Monday, March 19, 2018

John Patrick Robbins


I remember the moment life stopped and time became
something to serve not live to its fullest.
He was a drunk he was also my father in name only.
He was a bitter old fool too weak
to kick another mans ass but as for his wife,
kid, and dog it was prime time for his frustrations.

Some blamed it on the bottle but he was spineless shit without it.
I remember the last time I looked into his eyes.
He was coming off another binge.

Taking his vengeance for a pathetic existence.
I stood before him busted nose I was beyond tears anymore.
You can only beat down a dog so long
before it comes back at you ready to rip your throat out.

"You ain't got the balls you little bastard!"

It didn't take balls to pull the trigger.
It took something far more broken inside than he could ever understand.

We both lost our lives that night.
Except in his case it was a mercy killing and long overdue.
I never knew freedom I simply knew a bigger cage.

John reads "Dogs to the Chain":

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John confesses: "The inspiration behind Dogs To The Chain came from a old friend of mine who has passed away, Robert Lee White. I got the idea from a conversation in which he had mentioned no matter how much you even truly hated someone. Nobody was worth giving your life up in turn to take theirs. For in pulling the trigger, that is exactly what you do. Nobody gets away with anything, for even if you avoid prison, you still have to live with the fact you took another's life. He was a true brother of mine and this one is for him."

JOHN PATRICK ROBBINS is a barroom poet who's work has been published with Horror Sleaze Trash, Spill The Words, The Romingos Porch, Red Fez, Blue Pepper, Piker Press, Your One Phone Call, and The Outlaw Poetry Network. His work is always unfiltered.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Joseph S. Pete


At the funeral, scores eulogized the 19-year-old
who grew up singing “Veggie Tale” songs, who was strangled in that motel room,
who perished pallid and lifeless in a bathtub that hadn’t had a deep scrub in months
that the housekeepers barely touched.

She endeared everyone with her contagious laugh,
and always had lofty aspirations, wrote poetry, devoured The Hunger Games,
sung along with Sister Souljah, told her mom she’d be famous one day,

Life didn’t go as planned.
It never does.
But she had talked about going back to college, studying nursing, musical engineering,
something, anything, she hadn't decided yet.

The serial killer Darren Vann choked the life out of her,
as he had to so many victims over the last 20 years, whom he had dumped in Gary’s glut of
abandoned buildings, forsaken houses, vacant storefronts, shuttered schools,
moldering structures that time forgot, weakened brick and rotting lumber
that had outlived all its earthly purpose.

This time he got caught,
technology advanced enough where they were able to track him down,
to trace his phone records, pinpoint the murder on a killer who had long evaded detection.

But the most ghostly aspect of the killing was that
the motel still rents the room out where that young girl died senselessly.
The national motel chain still rents rooms out where victims died
in shootings, garrotings, overdoses,
where people, actual people, were stabbed or beaten to death.
where ghosts dwell amid leaky faucets, stained comforters,
seemingly barren rooms with little more than Bibles in spare drawers and
five piddling channels.

These rooms don't reside in shady low-lit motels with blood splattered on the stairwells,
where shady and slumdog lodgers know what awaits, and likely don't care.
This is a national corporation that houses its guests in ghastly murder rooms
haunted by voiceless slabs in the morgue, checked out to anyone
without regard or consideration.

When you’re vacationing in a distant city and staying somewhere you found on Orbitz,
you never know if someone breathed their last breath
in the seemingly anodyne room that was such a bargain.

Joseph reads "Poor Afrikka Hardy...":

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Joseph confesses: "As a newspaper reporter, I covered the heartbreaking funeral of Afrikka Hardy, a young victim of the serial killer Darren Vann. She was found in a motel bathtub, which prompted my curiosity. I discovered motels apparently routinely just keep renting rooms out after murders or deaths. In one case, a family found a corpse under the bed in Memphis."

JOSEPH S. PETE is an award-winning journalist, an Iraq War veteran, an Indiana University graduate, a book reviewer, and a frequent guest on Lakeshore Public Radio. He is a 2017 Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee who was named the poet laureate of Chicago BaconFest, a feat that Geoffrey Chaucer chump never accomplished. His literary work and photography have appeared or are forthcoming in The Five-Two, Pulp Modern, Dogzplot, Stoneboat, The High Window, Synesthesia Literary Journal, Steep Street Journal, Beautiful Losers, New Pop Lit, The Grief Diaries, Gravel, The Offbeat, Oddball Magazine, The Perch Magazine, Rising Phoenix Review, Chicago Literati, Bull Men's Fiction, shufPoetry, The Roaring Muse, Prairie Winds, Blue Collar Review, Lumpen, The Rat's Ass Review, The Tipton Poetry Journal, Euphemism, Jenny Magazine, Vending Machine Press and elsewhere. His work as a newspaper reporter has taken him to a number of crime scenes, criminal trials and funerals for murder victims.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Charles Rammelkamp


The night of our farewell banquet in Chicago,
before Emma Goldman and I were expelled
from the country, the end of 1919,
that capitalist monster Henry Clay Frick died,
a heart attack in New York City.

I'd spent fourteen years in prison
for shooting him twice, stabbing him,
after his Pinkerton goons killed
nine miners in the Pennsylvania Homestead Strike.
I'd gone after him in his office in Pittsburgh,
Got off two shots with my revolver
before that other Carnegie pig Leishman
grabbed my arm, the two of them
wrestling me to the ground,
which was when I stabbed Frick four times.
Then the other Carnegie poltroons overwhelmed me.

After I was pardoned in 1906,
I edited Emma's Mother Earth
eight years before I started The Blast.
But then they sentenced Emma and me
to two years for "conspiracy" against the draft,
that traitor Wilson having given in to the war mongers.
But it was unconstitutional, no matter
what those Supreme Court stooges ruled.

And the minute we're released from prison?
They round us up and deport us to Russia.

So when I learned Frick had died,
I felt just a little vindicated,
like maybe there was some justice after all,
and when the reporter asked for a comment?
"I’m glad he left the country before me,"
was all I could say.
The bastard’d been deported by God.

Charles reads "Alexander Berkman...":

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Charles confesses: "Described in the press as 'the most hated man in America,' the capitalist Henry Clay Frick was the bĂȘte noire of the anarchist Alexander Berkman, Emma Goldman's lover. This reflected an earlier time of wealth disparity in the United States. You have to wonder if there will be more Berkmans and Fricks now that the plutocrats are set to cash in on the Trump-McConnell-Ryan tax plan."

CHARLES RAMMELKAMP is Prose Editor for BrickHouse Books in Baltimore, where he lives. His most recent book is American Zeitgeist (Apprentice House). A chapbook, Jack Tar’s Lady Parts, was recently published by Main Street Rag Press. Another chapbook, Me and Sal Paradise, is forthcoming from FutureCycle Press.

Monday, February 26, 2018

David S. Pointer


In this Cupidian utopia
AKA "selfie-land" cops
send things off to a lab
to find out if they have
serum repository sewage
or chocolate-covered
cherries bleeding out,
splotching the bear paw
coasters, black as eye
patches dispensed freely
for unvast worldviews
making decisions built
on predatory charm
brain chemistry glowing
wired with online love.

David reads "Soulmate Mountain":

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David confesses: "This poem was inspired by the modern cyber-dater world, and various news stories and online articles that I have read over the years."

DAVID S. POINTER had recent work published in Trajectory and a Vincent Van Gogh-themed anthology Resurrection of a Sunflower published by Pski's Porch.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Chad Haskins


Looking me in the eyes,
sliding her chips forward,
she says, "all in,"
muddled by a history
of aloof boldness.

Holding a pair of twos,
a crime not to fold,
I play to the end,
losing everything—
except the fucking truth.

Chad reads "Bluff":

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Chad confesses nothing.

CHAD HASKINS lives in Georgia. His writing has appeared, or is forthcoming, in Untitled Country Review, Yellow Mama, Spinetingler, Golden Sparrow Literary Review, Citron Review, Horror Tree, Barefoot Review and Flash Fiction Offensive.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Michael A. Arnzen


She was incurable
so she asked me to kill her.
"How could I?" I asked
and she put her hand on my arm
and said
"If you love me,
you'll surprise me."

And so I took my time
hoping maybe they'd find some cure
other than murder
until I discovered
that she'd contracted her disease
from another lover.
"How could she?" I asked.
She'd surprised me.

So then it was my turn,
and I started counting
the daisy petals of doom:
How could I? How could I not?
all the way up till Valentine's Day,
when I gave her a cliche box of chocolates.
She laughed as she opened
the big red heart made of cheap cardboard
and with a head-shaky smile refused to eat
the dark truffles it contained
clustered and bulbously evil
as unexpected polyps.

"Too predictable," she said,
rolling her tired and bloodshot eyes
and refusing to take a taste.
"You'll have to do better than that."
And so I kissed her
while the contact poison
I'd sprayed onto the wrapper
of the heart-shaped box
entered into her system

And then I carefully plucked
a candy out from its holder
and popped it into my mouth.
"I love you to death,"
I said smiling all chocolate
and she laughed again,
or rather, her lungs did,
wheezing out her final breath
as we locked eyes like true lovers,
both of us, surprised by the timing.

Mike reads "Surprise Me Deadly":

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Mike confesses: "I am fascinated of those assorted chocolate sampler boxes. The hidden wonder of which flavor is which, the surprise nougat and nuts. There's usually a secret code to what you're going to eat, but it's on the bottom of the box where you can't see what you're doing. It's always a surprise. Anyway, I myself was surprised so soon after New Year's to realize that these heart-shaped candy boxes are for sale all over the place now—so I decided to write a crime poem about them."

MICHAEL A. ARNZEN ( holds four Bram Stoker Awards for his dark fiction and poetry. He teaches full-time in the MFA in Writing Popular Fiction program at Seton Hill University, near Pittsburgh, PA.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Jeff Bagato


She had a bullet
hole in her black
leather Gucci
bag and we all
wondered if it
was a real

hell, we all knew
the bullet hole
was real cause
Marcus was in
the hospital for
3 days and never
told Sally
why his left nut
was missing and
how those jeans
got ripped at
the crotch
like that

Jeff reads "Like That":

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Jeff confesses: "I feel fortunate when I can channel characters and listen to them tell their stories. There’s a responsibility to stay true to the storyteller, no matter where they take you. Reports of women who take violent revenge on cheating boyfriends certainly had an influence."

A multi-media artist living near Washington, D.C., JEFF BAGATO produces poetry and prose as well as electronic music and glitch video. Some of his poetry and visuals have recently appeared in Empty Mirror, Futures Trading, Otoliths, Gold Wake Live, H&, The New Post-Literate, and Midnight Lane Boutique. Some short fiction has appeared in Gobbet and The Colored Lens. He has published nineteen books, all available through the usual online markets, including Savage Magic (poetry) and Computing Angels (fiction). A blog about his writing and publishing efforts can be found at