The Choice Is Yours by Ian Lewis Copestick

The Choice Is Yours

Never forget that,
no matter how bad
today may have been,
tomorrow is always a
new set of opportunities.
Every 24 hours is another
chance to change your
life, and yourself for the
better, or worse.
The choice is yours.
However you approach
it, tomorrow is always
there for the taking.
Unfolding like a piece
of origami. Opening up,
like a rose on a time
delay film.
Every minute of every
day is a countdown to
what could be the best
day of our lives.
Can’t you feel it ? 

To Medicate or Self Medicate in Pastels by Kristin Garth

To Medicate or Self Medicate in Pastels 

A dilemma, physician’s office, 

pre-dates a pandemic by just some weeks.

Nervous ass crinkles paper.  Ghost Sophists 

of panic-attacks-past harass what leaks 

through ducts, expelled wet truths upon cheeks, tears 

thin paper, freckled fists attempting to resist

the gravity of pain, its endless drips.  Despair  

you can’t restrain before the blonde internist,

who looks like your Barbie dolls — is that why 

you confess it all — nights you cry yourself 

to sleep, indignities you push inside 

as deep as pastel kitchen knives, bookshelf 

of broken hymen hymns scribbled, first, at five

about sad men who swallow you like pills,

self medicating like you never will. 

Author’s Note:  This is the story of me deciding to take help offered to me from my doctor for my anxiety/depression. It’s changed my life immensely. My abuser did not take medication that he required and it is one more way I’m proud to be different then him. 

Kristin Garth is a Pushcart, Best of the Net & Rhysling nominated sonnet stalker. Her sonnets have stalked journals like Glass, Yes, Five:2:One, Luna Luna and more. She is the author of seventeen books of poetry including Pink Plastic House  (Maverick Duck Press), Crow Carriage (The Hedgehog Poetry Press), Flutter: Southern Gothic Fever Dream (TwistiT Press), The Meadow (APEP Publications) and Golden Ticket from Roaring Junior Press.  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

8 Poems from Tali Cohen Shabtai


When I don’t have cigarettes,

it determines my

Sabbath fate.


it all begins with a cigarette on


with an exhale just

before sunset

until the inhalation

the next day when the stars


with the blessing “That distinguishes between sacred and profane”

This is the most important day

to consume cigarettes, because the day when

God rested

from all his work is not an idea.

That every business is closed

in Jerusalem, even if they made

enough from tobacco

consumption during the week.

Really, there’s a woman for whom the cigarette is

her language

and the way she counts

in cigarette butts

corrects her phobia

with numbers.

I need a cigarette that does not exceed 10 centimeters and is no more than 7 millimeters in diameter

The effect of the nicotine substance found in tobacco on the human brain

inspires in me at the same time

the quality of writing on the Sabbath.

It should be seriously considered

that there are withdrawal

symptoms arising from a lack of

nicotine in the brain that is prevented from me

to contain them

when a person does not consume cigarettes

on the Holy Sabbath.

Accordingly, the biblical saying will come here that

“the Sabbath may be broken when life is at stake”

Should I silence any thirst

and adhere with the Creator blessed without

any adherence to an object

for an entire day?

Generally the week enters on the Sabbath.

For me? On Sunday.

Dear poem

I offered congratulations from this morning to tomorrow

even though I was corrected regarding the date of birth.

How do I explain that a person

has no idea when

he will end his life this time around?

I write to my mother my love for her

in the most unexpected moments

of tribute

how will I explain that perhaps it is the penultimate

greeting of a daughter to her mother before the present


the latter and not the resurrected midwife

from the year 80

the umbilical cord between me

and her placenta and not to give birth

to me again? but to kill.

I look at my father and cry for another

twenty years or so

that he will not be here

I was ahead of the artist to “grow and sanctify her great name”

in the Kaddish prayer in the twilight hour in Sacker Park.

I shed a tear.

If you live in consciousness as I wrote

“God does not pass over life from man, as he does not

pass over death.”

You are the most miserable person there is, with such insight

you do not enjoy a single piece of bread and no


You are dead.

A letter to myself

There’s a whole world

waiting for you

around the darker

corner of life

in which

you are adept enough to sort clothes

of the same

ethnic group of

the black cloth

of your life.

If you hadn’t been a little better

than the decorations that would add


so as to decorate the rhetoric

of the black cloth of your life

I promise you that you would


to see

a star fall in the dark! 


You are willing to come

To Jerusalem

Where I kill myself

Every single day –

You can’t live in a place

Where the Transfer is

Conceptually different

For you –

As much as you warned me

About America

Where people don’t realize “

The difference between Poetry

And Song”,

I want to go back to

Europe – where people live

By caricatures

You say you like Jews

You thought I came from

Those countries – where it is forbidden

To uproot

My Ghetto

So I am going to the hospital

What the hospital asks

Is one less lady

Who smiles.

My Doctor

I have

My own “Thousand”

Carring your signture.

I wear them as an amulet–

Much like Umm Kulthum’s scarf amulet

The one she carried at every performance,

With a Thousand seeds of Parisian cocIne in it

I walk with them–

Like the thousand chemicals

In the poison that

Nietzsche carried permanently

In his pocket

But I don’t praise it–

So don’t ever try to train my brains

To be pleased

You know my heroes,

I was happy before I knew them

Before I barely knew

The difference between you and

A passer-by.


I build tactics

While you sleep

On how to admit

To my crime

We make love


Your Carnival

And my War

On a bed where

“The half of the wharf that is bleeding

Is the half where I always


I like your gestures but

I can’t take you

To portray Others

In my language

I can’t live like this

And you can’t either

There is no better


I failed to be


* A person in the process of conversion

A Letter From Israel

I miss you so much

My poet

I miss Oslo.

You come to visit me,

Like a platonic figure


For a woman who lost the


In a city with no drawing,

With a man stuck with a broken foot


To the celebration of the woman that I am

And the women here named the same

Perfume over ten years

While I named (at the same time)

The same pills.

This is my accompaniment

I can not beautify

My life

As you can’t either.

So I’m eating you

A little too much – sometimes with

My ripeness.

With my clouded eyebrows

And a cigarette in

My mouth

You wear the Kippa that I bought you

With Norwegian letters

Spelling your name

There is no better tribute here

My love,

This is


By the force of my doom

By the force of my doom

The outcast

The blood of disgrace

Is in menstruation.

And not upon

(A foreign)foreskin

In humility

And not as

A wife to bear it

In humility

For this

I give

No guarantee.

Tali Cohen Shabtai, is a poet, she was born in Jerusalem, Israel. She began writing poetry at the age of six, she had been an excellent student of literature. She began her writings by publishing her impressions in the school’s newspaper. First of all she published her poetry in a prestigious literary magazine of Israel ‘Moznayim’ when she was fifteen years old. Tali has written three poetry books: “Purple Diluted in a Black’s Thick”, (bilingual 2007), “Protest” (bilingual 2012) and “Nine Years From You” (2018). Tali’s poems expresses spiritual and physical exile. She is studying her exile and freedom paradox, her cosmopolitan vision is very obvious in her writings. She lived some years in Oslo Norway and in the U.S.A. She is very prominent as a poet with a special lyric, “she doesn’t give herself easily, but subject to her own rules”.Tali studied at the “David Yellin College of Education” for a bachelor’s degree. She is a member of the Hebrew Writers Association and the Israeli Writers Association in the state of Israel.I n 2014, Cohen Shabtai also participated in a Norwegian documentary about poets’ lives called “The Last Bohemian”- “Den Siste Bohemien”,and screened in the cinema in Scandinavia. By 2020, her fourth book of poetry will be published which will also be published in Norway. Her literary works have been translated into many languages as well.

Hispanic sonnet, or Punk sensibility by Alex Z. Salinas

Hispanic sonnet, or Punk sensibility

By Alex Z. Salinas

Chicano poetry necessitates punk sensibility.

“Necessitate” is a word choice professors may

Respect. The distinction between primary &

Higher education is critical thinking & diction.

Diction—try out this word at a party. Electrify the

Ladies. Wink wink. Guys, Irish painter Francis

Bacon revered venerable masters so mightily he

Snatched their frameworks & muddied ’em.

Chicano poetry necessitates destructive flair.

I’m truly scared to detonate how I really want to.

Scared I’ll explode in a million directions &

The shards will hint of Mexican dark chocolate.

If you make a show of reciting poems to every

Mirror, you’re ripe for the big leagues. Right as a

Bent [insert noun]. I hate punk rock, therefore am punk.  

Bio :Alex Z. Salinas lives in San Antonio, Texas. He is the author of two full-length poetry collections, WARBLES and DREAMT, or The Lingering Phantoms of Equinox, both from Hekate Publishing. His poems, short fiction and op-eds have appeared in various print and electronic publications. He holds an M.A. in English Literature and Language from St. Mary’s University.

2 Poems by David Cranmer


I leave them hanging, 

nothing to say.

An inattentive friend,

nothing to do 

with them. 

Why not then

erase limbs, body, head 

—and scaffolding. 

No more games.

I wish I may, I wish I might

But can’t, truths 

aren’t welcome. So I don’t answer 

texts, return calls, and I leave 

them on the gallows,

with nothing to say.

Whither Are We Drifting?

From my bedroom window I see 

a poplar tree in the stronghold of a

thick, brown vine spiraling up its trunk.

I pour another ounce of brandy into my 

morning cup of coffee, and wonder if 

the tree is fine with a slow demise, too.  

BIO: David Cranmer is the editor of the BEAT to a PULP webzine and whose own body of work has appeared in such diverse publications as The Five-Two: Crime Poetry Weekly, Needle: A Magazine of Noir, LitReactor, Macmillan’s Criminal Element, and Chicken Soup for the Soul. Under the pen name Edward A. Grainger he created the Cash Laramie western series. He’s a dedicated Whovian who enjoys jazz and backgammon. He can be found in scenic upstate New York where he lives with his wife and daughter.

Redundant by Ian Lewis Copestick


I remember, as a child
thinking of the future.
Of the year 2000.
Even then I knew that
it wasn’t going to be
like the T.V. programme,
Space 1999, I wasn’t
expecting an atomic
jet pack. Still, I thought,
” In the year 2000, I’ll be
28 years old. My life
will be settled, I will have
a wife, kids a calm life
and a good career.”
Here I am, aged 48, and
my life is a howling chaos.
I don’t have a wife, or
any kids, and a calm,
settled life ?
You must be fucking
As for a career ?
I must have had at
least 50 jobs and nearly
every one I’ve hated.
The few I’ve liked, and
the rest, have all ended
pretty much the same
way. Redundancy,
recession, or just being
fired. But usually,
redundancy. There’s
nothing that destroys
your pride like being
told that you’re redundant,
in the real meaning of
the word ;

Out of date,


Of no use to anyone.

Yet the people of my
generation have had
to get used to being
called it again, again
and again.
Yet we get up, brush
ourselves off and on
we go. Applying for
any job that you can
get your hands on.
Minimum wage,  no
brain jobs, I even got
turned down by fucking
McDonald’s !

Am I bitter ?
You bet I fucking am !
Once upon a time
I had a trade, I was a
precision engineer.
Then they closed all
of the factories, moved
the jobs to Indonesia,

or maybe Malaysia
and all of the workers
were left high and dry.
I had worked hard, gone

to college at night,

after a full day at work, but

suddenly there was no

need for my skills anymore,

my qualifications were useless.

It’s the way that capitalism


Then you were something,

because we needed you,
now you’re just

This is the story of my life, my city, my county.
We were known as the potteries, now we are nothing.

Three from Collin Jones



across from 


was a soon-to-be



a low-income

but joyful


he was a new


he selected

me as his


and in the process

of investigating

the gentleman’s

optical needs

i was told

about his





a silence

filled the



we want

the basic


no additional


she said.

cataracts, glaucoma,

macular degeneration,

retinitis pigmentosa,

none of it makes

any difference.

he won’t be back.

i nodded

taking notes

doing my job

the best 

i could



as i was 

trained to do

in optometry



i replied.

the gentleman

was forty-three

years old.

nineteen years

my junior.

how much longer

he had left

was none of my


i was tasked

with making

this gentleman’s

vision as crisp 

and sharp as


so that he might


the crystal

outline of his lover

and all else that is

beautiful in this

wretched world


that infinite








i’ve said enough.

it is late.

and there are

referrals to

the void

how peculiar

that formless


each one of us


before being


from the still black

waters of non-existence

and enlivened

by the shape

of daydreams

and night terrors.


two large eyes 

set in a round face

peer through the coffee

shop window

surveying my latte.

the young, flushed cheeks

and spit-shined eyes belong

to a child i have seen

many times before.

a boy.

he presses 

his dried lips

into the smudged


in one hand 

he holds an empty

Styrofoam cup. in 

the other—

three withered


he smiles—

revealing one

and a half


i feel myself


by the unforgiving

vines of apathy.

i feign having 

seen him. but he has

found me out—

smiling, nevertheless—

holding out

the flowers and 

shaking the cup.

i tell myself: next time.

always: next time



for lunch.

BIO: Collin Jones is a philosophical pessimist working on his MFA in Minnesota—forthcoming novel in late 2021.

This Earth by Ian Lewis Copestick

 This Earth

It’s strange when you think
of the Earth under your feet.
Not only the fact that you are
on a piece of rock, rotating
through the nothingness of
space at roughly 65,000 miles
per hour, but this actual earth
and how many feet must have
trodden on it before you were
even born. Not just the farmers
and factory workers of the last
few generations, but the serfs,
and peasants of the 18th, 19th,
or whatever century. Before, even
that, I wonder what was happening
here in the Civil War, or going back
even further, did the Vikings reach
this part of England ? Was this
ground ever trod by a Celtic berserker ?
Or has it just been drunken Stoke City
fans ?

Three Poems from Max Thrax

Max Thrax lives in Boston, MA. His stories and poetry have appeared in Bristol Noir, Shotgun Honey, and Versification. Find him online at and on Twitter @ThraxMaximilian.


Francesco said

Dead men don’t fight back

And he bloodied the street

With Della Croce heirs

In the mountains

Rain never dries

Snow never tires 

And the living wait

To reblood the valley


When the bomb exploded

I had just

Finished my coffee

Stood up at the bar

A woman in green

Clutched her daughter

Tried to hide her

Under her hair

I never crossed the road

I assure you

I never saw the bodies

The week before

I saw two young men

Roaming the streets

Around the Duomo

One wore a sneer

The other a jacket

With a patch

Fossa dei Leoni

I did not meet 

Their eyes

For they seemed more lion

Than human


You trot forward

And canter back

One ball hits the crossbar

One finds the touchline

Keep moving

Knees give

Stomach heaves

And wants to give

Even more

Your face is ancient

The skull

Of the oldest horse

In the world

More sockets than eyes

More blindness than vision

More vision than the first horse

Who slipped its blinders

And ran

And found there were no markings

No painted lines

In the meadow

The Twelfth Escape by Kristin Garth

The Twelfth Escape 

in which Gilda Sheen emerges from the tank, Girlarium

 at and imprisons her keeper Joseph Q. Youmans of The

 Aquariums at Anemone.

Clamber up flesh dangling from the high hatch —

his knuckles straighten, only nails catch. Your 

adrenaline spurs — drop him fast.  Spring, scratch

surface, dry — the distance seemed so vast for 

those months marooned beneath his room.

Emerge emboldened from your salt water

tomb.  Looming fleetingly over the doomed 

Svengali swimming savagely, squatter 

in some artificial sea he designed

even its winding lock.  You turn it twice. 

Shake yourself from shock. Servants soon will  find

you here, uncaged inside a paradise 

from which you must disappear with haste—

a twelfth chance for escape you will not waste.