Parliament Summer 2021 Cover - Scumbags.jpg

J.M. Allen

Alan Bern

Karen Bouissonneault-Gauthier

Michael Brockley

Eddie Brophy

Yi Jung Chen

Maid Corbic

Matt Dube

Daniel Flore III

Mac Gay

Benjamin Jacoby

Stephen Kingsnorth

Khristy Knudston

Natalie Kormos

Karla Linn Merrifeld

Kate Meyer-Currey

Lindsey Pucci

Richard Renner

Lynda Scott Araya

Anthy Strom

Paul Tanner

Kevin Vivers

with contest winners

Lucia Coppola

Stephen Kingsnorth

Jay Weinberg

Click on the cover image to see a flipbook layout of the issue or scroll to see individual works.

J.M. Allen

The Lawn Keeper

Early on Sunday mornings,

my neighbor is out mowing his lawn.

I’m still in bed trying to sleep,

because it is not long past dawn.

 

He patrols his whole lawn daily,

the grass is a thick dark green.

Automatic sprinklers run daily,

and there is not a weed to be seen.

 

Chemicals are often sprayed on it,

and I think ants get it the worst.

No insects at all are tolerated,

even though they lived there first.

 

The weed trimmer is very loud,

and the cordless blower too.

Much energy spent fighting nature,

all for one home owner’s view.

Alan Bern

down went Mike Pence

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Alan Bern

when they came for the others

Alan Bern When They.jpg

Karen Boissonneault-Gauthier

Midge

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Michael Brockley

Sherry Darling’s Mother Drinks a Glass of Sun Tea on Her Front Porch While Criticizing Her Daughter’s Boyfriends

Not one of them has a name a girl’s mother could love. Weak-Kneed Willie. Chicken Man. The Magic Rat, for God’s sake. And every one pulls up to the house in a pink Cadillac that gets repossessed before the carnival gypsy can read the lovebird’s Tarot. It’s like each suitor sells his heart to a junkman before the couple reaches the Tunnel of Love. One of the Casanovas honked his arrival from behind the wheel of Frankie Roberts’ Buick, the getaway car from the time Roberts murdered that kid in a roadhouse. That handsome Dan didn’t bother to clean up the beer cans and cheeseburger wrappers the killer left on the floor. And here’s Sherry all gussied up in a summer dress for a chili dog at an all-night diner in Atlantic City. If some long-gone daddy promised to write her name in his book of dreams, she’d primp in her bedroom for weeks. Might as well believe Santa Claus is coming to town. Like the sort of woman who wears a wedding dress to an “I do” service in a J.P. office. She drew pictures of her mansion on the hill in her sketch book. I’m not saying my daughter is a supermarket queen. She ain’t a beauty, but she’s all right. Still the Magic Rat never dropped to a knee offering a wedding ring and a roll of dice on something more than the last ride on a ferris wheel in a city of ruins. I heard Spanish Johnny swore he’d prove it all night, but my baby deserves a Romeo with a hungry heart and a roadmap toward more than a leap of faith into Mr. Trouble’s glory days.

Michael Brockley

A Bench Buddy Dedication at the Donald J. Trump Primary Academy

The school custodian turned the covfefe-colored bench to face the swing sets, the one the local bully shoved fourth grade girls off of at the beginning of the year. The stench from a tomato cannery the next town over hovers over the dais; its cloud pesters the principal, the mayor and a work-release prisoner on loan from the county jail. Beyond the playground fence, a Peterbilt rig carrying Spotted boars to slaughter rumbles past an Amish gelding pulling a driverless buggy. The bench was manufactured from recycled beer can tabs in a city named for a mad general. Now it will serve as a seat for kids who want to join a dodgeball match or a game of Bang, Bang, You’re Dead. “America the Beautiful” skips and shrieks from an invisible speaker. Recorded by the wife of the sole survivor from the massacre at Bowling Green. The mayor mumbles his speech about uplifted boots and second amendment heroes into a dead mic. Then taps his watch as the principal adjusts a Save the Children scarf around her neck. She signals to the office until “You’ve Got a Friend” groans from the hidden speaker. Near the bench, the work-release prisoner burnishes a gray name plaque with the sleeve of his orange jumpsuit and pockets the off-brand screwdriver he’d used to tighten a few bolts. He’s the only one to notice a bucket of white tadpoles beneath the seat. An omen he’ll ask his wife to interpret the next time she visits. 

Eddie Brophy

A Millennial's Lament to Tami's Fatigue

The inundation of perfection

goads a reluctant adherence

to specious panaceas

creating an industry of placation

to the cupidity of sorrow

building a mausoleum of envy

through vapid consumerism

and perpetual qualms poised

for the tedious algorithms of

the pseudo persuasions of truth

I am a domestic neutered alpha male

I am the antithesis of patriarchy

my words seldom heard

yet the thoughts are a cumbersome weight

supine, servile, and seditious

I watch a future of futile redundancy

in the form of quasi-masculinity

normalizing the echo chambers

of its own demoralization

I paint my son’s nails, and read the first draft of a suicide note

of my deceased mother-in-law pulled from moldy box

millennial fatigue inundated with somber nostalgia

I was bastardized by a false creed

Yet, a forever latchkey kid

my anthem feels apropos to succeed

so Tami’s last days weren’t in vain. 

Eddie Brophy

A Requiem

Begging for clemency from despair 

there’s a vacancy you can’t fathom 

when love is arbitrarily taken 

you used to speak in tandem

now people are garrulously talking you

through the grief of a lost appendage

in languages you can’t understand

because his voice no longer resonates

outside the synapses of your wearied head

across from you is an empty mattress

in a room full of melancholic reminders

that bereavement is your new roommate

 

I’m afraid to trivialize the existential

and there’s nothing I can do to disencumber

the sound of your mother’s pain

from the reality that you lost your little brother

I harbor no storied sage, and we’ve been dormant

But I remember when

We used to anesthetize each other 

in cynical laughter about the subterfuge

of life’s most abrasive lies

holding you while you cried

felt like home in the most morbid way

you lost him at 29, and you apologized

 

why did it take this to pick up a phone?

I assured you that the operator should work both ways

I cannot say I’m sorry enough

I don’t want you to go through this alone

Yi Jung Chen

Mending Patches

The cardinal reminds me to take three steps back,

struggling with angers and building fences against each other,

the proof of love,

from stitches looping to floral design,

hand embroidery too difficult for clumsy fingers,

seams torn open wide,

takes time to repair. 

 

Extending an olive branch,

your way of making compromises,

quarrels ripping our hearts apart,

niggling over details,

dark thoughts gnawing at my minds,

creating hidden breach in our relationship.

 

Pulling the thread to one side or the other,

giving a nice press with the iron,

try to make it flat and wrinkles,

two detached souls,

reunite us again for the old time’s sake.

 

Stumbling over words to fix the face,

filling our rooms with the aroma of citrus bergamia

letting the magic formula comfort mood swings

holding you back in my arms,

felt into gentle slumbers,

as we once did.

Maid Corbic

Incomprehensive Disgusters

I raised a toast with smiles on our faces

And I haven't even met yet

How do I know what needs to be done

When do I still scratch our noses?

 

I steal God’s days and catch the Sun with our hands

I cut our veins for bastards

How is it possible that I still love those people

Who can't love us sincerely?

 

The firmness of it all is that I look boldly forward

Bastards need nothing but a wink

I caress their hearts and sew their wounds

When they see how insignificant the variety is

 

I are still patiently waiting for fate

I are kicking, and I haven't even drunk brandy yet

The lifestyle is fast, brisk and purposeful

Some new happenings that happen every day

 

Idiots need nothing more than applause

It goes without saying that the Moon caresses our hands

It eats our brains juicy and drinks our veins

He gallantly and optimistically crosses the field of the wicked!

Matt Dube

Butterfly Named Sue

No one else in the kitchen at Chianti wanted to go with Jamie to the Bad Behavior tattoo parlor, so it fell to me, like any other prep task. After, I led him with my hand around his elbow to the Green Top for a beer, his left eye covered by a gauze bandage to give the new tatt time to settle. He leered at the other folks on the sidewalk, daring someone to ask what happened to his eye, but no one took the bait. The leather-backed chairs cracked when he sat, stuffing peeking out. Buy yourself a man’s drink, Jamie said and handed me a twenty. I’m not going to fight you, I said, but took the money and stood at the rail.  An old horse in a Megadeath t-shirt drew two dollar drafts. I made him give me some quarters and dropped them into the jukebox, pressed the buttons to bring Johnny Cash into the bar. You should listen to this, I said to Jamie when Johnny started telling the story of the boy named Sue. He sipped his beer and listened, but got up after a couple minutes. It’s so long, he said, and I want to see what it looks like. I followed him to the bathroom. I stood in his light when he peeled back the tape that covered the butterfly he had tattooed over his eye. It was still a swirl of color and irritated skin; to me it looked like a bruise. He started to cry. It’s so beautiful, he said. I wanted him to punch me so he would stop crying. Come on, I said, you’ll ruin your make-up.

Daniel Flore III

A Response to Poolside Gawking

this

woman

at the pool

can tell

I really want her

 

squirts white sunblock

on her legs

 

looks at me

as she applies it

and is really rubbing it in

Mac Gay

Killer

When I got home from Desert Storm

the crazy terror hit me like a bomb.

My stress was caused by nothing--

all the nothing here back home--

smiles and laughter, calm drove me

to drink. Then County Chairman Johnson

hoisted a few with me, we talked,

he said he had a job he thought

might fit me to a T, to tie some

loose ends up. He chuckled, then

called my job Euthanatologist,

and said I'd have a truck, new

Remington, free cartridges, good pay.

He said just be available each day--

Sunday too, to make "house calls"

to where a deer's been hit, stray

dogs after a calf, maybe wild hogs.

It calms me down to see them die,

I don't know why. Guess red's

my favorite color. Even after all

these years my aim's as steady

as it was when I cleared out those

black-haired fellows on the other side.

My heart's a happy hammer when I kill.

Hey, you got a mess to fix, I will.

Mac Gay

Catcher in the Wry

Way back, got jerked from second base to catcher

because of little rich boy's shitty arm.

First day a foul tip hit me in the balls,

so rich boy's dad bought me a cup,

which rubbed a weeping blister on both legs.

Squat down, stand up, squat down, stand up,

so I ditched the cup and took my chances.

It's then I learned loving taking chances

to see those cocky fucks swing hard as hell

and still strike out.  Up close and personal revenge

was always sweet, foul tips be damned.

Third strikes are what I lived for way back then.

I'd stick that last strike in their faces.

Like pissing in those rich boys' Cheerios.

 

Just like these hard years now, all up the ass

of a rich man's house, spraying Acme's poison

on the termites. I take my chances there, too,

sucking the fumes a poor man has to bear.

But sweet as the chance of a clean-up hitter's flop

is the soft underbelly of a rich man's house.

I'll risk cancer, rats, a copperhead's bite,

even that rabid coon that bit my throwing hand

and blessed me with twenty injections in the belly

for a few good shots at the privileged SOBs

who've had me my whole life squat or crawl.

All folks are full of darkness-- so am I,

so before I leave, sometimes I crack a pipe--

just a little hammer-tap here and there,

to leave a little gift for my superiors.

The sound at night my mind dreams up at dozing

is big man's golden toilet's flushing, and knowing 

the filth that fills even the richest, luckiest man,

his trophy wife and spoiled and rotten kids,

swirls down and around, by God, but not away

into the sewer, least not until a plumber visits.

I'm always with my hammer and pipe wrench.

Sometimes for weeks they can't locate the stench.

Their crawl space is proof the rich are full of shit.

Benjamin Jacoby

Forever a Dreamer

I really wish she could have seen me in action that day. It was the second basketball session, a warm Friday afternoon. I purposely distracted myself during an activity and they all laughed at me, which was the intent! I wish she was there in that moment, comfortably sitting on a beach towel on that grassy hill adjacent to the court, laughing in unison with the others.

Don’t worry! You were being you! That’s not going to change anytime soon. There will be many other moments. She will be there and you’ll make her laugh till she cries. Keep being you because that’s who you are. You won’t have to force it. It will come naturally in any scenario whether you’re coaching or simply at home together on your couch.

Be kind to her always. You’ll laugh together always. Self-confidence will come naturally always. I stress always because that’s you. You know your potential and she will see it in your words and actions. Maybe an unexpected surprise? A random act of kindness? Whatever works for her. You know her well enough. Just don’t stop being you! That’s all you have to do and she’ll laugh every time; she’ll look you in your eyes for more than a split second and she’ll be yours ALWAYS!

Stephen Kingsnorth

High Five Thumbs Up

I guess, when’s done, we all are scum,

the sum of all those arrogant,

who point the finger, selves with thumb,

print whorl, tip end, identikit,

the bunch of three, clenched into palm.

 

From scattered stones, shamed woman prone,

I see a man who stands alone,

then lowered, scribbles in the dust,

and dares those elders, gather round,

to throw the first, their target near,

but as they slink, he raises her,

in equal stance, on level pitch.

 

That lore is shared by those who know,

whatever faith, or none at all,

save that companions, walking low,

once blamed a woman, then the snake.

 

We measure up, we find our height,

not through our knowing we are loved,

but when we find those needing such,

the baby cry, first gasp of breath,

ourselves, round earth, inhabitants.

Khristy Knudtson

Inviting the Banshee for Tea

Emotionally dysregulated,

a disturbed identity.

Amidst hysterical lamentation,

my own banshee shrieks to me.

 

She is invasive and delusional

with defective neuro-circuitry.

Throwing matches onto my amygdala,

incineration of my rationality.

 

She is an outcry of disturbance

a developmental deformity,

formerly marked for self-destruction,

now-turned mental health insurgency.

 

The scent of hemorrhaging embolisms,

kinetic vapors, a cauterized effigy.

Boiling cerebrospinal fluid

into my soup of toxicity. 

 

She is an eidolon, an apparition,

my sister, my sanity.

A Borderline’s Banshee sibling,

and the better part of Me.

Khristy Knudtson

To My Un-Born Child

Who are you but a vacancy?

          a cigarette burn

          on the wall of my uterus

          and an abscess of DNA.

Please understand,

          this was not Darwin’s suggestion

          but my decision to save you.

          from yourself (and me and her).

Please understand,

          this is not your history

          and I am not your mother.

Please understand,

          that if you could think

          you’d be thankful

          for that.

Natalie Kormos

Implosion

A thousand screams of which to cry, to come and rush and spill right out,

Bring forth the burning of the pain, fiery coils to writhe about.

 

Locked right in with walls too close, no door, no window, no way out,

Her chest heaving with cold abuse, no use to cry, no use to shout.

 

Breath that did not seem enough, to fill her lungs, just not enough,

Her thoughts though wild, her mind chained and cuffed.

 

Her skin crawled with the thought of him, his ugly soul,

Eyes so evil, his manipulative control

 

His foul mouth that spoke such lies,

To all others he deceitfully wore, an ever so pleasant disguise.

 

No words could she ever say to fight, against his foul spew,

The raging storm inside of her, of which none ever knew.

 

The truth must out about this leech,

That sucks the life, to joy lays siege.

 

His ears that could never hear a word, spoken by her thoughts so true,

His wicked eyes that cackled in taunt, of which he’d cry boo-hoo!

 

Such a horrid beast too nasty to paint,

Though a self-portrait, would be of a saint.

 

A tongue that’s forked, that whips her soul,

His heart a rotting, empty hole.

 

There is nowhere for her to disappear, nowhere for her to flee,

His deafening cackling at her displeasure, he hollers with glee.

 

Was it ever different, from this before?

Ever a time when which, cruelty he never wore?

 

The sinking of a ship far from shore, when all the stars are black,

A thievery of righteousness from which, none is ever given back.

 

Sinking, sinking, to the very bottom of the sea,

Landing amongst the shells and sand, a soft implosion no one ever could see.

 

There in the depths, lies a soul broken beyond repair,

A cold shiver away from daylight, in an ever-salty despair. 

Karla Linn Merrifeld

#41 & #42 at the Hearing

Did you have relations

with the member in question?

Relations? Media relations?

Intercourse.

No.

No?

No. We fucked— he burst

 into my velvet vault.

Er, right. How many times?

Who’s counting?

Estimate.

A dozenish.

Over three long months?

Plenty, considering

I was trading him

on and off with Chep,

chief in charge

of the operation

on my Lady Jane’s rosebud.

Ahem, Madam President.

Do you or do you not support

this body’s sanctions

for their ethics violations?

I do not.

Mr. Hung and Mr. Tongue

may be cockslingers, nothing

compared to you whoremongers.

Karla Linn Merrifeld

Dirty Business

Andy fucked himself big time in the dot-com

Bust – and the marriage bust: Amandy inside trading

Cowboy cock, Brahman-bull breaking her skinny ass.

Don’t think Mr. Andrew Suit flipped his phone.

Easy come, easy go. Why not real estate

For a quick change of biz? Latina Anita’s next in line,

Girl with lips to give his head a spin,

Hot for all the subprime he had to mortgage.

In for an inch, into all kinds of one-night

Junk bonding, hedging his fund of lust.

Killing them slyly with butt smacks and a finger,

Lies in small print, Handy Andrew/Andy

Made a bundle shooting his wad, Wall St. to Main St.,

No avenue of sleaze left unslimed.

One day banking in offshore pussy, the next diddling

Ponzi schemes, Mini Madoff Andrewski didn’t

Quit. He just kept on spurting all over his

Spreadsheets ’til he screwed the final monkey.

This shit, the Great Recession? Sucks like a ghetto whore.

Unprotected sex on the stock exchange floor?  Who me?

Very, like, unlikely, officer. I’m an innocent dude.

Whatever will my brother do with himself in Sing-Sing?

X-wife, x-string of conned bitches, x-sister—

You won’t see us on prison visitors day.

Zebra Stripe behind the iron bars of greed.

Kate Meyer-Currey

Pure Gold

I’m your original rough 

Diamond init. The 

Total platinum deal.

Teflon, too; as no 

Shit sticks; I swerve 

And redirect. I’m a 

Ninja, with some 

Badass moves;

Fly, float, sting or 

Drop like an atom 

Bomb. Hide in 

No shadows 

You see me 

Coming; I’m 

On display 24/7;

Wear my colours 

With pride. Hold 

Me down; I’ll 

Hold you up 

At gunpoint,

Give you both 

Barrels; Mr Glock

One of my boys. 

Mr Tongue 

Fights his corner;

Gets them before 

They get him.

He’s got an elegant 

Vocabulary for a

War of words. 

Mr Third Leg

Is my weapon 

Of choice; make

Love not war, 

Only women 

Say one thing 

And mean another:

They’re tongue

Twisters in my 

Book. Relying on

Mr Right Hand

For now; he’s 

All action. Fair 

To say I’m the 

Full package:

100% respect 

In my blood,

Learned off my 

Mum but made 

Like my dad. 

Crack and smack

Are bad mixers so 

Guess I’m the 

Citric in the hit;

Someone’s Mr 

Addictive, Pure

Class A with 

Intent to supply 

What I never 

Got. Tragic? 

No ways: it’s 

The story of 

My life. Make 

My own happy 

Endings in my 

Kingdom if 

You’re too 

Much of a 

Princess to 

See I’m not 

A fucking 

Frog. It’s not 

A fairy tale 

Or I’d be dead 

By now, or lost 

In the forest 

Or some shit 

Like that. Got 

To turn curses 

Into blessings 

Or still be asleep,

Like the dead 

People who think 

They’re in charge. 

Emporio new clothes 

Not Armani; just 

Bare ass bollock 

Naked: stark like 

My truth. This is no 

Spoiler alert;

Get on my magic 

Carpet ride and 

Cruise the hood;

Destroy those 

Monsters hiding 

In my head,

Under the bed,

In my ends.

Watch me put 

On my crown:

So wake up 

Sleeping Beauty

Get with my plot. 

Lindsey Pucci

The Boss

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Lindsey Pucci

Scarlett's Shadow

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Richard Renner

Nightshade

Nineteen decorated seedlings stand at attention

In a straight line on the border of our yards and

Greet my neighbor who ignores his unrestrained

Havanese, yipping, yapping, prancing, chasing its

Tail and pausing to sniff the mulch beneath these

Solanaceae, the ones I ordered last March from a

Horticulture website that popped up on my feed

After I had watched a breaking news story about

Dead rabbits cast in a mirthless circle, ink-lipped

Eastern cottontails round an altar of devil’s berries.

Lynda Scott Araya

Cock Womble

My boss is SUCH a cock womble

She shouted

Loudly

Across the crowded bar.

The words

Spurted between her lips

With venom.

They wove their way to me

Where they sat

Unknown and unused

In my mouth.

 

I had heard

Cock wobble.

I thought of her boss

And when I had met him first

At a barbecue.

Where he had attempted small talk

While his eyes had grazed her nipples, then

looked to the rugby field beyond

Before turning gratefully

and resting on a MAN

Come to join the conversation.

 

His eyes had lit up then

He turned

Cold shouldered us

As though we had never been.

As though our job adding the onions,

pricking the sausages, dolloping sauce

Had no place in his world.

 

Now, at the table, for a brief second

I imagined his penis -

A worm.

Thin, pale pink.

It would lie in my hand

Flaccid

Before I squashed it underfoot.

Anthy Strom

Crocodylidae

the crocodile

a bizarre work

a rictus picture

of the old

times

smiles at me and whispers truths into the air

irony is Fate’s promise misinterpreted

3 people have alllll the money

I lie

she loved you, you pushed her away because you were afraid of being abandoned

violence is my favorite food

the universe is petty, disturb it with trivial frivolities and it will pay you back with interest

you found it funny when they died because it had nothing to do with you

curses sell better than blessings

and terror more alluring than hope

_ _

his eyes are covered in mucus and flies

he quotes ee cummings and Freud

old bat

Paul Tanner

Cut to Black

EXT. HIGH STREET. DAY.

 

FADE INTO :

A typical British High Street.

Everyone is fat and ugly and pushing prams, faces twisted in offence at their own existence.

 

ZOOM IN:

Exterior of a shop.

A SHOP WORKER stands in the doorway.

 

A CUSTOMER approaches:

 

CUSTOMER: Can’t I come in?

 

SHOP WORKER: No.

 

CUSTOMER: Why not?

 

SHOP WORKER: We’re at maximum capacity.

 

CUSTOMER: (sceptical) Oh yeah? How many customers have you got in there?

 

SHOP WORKER: Five.

 

CUSTOMER: And how many can you have?

 

SHOP WORKER: (visibly deflates with a sigh) Guess.

 

The CUSTOMER narrows her eyes …

She looks over the SHOP WORKER’s shoulder.

 

CUSTOMER: I only count four.

 

SHOP WORKER: Well, there’s five.

 

CUSTOMER: No there isn’t.

 

SHOP WORKER: Yes, there is. I can count to five, thank you very much.

 

CUSTOMER: Oh, and you’re saying I can’t, is that it?

 

At this accusation, the CUSTOMER is smiling triumphantly, for some reason.

She puts her hands on her hips and waits for the response. 

The SHOP WORKER takes a deep breath, picking his words carefully:

 

SHOP WORKER: No … I’m merely saying that I’m confident that I know how to count.

And I’ve been stood here longer than you, so can you just take my word for it, please?

 

CUSTOMER: (visibly panicked) Oh, well, yeah, but, you know! You could be lying,

couldn’t you?

 

The SHOP WORKER shakes his head in disbelief.

 

SHOP WORKER: Why? Why would I lie?

 

CUSTOMER: I don’t know! you tell me!

 

SHOP WORKER: (pinches nose) Jesus fucking Christ …

 

CUSTOMER: What? (steps forward) What was that?

 

SHOP WORKER: Why should I be the one to come up with reasons for why

I’m a liar? You’re the one suggesting it!

 

While he’s taking, a customer walks out of the shop …

 

SHOP WORKER: Are you really this bored and miserable? Have you really not got

anything else to do but pick a fight with someone who’s trying to save your life?

 

… and another customer walks in …

 

SHOP WORKER: If you want to kill yourself, do it at home! But don’t drag

the rest of us to hell with you, you vindictive, lonely sack of – 

 

CUSTOMER: (pointing) Look! You just let someone in! Cos you were too busy

abusing me! I’m gonna report this! You’ll be sorry!

 

She starts to walk away backwards, waving her fist in joy.

CUSTOMER: You’ll see! Everyone’s gonna know what a discriminatory

bastard you are! And then we’ll see who’s the vindictive one, won’t we?

 

SHOP WORKER: Ok …

 

The SHOP WORKER stands there a moment, nodding to himself quietly …

 

SHOP WORKER: Looks like today’s finally the day …

 

He gets out his gun and chases after her.

 

CUSTOMER: Hey! What’s that you’re –

 

He rapid-fires a stream of bullets into CUSTOMER.

She explodes in fleshy confetti upon on the pavement. It’s kind of beautiful.

At least, it would be, if it wasn’t her.

 

He looks around:

 

The throng of disaffected mouth-breathers – maskless to a man – all stand staring, shopping bags full of tomorrow’s refunds dangling from their greasy paws … whilst breathing through their naked open mouths, of course. 

 

SHOP WORKER locks and loads again …

 

QUE MUSIC: that “Happy” song with the really catchy chorus that was in that film with them yellow cartoon aliens (and every fucking advert, so getting the licence to use it shouldn’t be an issue).

 

SLO-MO: finger permanently on the trigger, SHOP WORKER sweeps a bullet-storm across the crowd of shuffling shoppers:

 

Waves of plebeian meat scatters in all directions …

The pram-pushers implode from bullets and / or irrelevance.

Their spherical children pop like red and yellow boils, lanced too late. It’s all very metaphorical …

As the fat flesh farts from their wasteful bones, some of them even drop their cans of lager or iPhones – just as they were typing a Google Review too, what a shame ... 

Down they go, until the street is knee-high with consumer patè …

 

And, with every local cunt safely dead, the SHOP WORKER and his gun finally run out of steam …

 

MUSIC FADES OUT.

 

He stands there panting, an almost orgasmic look of relief on his face …

 

Then he climbs the pile of shredded, twitching bodies and stands proudly atop them.

 

SHOP WORKER: Review this, you nation of narcissistic class cannibals!

 

He fists bumps his gun into the sky.

 

ZOOM OUT with an ARIEL VIEW of him amid all the human devastation

he has just rightly caused, cackling wildly:

 

SHOP WORKER: Ah-ha ha ha ha haaaaaaaaaaaa!

 

CUT TO –

 

Close up of SHOP WORKER, staring into space, daydreaming …

 

VOICE: (off camera) Oi! Excuse me!

 

SHOP WORKER: Huh?

 

He is back in the shop doorway. A new customer stands before him.

 

CUSTOMER 2: Can I come in?

 

SHOP WORKER shakes his head, snapping out of it:

 

SHOP WORKER: Oh, er, no. Sorry.

 

CUSTOMER 2: Why not?

 

SHOP WORKER: We’re at maximum capacity.

 

CUSTOMER 2: Oh yeah?

CUSTOMER 2 narrows his eyes and looks over SHOP WORKER’S shoulder.

 

CUSTOMER 2: How many you got in there now?

 

The SHOP WORKER sighs.

 

He takes out his gun and cocks it.

 

He looks at the camera and shrugs. It’s bloody endearing, it is.

 

CUT TO BLACK.

 

ROLL CREDITS.

 

PLEASE.

 

PLEASE, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, JUST ROLL CREDITS

ON THIS TYPICAL BRITISH HIGH STREET SCENE.

Kevin Vivers

The Hustler

Kevin Vivers The_Hustler.tif

Artistically-Inspired Contest

featuring the artwork of Michael Rogers

Michael Rogers

Abstract Noir

IMG-9822.jpeg

Stephen Kingsnorth

Ctl X, Ctl V

Here’s punk, rock, rolled to anarchy,

a collage zine beyond your norm -

bipolar swings and roundabouts,

lines overstepped in monochrome.

From underground to overland,

sourced adolescent shakiness,

dissatisfied with growing up

into premould, presetted shape,

outside the box - beyond the pale -

four horsemen of apocalypse.

Let serendipity be rule,

the fall of things, chance visited,

and find the shadowlands beneath

the expectations, board bard bored;

they talk of light from upper left,

event horizons, curvature

of space time in continuum,

where strictures prompt to disobey.

 

So cut and paste your poetry,

find typewriter with monkey play,

dyslexia write reading way

and feed as alphabetti soup -

confuse with hex broomstick brigade,

to lunge in mystery of swamp,

discover wraiths in Elmo’s fire.

With logic banned and perchance flail,

opencast opportunity,

try verse both blank, free, recipe,

words insufficient parallels -

unsuited our cosmology,

unbalance form - my Parkinson’s.

 

Conflicts, raging, every turn.

JHWH wars on ٱللَّٰهُ أَكْبَرُ -

global tetragrammaton.

Without the morse to save our souls,

a dot or dash can kill a child,

both binary and Unicode,

as unclear trans old ♀♂.

Decode encrypt our only hope,

NATO phonetic alphabet,

where juliett meets alfa male -

and ˈælfəbɪt sounds off again -

told printers watched their p’s ⅋ q’s,

both eroteme and ampersand.

Precision aim has had its say.

Lucia Coppola

Riddle

There are two chipped and weathered stone figures 

on the steps of this sculpture garden near where I live.

They look like cherubs guarding a gate

and though cold to the touch they seem soft and round

with eyes that tell of a flame that’s within.

One has the gentle look of innocence and the other a harsh glare. 

Were they to speak, I guess the first one would gurgle

 and the second would narrow its eyes, hiss and stare.

 

The grassy part of the lawn with the well-spaced sculptures

invites me to do a little ambling.

I look lingeringly upon the curious forms and nameplates hidden

between eyelets, bluebells, daisies and what nots. There’s

 “Rhinoceros” –  wood”, “Circe” – stone”, “Mother - Walls”

an amusing steel dot on a line  - “Dialogue at 45° on the Hypotenuse”.

The gibberish is bemusing, so I move along with my own point of view.

“Abstract Noir” reflects on a pool of water with a golden glow

 and looks like angel wings emerging from below.

 

I suppose Heaven and Hell must be here in this place

where the paths are so straight and perplexing.

And I wonder who put the stone cherubs there in the first place?

I wonder why I even care - though one thing is certain

this is a place of delicate crafting - 

of worms that churn soil cavorting with bees that stir air

of bronze hippos designing space with a correlated square

of looking at what can't be by looking seen - things

like angels that pass, the tease and tap of wings.

 

Now I see them now I don’t. I’m tempted to call them by names

but I’m not sure it suits them as they prefer to be secret

and if you do count them you’ll always find more and more.

Each one like numbers tends to invoke all the rest,

so I’m left speaking of relationships: guardian, messenger, score-keeper, choir...

 

And just now there are two of them here where I stand by the gate.

Having guessed what they are, should they speak I may guess what they say.

But they won’t speak except in riddles or tongues, or on a special day.

Doers as opposed to talkers, they’re busy all the time.

They put their buzzers on mute, shift shapes, change winds.

Just now I can’t help but wonder at how well

they’re providing perspective

Jay Weinberg

Equus

He awoke again to a hot, arid morning. It was light, the sun had not yet come up. He engaged in his first daily mindful act of faith and gratitude, he would think of all that he loved, not his mistakes, during those timeless minutes when light presented itself before the sunrise.

His faith confirmed, the sliver appeared, and he adjusted his gaze from inward acceptance outwards toward the horizon, and as the red turned to orange, and the orange turned to yellow, the sun rose in the east, and in his mind, every day. He meditated on that. For only a few minutes he could gaze directly into the sun, and then it would burn and he couldn’t look at it at all.

In that, this was like many things in his life.

He was black with the white stripes that defined him, but never bound him. He studied the grasslands, scrublands and woodlands, the prairies of North America, the Asian steppes, the African savannas and veldts, the Australian rangelands, and South America’s pampas, llanos and cerrados. He was different than the other Zebras in this way, his chameleon self, here secretly learning to understand. It was his way of surviving.

He now belonged to much that could never be taken away.

The day consumed him with the intricacies of his connection to nature - fruit and leaves and bark, wild rosemary and wild oregano, the world of grasses. He was quite certain no one knew more about grasses than he did.

He had his Zebra power, deep in each single cell, he would push and jump, bound and roll. He was capable, he could be still and peaceful, he could be explosive, he could conserve energy, and, mostly, he could wait, seemingly endlessly. He could strive to understand how there could be such things as him in this world.

The darkness came, but not to his soul, as he settled into those deep grasses, against the forces and predators of his life, his white stripes absorbed into his entire being as the corrections officers yelled “lights out” each night.  He was black again, but the sun would rise over the savanna, morning would come, the lights would go on and they would reveal through the bars of his cage his powerful stripes, not the binds they wanted him to feel.

This is how he passed his time.