‘Square Peg Ranch’ by G.P. DeSalvo

Tunnel of Rove
‘Tunnel of Rove’ by G.P. DeSalvo

The wind has the word today as we walked past holes made from digging up old souls.  We were afraid of our future footprints winding through the prairie brush.  Mid-August cicadas in a jumble with rattlers somewhere in the distance.  The verdant mountains lay before us like lush feminine bodies rolling softly, reclining restful.  The green smell of sage: the blooming lupines (pronounced loop-ins by those in the know).  The dust is listening.  Walking gingerly, taking time, attenuated to rattlers again.

I pee al fresco… so do the locals.  They pee a lot because they drink a lot, and they’re not going to stop.

Up ahead are signs of what they call charismatic megafauna.

We’re staying at The Square Peg Ranch.

Bad Rock, Columbia Falls, greenhouses.  Cowboys with huge belt buckles which are nothing more than tombstones for dead cocks.  Hungry Horse, Crooked Tree.  She said earnestly, “Some people feel that they have to live the myth of the west.”  We walked on through more sage brush.  The air smelled fake, it smelled so good.  “I do too, to some degree.  Only my myth of the west is different.”

We walk further into the scrub and clouds of gnats landing in my eyes.  Bears stand in warning.  A family of them.  Mother bear looks at us, saying so much with her eyes.  I can talk with my eyes too.

I watch the bear.  I watch her as she walks ahead of me, unafraid: the iron womb in the ore of woman.  Much like the person I’m with.  Exactly like the person I’m with.

Tempt, taste…..

sometimes it’s all I can do to handle my own body…

I feel a creeping bloat unhinge my soft center which threatens to become my totality.

At times there is invisibility falling across me,

wiping me out of

my fumigated surroundings.

Later, when the danger passes, but the blood still flowing, I give water to her dog and stay quiet.  I need her smallness within my smallness within the smallness of this cabinworld, her milky voice like opaque bubbles in liquid space.  Her lips ejaculate molasses sound into my ears and infuse my mind with dew.  I rarely think straight anyway.

Inside this humid swampskin, deep under the thickened atmosphere and rubbery flesh, is a crystal mausoleum flooded with the clear stickiness and pungency of melted candy.

I can be your camel in a dry bright room.  You will love me as a pet.

I would be your drinking fountain- sweet lemonade for you and your other friends.

We can share an apple and a beer… one in each end of you… and I’d kiss your cloven hoof then you’d make me a sandwich.

I’d wash your doggie and you’d show me your new toy.

The light would be shining on us: shining in the world we made.

In that clean, blazing room, I’d lick your wounds, introduce you to my scars, then we’d make a pact with whisky and blood and smoke some spiked cigars.

The prayers we’d say for each other would cure the rest of the world.

I’m kneeling, I’m bowing, I’m rising in the rays of the sun.

We’re having a banquet in this clean heaven.  A table, heavy with food, sits between us.  The warm feeling grows until it’s all we can be- the light shines.  A hand reaches for mine.  I am open.  You can see into me.

I’m a pearled bead on your tongue, the elixir of life, a smoky essence mingled.

Reach inside me.

Dip your fingers in this sugary bog;

I know you’ll be gone soon.


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‘Blood-Soaked Buddha/Hard Earth Pascal: The Finest Attitude Pamphlet’ by Toom Bucksaw


Philosophical writing sucks, and reading it often feels like wading through a molasses of obscurantist bullshit from another planet. Which is why when Noah Cicero quotes the likes of Sartre and Nietzsche in his newest book, Blood-Soaked Budda/Hard Earth Pascal, I could hear a mental train that used to be running so smoothly come grinding to a halt.

Blood-Soaked Buddha is a Buddhism-flavored collection of philosophical musings by someone who is essentially an average Joe. Noah Cicero quotes and refers to several texts of Buddhist and Western origin, but a reader of philosophy doesn’t become a worthwhile philosopher because of how many books he’s read. Noah Cicero knows this. Blood-Soaked Buddha is a brief, physically unimposing, unpretentious and, most appealingly, self-conscious book.

“I am writing this for no reason.

I don’t know if I have a right to write this book, or if it’s even permissible.”

These are the first lines of this book. This is the perspective from which it is written. And it is our perspective.

Noah dispenses blasts of thoughts and insights whose occasional lack of novelty is always charming, never frustrating. The lack of conceit in his voice renders even his intellectual duds endearing rather than insulting. Blood-Soaked Buddha is the philosophical book we would write, if we had to. But could most of us deliver the most pedestrian of platitudes in such a way that it feels like a rejuvenating breath of cold air coming down from a mountain, as Noah does? I don’t think so.

Blood-Soaked Buddha isn’t an abstract book about bodies and spaces and the fundamental matter of human existence, at least not when it’s at its best. It’s an attitude pamphlet. It’s the voice of a friend who read a lot of interesting books and has a new mindset he’d like to share with you. Rarely do Noah’s findings cut deeper than learning to appreciate the world around you for what it is, while it is; allowing things to pass; and having respect for perspectives other than your own. But when it comes to these kinds of ideas, I can’t think of a better medium to absorb them through than a modest 4×6 book of 191 pages, written by a voice that strikes such an incredible balance between the knowledgeable and the humbly knowledgeless, the spiritual and the tangibly applicable.

Occasionally he gets lost in a rabbit hole of his own design, attempting to codify various cliques of people and set in stone their universal traits, attempting two proofs of God (though still with the disclaimer that he’s doing it “for fun”), or declaiming lengthy fables to illustrate easy-to-grasp human weaknesses. Can we blame him? These aren’t the failings of a professional philosopher, some lofty, powdery intellectual. These are the failings of one of us. I’m much more interested in watching one of us try and fail two proofs of God than I am in reading anything in any philosophical canon. Not every writer can skate by being light on revelation by publishing in pamphlet-size and downplaying their own significance in a prefatory note, but Noah Cicero has done it.

“What if you had to live for eternity with your current shitty attitude?”

This is the only thing it says on the back cover of Blood-Soaked Buddha, and the central question of one of its most compelling moments. What if you got to heaven and could only find things to complain about? What if you got to Hell and met a new friend?

A copy of Blood-Soaked Buddha in your bag is a good step on the road to becoming the person who meets a friend in Hell.

‘On the Broken Backs of Others’ by G.P. DeSalvo

‘Energy Source’ by G.P. DeSalvo

Guns became a necessity of meat, a sacrament for the running gun profiler and his racist fog creeping.  Plaster Indians shout to us from the store fronts: eradicate!  All the statues come to life; our first and last lady of liberty beckons.

‘Come to my open wound, live like a parasite

In the warmth of my intestine.’


You’ve got a life to kill.

Let’s just hook you up.

Assembly is easy.

‘I am white, like the living god of the new parasites.

I am white, shining from scar to scar!

I am white living in congealed maggot colonies of idiot hypnotism.’

This cockroach of a man- this mucoid individual- Mr. Whitesonofabitch, smells new burning tobacco and gasoline with his big moustache nose and downloads in his pants.  Paid props in masks of fake outrage give running mouthjobs to placate anyone worried about his viral seed.

‘My property gurgles like a tracheotomy…’

It’s television-like and history’s into reruns as sure as the disease out of control.

Running red hanging, there has to be a trophy, a swinging tribute to distended guts, to boring and increasingly lonesome whiteness.   Bland disharmonics, drip, drip, drip…

Polished skin, dense like rubber, next to more skin on top of other skin piled in a container.  This man, this monarch of the maggot pile, has them dragged out one by one and nails them to experimental crosses.  His doctors peel back their pink, fatty layers to reveal the valuable light within the blight.

He gives out dignity like sympathy letters… but it’s not dignity.  It’s not anything you can recognize.

Polished skin.  Dense like rubber: gleaming enslaved animals: swatting swatted demented aggression, stupidly sadly squirted down the line.  Costly human catalogue. Living kill.  Love killing.  Kill living.  Kill loving.

The older gentleman sits in his small quarters, his greased wire hair is damp.  He remembers the shotguns poised at his pissing child and the rat king, Mr. Whitesonofabitch, smiling up and through dead eyes- like through a thousand leagues of polluted water- eyes connected to a brain that fits a strict social order over everything like an airtight lid.  The gentleman sighs, sitting on the dirt floor, his polished skin dense and dark and tough like black rubber.  He whittles a small femur into a bone-white effigy.  Mr. Whitesonofabitch lives in a world that appears much closer than it really is.

There is no more legitimate opportunity.  Only opportunity that exists is won by gun or woven out of aether.  Scruples, economy, politics.  Peasant living: Master’s hand in Peasant’s mouth- he won’t bite; he knows better.  He’d better operate under cover of blindness.

Guns became a necessity of life to protect the isolated, the margins, to protect the running sore trouble of greedy life processes.

Living regret.

Networks now fuel what was once well-begun in a bloody field, in a chamber of torment.  Let us remember.

Leaves and sunshine kiss the church steps.  An old hymn grips the ears; now, being drowned by a rebellion of murky angels.  Living trench-warfare open fire on the citizens while Mr. Whitesonofabitch gets his hot shit transplant; a procedure that aids functioning endorsed by reputable surgeons.

The ancient war rages on the street.

You see, Mr. Whitesonofabitch, before he had his plush new insides, bought my skin off the bargain rack where I was hanging next to the copper colored flesh of an unfortunate, insignificant other.  Our empty wallets unified us.  Breath to breath to breath; we’ll be avenged.

Houses on fire dot the plantation horizon… there are no helicopters.  No nothing… but the pure, meaty smoke swirling above Mr. Whitesonofabitch’s smoldering body.  No life for the living more than running labor sores suppurating malaria dreams.  The payoff used to be tobacco money for a plateful of dirty cornbread…. cheap life, consumer index under whips, walls, fences and disease.  He’s got a corner on the market.

At least he had it, before all of this happened.

Living regret.

Streaming live.


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Four Poems and a Dialogue by Carl Gercar


Broken Mirrors

I look better

in broken mirrors

in dirty bathrooms

at loud bars

where the people outside

smoking cigarettes

speak languages I used to know

and there are cars rolling down the street

but I don’t know how they work

like the people

they are noisy,

always talking

about nothing

about themselves

about me.

I Took This Pill

I took this pill to forget

and the doctor

with his fingers in my mouth

said everything would be fine

so I took this pill to forget

like I wipe my ass after a shit

but I don’t think it worked

because I can still

taste you

in my



Lots of people die from heroin
in my hometown.
None have died of heartache yet.
I’m trying to be the first one.
I’ve been walking up to
beautiful women
and telling them
I love them
and watching them
walk away.
It’s very difficult to die this way.
I have to try all the time.
Heroin would be
more romantic
but I can’t afford it
so I walk the streets
breaking my own heart
chasing beautiful women

Continue reading “Four Poems and a Dialogue by Carl Gercar”

‘They Continue to Hollow-Out Mother and One Day She’ll Have No Body Left to Hold Me’ by G.P. DeSalvo

Heart of a Nation
“Heart of a Nation” by G.P. DeSalvo

This is the age of electronic blackmail.  The blackmailers go… raping everyone they can get their technopediatric hands on.

Weeping chains rattled those newsmen, nosey for seeds, poking prodding through the truffle garden lost in the world. They brought the cameras to pin us to the ground.  To place us in the center of the trap.  To shut us inside.  To place us squarely underneath the foul and torn rumps of our forefathers whose efforts through eternity have been sterilized, rendered neuter.  As efforts continue to sanitize us all… to clean up our nastiness.  The efforts of the marketers will ultimately serve to melt through our emotions with branding irons of white-hot bone cleaved from the bodies of television dead idols.  They brought microphones to pick up the sound of our fat dissolving.  Sizzling loose cells inside silky skins to pick up romper rumors and lies undetectable in casual every day speech or body language. They forced the microphones upon us to tease us with our own sounds.  We are infants crawling in dangerous streets.  Convulsing from the smog.  They are treating us with vibrations so destructive they could wipe out the songs of all religions and races that are unlike the breed of stinking canine gorilla that beats his chest atop the empire strikes back building.

The canine gorilla gods will appear to us across magnetic billboards floating in the skies above your town.  They’ll have the snail people, the snake handlers, the dirty felchers and the Mad Advertisers under their influence.

And because of the cameras and microphones… your exact height and weight down to your cellular blueprint your every like and dislike your mother’s name your father’s name any assumed names, identities or lies would all be passed and reviewed in the microworld by the machines run by androids.

There you will dissolve, slowly, like Alka Seltzer dropped in a flute of polluted water.

They ascended into town, from their lair beneath the ground, breaking up spraying dust with their camouflaged copters, catching the light of the sun as they floated overhead momentarily before touching down atop the Bank of America skyscraper.  The men inside, insane in their drowned plastic night, spilled into the city looking for raw materials.

They looked tired and hungry as they battered down my door, but all I had was beer and brown rice in the refrigerator.  So they ate it all and continued to ask me so many unreasonable questions as though I had some richly worked scheme in back of me like an idiot mirror of all that is so disgustingly complex and warped in society.  They thought they could analytically break me down with their technology… using their primitive, modern techniques on my words twisting them until they broke, bending them until they buckled, refining here, diluting there. They branded those of us they neurojacked with cabled, white-hot bone irons and our language became unintelligible (to match theirs).  But I thought I was fighting back, and I gave them my words and cast my spells like pollution and their impatience grew strong, virulent.  And their mistakes increased in frequency and severity.

Yes, the information age was packaged from the loot and filthy rags they’d plundered from our parent’s graves.  Dirty diaper mania was on the news again last night… place by place under the mounds, green and glowing.


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‘Impoverished Summer’ by G.P. DeSalvo

‘Exhaust’ by G.P. DeSalvo

In the center of the standing people,

a bird sings in a silent heart.

(the air is sweeter here)

I am chasing the scent, as a bird hanging from a stick
(the flesh: taught, dried like thin jerky pulled over the bones)


quietly noisy beasts
roost in a brain bent by luminous mists.
Hydrobulged clouds

offer our rusted, leaking coffers
seemingly endless rainwater.

Homesteading along the mineshaft- the brilliant seed of golden sprouting

Fly buzzing a bottleneck.
Ice cubes melting on lips.

I feel the quiet green sheet pulled over my humid flesh
and a cool whisper.
Dread promise of
the kiss

of a mosquito’s

delicate mouth parts.

The gritty whirring of metal blades

slicing the skin

of the ground.

Breathing in sighs of summer late blooms,
breathing out gasoline vapor.

Wood handled pliers

(oiled from the hand

of the mechanic
used in hard times),

brooms bound like pictures,

In the distance, there’s the sound of a file raking a woodblock.


Rum pours
through tongues

clicking off

the sounds

of the

human mind.

Sweet promise of

a naked kiss,

rolling in the flora.

gauzy films separate

over the cigarfull ashtray

where the passing of friends

keeps us present and wanting more.


“Rust crawls inward,”
whisper the standing volker.


Despite the appearance of things,
the settlement’s decaying.


The secret word
has just fallen out of the metal box
the SOFT MEN are fond of speaking through.


As their words fall so do we.


From the cages
they’ve constructed for us
out and down


down and into
their wet and gilded


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‘The Clarity That Follows’ by spacemortuary


It has been 131 days, and I am starting to lose sight of why I’ve bothered to count.

I am afraid. The clouds above appear stagnant and unreal, almost as though I might have cut them out and glued them there, recycled from a memory I’ve chosen to forget. They are familiar to me in a way that seems dangerous.

I am afraid.

It is one thing to feel alone, and it is quite another to realize that there is no company in any reality but oneself. This preoccupation of mine is troubling enough to rob me of even the comfort of my dreams, and there is nothing in this world that can alleviate the ache but me. Instinctually, we turn to others for guidance – they, too, are afflicted by the human condition, so surely, they must be able to provide some insight…? No. We are all just as lost as the others. There is neither peace nor solace in that. There is no underlying poetic wisdom. We are all doomed to speculate until, finally, we rot.

I wasn’t meant for this.

Had I been, perhaps I’d understand what to do with my body when it feels so horrifyingly out of place in any space larger than my bedroom. For a species gifted with the art of communication, we succumb to silence so easily.

I miss the days that weren’t worth numbering, the ones that melted together, twisting into some conglomerate that apparently equates to existence. I miss them, but I can’t have them back. I can never have them back.


The unkempt stone tile of every public restroom is essentially the same in terms of temperature and appearance, I’ve found. Standardized. I’ve hidden out in far more than one or two of them; my legs are used to the chill. I am no stranger to excuses, but I have passed the point of transparency, and shame is not unlike misery in terms of its tendency to shy away from solitude.


Continue reading “‘The Clarity That Follows’ by spacemortuary”

‘Stained in Vain: An Exposé / Interview with Sean Kilpatrick’ by Natalie Lugo


Sean Kilpatrick just did another screenplay poem. No one cares. Me neither. Full disclosure: we had a regular but noncommittal affair awhile back. He is full of screeds against the challenges inherent in playing anyone for keeps. Against couples who are “ping ponged by pieties of dedication”. Before the dates in question, he was never legally abusive, so help me God. Not that I wouldn’t claim his scraps before the parish in hopes of eradicating even the most infinitesimal compunction of his rascally kind just because that sentiment is popular…

Sean Kilpatrick (interrupting): Apologies first and foremost, of course. We improvised a few intrusions, for which you are owed a pair of nylon stockings. No remedy, yet, to end the slight, fluctuating iron deficiency caused by the no longer scarfed and moderately spoiled cycle tripling in outpour since I abandoned you to spend platonic solitude on a glove?

Natalie Lugo: I have registered the cracks in your ceiling for a serviceable eon, tallying each vile ideation and adolescent sexual dotage, yes. Thank god we’re not us anymore. Are you one-hundred percent resentment because you suffer runny bowels?

SK: This is the most vital question a writer must be asked. I prefer it asked of me daily. Not to pretend my movements are that regular. If the process doesn’t bind your innards, the verse has misfired. Aside from the handicap of your attractiveness, I salute you for being young, acclimated, and above memoir writing.

NL: As someone whose sole focus is revenge, do you like being on the other cultural end of it right as you finally taught yourself how to compose, somewhat, after fourteen years of averaging one publication per month in small-to-less-small literary sites and mags?

SK: Well, I wanna ride off into the sunset with every condom I ever used. How do you walk off a sunset, girl? Glare in a mirror?

NL: What’s your book about!?

SK: Leaving necklaces on while you fuck.

Continue reading “‘Stained in Vain: An Exposé / Interview with Sean Kilpatrick’ by Natalie Lugo”

Three Poems by @banallionaire


December 14th – The Pull

Like candy, like the Christmas tree in our window revealing itself to an empty snow-grey street, and looking up at it, the dead telephone poles, and the pull. Keep pulling and pulling me, onward, into homemade ornaments and tinsel, into other stories, and then back down by the abandoned factories, warehouses, and I can summarize them all as “et cetera”.

December 16th – At Dusk, the Power Plant

The houses accept their placement, the tire lines sculpt in the snow on their gravel driveways, junk toys, junk toys and trash cans, and almost remembering how it felt to go to Toys ‘r’ Us as a seven year old. Beyond them even more rust-metal and poles and weird generators in the four o’clock light, and I think I can actually feel its electricity in the air, and it feels like how the thin bare tree branches look against the sky, and the energy silhouettes us.

December 17th – A meal, a meal, a meal

My hands instinctively know where to go, every inch of the surface, its subtle unevenness, bumps and knots in the pine, all known to me. It’s how the edges fill with breadcrumbs and tar-like dust. The fabric stretched across my body, all this in repetition. Or how the metal’s silver gaze becomes discolored over time from use. The soft of my mouth know these utensils, the spoons and forks, and thus vice versa. Everything inside becomes warm.

‘Voyeurism’ by Ben Sixsmith




What are the chances?

It’s Samantha, isn’t it?

Yeah, we were at school together. Mrs Packman’s class. You sat in front of me. You had blonde pigtails.

What are the chances?

So, what brings you here?

“Nasty Slut Taught A Lesson”.

Christ, Samantha.

Did somebody write these lines or did you make them up yourself?

How did you get here?

Was it drugs? You tried weed. You tried cocaine. You tried crack. You ran out of money. It was this or prostitution.

Or maybe you like it. You want to make daddy mad. Or you’re an addict. You can’t get enough of this.

Jesus, Samantha.

Have you had a kid? You look kind of older. Not just older. Old. You’re trying to look young but it’s obvious that you’re not.

Good body, though.

Are you enjoying this? It looks kind of painful. It must be embarrassing that anyone can see it. But perhaps you’re into that. Maybe it’s your kink. I don’t really understand it but that’s your business I guess.

Look at you. What did you do after you finished here? Did they have a shower or did you travel home like this? All wet and stuff. Do you have a boyfriend? Do you tell him?

Does anyone want you?


Darren isn’t?

What are the chances?

Yes, we were at school together. You had more hair then.

So, what brings you here?

You were searching for something innocent and I popped up?

Or you’re into this.

You must be into this. I mean, it’s not just porn. No, this is nasty stuff. Niche.

How long were been sitting there? One hour? Two? Three? And how often do you do this? Once a week? Twice a week? Every day?

You look funny.

Has anyone ever caught you?

Are you single? Do you have a girlfriend? Does she know what you’re doing?

Why do you watch this? Do you have nothing better?

Does it feel good?

What are your goals, Darren? How are you getting there? No, I never dreamed of doing this but at least I’m getting paid. At least I can save up and do something.

I can.

I can.

Do you think your mum would be prouder than mine if they saw this? What did she teach you about women?

Are you going or are you going to watch another film? How do know you’ve had enough? Do you ever have enough?

I remember falling over in school. You helped me up. Imagined if we’d started talking. We could have been married now.


Ben Sixsmith is an English writer based in Poland. His stories and poems have been published by Every Day Fiction, Flash Fiction Magazine, 365 Tomorrows and Det Poetiske Bureau. His essays have been published by Quillette and Areo. He tweets @bdsixsmith