Greetings from...the Road to Nowhere

Greetings from...the Road to Nowhere

Sunday, June 27, 2010


by Sara Fitzpatrick Comito

I want you
by the damp
in the yard

weeping silently
as my music
seeps out
the window
with the sweat
of my onions.

I want you
to pound
with an
impotent fist
as my glass
goes clink,
so cute
it's impossible.

I want
your tears
as verses
as semen
on grass.

she blues (blue for a boy)

by P.A. Levy

ladyboy assassin
drop dead gorgeous
drinks salty hormone cocktails
to die for
keeps a warm gun
between his thighs

his life
an argentine tango dance
gyrated for an hourly rate
until he had enough bucks
cash up front
for 36B breast implants

she struts her sassy stuff
high heels size twelve
paris fragrance by coco chanel
topless dance-by
amassing numbers and collecting bling

happiness is a spent gun
kept in a jar
on the mantelpiece


by Kaye Linden

Ma just paid off her house and the café in back. She now earns more than enough with her shamanic cures for tourists, and can provide free biscuits and beer for homeless clients and dogs. Customers gather seven days a week at Ma's Place, drink warm ale, Turkish coffee and Bushell’s tea, served by Ma's brother, Midget, and sister, Possum. The middle aged, the elderly and the lonely, sit together and socialize, as was once their custom in outback towns.

Ma’s Place: Offering illumination through body art, alternative clothing, vision quests and ritual scarring.

So say the ads in the Morning Herald, so say the flyers pinned to the Ma’s Place bulletin board, and to telephone poles around the city's western suburbs. At one fork of the Shepherd's Highway, where the peak hour traffic halts, one massive billboard pictures Ma’s puffy, pale face, plastered with yellow paint and framed with a buzz of white hair.

Ma’s house and the cafe sit fifty feet from the highway where people toss garbage from cars. Ma combs through the front yard every day and collects discarded treasures such as hamburger wrappers, tarnished rings with fake rubies, used white handkerchiefs and half-burnt cigarettes that she smokes later.

At ninety-nine years old, Ma stays upright with the aid of a mixture she invented, one from rainwater and white cement powder gathered from the abandoned building site at the end of the street. Once a week she applies the goop with a painter's brush, and hangs herself out to dry on a clothes line on the roof. The potion takes twenty years off the way she looks and feels as it straightens the scoliosis she inherited from childhood hunger. Ma smokes her cigarette stubs in the gap between her two front teeth, even while performing daily meditation at five a.m. In truth, she has shaved off her remaining wisps of white hair. Ma prefers to choose from her collection of kangaroo fur wigs, so she might appear attractive in photographs.

In Ma's Place, neighborhood hanger-outers drink beer or black tea with cream and sugar. While customers eat homemade lamingtons smothered with wild honeysuckle jam, Ma passes around her menu of shamanic offerings that include non-clothing and clothing options. Three or four of her customers return each full moon to regain the sense of liberation and excitement they feel when naked at Ma's Place. Most clients choose to wear at least one body decoration such as the alternative choice of two white cockatoo feathers sewn onto each scapula like angel wings.

One regular hanger outer, a ninety year old gentleman, sits at the same corner table every day. He adorns his naked body with skeletal white stripes.

“We must remember what lies under our skin,” he says to Ma as she serves goanna stew.

“Well, I know what lies under your skin!” Ma teases.

The old man winks. “You’re a cheeky one, Ma,” he says and she hands him a free beer.

Tourists come to the café dressed in city clothes such as six inch stiletto heels and designer trousers. After a few hours, Ma transforms them.

"If you want to live, you must die to your old ways," she says. "Clothes hide your true nature, that of flesh and blood, of death to come. Wake up to who you really are!"

Ma sings to the courageous few who undergo the clothes stripping ritual. With a smile, they donate their clothes to her charity box. The gratefully awakened leave Ma's Place wearing only body art and tiny scars that will remind them of her words. Ma rips up the donated suits for use as bandages, offers the prettiest dresses to her neighbors, and gives the stiletto heels to homeless dogs who have no bones to chew.

When interviewed by The Shamanic, one British tourist said: “I couldn’t believe how much better I felt once my clothes were gone! I’ve ordered five jars of red body ochre.”

“I’m bringing my husband here,” a tourist from Perth added. “He works eighty hours a week in the used car business. I’m hoping Ma can help him remember me.”

The police in Australia voice concern over tourists who file into Ma’s house and file out wearing only body piercings and stripes. One officer voiced his complaint on the front page of The Rattle Nest: “They could catch their death of cold," he said. Later, the officer visited Ma to see for himself, and left dressed in feathers and red paint. A reporter wrote that he saw Ma wearing a man's police uniform the next day.

Sometimes, Ma decorates the neighborhood dogs just for fun. She dresses the naked mutts in white cockatoo feather skirts, feathered beards and shell necklaces. The dogs sit in her tiny kitchen and whine until she clothes them like uppity city dogs from the north shore. In return, they bring trinkets from the streets.

To maintain a steady stream of clients, Ma places another advertisement in the newspaper:

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming city shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I offer transformation inside my shaman's door!

Bird Lady

by Michael Lee Johnson

They call her old maid Misty, as in fog, she misses the sun.
She runs a small pet store, more for the injured and lame,
alone and half the light bulbs have burnt out.
In the backroom everything smells of dust and feathers.
The cockatoo is cuddly and named Brenda, but has bad toiletry manners.
The macaw is well hidden, and fetches a high price on the open market, called Ginger.
Misty is surrounded by wired bird cages,
jungle noises in unfamiliar places,
and sleeps on a portable cot.
When parrots or parakeets shout shrills in the night,
her eyes squint and flash out in the dark but no one sees it.
Squinting is a lonely habit.
Misty works alone and is getting old.
On a wall, near her cot, hangs a picture-
but is it Jesus, or St. Jude Thaddaeus
carrying the image of Jesus in his hand or close to his chest,
difficult to tell darkness dimmed at night.
Misty sometimes sleepwalks at night from small room to the other-
she bumps, sometimes trips and falls, her warfarin guarantees bruises.
Misty tosses conjectures: “I’m I odd, old school, or just crazy?”
Her world is eye droppers, bird feeders, poop in cages, porcelain knickknacks.
Love left Misty’s life years ago, when World War II ended and so did her marriage.
As she ages everything is measure in milliliters, everything seems short and small-
medications in small dosages day by day.
Today is dim, raining outside, and old maid Misty still misses the sun.

Dudes My Age

by G. Tod Slone

Out there in the motel lot,
I see them scrubbing away
on their shiny Corvettes—
reds, blues, greens, banana.
About 10 of them are parked
in a perfect line,
their proud owners scrubbing
and polishing over and again,
all morning long.
One of the guys scowls at me,
a big coot with shiny bald head
and CORVETTE written
in big letters across his tee-shirt
—must have been a marine
or maybe even a state copper.
Seniors in bliss or almost,
they are the successful ones
of my generation,
the retired fellows dressed
in khaki shorts.

From 8 Equations

7. Platonic Tragedies & Top Ten I'm Sorrys
In a "Brief History of Glass"
In the Advent of a Water Landing
this Poem May be Used as a Floatation Device
by J. R. Pearson

Let's go way back. Back past mathematics’
knuckle-fucked abacus & Euclidian misnomers.
Back to Plato's top two
ways to succeed in tragedy:
one: kill the victim & everyone he knows
two: kill the victim several times until
he forgets he's dead
Implied lines of evidence for rational behavior in complex social settings?
Act like men grow handcuffs in the earth's womb.
Pretend tempers are buried in dynamite.
Furrowed brows made from nitroglycerin, finely molded
& set firmly between two lit corneas.
Freeze! Act natural. Move slow
like nothing matters except what fills
your empty hand at said moment:
Gun folded into the flick of a finger:
Daggers spent with the lick of the lips.
13 codas with a blade playing backup.
Sphinx-mouthed & waiting. It's always the waiting--
Spartans knew the External Principal
of Practical Ahimsa: the only real victim is yourself!
All this & who knew a Geiger counter blitzes
a finger at thoughts of plutonium tangled in amino acids.
It's 2000 ways not to build a lightbulb &
a killingwave unwound in a wind of RNA
that rises like a bleach tomb hung
up by its hind heel in sky stripped to the bone.
There's no geometric formula for the point
where two bodies touch.
But let's count anyway: all things equal
touch lips just in case:
run fingers over skin ponds cut cleanly at the damp edge:
scratch the march of long whistles
in the stained-black dream warped & turning on a gramophone: lifts
like madness shed by a twist in the heat:
opens the drawer of earth
beneath your grave:
I'm sorry. I mistook you for the moon
I'm sorry. Your proteins don't fold properly
I'm sorry. I wrote you a message on the galactic
arm; Alpha Centari is the period.
I'm sorry. You were born in a nebula; fell to earth in a flame.
I'm sorry. I thought I heard your wings whistle in a drawn-back sky.
I'm sorry. Your tongue keeps hammering me.
I'm sorry. I read your heart thru
an open wound.
I'm sorry. Sacred incantatory sweat glands must be spoken
I'm sorry. I only see some steel
Egrets singing with sky
I'm sorry. There’s a man torn in two
by the door
Don't worry we can fix him.
Humans manufacturing humans.
He says:
I know I'm dead if I dream in perfect pitch.
I know I'm asleep if I taste blood on your lips
where a word tore into song. I know I'm alive if the flame
in one eye whips mad like moonlight & the other's hard set
on "shudders loose in the brief history of glass".
Three cheers for an "unswept place in-between lives!"
Three cheers for raw linen over the sky's black mouth!
Three cheers for breath on a broken pane gone smoke-white
into a glass-sweep of sky you know doesn't exist..

Existential Hitchhiking

by Chloe Caldwell

“I always get my period when we hitchhike,” I told my brother.

“That’s nice,” he said.

“No. It’s shitty.”

“Oh. Okay.” He wanted to be done with this conversation.

“I think it means something though,” I told him, feeling bored and feeling bold. I was trying to get a rise out of him.

It worked. He looked at me from over his shoulder:

“Why does hitchhiking always have to be so existential---“

“I know!”

“----With you? No Clo, only with you.”


“This isn’t what hitchhiking is like with other people.”


It was six in the morning and we were tired. It was August and it was humid. My brother was beyond irritated with me, and for good reason. He was hitchhiking with me to Paris from Berlin because I didn’t know how to do it alone. He didn’t feel like doing it. Neither did I. We hadn’t even spoken for months. Instead of living with him and making art and music, I’d decided to erase myself and stare stoned out of a window.

Luckily though, we only had to hitchhike to a small town in Germany, where a friend of a friend Pablo was going to meet us with his car and drive us all the way to Paris. We couldn’t wait to sleep for hours.

Then Trevor got a text from Pablo. He’d decided he needed to get on the road early. He left without us, even though he’d told us to meet him at nine am.

Buying a flight out of Paris to New York because it was cheap seemed exotic when I purchased it in June. In June, we’d been excited about the quest. Now we just wanted to go back to bed. Now we were on the side of the road unprepared to hitchhike for two days. We had half of a baguette that Trev had baked and thirty-five cent Brie that was melting in the sun. Ooh la la.

My brother didn’t let it go. I hated him when he acted this uptight.

“No, really though, Clo. I’m curious. Why do you think when we’re standing on the side of the road trying to get a ride, why do you think that’s the best time to analyze your life?”

“I don’t know. Cause’ it feels weird to be standing on the side of the road. Like we’re outside the world.”

“You should be putting your energy into getting a ride.”


“It’s okay, but you do it every time.”


“And take your Ipod off.”

“It makes me dance and look friendly.”

“It makes you look rude.”

“We always get a ride when I put it on and dance. Remember? And they can’t even see it from the car.”

“It’s rude. Put my guitar in front of you; it’ll make you look pretty. People like girls that play guitar.”

“I don’t know what to do with my life.”

“Ahhhhh shut up.”

“But I don’t!”

“Hey, didn’t you have to clean yesterday? If you wanted to, you could use the euros you made and just buy a bus ticket to Paris. They’re about 65 euro.”

“I didn’t go clean yesterday. I don’t have any extra money.”

“Why didn’t you go?”

“I was tripping on acid.”

“Jesus Christ, Clo.”

“What’d you say?”

“Take your damn Ipod off!”

“It makes me look friendly!”

“It makes you look rude.”

“It makes you look rude.”

“Don’t do that.”

“Don’t do that.”

“Stop copying me.”

“Stop copying me.”

“ I’m serious Clo.”

“I’m serious Clo.”

“What are we five years old?”

“What are we five years old?  I’m not stopping.”

“You just did.”


by jkdavies

Still I wish for you; 
The sap rising in the trees 
I will not blossom. 
Yes, it is calmer 
without you close, rain clouds scud 
across the grey sky. 
Ripe for seeding, sun 
falls on open eyes, legs, heart; 
you push into me. 
You pull out of me, 
drive from the hotel; litter swirls 
windblown vortices. 
Your seed trickles out 
a wet patch; summer is due, 
sunshine flew away. 
Your words trickle in 
Why do I let you? Cut, not 
clutch at memories...

Thursday Night on the Metro

M.P. Powers
When the train stops at Blanche, an old man sidles
aboard. He's wearing a dark motheaten fleececoat and
has an accordion slung over his shoulders.
He peers around, the brim of a battered fedora
shading his heavylidded French eyes. The eyes of an artist.
The door closes; we lurch forward and he begins
with an old Parisian song. His fingers frolicking
about the keys; fingernails broad and shining like tiny
clamshells. He sways about the hips, beats softly
time with his foot, and when he finishes his two
minutes of wondrous music, he draws a small leather cup
out of a case. He gives it to the lady beside him; she looks at it
with disdain and passes it on.
It goes to the front of the train and comes back
around, still empty... He returns it to
its case and sits down, resting the accordion on his knee.
He slumps over a little bit. Meanwhile, the train jostles along,
moving us all
through the night; the tired, the spiritless. All of us,
huddled together,
without music, barely alive.

Sexual Congress and the Post-consumer

by Melanie Browne
swallow all of
your post-

I became one
with all
of your

We lie

two post
the stars
mingle in
the post-consumer

The Morning After

by Chris Butler

The morning after
forget last night.

The morning after
awake covered
under her blood;
reaching for the
silver .44 beneath
my unleaded head,
with each chamber
full of malicious
intent, as my thinning
eyelids close but still
envision red, despite
the sun rising upon
my nightmares.

The morning after
skin pinches
itself to induce

The morning after
have a hangover.

The morning after
awake together.

The morning after
dreams never come

The morning after
forget to remember
her name,
referring to her
only as babe.

The morning after
swallows the pill
with a puddle
of palm water,
as I counteract
with a cup of
dust encrusted

The morning after
neglect to remember
urination after ejaculation
to prevent
urinary tract infections.

The morning after
showers and I
consider joining
her, yet deciding
to stay asleep
until she leaves.

The morning after
exits, pecking my
turning cheek.

The morning after
embrace a frigid
pillow case.

When I awake she
has long ago arrived
for her nine to five
in the same ensemble
she wore the
day before, as
I circumcise
my latex

The morning after
fear she’s periodically
despite our prior date.

The morning after
she doesn’t call.

The morning after,
I sext her pictures.

the morning after
next I forget her number.


by Len Kuntz

My brothers were sunk, they took me with because they were babysitting. Still, the girls there had wavy, wheat-blonde hair and dance-floor lips that shimmered back question marks. “He’s so cute, isn’t he?” one asked. “He doesn’t look like either of you,” another said.

When they paired off and retreated to rooms, I turned on “The Mod Squad.” Julie looked like one of the girls, only thinner. I could hear both girls hyperventilating, as if they were a pair of kittens being smothered. But the air was sheer, pulsing and hot everywhere, so I got up to open the kitchen window, only the stove was there, as was a roll of paper towels and cook books nearby, a butcher block made of wood, mail and newspaper… so much kindling.

So, yes, okay, I did it. I started the fire, but I didn’t end it. I left before then.


by Kenneth Pobo
   Villa Park, Illinois found out
I was gay, the whole town
caught fire.  The mayor ran
down Oakland Avenue beating
a pan.  Respectable Repubdads
dashed outside naked,
carried their kids’ bikes back
inside, careful to lock each door
and bolt all windows
even if meant burning
alive.  My friend Dippy had
blurted out my secret.  Firetrucks
clanged from street to street,
evaporated.  Fire shaved its legs,
slowly devoured everything.
I thanked Dippy on smouldering
ashes, gave him my
peanutbutter and jelly sandwich. 

Malawian Cafe

by Juliet Wilson

It's a mud-built cafe
on the dusty corner
of a village alley.

Dark inside and cool
despite the day's hot sun,
lively with laughter
and warm conversation.

The menu is simple:
bean stew and nsima;
chicken with rice;
Coca Cola, Fanta
and Carlsberg greens.

The walls are covered
with postcards
of its namesake
The Ritz.


by Sandy Benitez

It's Halloween
and I'm attending
a masquerade ball
dressed as a Geisha.

Zombies saunter by,
leaving trails of toilet
paper and irritating moans.
Vampires offer me glasses

of bloodwine
but I politely refuse.
Ask if they have Saki
instead. One hisses at me

and I check his bottom
for a tail. The clock
strikes midnight
and suddenly the room

is spinning, no disco lights
to be found. A skeleton
approaches me, smelling of
sulfur. Says he'll show me

Hades for a copper penny.
With a wicked grin
I tell him we're already there
and all the madness

is completely free of charge.