Four Poems from Max Thrax

Max Thrax, Poetry

BIO: Max Thrax lives in Boston. His stories and poetry have appeared in Bristol Noir, Shotgun Honey, and Versification. His novella God is a Killer (Close to the Bone) will be published in May 2022. Find him online at or on Twitter @ThraxMaximilian.



Your man Noel?

He lived

In Garryowen

Kept a horse

Fed the animal

In all weathers

Before he’d even

Feed himself

Named it Bronco

Noel’s wee sulky

Won a few races 

Off the N20

One night

Two lads got langered

Snapped the tether

Off poor Bronco

Ran her down to the knees

Left her on the street

Noel found the lads

And gave them

A serious hiding

With a pickaxe handle

Fled to Dublin

Or Manchester

Stories of him

In Rotterdam


Didn’t I see him

Up the Back of the Monument

Wearing a blue suit

And golden tie

On his fingers

A year’s wages

Thought to say hello

But if your man had a name

It was beaten from him

Long ago




Fake lemons in bowls

Sequined pillows

San Pellegrino

You sleep here

Because it’s free

You will never

Live here

In the middle

Of a vacant lot

Watching bags and wrappers

Catch the wind

Old men in the park

Slam dominoes

Traffic creeps

Up the hill

As the sun



Nothing so nimble

As a rabbit poised to hop

On a steel girder


His life

Fit inside

A junior hockey bag

Scrubbed the bath

Each morning

In every bathroom

He used

Swept the floor

Made sure

No traces

Were left

Nothing to suggest

He were human

Or at least 

Had once been


Two Poems from James Lilley

James Lilley, Poetry

James Lilley, 34, father of three. By day an engineer by night a bare knuckle fighter and poet. Currently studying Creative Writing have had work featured in Versification, Black Bough Poetry, The Daily Drunk, Fevers of the Mind Poetry, Spill Words and Splintered Disorder press.  


by James Lilley

The colour was off

he said

but I cooked

it myself

on my mamas stove

in the pots we use

for Sunday roast

I needed the money

getting the mix wrong

A debt instead.

All The Trivial Things

by James Lilley

We see different counsellors

but we don’t talk about

what we talk about

at dinner

we push peas around the


and comment on

the steak

we don’t talk about

what we talk about

making awkward conversation

about Sue at work

our neighbours car

next years holiday

we hide from each other

behind all the trivial things.     

Repetitive by B F Jones & Stephen J Golds

B F Jones, Poetry, Stephen J. Golds


It comes when the dreams don’t,

the midnight walls constricting –

within the gut of Jonah’s whale.

A mind like mosquito bites

thoughts twisting

like stagnant laundry or

a child’s wonky windup toy.

Staring into a colorlessness with dry eyes.

Gnarling the night away with

each wring of a bloodied lip

body twitching to the rhythm of

an invisible metronome.

It’s here, always

casting its searing iron

time after time branding your soul

with the rusty-red glow of inferno

Highsmith @ 100: Snails by K A Laity

K A Laity, Patricia Highsmith, Writing

When a strange story broke about the confiscation of a bag of giant African snails at JFK airport this week, I knew Patricia Highsmith was calling. The man who brought them from Ghana declared them to customs, but didn’t realise they were illegal. Why’s that, you say? ‘They eat almost anything, breed like crazy, and carry a terrifying parasite that causes something called “rat lungworm.” The snails can reach up to 8 inches long and 5 inches wide when fully grown.’

Most people do not see snails as cuddly pets, but then most people are not Patricia Highsmith. She famously smuggled them in her bra on trips between France and Britain because she could not bear to leave any behind. Vic Van Allen, the protagonist of her serial killer novel Deep Water (1957) adored his snails Hortense and Edgar and watched with sentimental rapture as they made love. That snail sex scene is probably the most tender passage to be found in the whole of Highsmith’s published work.

With the release of Under a Dark Angel’s Eye we have easy access to a broad swathe of Highsmith’s short fiction and this seems the perfect moment to give a closer look at ‘The Snail Watcher’ which was written in 1948 and appeared in print in 1964. The main character by chance gives a closer look at some snails intended for the dinner table and finds himself enraptured. They become his hobby, ‘and snails were never again served in the Knoppert household.’

The strangeness of their sexual habits draws the broker’s fascination (and seemingly Highsmith’s too). Searching in vain for information in his encyclopaedias, Knoppert voyages to the public library to find an offhand remark by Darwin in untranslated French about their sensualité. While one might see the violence inherent in the process, Knoppert and his creator focus on the ritual of the ‘courtship’ between the gastropods. They are both male and female, so the process involves rearing up and tentatively interacting until they decide who’s going to take which role. This can take hours.

Knoppert becomes so entranced by the reproductive process—though losing interest somewhat in the sex part, he begins to focus on the egg hatching—that he gives over his entire study to his obsession as the snails multiply. His wife finds this distressing, unsurprisingly. But Highsmith believes in obsession. Knoppert finds it stimulating. ‘His colleagues in the brokerage office noticed a new zest for life.’ He becomes more daring and successful, and ‘saw his bank account multiplying as easily and rapidly as his snails.’

So successful that, focused on his work and bank balance, Knoppert neglects his hobby. For a couple of weeks. Even his wife notices and suggests he check on them. You can probably guess what happens: it’s good to remember that in the short stories Highsmith went as often to horror as she did to crime. The last few pages of the story show her relish for supreme discomfort.

Along with an abiding appreciation of the beauty of the snails. After all, they’re just doing what nature bids them do.

K. A. LaityGraham Wynd is an award-winning author, scholar, critic, editor, and arcane artist. Her books include Chastity FlameLush SituationLove is a GriftSatan’s SororityHow to Be Dull, White RabbitDream Book, A Cut-Throat BusinessOwl Stretching, and Pelzmantel. She has edited My Wandering UterusRespectable HorrorWeird Noir, Noir Carnival and Drag Noir, plus written many short stories, scholarly essays, songs, and more. Her work has been translated into Italian, Polish, Slovene, German and Portuguese. Follow her on TwitterInstagram or Facebook. Her podcast Is It Funny? can be found here.

The Company Man by Paul D. Brazill

Flash Fiction, Paul D. Brazill

The Company Man

By Paul D. Brazill

Jose opened the waiting room door. Six men, wearing grey suits identical to his, were sat staring straight ahead. Their hands were palm down on their knees. Jose walked in and took a seat next to the reception desk.  He put his hands on his knees and sniffed. He sniffed again.

‘Would you like a tissue?’ said Margot the receptionist, offering a box of lemon-scented handkerchiefs.

‘No thank you,’ said Jose, without looking at her. ‘It’s the bleach. I smell bleach.’

One of the men looked at his hands and sniffed them. Margot sighed and took out her iPhone. She put in her ear plugs, hoping to drown out the sniffing sounds with The Saints’ ‘Swing For The Crime.’

Fifteen minutes later, the red telephone on Margo’s desk flashed. She picked up the receiver and put it to her ear. She listened, nodding occasionally.

‘Of course, Mr Tipple,’ she said.

She hung up and cleared her throat.

The men all leaned forward and stared at Margot.

‘Jose please go through,’ she said.

The shadow of a smirk briefly crossed Jose’s face.

He got up and walked through a door marked The Director.


Mr Tipple’s office was dark. He sat behind his mahogany desk breathing heavily.  Behind him was a large window. Its blinds were pulled down. Tipple switched on an Anglepoise lamp. He was well dressed, as always, and held a gold fountain pen in his hand.

‘Please take a seat, Jose,’ said Mr Tipple. ‘I’ll be two ticks.’

Jose sat and waited until Mr Tipple had finished signing a wad of papers. He pressed a button on his desk and Margot came into the room and collected the documents.

Tipple waited until Margot left and nodded at Jose.

‘The thing is,’ said Mr Tipple. ‘The thing is …’

He leaned across the desk and looked Jose in the eye.

‘The thing is, Jose, we have to let you go,’ said Mr Tipple.

He smiled, looking uncomfortable.

Jose blinked and said.

‘I understand,’

‘Please take this to Col in supplies and he will arrange everything connected with your … departure.’

Jose took the slip of yellow paper from The Director and stood. As he went to open the door, he turned and looked at Mr Tipple.

‘Thank you, sir,’ he said.

Mr Tipple nodded.

‘Good luck, Jose,’ he said.


Col’s office was small and cramped. It was stuffed with metal filing cabinets and cardboard boxes.  Col was big and ginger. He smelt of Cuban cigars although no one in The Company was allowed to smoke.

Jose gave the slip of paper to Col who rubber stamped it and put it in a filing cabinet. He took a small wooden box from another cabinet and handed it to Jose.

‘Check this and sign it,’ said Col.

Jose opened the box. He took out the Glock, inspected it and put it back in the box.

‘It’s fine,’ he said.

Col gave him a sheet of pink paper. Jose signed it and gave it back to Col, who stamped it and filed it away.

‘Is this your first field trip?’ said Col.

‘It is.’

‘Well, keep an eye on those expenses, eh?’ said Col. ‘We’re not made of money.’

He winked.


Charlotte’s Bistro was dark and red. Vivaldi’s Four Seasons leaked from a small CD player. An old married couple sat near the window, holding hands and watching the rain soaked street outside. A skinny business man maniacally tapped at his iPhone.

Jose sat at a small table near the door. He had finished his spaghetti carbonara and was halfway through a glass of Maison Surrenne Cognac when Sir David came in, shaking his black umbrella and spraying the room with autumn rain. As the petit waitress fussed around him, Jose went to the toilet. Five minutes later he came back out and shot everyone in the room. Twice, just to be on the safe side.

As he left the bistro, he picked up his blood splattered bill from his table and put it in his wallet. He’d need that for his expenses claim.

© Paul D. Brazill.

“No Line for a Common Thread” by David Cranmer

Beat To A Pulp, David Cranmer, Poetry

“No Line for a Common Thread”  


Small talk   

Surface talk   

“How’s the weather?”   

“What a sweet baby!”   

“Nice to see you again!”   

Temporary exchanges  

Signifying little to nil   

Just daily superfluous asides   

Make up a shared human experience  

Make for a distinct human misery  

For those who find socializing hard  

Talk equals emotional dread  

No line for a common thread  

Riding the slow train to  

Pull the right words but  

Falling short and  

Left wanting  

To fade  


BIO: David Cranmer is the editor of the BEAT to a PULP webzine and whose own body of work has appeared in The Five-Two: Crime Poetry Weekly, Needle: A Magazine of Noir, LitReactor, Macmillan’s Criminal Element, and Chicken Soup for the Soul. His forthcoming poetry collection, Dead Burying the Dead Under a Quaking Aspen will be released by Close to The Bone (December, 2021). 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.

Pendulum by Kristin Garth

Kristin Garth, Poetry


It swings across the width of an oversized

iMac retina screen.  The flower of life, 

a hexagonal tanzine, he describes,

while it glides through the air like a knife,

how it can carve a third eye out of 

any odd life.  Strife disappears as two 

eyelids descend.  What will open above 

begets a novel vision, virginal hues 

imbued to a world once sinister, strange.  

His pendulum rocks until anatomy 

is romantically rearranged. You change 

in its period to a wide eyed baby

whispered lullabies of a beckoning bay

you ought to discover in darkness today. 

Three Poems by Dan Holt

Dan Holt, Poetry

Three Poems by Dan Holt


They got married

in a fever

just like

the Johnny Cash song

The fire

burned so hot

she couldn’t

keep her

hands off him

With a

loaded gun

and enough


to start a war

they set out

to discover


They were found

naked in the

back seat

on Highway 61

The glove box

filled with cash

and crystal meth

The barrel

still warm

Their blood

pooling on the

floor boards

The ultimate


at the alter

of love

A Good Man

He’d be evil

when he


like the


was some kind

of poison

eating his


breaking his


That was

when he

would hit me

scream at

the children

break the


I’d curl up

in a ball

to absorb

the punches

I would always

remind myself

that he

loved me

that he was

a good man

He is

quiet now

the poison

is gone

I wait

for the


I wait

for the


from the




in the rain

Feel the cold


my skin

Put my hand

in the fire

Feel the heat


my touch


at the bottom

of the pool


The chlorine


my lungs


my eyes


the noise


the smoke


the rage


my skull

Bio Dan Holt is blues singer/songwriter/recording artist, poet and fiction author from a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio. He has produced 11 albums of original music along with various singles and eps. Like most writers, his work has been published in various online and print journals. After many years away from the poetry scene, Dan has returned to writing poetry in 2021. Recent publications featuring his work include Alien Buddha Zine, Bombfire, Dumpster Fire Press: Voices From The Fire, Live Nude Poems, Piker Press, Punk Noir Magazine, Rusty Truck, Rust Belt Review, and Rye Whiskey Review. His first book, “Blank Canvas On Bloody Pavement,” was published in March 2021 by Alien Buddha Press and can be purchased from

Three Poems from Luis Cuauhtémoc Berriozábal

Luis Cuauhtémoc Berriozábal, Poetry

Born in Mexico, Luis lives in California and works in Los Angeles.His latest poetry book, Make the Water Laugh, was published byRogue Wolf Press. His poems have been published by Blue CollarReview, Kendra Steiner Editions, Mad Swirl, Pygmy Forest Press,Rye Whiskey Review, Unlikely Stories, and Yellow Mama Webzine.

The Moon in Exile

I extract words from the moon

in exile, suspended over the globe

for all eyes to observe. I assign

the moon a voice, one that must

endure, an honest voice, rough

and hoarse. The moon’s face

shines a light over the city, holding

fort for the morning sunlight.

With the moon in exile and the

morning sunlight, you have all

the light your eyes will ever need.

Crossing my Fingers

Crossing my fingers

is all I can do from falling.

Fear is the feeling

that leaves me in search of beer.

This is my final

day I feel. I cannot get it

out of my head and

it sticks around to

get me in this state of mind.

I prepare my fall

from the grace I never really

achieved. Feelings

of frustration live inside

of me. I stand and

fall on my face.

My fat lip bleeds and

my mouth is full of pebbles.

I can barely speak.

I have no get up.

My fall is permanent.

I am a sad movie

and who really wants to watch?

Go Your Own Way

Do you hide in

plain sight

like a bird

on a wire,

like low

hanging fruit

on a


front yard tree?

Do you look down

when people

stare at you,

like they want

to harm you,

like they

feel they own

the same

sidewalk you

walk on?

These are wars

you do not

want to fight.

You cannot stand

to waste your

time on fools

who do not


that your eyes

are your own.

You do not need

them to stare

at you, to pick

at your eyes

like vultures

feasting on

the vulnerable.

You always go

your own way.

You do not

need to make


of fools who

get in your

way for no

good reason

but to judge you.

Out NOW! Basczax – Music From The Post Punk Dystopia 1979-80

Alan Savage, BASCZAX, Music, post punk, Teesside

Basczax – Music From The Post Punk Dystopia 1979-80

Basczax were a British post-punk band that was formed in Redcar in August 1978.

The musicians were : Mick Todd (bass), Jeff Fogarty (saxophone), Alan Savage (2) (guitar, vocals), both members of member of The Flaming Mussolinis
Plus Nigel Trenchard (keyboards), Cog (drums) both later replaced by John Hodgson (keyboards), Alan Cornforth (drums), both from Blitzkrieg Bop

In February 2010, four members from the 1979-80 line-up (Alan Savage, Jeff Fogarty, John Hodgson & Mick Todd) started to record and released a digital album entitled This Machine Rocks was released on 1 September 2010.