Feel-Good Poetry

There’s a trend now
for poetry that’s like
something you’d stick
on a t-shirt or toilet cubicle
next to ‘suck me.’

Feel-good, warm,

And not the good shit.

This loved up soup
brings in the groupies
on Instagram
and the ‘poets’
make a living from
smiling and spunking
in the permanent
neon sunset.

Oh, the remains
of Hollywood happy endings,
brains scrambled into sticky

Bogdan Tiganov

Short stories

What About Feathers?

There was a loud knock. It’s that kind of place. There’s always a noise, something falling to pieces, asking to be repaired.

I was working. Trying to write a novel. I’d been trying for years, decades, but now I’d finally got into the rhythm of it. I’d just passed 1000 words for the day.

I walked around and lit a cigarette. Nothing. Work from home sucks.

“Have you seen this? Come and take a look,” said my wife, Amelia.

Not now, I’m in the middle of a really juicy bit. If I leave now I’ll never be able to recapture the feeling.

“Fine, ok, fine,” I said and mooched over to the living room where she was pointing to the window.

“Do you see this?”

I couldn’t see anything, honestly.

“Can’t you see it?”

I strained my eyes, generally unable to see anything in life other than a laptop screen with a lack of words on it, to see what she was on about. It’s a…

“Pigeon. It’s the outline of a pigeon?”

“Poor thing,” she said.

“Look at the fucking thing!” For some reason I was angry. Was my window scratched? Dented. Broken?

We went to the garden. A cold winter afternoon with a sun like stage 3 cancer. God, shut up.

“The cat must’ve got it,” I said, seeing as there was no dead bird anywhere.

“What about feathers?”

“What about feathers?!” She had this stupid fucking annoying way of asking things.

I looked at the patio. Overgrown lawn. Wild bushes. No feathers.

That night, in bed, turned to the side, I kept thinking about suicide. Not mine, because as Emil Cioran expressed, it’s always too late, but the bird’s. I decided that I should write a scene with an unexpected suicide. A lady with hat and feather boa. She’s got it all, except death.

Bogdan Tiganov


deer and ducks

she told me a story
of wandering the earth
set forth against forces
larger than her
she walked neighborhoods
night and day
and told me she
hissing deer
ducks raping
i didn’t know
what to say
and soon
after that
we parted
on the drive home
i fell asleep
and when i awoke
i was in my driveway
there were no ducks around
i was
thankful for

Tohm Bakelas


Oh, Richey

You left us when this whole shitshow
was stumbling to another century, where
did you go, Richey, where did you

You slept in your car did you it’s the
whole fuckin fame game that’s all, 
the burning rose, the smiling butcher

Watching the black sky above
a lead weight pressing down, pulsating
with impeccable loneliness

Oh, Richey, back in Blackwood
haunting the old home, the bare bones
of the empty streets, alone

Why is home so lonely why is home
so abandoned why are we always leaving
and where do we go now, Richey, where

Bogdan Tiganov


Starry Night

shit, Vincent, i don’t think
you could have ever imagined
your Starry Night
would end up tattooed
to the lower back of this woman
who on all fours waits on the bed
looking over her shoulder
telling me with her eyes
to hurry up and fuck her

Jose Pepe Arroyo



by Motan Rosu


Don’t you dare stare into her face
as her shadowy form marches down the street,
hair tied back, dark eyes, no smile for those lips.

Her bones stand still outside the grey office
as she inhales from her cigarette enough life
to show up.

Is that a warhead hurtling down?

She strolls to the toilets and hammers down a fifth of vodka,
her features deadpan like deflowered oysters.
Another day begins.

Bogdan Tiganov


Birdman Blues

When you’re poor

You have to shit

In an un-air-conditioned

Bathroom as rivers

Of sweat rush down

Your face I was listening 

To a podcast

About daring prison breaks

Dillinger El Chapo et al

And I thought, emotionally

I’m no different 

Though it shouldn’t 

Have to be this way 

When love dies

And you find yourself

Doing hard time

One should be able to

Walk right out the front door 

And not have to sit there 

Plotting your own great escape 

In an un-air-conditioned 

Shitter as rivers of sweat 

Rush down your face

Jose Pepe Arroyo



it was all in the way you 

carried yourself before 

i set out i shined

my own shoes 

so the populace 

could see my work

my battered wingtips

with the laces busted

they walked much

but got nowhere

and still i stumble

through callejones 

and cantinas

of my memory

searching for me

with an old shoe shining box 

strapped to my shoulder

asking drunk men 

“shine your shoes?

shine your shoes?” 

but the drunks have 

no money to shine

their shoes and they 

send me to buy them 

some smokes instead

and i run and get the smokes

and steal one for my ear

and by the end of the day 

i manage to hustle 

a few pesos

and i walk home 

smoking that cigarette

counting them

Jose Pepe Arroyo

Short stories

Soft Technologies

When I first arrived in New York City, I lived for a while in an apartment at 222 East 12th Street. The landlord lived in the basement and had a serpentarium containing a large snake, which he fed white mice and cockroaches. Most days, I would walk over to Tompkins Square Park. It was a year after the riots there but the area was still full of homeless people, drug dealers and crack and heroin addicts living in a Tent City. It was late August, 1989 and I was strolling around the neighbourhood and going to the bars, when newspaper reports and street gossip were telling the story of 29-year-old Daniel Paul Rakowitz, the son of an army criminal investigator, who had lived in the city for four years.

Sexual activity, whether perverted or not; the behaviour of one sex before the other; defecation; urination; death and the cult of cadavers (above all, insofar as it involves the stinking decomposition of bodies); the different taboos; ritual cannibalism; the sacrifice of animal-gods; haemophagia; the laughter of exclusion; sobbing (which, in general has death as its object); religious ecstasy; the identical attitude toward shit, gods, and cadavers

Rakowitz was an eccentric even for the out-there East Village; a priest of his own religion – the Church of 966 – whose familiar was a shoulder-riding rooster cockadoodling along with the punk and the dub. Rakowitz would walk around the park shouting things like, ‘Kill the pigs and feed them to the hogs.’ He made his money by selling marijuana – used as a sacrament in his religion – and believed the people in the park were his disciples. He styled himself the ‘God of Marijuana’. He was also a part-time cook and had worked in various local cafés and restaurants.

It may of course be deplorable that certain tribes take pleasure in eating their oversupply of old people, but never will I agree that such picturesque gourmets should be exterminated; after all, we should remember that cannibalism is the very model of a self-sufficient society as well as a practice well suited to appeal one day to a packed planet. However, my aim is not to bemoan the fate of cannibals, harried though they are, living in terror, the great losers in today’s world. Let’s admit it: their case is not exactly impressive. Anyway, they are on the decline; a hard-pressed minority stripped of self-confidence, unable to plead their own cause.

Monika Beerle lived at 700 East 9th Street. The 26-year-old from Switzerland was a dance student at the Martha Graham Center of Contemporary Dance and a performer at Billy’s Topless, a strip club at 727 6th Avenue and 24th Street. She and Rakowitz had only been dating a short time and the ‘God of Marijuana’ had moved in to her rooms. On August 19, the couple had an argument in their cramped apartment because Monika Beele had had enough and wanted him to move out, rooster and all

Bodies intermingle with one another, everything is mixed up in a kind of cannibalism that joins together food and excrement. Even words are eaten. This is the domain of the action and passion of bodies: things and words are scattered in every direction, or on the contrary are welded together into non-decomposable blocks. Everything in depth is horrible, everything is nonsense.

Rakowitz sadistically beat her and killed her by ramming a metal rod into her throat. He then stripped her, decapitated her and boiled her head, making soup from her brains. He’d loved the taste and scrawled on their apartment door, ‘Is it soup yet? Welcome to Charlie Gein’s Ranch East… Home of the Fine Young Cannibals.’ He had taken some of the ‘soup’ to Tompkins Square Park and passed it out to the homeless people living there. He boasted about what he had done, but most people thought he was a pathological liar, so dismissed his ranting as just that.

This country is without hope. Even its garbage is clean, its trade lubricated, its traffic pacified. The latent, the lacteal, the lethal – life is so liquid, the signs and messages are so liquid, the bodies and the cars so fluid, the hair so blond, and the soft technologies so luxuriant, that a European dreams of death and murder, of suicide motels, of orgies and cannibalism to counteract the perfection of the ocean, of the light, of that insane ease of life, to counteract the hyperreality of everything here.

He then returned to the apartment – John Joseph of the punk band the Cro-Mags lived a floor below – and put Beerle’s skull and bones in a drywall-compound bucket filled with cat litter that he deposited in a locker at the Port Authority bus station. A few days later, after a tip-off, police, arrested him. On February 22, 1991, he was tried and found not guilty of murder by reason of insanity and moved to a state hospital for the criminally insane where he remains. In an interview he stated, ‘I’m the new Lord, and I will take leadership of the satanic cultists to make sure they do everything that has to be done to destroy all those people who do disagree with my church. And I’m going to be the youngest person elected to the U.S. presidency.’

Steve Finbow