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Thursday, January 28, 2016

Featuring Scott Wozniak

The Way the Universe Intended

I’ve lived
under the pretence
I’d die young
and leave
a good looking

With age extended
and opportunity
lost, I now see
how dull
that sounds.

My new goal
is to leave
the most gnarled,
no organ usable,
beat up
cemetery gates
will ever see.

I want morticians
to have nightmares
from the sight
of my remains,

I want Earth
to gag
as I’m lowered
in my grave,

I want worms
to be nauseous
at the thought
of digesting
my flesh,

I want hard living
and bad decisions
to read
like an epitaph
on my corpse.

Risky Mark

in the ghetto
alone, caring
about nothing
but a fix
is dangerous.

But when demonic
are composing
on decomposing

even the blind
can see
you’ll take them
to hell
with you
if that’s

all it takes
to kill
the conductor
and silence
this symphony
of discord.

As Death Begs

Death is sitting

on the sidewalk

against a storefront—

knees pulled up,

head sagging,

arms outstretched,

hands cupped—

begging for change.

He’s dressed
like a bum
I see there

Not one person
in this city
has noticed
as they walk by
him, except me.

And I’m too busy
chasing Chiva—
Death’s cheap catalyst—
out the pockets
of Mexicans
to give a shit,

Chew, Motherfucker

Panic stricken,
clawing the wind
for an exit,
yet afraid
to gnaw bone
clamped on
by the trap
you’ve set
and sprung.

The time
has now come
to chip teeth
and taste

That’s How We Rolled

When I was a kid
There was four of us
that ran around
together every day—

We drove a homemade
two stroke
lawn mower engine
Go-cart, all of us
taking turns
racing around
the neighborhood
on wheels stolen
from the kid on the block
we called, “faggot.”

We made a scrap wood
lemonade stand
out of lumber taken
from construction sites,
then tricked a girl
we called, “freak”
into drinking our piss.

We ding-dong ditched
the Asian neighbor
Billy’s dad called, “gook,”
after filling bags with shit
to leave on his porch,
then lit them on fire
and went running
to hide in bushes
where we laughed
as he stomped.

We even tricked
the “Brainiac” kid
(who was always in his house
doing things
we didn’t understand,)
into believing
we wanted
to play.
We invited him
to my backyard,
and when he got there
we kicked his ass,
then sent him running home
bleeding and crying.

I don’t think any of us
to be malicious,
I just think none of us
wanted to be the victim
who got stuff stolen,
drank piss,
stomped on shit,
or ass kicked
for no reason other than
being different.

We were your average
Middle America kids
raised to believe
cruelty crushes fear
and might is right.

So we got everything
that scared us
by being different
before it
could get us.

After all, isn’t that
the American way?

Bio: Scott Wozniak is a poet, short story writer, and chaos enthusiast. He works can be found wondering like lost bastard children both online and in the real world, if you find one please keep it warm. Also, his latest chapbook collection needs a home, if you have a press with room for a vagrant or would like more info about him, please go to:

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Book Review: Karl Koweski Blood And Greasepaint. Epic Rites Press, 2010 (205 pages).

I finally got around to closely reading this book in my grand tour of Epic Rites publications. This is an unusual collection of 11 loosely linked short stories set in South Chicago and Alabama. Koweski grew up in Chicago and moved to Alabama in 1996 where “he became the 432nd Alabama resident to read a book”, according to his biography.

The title story ‘Blood and Greasepaint at the Tombstone Bar and Grille’ is the opening short story in the collection. This isn’t your typical bar story and will blow you away. The local drunks decide to take on a troupe of crazy-ass mimes studying nearby in the strip mall at the Marcel Marceau School for Kinetic Expression. Things turn ape-shit in the ensuing surreal battle royal. Some lame Cubs jokes are tossed into this broth of insanity. Find the first publication of this story at WhirliggZine here:

In a good slab of the book, Koweski satirises the Alabama community he has migrated to as a young adult. ‘Rebel’, ‘Eli Whittaker’s Super Fantastic Family Circus’ and ‘Give Satan An Inch and He’ll Swear He’s a Ruler’ and especially ‘Big Angry Cocks’ are hilarious stories which send up racoon hunting, dodgy circus performers, a mock mass exorcism which goes terribly wrong and deep south cock-fighting, respectively.

Five short stories are told from children’s perspectives. The kid’s are typically nasty and foul-mouthed from the south side of Chicago. The stories realistically reveal the hateful underbelly of children who had to grow up tough. ‘Nervous Harold and the Implausible Impala Incident’, ‘The Great Ice Cream Truck Robbery’, ‘The Great Funeral Home Candy Bar Heist’ and ‘The Great St. Casimir Hard Liquor Theft’ are wonderful unsanitised takes on growing up.

The last story in the collection ‘Ill Gotten Gains’ is about what happened to the kids in the south Chicago stories as young adults. They have turned to a life of break & enter & thievery- without a moment of regret or empathy for their victims or co-criminals.

This is an uneven but highly original collection of short stories. The language is simple but will constantly surprise you. I love Pablo Vision’s front & back covers. Karl Koweski’s head is on the block ready to be judged by you!

Find a September 2015 interview at Blotterature with Karl Koweski here:

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Book Review: Wolfgang Carstens (poems) & Janne Karlsson (illustrations) RENTED MULE. NightBallet Press, Elyria Ohio, 2015 (38 pages).

In this latest collaboration between the Canadian poet Wolfgang Carstens and the Swedish artist Janne Karlsson, the ambitious duo use Carstens' recent work experiences to satirise the world of low-paid, low status retail jobs which have mushroomed throughout the Western world in the last 30 years as a result of globalisation and the gutting of our manufacturing heartlands. The writing is characteristically first person from Carstens’ perspective and is highly accessible. Karlsson’s weird minimalistic illustrations wonderfully capture Carstens’ quirky ideas.

The opening poem in the chapbook ‘i’ve been self-employed for over two decades’ quickly establishes the context for the reader. To help support his family the speaker Carstens, cuts his hair, shaves his beard and gets “a real job” at MegaMart, a pseudonym for one of the many superstores like WalMart that now inhabit our neighbourhoods. In Karlsson’s accompanied illustration, Carstens stands in a state of shock surrounded by his family. His wife lovingly adjusts his tie and his kids snigger in bemusement at seeing their father in a suit. Most of the 20 poems and 15 illustrations which follow mockingly focus on the demoralising and humiliating effect the work at MegaMart has on Carstens.

What distinguishes Carstens writing from most contemporary poets, is that he does not wallow in a fog of perpetual despair, but over a series of books, he has carefully crafted his own brand of wry humour.  Much of the humour in the collection is anecdotal in form and stems from a variety of work place incidents. Carstens employs every tool in his poetic kit to reinforce his ideas and to prod and to sometimes wallop our funny bones. The types and forms of humour he uses varies from poem to poem. The humour is largely situational and often the poems weave towards an acerbic punch-line. The low-status and pay of the job, the nature of the retail trade, the quirky demands of his customers and the eccentricities of his fellow workers all become targets of Carstens’ venomous pen.

In a recent conversation, Carstens says that his move into humour was inspired by some of the most staunch stalwarts of his Epic Rites Press venture, "It wasn't until I started working with Karlsson that I started to really explore my strength at humour. I have always been the guy who puts everyone in stitches, who always has a quick sarcastic response, but it was Karlsson who kept pushing me to write funny poems. At some point I compromised and merged my seriousness with humour. Saying that, I can say that John Yamrus has taught me many things, like getting the author involved in the poem, and, to a degree, (along with my friendship with Rob Plath) in learning what not to say, but with humour, or better, the choice to work with humour, I credit to Karlsson." Carstens concludes, "In thinking about it, my humour really took root in FACTORY REJECT and my influence was the work of Henry Denander, my favourite poet."

In the poem ‘I think’ from which the title RENTED MULE emerges, Carstens uses irony to express the exploitive way he views his status as an employee at MegaMart. He complains to a fellow worker that his name tag has been spelt wrong. He caustically adds, “it should say/ rented mule.” In ‘is there’ a customer returns a fan because his wife “doesn’t think/ six inches/ is big enough.” In a characteristic deadpan, sexual innuendo Carsten replies, “they never/do// they never/ fucking/do.” In ‘is this net’ his wife examines his pay stub and asks whether the amount is net or gross. In a mordant pun he replies, “i work/ at MegaMart,// it’s all/ gross.” In ‘i need’ a customer enters the store and wants a replacement light bulb for his stove, probably from the 1950s. In a light-hearted quip, Carstens tells him, “I think/ we should start/ in electrical// because/ clearly we need/ to build/ a time machine.”

In some of the stronger poems, Carstens makes more significant social or political statements. In ‘everyone’ most of the staff at MegaMart hates their job & frequently talk about revolution, of walking out “if things don’t change/ around here.” Carstens satirical points out the gulf between the workers’ threatening words and their eventual inaction and how “nothing/ ever changes.” Karlsson’s sketch of middle class workers linked together by a chain around their necks hyperbolically reinforces the idea that they are trapped and powerless, mere  slaves to the system.

Another powerful poem ‘how to tie a half-Windsor knot’ is a parody of an instruction manual on how to hang yourself. The grim, black humoured poem provides us with a surprise ending which likens the work at MegaMart with dangling from the end of a rope:

carefully tighten knot
with both hands

stand on a chair
throw wide end
over ceiling beam
and fasten securely.

kick away chair
and dangle
forty to sixty
hours per week.

Perhaps the best poem is the last in the collection entitled ‘some men.’ Through juxtaposition, Carstens reflects on how some men devote “their entire lives” to “creating great works of art” or “contemplating/ the fundamental questions/ of existence, ” whereas he has squandered his life at MegaMart “doing unimportant things/ for unimportant people/ that will never be remembered.” Ironically, when he dies, he wishes to be buried with his name tag on a hill overlooking his former employer MegaMart. Karlsson’s illustration shows us a faceless MegaMart building in a lifeless field. Carstens’ headstone reads: “over worked, under paid, and, as always fifteen minutes early.”

RENTED MULE is a tight and original collection. The chapbook is printed on textured, pale of grey paper and is beautiful to hold. Purchase the book here:

Friday, January 1, 2016

Featuring John D Robinson

Update: 4 March 2017: More new poems

Rated M (15+)


‘Do you have to use that word?’
I knew the word she referenced
but just for the fucking hell of it
I asked ‘What word?’
‘the C word’ she said
‘Cunt’ I said
‘Yeah’ she said ‘You really
have to use that word?’
‘Well, I couldn’t think of a
more vile and vicious and
suitable word that I could use
to capture the subject of the
poem’ I replied;
after a few moments,
 she slowly
nodded her head, perhaps
beginning to understand that
‘cunt’ was probably the right
choice of word to use to use
for this particular asshole


She was tall and blonde
with big tits and long
creamy legs and I never
played and sucked on
those big tits and I never
got between those
wonderful long legs,
she was a friend of mine,
I was a friend of hers,
we had partners and
families, it was like
being hand-cuffed to
something so special
that something as basic
as fucking one another
would have
way beyond our


‘I finger-fucked her a
few nights ago’ he told
me grinning and then
looked over at the
woman I was drinking
‘Maybe you’d like to
tell her husband that,
he’ll be here shortly’
I replied draining the
Jim Bean chaser;
‘What the fuck did that
asshole just tell you?’
 asked the woman
I was drinking with;
‘Why don’t you ask
him yourself’
I suggested and then
we both looked over,
but it was too late,

the barstool was vacant.

Older stuff from 1 Jan 2016:


In my mid teens and into my early twenties

I used to think of myself as one of the
tough guys where ever I worked;
in the army, in the factories and warehouses and
supermarkets and restaurants and
government work placements, but
the construction sites proved to be
an awakening;
I found that most guys were twice
my age, twice my height and weight,
they worked twice
as hard and drank twice as much and
fought twice as hard as I;
very unwisely,
one hot July afternoon, I became
involved in a verbal altercation
with one of these guys,
which very quickly escalated into a
potential scene of carnage;
it took 5 guys to hold my assailant
back and stop him
from ripping me
apart, limb from limb
and it took 2 guys to hold me back
from running away
and as the situation began to cool and
tempers levelled out,
and my heart dropped back
into its regular beat,
I thought of something
that Outlaw legend president
Sonny Barger
once said,
“Everyone’s a tough guy,
until they meet one”


I had left her in bed
it was early morning
and we needed a loaf of bread;
by chance or fate
or bad luck we met
and he asked
“Do you fancy a drink?”
“Of course” I said
“Where?” he asked
“Your choice” I answered;
we ended up on a ferry crossing the
channel to Belgium and for three days
and nights we stayed
drunk and crazy and
slept a few hours in a bus depot and we
staggered into carnivals
and danced with
nuns and kissed the
hands of fat barmaids
and then
3 days later  returned home,
weak and fragile and vulnerable
but my lady was angry, very angry;
“You bastard! I’ve been phoning hospitals
and police stations for
3 fucking days, I didn’t know if you were
dead or alive!”
she screamed
“You’re a lousy
thoughtless bastard
and you didn’t even
bring back a fucking
loaf of bread!”.


These days I rarely listen to
anything else but soft
classical music or silence;
but occasionally I need a rush
of something electric;
recently I tuned into a
black and white You Tube film
of Jimi Hendrix, live in
Stockholm in 1969;
15 minutes of Voodoo Chile,
a quarter of an hour of
absolute mastery, beautiful
and strange, the guy was on
another fucking planet; a
genius no doubts;
this film has had, and counting;
over 2000 000 hits;
for souls who have time and
no imagination there is a
global opportunity to give the
film a ‘thumbs up’ or a
‘thumbs down’
271 people, and possibly
counting have given a thumbs
now I would suggest that
these ‘thumb downers’
be hunted down,
beaten and then questioned
as to why the thumbs down
because if these 271 people
see fit to give
Jimi Hendrix
in his creative prime
the thumbs down
then none of us,
no matter what we do
or how well we do it,
stand a fucking chance.


My little sister had to
give up her bedroom
and share mother’s bed,
father slept it off down
stairs and I was left
alone in my box-room;
we were told he was
an uncle
but he was a hobo bum
drinker my drunken
father met and felt sorry
for and brought him
home for a couple
of days warm comfort;
within hours we were
smothered in flea bites;
mother and father
argued behind closed
doors, but uncle
stayed and he smelt
terrible and he was
filthy and he was old
and toothless and he
ate food noisily and
never spoke a word
to my sister and I;
uncle didn’t say
goodbye, he just
disappeared after 3
mother called in a
pest control company
and my sister returned
to her bedroom
and uncle was never
seen again;
father vanished on
a 4 day drunk and
then returned with the
usual remorse and
alcoholic tears and
promises; no more
visiting uncles.


Standing at the urinal,
my dick in my right hand;
half-way through, my
mobile sounded; with my
left hand I fish inside my
leather jacket, jiggling
and wriggling this way
and that and finally
retrieve the thing and
then I thumb a pad
and say “Yeah?”
“Hi; are you okay?” she
“Well, I’ve got my hands
full at the moment” I say
“Where are you? I can hear
an echo” she says;
“I’m taking a piss in a
supermarket crapper” I say
I look down at my shoes
and noticed I’d splashed
them; I glance over
at the guy in the next
urinal and for some
reason I wink at him;
he frowns, quickly zips
up and disappears;
“Are you there?” she
asks “I need some
“They’re bad for you”
I say
“So are you” she says
I don’t argue.
“Okay” I say and
terminating the call
I zip up, wash my
hands knowing that I
am more dangerous
than a pack of cigarettes
and I step back into
the supermarket feeling
invincible as I join
the queue with the
other nicotine addicts.


I have known Christine
for a decade or more;
working with her on
2 or 3 occasions;
recently in the corridors
of a hospital we met again
but she didn’t recognise
me and when I
explained who I was
and how I’d helped
her in the past,
she looked me up and
down suspiciously
and she shook her
head and asked
“Are you the REAL
John Robinson?”
“Yes I am” I said
“What’s happened to you?
you’ve let yourself go!
you look awful! but I can
help you” she said
“How can you help me
Christine?” I asked
“I can go to my room
and get a jar of cream and
put some all over your
face and cover up all
those scars and cuts and
blisters” she said
“Thank you” I said
“But I’ll be okay”
“Are you sure you’re
the REAL John Robinson?”
she asked again
“I’m not too sure now”
I said
“My grandfather was
Willo the Wisp and I
can prove it; I’ve got his
birth certificate” she
said walking away and
then she turned and
said “You’ve let
yourself go! the real
John Robinson wouldn’t
do that; he wouldn’t
look shitty”
It wasn’t yet 09.30 a.m.
and maybe Christine
was right about some
things but I was sure
it wasn’t about
‘Willow the Wisp’.


It could be seen as
to die on the crapper

but saints and geniuses
in the most
strangest of
thinking of
Villon or Chatterton
or Harry Crosby or
Hart Crane or
Harry Fainlight or
James D Quinton
Jesus of Nazareth;
but mostly now
I think of
Maxwell Bodenheim;
an early 20th century
sleazy alcoholic angel
of poetry and prose;
10 books of poetry
13 novels
in a decade or so
of money
and parties and a
couple of marriages
and friends and
supporters like
Doris Day and
E E Cummings;
and then it all crashed;
WW II changed everything
and his works went out
of fashion, unwanted,
and he became a derelict
alcoholic in NYC and
he’d peddle his poems
for shots and married
a young whore in her
20’s and he was 60
and homeless and she
sold sex and one
bitterly cold freezing
february night in 1957
refuge was taken in
a flop-house with a
deranged dishwasher;
who fucked Bodenheim’s
wife; shot the poet
twice and then stabbed
the young wife 4 times
in the back and
escaped with a life-time
in a secure hospital;

and Presley,
he had his own ride
prescription drugs
and a
shattered heart
that exploded in
august 1977;
Presley Inc
rock and rolls on
Max Bodenheim
lays in traces
of dust
in a
new jersey cemetery;


John D Robinson was born in 63 in the UK; he began writing aged 16 and 1st poem published a year later; many of his poems have appeared in the small presses and numerous online Journals including Bareback Lit, Red Fez, Dead Snakes, The Kitchen Poet, The Commonline Journal, The Chicago Record, Mad Swirl, Poetic Diversity, Horror Sleaze and Trash, Pulsar, The Clockwise Cat, Your One Phone Call, Zombie Logic Review, Poetry Super Highway and promises from Ink Sweat & Tears, Message In A Bottle, The Legendary, The Sentinel Literary Quarterly; he is married with 1 daughter, 2 grandchildren, 3 cats and 1 dog; he likes to drink copious amounts of wine and stare into dark skies.