for over 20 years.
Internationally, his poetry can be found in Otoliths, Stony Thursday Anthology, Sentinel Quarterly, and Tuck Magazine. In the US, recent poems have appeared in Poetry Circle, FRiGG, Obsidian, and Apogee Journal. His fiction can be read in Crack the Spine, Dodging the Rain, and Literally Stories.
David’s The Other Is Oneself, a study of 20th-century literature, was published in 2016, while his first collection of poetry, Machiavelli’s Backyard, was released in September 2017. He is a member of the Sudden Denouement Collective.]
It is the pause
Where I await the echo
To signal that it can beat again…
…that I can breathe again…
… that I can’t…
It is the pause
Haunted by a promise
Where in slow motion
With broken compass
And bloody nails
To find finger-holds
In the grey edge
Of the moment
Frozen in the shattered glass
Of the bauble
That once had
housed the world
Within a world
To moral paste
Beneath the agony of cloven behoves
Which beget the disentangle
© Vicki Wilson
I am an amateur poet, published author and professional technical analyst… all of these things mean I basically solve puzzles for a living, and to keep from dying. I know this because I died once. Metaphorically. Six years of a slow death by industrialised decision making. In the end I was so numb to living I ceased to exist. But burn-out has a silver lining, you wake up and all you have left is steel and the rich black of sticky charcoal to make your mark. I am still learning how to hold a pen, how to form words into a living thing, but my scratchings are mine, they are made with the corpse of who I was. I offer them as evidence I exist.
I have recently published a children’s book – written and illustrated by myself – under the banner of dragonflypublishing. You can find me there writing my next one: https://www.facebook.com/dragonflypublishing.au.
HIS TASTE Ann Wuehler
Awash in clowns, I remember bits of him
in quiet fragments of the day.
How the stairwell hid us
and revealed our lust
to each other
like a good clean thing.
And his taste, his taste, his taste
and the slip of that skin, his skin
beneath the delighted surface
of each of my palms.
How I stumbled beside him
in the tired reaches
of early morning
without guilt or shame,
as we parted,
as we let go.
The tide smothers me
in clowns and mimes,
I should bow my head
and pray to stern men
No thank you.
I am done asking
for what I
Her work can be view at Ann Wuehler.
[A native Oregonian with ambitions and apparently a need to see more of the planet than a few feet beyond her back yard. I received my BA in Theatre from Eastern Oregon University and my MFA in Playwriting from the University of Nevada/Las Vegas. My Oregon Gothic was published in 2015 and my House on Clark Boulevard was published September of 2017. My newest novel, Aftermath, should be out, oh, soonish. I had an evening of plays this September with the Ilkley Playhouse in the UK. Bunny Slipper, a short story, was published in Whistle Pig this fall. The Moth and the Whale was published January 2019 in A Door is a Jar. My poem, My Feet Hurt, will be in The Rumpus. I am also co-writing a screenplay based on a short story from my Oregon Gothic, with the filmmaker who just finished filming a short feature of my play, Traces of Memory.]
At night there is a silence gently broken by the moaning of the walls: Vast landscapes and skylines and pink insulation. At daybreak comes the screaming, the kid still in need of weening, a breakfast still in need of eating: toast for the road. Sit at a desk. Sit at a desk. Sit at a desk. Did you know that daffodils grow wild in the woods? Stare long enough while driving and you will see. A cultural project to beautify these streets: Days pass in the blandness of inner eyelids. At night in the quiet and your fantasies shrouded in dark, cut sharp by the quick panic of a deadline missed at work. The soft pillow: you couldn’t care less. Couldn’t care less for rose-colored lips. Couldn’t care less for well-padded paychecks. Couldn’t care less about a liver-rot death.
Your heart is the size of your fist. Learn how to throw it.
Mick Hugh is a writer for Sudden Denouement, and the groundskeeper at Mick’s Neon Fog.
by David Lohrey
One doesn’t think of poets as money managers.
It must be nice to see one’s work issued by the government.
You have to give her credit for it, she made an industry
out of having had a hard time of it, even if today she lunches
with the likes of Oprah and Jessica Mitford.
Had there been enough good parts, she could have
made a fine actress. She would have made a powerful Josie
Hogan, you know, from that play by Eugene O’Neill, or that
haunting wife of Macbeth, or, better yet, Hamlet’s dear mother.
Instead, she became a bestselling poet.
Something about her reminds me of a circus, a tented
carnival with a snake-man called Scaly and a three-breasted
lady. Step right up and hear her tale of unparalleled woe.
Avoid the door on the right, or you might get her confused
with the tattooed midget in yellow tights and his aqua tunic.
Tell the tale of your miserable past: how
you were beaten and mistreated, and how
you experienced unwanted advances. Why not
explain once again what it was like to have to eat
barbecued bologna on Christmas morning?
Now there’s human suffering.
The royalties mount beyond anyone’s count.
Rake it in while it lasts. There’s the 5-bedroom townhouse
in a fashionable part of Harlem, the mansion down
in swampy Carolina, a wee property along the Hudson
and, rumor has it, a pied-á-terre in a posh section of Paris.
The newest new book is just coming out in a new
waterproof edition. The text, it is said, glows in the dark,
so it can be read underwater, or you can get one that floats.
It is scheduled to appear later this month in coordination
with her new show, Big Woe, the new Broadway Musical.
Have your say, as they say, but be sure to count your earnings.
Some might say it is too much to dare. When you wear earrings
and things from Tiffany’s, it gets harder and harder to ask for
sympathy. You might wind up like some of your devoted readers,
much too rich to notice a little girl in need of affection.
David Lohrey’s plays have been produced in Switzerland, Croatia, and Lithuania. In the US, his poems can be found at the RavensPerch, New Orleans Review, Nice Cage, and The Drunken Llama. Internationally, his work appears in journals located in the UK, the Netherlands, India, Malawi, and Hungary. His fiction can be seen at Dodging the Rain, Terror House Magazine, and Literally Stories. David’s collection of poetry, MACHIAVELLI’S BACKYARD, was published by Sudden Denouement Publishers. He lives in Tokyo. You can read more of his writing at Writing, Musing, Poetry
by Nitin Lalit Murali
I called my father today and told him that his death
will give me closure.
“Why don’t you jump off the balcony
while I’m talking to you? You’ll do us all a favor,”
I said, seething with rage.
Echoes of abuse never become whispers;
the past lies mangled like the hind leg of a deer
in the mouth of a lion,
the future is as cut up as paper put through
a voice in the dark
that’s as sharp as a blade screams, “Injustice!”
But does that give me a right to become the very man
I detested growing up?
A tormented, tortured, theatrical fool,
a disgruntled, discontented, disgusting do-nothing,
an uneasy, unstable, unsettled madman.
I wish there was more to life than
looking at my shattered reflection,
I wish there was more than drowning
in a green abyss of self-loathing and hate,
I wish there was someone who’ll love me
unconditionally and help me purge the
But I’ve realized that this arid valley of dry bones
is the only place I’ll ever know.
Nitin Lalit Murali is a poet, flash fiction writer and essayist from Bangalore, India. He also enjoys reading literature of different genres and listening to jazz and neo-classical music. He started writing seven years ago and art has consumed him over the years. He blogs regularly at Fighting the Dying Light