3 poems by Jesse Hilson



The photo which must be the most upsetting one because it’s on the bottom of the pile, the last one looked at. The ruination risked by going back to look at it again.

The foyer where he knelt and held up the lavender bike she tried to balance on. Or that whirligig he spun on with her at Disneyworld, with his yellow Hawaiian shirt on. The crib in that sweltering London hotel room which she begged to be let out of, how monstrous he felt for not letting her. Or the close-up of the note she attached to a jack o’ lantern telling bad people not to steal it.

The pictures of each parent only taken when their daughter was also in the frame. The passing stranger in Montreal or Orlando they never stopped and asked to take their picture all three together, a family. Never solo or trio.

The woman in the green sweater leaning over the baby below the Christmas tree. The apron with the funny saying. The cracks in the wall next to the headboard. The lubricant she applied that may have been a rebuke to the husband. The hammock next to the house that left diamond-shaped hatchwork on her bottom.

The mosquito’s slow emergence from its underwater egg. The lullaby of wasps in the nest as the tiny camera panned. The tufted orb of a dandelion flexing in the sun. The counterfeit rain the photographer spilled from his watering can.


Have you ever sketched from memory

            A picture of a jaguar-woman, on all fours,

Prowling in just a crimson half-shirt and bikini,

            Drawn it cold, inside of ten minutes

And then stood back, looked and felt

            The breath of hot Gauguin embellish your blood?

Myself, I never get to be a human witness.

            I have had to sneak my way into her life

As a golden-collared macaw.

            In her orchid bedroom I sit inside a cage

And try to catch some sight of her,

            To whistle coy motifs whenever she comes in.

When she steps out of the shower

I leap up and down and have my episode

But she tosses towels over my cage, blinding me.

            I’m hopping like a toy wound-up too much,

My beady eyes beshrouded in the shadow vault.

            In terms of what the other sees

The whole arrangement slants in my direction.

            She remains a gorgeous, stealthy feline

While I teeter on my trapeze, above a snarl

            Of shredded paper, grey incontinence.

Once I saw her well enough to reconstruct her

            But I was stranded in this cage.

Once or twice I was taken out, I sat on her shoulder

            For an afternoon. Could have flown up to a tree.

But now I’m back in here, with my fruit, seeds, towel’s dark.

            She’s probably in her cage herself, herself.

Pacing or sitting, doesn’t matter, when everything

            You see you want’s a cage’s width away.


For my pre-teen I played, off my phone,

The lullaby I’d sung most frequently

From a prehistory of bedtimes

When she was a baby in my arms.

At age 11, finally hearing the original, she said

She didn’t remember it, never heard it before.

No fluttering eyelids or yawns.

No delayed trace of my singing’s effect,

no echoing amygdala or

hippocampus ricochet.

How forked is the cable-spring

Of associations. The vibrations

Slink along its length to hit

Home or skitter down the stray

Tributary into a lower stack

In the memory library. Remember

The unfinished basement where the kid

Watched cartoons with his brother,

That midcentury folklore baked into art:

How apparitions, risen up out of the remains

Of dead cartoon characters, transmitted

A notional afterlife to the childish audience

Which adults commenced to undermine

With careless jokes. The living will witness,

But the memory is a null ghost

Striving to recover its home.

Tribes giving old testimony, the dead spokes

Of starfish strewn by angry seagulls

Across the grotto must rejoin

And return to life for any memory

Of tumbling surf to be usable.

Every mind crystal must line up

For the laser to be let through.

Will we miss things when we’re gone?

Will we miss all those sorted away

By angelic turnstiles snatching some

Individuals through but not others?

I fear I might not afterward remember

My fond relation slipping away from me

Down the branching assembly line

Like some uncomprehending farm animal

Shunted belt-wise to its ending.

Jesse Hilson is a freelance newspaper reporter living in the western Catskills. He has appeared or will appear in AZURE, Maudlin House, Deracine Literary Magazine, Pink Plastic House, Pulp Modern Flash, Close to the Bone, Murderous Ink Press, and elsewhere. His novel Wet Up is slated for publication by Close to the Bone in 2022. 

2 Nancy Drewesque noir sonnets by Kristin Garth

Kristin Garth, Poetry

The Hidden Staircase 

after Nancy Drew, Number Two, in which 

Nancy Drew investigates in tunnels and

 hidden staircases and I investigate

the hidden staircase to peace of mind

one descends in meditation and


A hidden staircase wraps about our spines

descending when the obicularis 

occuli buries eyes in flesh confines;

oblivion abducts embryonic minds.  Mist 

obscures succeeding steps.  Mirrored walls

reflect phosphorescent silhouettes which 

we understand are consequent to all

the deliquesce of desiccating witches,

withered of their wherewithal.  We sink

into ovate interiors deprived 

of macaroon exteriors, penny 

loafers, antique broach, cream crocheted knee-high

socks, unrealistic hopes for mankind

left behind investigating peace of mind. 

The Bungalow Mystery 

after Nancy Drew, Number Three, in which 

Nancy Drew investigates a fraud in a bungalow. 

In this sonnet I encounter a fraud in a bungalow. 

He wears tailored suits, says he has meetings.

In his bungalow, you crawl across his sheets 

for beatings towards a silver buckle V,

doubled over leather snaps viscously.  

He asks, after, questions, gives you advice. He 

critiques nude careers while you play nice — ten 

years your senior, respect his mystery

and age.  Swallow what is offered then 

politely disengage once you are untied 

from posts of his living room bed,

pedantic semantics in lieu of lies.  

He is ever careful with what is said

commentary on what you do to pay bills.

Does not mention his trust fund and never will. 

Kristin Garth is a Pushcart, Rhysling nominated sonneteer and a Best of the Net 2020 finalist.  Her sonnets have stalked journals like Glass, Yes, Five:2:One, Luna Luna and more. She is the author of 20 books of poetry including Candy Cigarette Womanchild Noir (Hedgehog Poetry Press), Flutter Southern Gothic Fever Dream (TwistiT Press), and Girlarium (Fahmidan Journal).  She is the founder of Pink Plastic House a tiny journal and co-founder of Performance Anxiety, an online poetry reading series. Follow her on Twitter:  (@lolaandjolie) and her website kristingarth.com

Three poems by J. Travis Grundon

Poetry, Punk Noir Magazine


When he writes

He’s the hero of his shit

He kicked the woman

Hard to the floor


The asshole



Hanging on

Mornings are for Murder

Some pimps are making

A killing.

Fluids and currency exchanged

You don’t pay a hooker

for love.


Hey, kids!

Look at me!

From the top rope

To the grave

The boy you feared

With a dirty tongue

Atomic youth

Dying young

The man you love

Get some

We can be like

Bogart And Bacall

Chaplin too

The Creature

Reefer Madness

Black and White


Head pollution

Is all that’s left

Of me


While the punk moon watches by Petra F Bagnardi

Poetry, Punk Noir Magazine

The child with the stitched mouth –

her words imprisoned –

makes art of her body parts.

The mother with just a coin in her pocket –

a starving baby at her breast –

finds tales amid the shadows;

and creates a kingdom of plenty for her child.

The veiled women with no rights break the rules –

they grab the wheels.

A young student uses crimson ink –

to memorize all these sanguine stories.

Then she packs her rose and red shoulder bag:

hot-pink pens;

a sword;

a vermilion notebook;

a crossbow;

purple lipstick;

a vial of poison.

For – in a field filled with men –

she will be the only woman.

Petra F. Bagnardi is a TV screenwriter, a theater playwright and
actress, and a poet. She was short-listed in the Enfield Poets’
Twentieth Anniversary Poetry Competition, and was featured in Masque &
Spectacle Literary Journal. Writing as Petra March, she won several
awards and honors. She is also a Library Journal Self-e Select author.

Two poems from Courtney LeBlanc



I stride in, the height of my heel immediately eyed, the spindly stem
which you balance on. Your foot arched, your calves carved
from your flesh like marble — Michelangelo would be jealous.
It’s true a man invented me, hobbled a woman opposite of a bound
foot – put it on display and made her strut. I know I cause you pain
sometimes but baby, I look so good when I stride into the meeting, no
one questions who’s in charge. And even if the podiatrist recommends
you switch to flats and your mother admonishes you and the internet
details the damage I cause, you still keep wearing me. The favorite
black leather pair with the t-strap, the ones you wear to weddings
and your father’s funeral. The cream patent leather pair, the leopard
print, the grey suede. You love me in every form. And when you take
me off at the end of the day, rub your tired feet, you never swear me off,
never promise to quit me, never decide to leave me in the back
of the closet, buried in the dark.


I see it while driving, a deer on the losing end
of dash across the pavement. I wonder if its body
bounced, if its lips kissed concrete, if it locked eyes
with the panicked driver before its body slid over
the hood and onto the side of the road where
I spotted it days later. I drive past it for a week,
each time its fur falling away more, each time
its bones more exposed to the winter air. Even
in the cold, it decomposes quickly and soon its ribs
jut upward, reaching skyward toward some heaven
I don’t believe in. Still, every time I pass it, I whisper
a word of hope, of prayer, of salvation. I’m moving
too fast to see but I wonder if its heart remains,
enclosed in its cage of bones, if the vultures have
found it yet, eaten the tender muscle.

Courtney LeBlanc is the author of the full length collections Exquisite Bloody, Beating Heart (Riot in Your Throat) and Beautiful & Full of Monsters (Vegetarian Alcoholic Press). She is also the founder and editor-in-chief of Riot in Your Throat, an independent poetry press. She loves nail polish, tattoos, and a soy latte each morning. Read her publications on her blog: www.wordperv.com. Follow her on twitter: @wordperv, and IG: @wordperv79

Sid and Nancy and 2 More Twisted Poems by @jmainpidd

Poetry, Punk Noir Magazine

Nancy Nancy on the wall

Sid’s body is in the hall

Needle hanging from his arm

Co-dependency was the charm

Killed you both;

Love in reverse

Kiss of death

Triggered a curse

Summoned the un-dead wight

And death came for you both

That night

The only place you could rest

In a grave together at last

Sleep tight

Now forever as one

Eternity’s daughter & son

The Life-Cycle of A Corpse Flower

A corpulent phallus

Emanating flesh flower scent

Enticing carrion loving beetles &

Flesh flies with intent

To pollinate it’s dual sexed

Children – replete with male & female crown

At its base all grown

And sent sans incest

So that its seeds are sown

And continues its ten year sleep

So that it can repeat

This peacock display

Of dormancy, growth and decay

When Bluebeard Ate A Songbird:

Like the ritual of eating Ortolan

You spread your bunting net and

Captured your Trilby whole

Svengalied her with heroin

Transforming even her soul

Trapping Amy – bonded- and

Branded – presented on a plate

You covered yourself respectfully

So no one saw you ate

Her whole – bones

Mixing with sacrificial blood

Sousing with Armagnac

You consumed and 

Ate her whole

Dr Jane Mainley Piddock – Biography

I’m on twitter as @jmainpidd

PhD English literature, Aberystwyth University, theGhost Stories Of M R James

I have been the recipient of a poetry mentoring award from Writing West Midlands & Nine Arches Press, for 2016-2017, by Poet Jane Commane, and am busy writing my book (Casting The Runes – The Letters of M. R. James) with unbounders press.

The Secret of the Old Clock by Kristin Garth

Kristin Garth, Poetry

after Nancy Drew, Number One, in which

Nancy Drew finds a will in an old clock

that gave her a vocation;

I found a will in an old house

that gave me a location.

Not the antique clock but the document 

inside, Nancy Drew must find to be a

bona fide girl detective.  For you, it went —

find papers in a house flooded by a bay,

a deceased stranger hid decades away in 

thirty two hundred square feet with secret 

rooms, architectural conceits, a sin

they went unnoticed before. Subsequent 

to searching, you adore this place more 

until all is saved by a forgotten safe.

Top once drilled open then replaced with poured 

concrete (?!?)  a sledgehammer breaks. A waif 

with a clue becomes a proprietor

of a house of words in woods evermore.

Kristin Garth is a Pushcart, Rhysling nominated sonneteer and a Best of the Net 2020 finalist.  Her sonnets have stalked journals like Glass, Yes, Five:2:One, Luna Luna and more. She is the author of 20 books of poetry including Candy Cigarette Womanchild Noir (Hedgehog Poetry Press), Flutter Southern Gothic Fever Dream (TwistiT Press), and Girlarium (Fahmidan Journal).  She is the founder of Pink Plastic House a tiny journal and co-founder of Performance Anxiety, an online poetry reading series. Follow her on Twitter:  (@lolaandjolie) and her website kristingarth.com

3 Amy Winehouse poems from Courtney LeBlanc

Poetry, Punk Noir Magazine

Abecedarian for Amy Winehouse       

Amy, how many poems do I have to write? How many times were you

branded drunk, disorderly, fool? You were only lovestruck,

colliding with the man who made things worse.

Drugs of course, but his love was the habit you couldn’t

evade. You tried. He went to jail and you served him divorce papers.

Finally severed the attachment. But he’d already sold your story to

Globe and Enquirer and anyone who’d pay. Already

hawked every juicy detail to whoever flashed money.

I know what it’s like to love something destructive –

just look at my past, the ex I was better off without.

Kindred spirits, you and I – you wrote songs, I write poems. But I

learned to stay away, forced my hand to put down the phone,

make plans, strike his name from my heart.

No one said it was easy but Amy, you could have done it.

Oh, I know you were alone when you took your last breath, I can’t

put all the blame on him but maybe without him you would have

quit the drugs and the drinking, maybe you would have gone to

rehab. Maybe the next album would be filled with intense

songs about a new love, a new life, a new emotion that didn’t border on

tragic. But I can’t bring back the dead, can’t

undo the past. You’re gone and your music lives, your

voice still provides the outlet my heart needs.

Without your words it would have been hard to sign my name on the

X of my divorce papers. I would have drowned myself in a bottle of wine,

yelled into the night, hoped for a quiet end. Instead, I found a new

zeal for life. I still listen to your album; it just doesn’t make me cry anymore.

23 July 2011

It’s the kind of weather we wish

for in January but curse when

it arrives, when it blooms hot

enough the honeysuckle rots

violently in the noon sun,

our stomachs turning

and tempers rising

with the mercury. Across

the Atlantic the news was breaking,

the crowds gathering – some

in congregation, others in morbid

hope of catching a glimpse

as they wheeled you out, your

gazelle body still inside the body

bag. I don’t remember what

I was doing when I heard

the news. But I know the day

was wet with humidity, sweat

rolling down between

my breasts, slicking my skin.

The day brilliant, still

unmarked by tragedy.  

*“the honeysuckle rots violently in [the] noon” is from Filé by Aurielle Marie


I think back on my wild days – that bonfire

party where I had a bottle of Boone’s Farm

in one hand and a bottle of vodka in the other.

And later, after the divorce I danced till closing,

kissed three strangers and went home with

a fourth, my shoes in the middle of her

kitchen for her roommate to stumble over

the next morning. When I learned your antics

earned you a rejected visa, that you couldn’t

attend the Grammy’s when you were nominated

for seven awards, I realized my wild days paled

in comparison. You went home with five

though really, you never left home, banned

from the country that celebrated

your talent but not your feral ways.

Courtney LeBlanc is the author of the full length collections Exquisite Bloody, Beating Heart (Riot in Your Throat) and Beautiful & Full of Monsters (Vegetarian Alcoholic Press). She is also the founder and editor-in-chief of Riot in Your Throat, an independent poetry press. She loves nail polish, tattoos, and a soy latte each morning. Read her publications on her blog: www.wordperv.com. Follow her on twitter: @wordperv, and IG: @wordperv79

3 poems by Scott Cumming

Poetry, Scott Cumming

Snowy Supernova

The cold hard shoulder
enshrouded her in snow
fighting to find the fault
that brought the journey
to a slipping, sliding
treacherous halt

The sleet blinding
no start, no end
the blustering blizzard
masking his approach
until too late

You can still see the face
you chased
the dreams of being his queen
pushed too far
the reality being caught
on the other side of his door

You worshipped
as if to an Incan God
your romantic ideal
the emperor you wished
to unclothe

No flair in his heart
cast out
rejected, stung
undeterred, you violently yearned
a free world for the spurned

Criminal charges avoided
attached yourself to the lecturer instead
until tenure revoked
family torn, reputation tattered
jumping before pushed

Stomach pumping
long recovery bumping
along your rocky path
excavating for reasons
a bright future

All led to tonight
a double shock of fright
an unexpected sight
a dredging of things thought
left behind
the realisation the tyre iron
is a multi purpose tool.

Smarter people than me have articulated the same ideas better, but they’ll never be as good at LMA Manager 2002.

the human brain typing faster
than it could hope to evolve
The human mind left in the dust
the screen resolutions getting clearer
as our ethics grow murkier

an age of extremes
where corruption roams freely
the deeds more obtuse
minutes shredded and burned
across a thousand boardrooms

the meek have inherited
forgetting power strangles
bloats and fosters

extreme hunger
extreme poverty
extreme inequality
extreme racism
extreme prejudice
extreme force

all bought and sold
no bad press
the same cash pays the cartels
that goes under the desk
no dignity
no shred of sense
in the right tax code
you can live beyond lawlessness

blood, death and fears
lining the pockets
spit, sniff and sneer
refresh once more.

In the car park at the end of it all

The chill in the air
rubbing against the sun’s
harsh glare

Sharp cut of suits and ties
undercut by all the
bloodshot eyes

The war dead
who’ll go on
living in your head

Another mother’s grief
blown and wiped
across a borrowed handkerchief

A godfather vows vengeance
in soft spoken, violent

The surveillance team zooms
hoping for the intel
to consign the animals
to locked rooms.

Progression With Sharps and Flats by David Calogero Centorbi

David Calogero Centorbi, Poetry

David Calogero Centorbi is a writer that in the 90’s earned an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Arizona. Now, he is writing and working in Detroit, MI.

He is the author of AFTER FALLING INTO DISARRAY (Daily Drunk Press).

Published work in Anti-Heroin Chic, The Daily Drunk,  Drunk Monkeys, Horror Sleaze Trash, Schuylkill Valley Journal-Dispatches, Tiny Molecules, and he is a regular monthly contributor at Versification. 

He can be found here on Twitter: @DavidCaCentorbi.

Blog: davidcentorbi.blogspot.com

Progression With Sharps and Flats

the candle

and spoon,

the bubble—

the still-born lie



breath by breath


sad glass

and that dead rainbow through it 

the sun cast on the wall

when I found your needle;

I thought your belt

was a snake.

you always had to have a pet.

sometimes a rodent.

sometimes a bowl fish,

but always something

for you to let die


The trickle of blood running down your arm:

the pinprick hole:

the black and blue stain:

the never filled:

the always needing–

your only words

I knew were true


you screamed

out your



the sharp hurt that couldn’t be dulled

by everything of me

I tried to give you


the hours hazed

over you:

voiceless rot,

no touch, no touch,

just cracking,

and your sweat that never dried


you burned yourself away,

but I didn’t turn you

into the ashes

you believed you were