Friday, April 28, 2023

High School Unconfidential By John Patrick Robbins

When questioned over my love for younger women and finer Whiskey.
My non-defense is simple.

I enjoy a good time, and a woman who's not got fifteen pounds of baggage and four kids.

Call me a perv, call me what you will.
Just don't call me when high school lets out.

Because I may be a little preoccupied at the moment; road head beats road rage any day of the week.

"Excuse me sir, are you Tabitha's father?"

"No, but she calls me daddy sometimes; does that count?"

Oh no I didn't. Just when you think I'm going soft my charming perverted self bounces back again.

Cheers, school's out.

Jesus loves you because he doesn't actually know you.


His publication list includes.

It Burns When I Pee Quarterly, The Nobody Reads This Zine Minus The Jerks That Are Published In It Print Mag, The Bathroom Wall At The Lucky Strikes Bowling Alley, The Church Of Satan News Letter, Modern Viking Men's Apparel Catalog and The New Yorkers Lesser known mag Fuck Magazine.

When not writing he is an archeologist and is currently seeking the lost city of Atlantis, which is guarded by Cthulhu and Geraldo Rivera.

Monday, April 24, 2023

Sandscript Washed Clean By Ashley Karlsson

As powerful as the ocean’s ever-approaching tide.
I cannot have what I want and it is unfair to myself to sit in wait for what will never be.

Doc, you know my love is always yours but I demand it in return.
As we shared the idea but never its truest intention.

There forever will be a vacancy.
Black painted nails dig in one last time.
Tears mixed with the passion as farewell need not be spoken.

As it's foretold within the eyes.
We were always one foot in the grave from the start.


Ashley Karlsson's work has been published in the Rye Whiskey Review, It Takes All Kinds Literary Zine and The Dope Fiend Daily.

Friday, April 21, 2023

Driveshaft by B. Lynne Zika

        She was centered in her work. There were other things she loved: her husband, her daughter, the cherry bookshelves in her study which housed Wolfe, Smith’s The Wealth of Nations, Schrodinger. The names her intellect held sacred belonged to men. Yet she was not rooted in these things, nor in her Americanized Tudor-style home.

        Her husband was born to love. Even his career was based on helping. And when his hands—graceful in their power—signed a sentence, two, three, they rested, palms open, ready to receive. I could not say if his deafness had any bearing on this, though I imagine not. By hand or voice, when certain men speak, they are poised to listen.

        Her professional office bore a different style than her home. The el of her clear glass desk wrapped around her. Its legs were metal, painted black. She abandoned the executive high- backed chair in favor of a lumbar-supportive, ergonomic model when her back upped its low murmur to a loud ache. Each night, before she left for home, she arranged the desk surface so that no piles of paper obscured its clarity.

        Occasionally—not often—she indulged her desire to stop at a small bar situated along the drive home. If possible she chose a seat which would not invite company. She often held a book or, better, a newspaper, and pretended to read.

        The barkeep (who respectfully never asked her name) would lift an eyebrow and one index finger: The same? With her nod, he poured and set in front of her a shot of Grand Marnier and a very hot cup of coffee. Milk, not cream. No sugar.

        While she sipped, her husband set their daughter to her homework and faced the preparations for dinner. He set a soup pot filled with water on the stove to boil, then pulled an onion from the root vegetable bin and from the refrigerator a carrot, one zucchini and several mushrooms, a wedge of Romano and one of Parmesan, which he grated.

        First the mushrooms. He wiped them with a damp paper towel and sliced them somewhat thin. In a huge iron skillet heated with a few tablespoons of olive oil, he browned the mushrooms five or six at a time. Overcrowding the pan would pull the water from them, and they would not brown. He did the same for half the onion, carmelizing the tiny slices in small batches. Next he set to julienning the vegetables. First the carrot, then the seeded zucchini. He stirred a bag of fresh tortellini into the boiling water, with a dollop of olive oil, and set a blinking timer.

        He heated the oven, prepared a loaf of garlic bread, and slid it directly onto the oven’s center rack.

        As the pasta boiled—separated by the occasional stir of a slotted spoon—he stir-fried the carrots until crisp-tender and set them in a holding bowl with the mushrooms and onions. When the timer began blinking its green DONE!, he drained the tortellini and threw it into the hot skillet replenished with additional oil. Using the same slotted spoon, he lifted and gently turned to coat each piece. The vegetables in the holding bowl made magnificent swan-dives and joined the pasta. Next he stirred in a handful of the grated cheeses (his hands were large), turned the heat to low, covered the skillet with a domed lid, and set the still-half-full bowl of cheeses onto the center of the dining table.

        He signed to his daughter, “Almost ready! Can you clear the books and set the silverware and napkins?” Then he placed in reach for her two wine glasses, an eight-ounce drinking glass, three plates, and a bottle of California Merlot, already uncorked. He turned off the oven and opened its door. The garlic bread beamed at him, crusty and pleased with itself. His wife walked in the front door. Her keys clattered as she tossed them onto the credenza. Over dinner she signed to him, “They’ve asked me to go to London.”

        “When? For how long?”

        She signed, “Permanently,” and then, “Will you come?”

        He gazed at his daughter.

        Then, to his wife: “No.”

        The young girl’s fork stopped a whisper from her lips, a bite of tortellini turned to stone on her tongue. She did not yet understand what this would mean, but she knew it to be momentous, though she didn’t know the word itself. With her eyes on her father’s face, she spoke.


        The woman’s face had grown dark, a deep-crimson darkness which was not visible but keenly felt by the very legs of the dining room table. She did not answer her daughter but instead gave one lift of her chin toward her husband.

        He fixed his eyes on his daughter’s face and signed to his wife.

        “You know very well my client base here. Do you imagine I could abandon my practice? Begin again in an unknown country where even my language would not be known?”

        He could read the puzzle on his daughter’s face. “I do not mean spoken languages, little one. But ASL and BSL developed completely independently of one another, so our signs are not the same. And the British use a two-handed alphabet for spelling. When I arrived, I would not even be able to tell someone my name.”

        She signed, “Daddy?” She lifted her napkin and pulled the dead pasta from her tongue. “Then where will I be?”

        He lowered his chin to give himself a moment to think. This pacific child, their daughter, was too young to shoulder the responsibility of deciding for herself, of being asked to choose. His years of training had taught him this, grounded him in Stages of Development, the age- related skills acquired in the milieu of being human. Though he counseled adults, he had not forgotten the roots of his lengthy education. And so he signed to her:

        “You will do as you’ve always done. You’ll do your homework on this solid table…” Here he paused to gavel the tabletop, showing her its sturdiness. “…and on weekdays, you will go to your school and ride your bike and help me pick the tomatoes in our little garden. Then on weekends —“

        He stopped signing to hold the small head thrown against his chest, willing his heart to beat loudly enough for her to hear its steady rhythm.

        His wife stood up. She both signed and spoke: “I have to go back to the office for a couple of hours.” She considered stroking the girl’s hair but let her be. Her keys were waiting on the credenza.


B. Lynne Zika, a long-term closed-captioning editor, is an award-winning poet and photographer. Her recent book,  The Strange Case of Eddy Whitfield, multiformat, is available through standard booksellers. Her father, also a writer/poet, bequeathed her this advice: Make every word count.

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

The Wear and Tear by Keith Gorman

She’s always in the background, that tiny seed of

doubt driving us all to lose control. The weary wagon

lumbers on, imploring playgrounds to remain open

and highways to run as plain as the sun and straight

as the lines of geometry. But what if I tell a shameless lie—

just make one up—right here on the spot? A guarantee that

despite how tight the hitch is bound or where the hangman

hangs his noose, there’s always a charming rainbow

crayoning along the landscape. And with Spring’s renaissance

and all her fucking little flowers, poets may now salvage

the words of Alan Watts and David Carradine, or they can

shoot the dice with Amazon and have their follies

fall by the door. The door that leads to another

door . . . and another door. . . and another.


Keith Gorman is a poet, guitarist, and factory worker living near the foothills of The Great Smokey Mountain National Park in Eastern Tennessee. His poetry has appeared in or is forthcoming in The Delta Review, The California Quarterly Review, The Main Street Rag, Plainsongs Magazine, and Muddy River Poetry Review.

Friday, April 14, 2023

Manta Ray by Kevin M. Hibshman

I chased you through the depths of the blackest nights.

Fed you my caffeine and cigarettes.

I was instantly mesmerized by the hypnotic designs of your swirling descent.

You sang with a voice that was a bell, a siren.

The lyrics told of my life.

A fisherman never quite getting a true grip on his rod.

You were inescapably seductive, the dancer in my dreams.

Lithe and with no legs, you glided as a fish with wings.

What kind of jazz was that you played?

Ancient mermaid?

The sound of a thousand years of slow decay?

A remembrance of when the entire world went underwater?

Kevin M. Hibshman has had his poetry, prose, reviews and collages published around the world. He has edited his own poetry journal, FEARLESS for the past thirty years. He has authored sixteen chapbooks, including Incessant Shining (2011, Alternating Current Press).His latest books: Cease To Destroy, Just Another Small Town Story  and The Mirror Masks Nothing, a co-authored book with John Patrick Robbins published by Whiskey City Press, are now available on AMAZON.

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Unsubstantiated, Yet Worrisome by Jerome Berglund

        The creature got the raccoon in a split second. I was at the window brushing my teeth when I witnessed the nasty business, had been admiring the plucky little bandit burgling our compost bin when it was caught unawares from out of a blind spot. The thing which surprised it was unrecognizable to me, a retired veterinarian who thought she’d seen near every odd creature tucked around these out-of-the-way parts off the beaten path. The beasty has a certain shimmer surrounding it that made its anatomy harder to discern, or maybe I imagined that, eyes played rude tricks on me. 

        By the time I got our Remington out and filled it with buckshot, made my way onto the back porch, the pair had vanished from sight and only a few glaring signs of their altercation were left behind, as testament at least that I indeed had observed something strange and singular, of whatever precise character.  I hoped scientifically rational explanations could provide illumination and drag the incident out of the clouds of superstitious speculation, back into the empiric realm of facts and reason I so much more prefer to inhabit. But I startled my hubby and darn near gave him a stroke when I went for the shotgun, and boy did he try his darnedest to dissuade my venturing out any further once I’d explained what I had glimpsed momentarily. Mountain lion, or timber wolf, perhaps a coyote hybrid with large breed dog mixed in, or some variation of bear, wolverine or badger. But whatever had overcome and bested that sizable raccoon was worth steering right clear of, assiduously avoiding, leaving well enough alone.

        Still I felt a moral obligation, and strong calling then to at least try to lend the pitiful creature some sort of helping hand. My husband cowered at the threshold as I ventured out on Crocs just in time to perceive the slightest motion in the tall grasses at the very back of our yard, perhaps signifying where its exit had been swiftly enacted. I did not dare to go looking out there, even to quit my elevated deck to be perfectly honest, but surveyed the scene from above and afar with a powerful halogen flashlight, obtaining a better look the following morning when the sun had risen all the way up in the sky and I had a better sense of comfort, though it took a month before I got so bold as to venture out deep into the yard without bear spray or Bowie knife readily accessible, and I doubt I’ll go anywhere near the tall grass or again tarry across the dense, old growth forests which wilden the lots adjacent to us, whose naturalistic mystery I once cherished but now cannot help sensing a certain danger in. 

        I’m genuinely considering relocating presently, though my husband scoffs at, is at this point opposed to the notion, ostensibly, and cracks wise about the phonebook-sized cryptozoology tome of I spend a little time most evenings poring over, beside the window, binoculars dangling from my neck. But that raccoon, all I recovered of it was a gnawed-up paw. Specks of gore were spattered all over our green container, across the side of the carport… Hosing it up I found a large hunk of fur which had landed on the roof. I’ve thus been pricing places in the city of late.  There was once a mystique and intrigue, wellsprings of romance and glamor on tap with simple country living, for an adventuresome young lady, couple, mother, business owner. But suddenly I feel as though I’ve outgrown those childish feelings, and yearn for a bit more development, protection, a sense of security and activity, the hum of traffic and buzzing humanity constantly passing through hither and thither. 

        The sense of tension in the silence has begun to wear on me recently. I can’t help getting a creeping irrational concern that something is watching my every move when I venture out, leave the sanctuary of our domicile, is stalking me from a distance and intends to carry me off as it did that poor varmint. I just heard a telltale soft rustling behind me, not too far off at all. My mind could be conflating what it wants to detect, jumping to conclusions that aren’t there. Still, I seem to catch that distinctive swishing sound, a pitter patter of rough footsteps that I swear is getting a little closer, braver with each passing day. 

        I hope I’m just dreaming this whole paranoid fixation up; it’s the product of boredom and an overactive imagination, too much time on an old lady’s idling hands. On the other hand, quite possibly, something is in actuality out there. For all his scoffing and incredulity, I notice my spouse steers clear of the yard too predominantly, almost religiously, past nightfall. If there’s something he needs out there, he’ll fabricate a flimsy excuse and put it off until morning hours and the sun’s reemergence.  

        I get a feeling he’ll let me convince him to put this dump back on the market, make an offer somewhere less quiet; if the ornery coot has to get in some perfunctory balking in the process, make sure it’s on record he’s leaving unhappily under protest. If we can just stay inside, proceed with caution until that juncture, things should be all right. Nonetheless, I don’t like this situation one bit. I noticed some scratches on the sill the other afternoon, and at least two or three times this week, deep into the very early morning, some activity has been setting the motion sensor-activated flood lights off outside our bedroom window…

Jerome Berglund, recently nominated for the Touchstone awards and Pushcart Prize, has previously published stories in Grim & Gilded, Bright Flash, Quibble, Paragon Press, Stardust and the Watershed Review, a play in Iris Literary Journal, and haibun in Drifting Sands, the Other Bunny, and Babylon Sidedoor.  

Friday, April 7, 2023

A Foolproof Dating Ad by Skaja Evens


Let me show you this fish I caught
Because I like to fish 
And will want you to care about that
Because I can feed you

But I’m only here for no-strings fun

Because my wife isn’t interested in me anymore

And I’d rather cheat on her than get a divorce

Let me promise to share photos of my face

After you send me a message

And also because I have a public job; I must be discreet

By the way

Are you a kinky submissive?

Then you must address me as Sir Domlydom

And cater to my every whim

Can’t wait to meet you!

Skaja Evens is a writer and artist existing in SE Virginia. She has spent far too many hours swiping through Tinder profiles, and insists the subsequent eye rolling ought to count as cardio.

Today, she completed another circumnavigational sun trip, and celebrated by binge watching Daria and eating ice cream.

Tuesday, April 4, 2023

Cuddling With A Chainsaw By John Patrick Robbins

I won't hold your hand in public because first, I am allergic to the outdoors and stupid people.

And second, because if you don't know where you're going, then you're probably underage, and I stay up way past your bedtime.

I won't text you fifty thousand times a day, and no, it's not your jeans, sweetheart; it's the ten tubs of ice cream a day that makes your ass look fat.

No, I don't want to watch The Notebook, but I wouldn't mind making a porn.

Music and cocktails beat pointless conversations about feelings.

Love is a bit of a stretch, but you're kind of okay.

I won't lie, and I've become too lazy to cheat.

As I will pass on the peach because you seldom even wash your feet.

I'm far from a snuggle buddy and more like a chainsaw in the sack.

Hell to start up, sort of like the bull in the proverbial China shop.

As I have a tendency to leave behind quite the mess.

But I'm fun on occasion and won't read you my poetry because I seldom read those I publish either.

If you think I'm such a vile male pig, just imagine dating me.

Aww, are you going to have nightmares now?

That makes me so happy.

Now plug in your nightlight and stay the fuck off your Facebook because, newsflash, none of those fake fucks likes you to begin with.

All but me because without you, who would I pick on?

I think we're alone now. Welcome to hell!

JPR was last heard from flying over the Bermuda triangle.

He has been missing now for three weeks yet still sends out poetry submissions.

His work was first discovered in an Aztec ruin where he was worshiped amongst the gods as he introduced the Mayans to the Internet, who thought it was a huge waste of time.

Even in death, he still doesn't like you.

Saturday, April 1, 2023


Pardon the dust while I get this magazine up and running.