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



Pad over to the Poet’s pad.

Surprise the clown making love to his fist.

Hoping thereby – he grunts – to get a

handle on some angle for an ode.

Gets out, between gasps, concentrating on

his two-stroke: “Booze in kitch, cabinet under

sink, Popov – beside cleaning fluid can.”

Spurts across the room at a shelf

stuffed with self-help books.

Myriad animalcules die –

dried to a horrid death –

on the binding of a Webster’s. The

Poet snaps. Zips. Buckles. Slouches

onto the couch. I re-enter

with glasses and the bottle.

The Poet replaces his glasses.

Mumbles, hates to wank in focus.

Pulls from his pants a ballpoint.

Rolls eyes at the ozone. Explains he’s

fingering the Muse’s organ.

Play her like a fugue.

Force every register howl.

In his grave Bach flips.

I hand the Poet a vodka flip,

highball just now invented.

Both eyes out of his skull lower.

Chugs the flip. Falls

to scrawling in a spiral pad

snatched off the cocktail table:

“Able was I ere I saw Elba.”

Sip my drink; suppress a grin;

start the session with:

“Are you no longer,

then, I take it, Napoleon?”  

The cat across the room catapults;

caterpillars into the Poet’s lap; glares up

like I’m in the wrong pigeonhole.

We chase the cat under the sink,

whooping like Genociders and Indians

hammered on hard cider. Exit drowned

as rats in a failed thought experiment.

Anything held against me, the Poet

screams, I – hustled out the door,

into the back of the van – never meant.  

Willie Smith



Preacher been fucking the wife.

Get into a gunfight up and down the aisles;

shooting through pews, winging hymnals,

dinging collection plate;

ricochets whistle ire,

targets praying to acquire.

Near nail the sumbitch

with a beautiful shot,

him skeeting across the choir.

The Son’s hardly settled 

with corn and coke to watch the fun,

when off the rafters echoes click-click-click!

Man-o’-God’s rod emptier’n Satan’s heart.

It’s eye for an eye, tooth for a tit,

dick for a brain. Rush the altar,

jab about, poke around.

Spot Romeo crouched in a niche,

begging Jesus spare a little change;

into a mouse, maybe; so he in

some smelly little hole can hide his hide.

Clap muzzle to temple, jerk trigger, skull explodes.

Blood, brain, bone, hair spatter the cross.

Shrug – no longer cross with the

minister now administered to.

High time head home, get the wife stoned.

After, me and God sit down

to shoot craps with the cops.

Either way I come out on top.

On accounta everybody knows

every good old boy to heaven goes.

Willie Smith



Once upon a time you could only hold one conversation but now you have the ability to communicate on many levels and simultaneously. It starts with the toes the lips the nose the eyebrows it starts with the heels the calves the backside the shoulder blades the back of the head. The things pointing upward and the things pointing downward it starts with. The fingernails grow because you can no longer chew them down to the quick the hair grows because you can longer visit the hairdresser and so you have abandoned fashion like you have abandoned the ones that loved you. The soil turns to slush the roots grip you like a despondent lover the dripping water burrows into you like a worm and only stops once it has dropped out of the other side like boredom like excitement. To your new friends the maggots the worms the beetles the spiders to the rats to the fox you are the noseless wonder the superstar and they welcome you like you have never been welcomed before finally you have found that true home.

John McClure



Darned my socks, dammed the pots and pans.

Tinkered around the garage. Puttered into the kitchen.

Fixed a stew. Vomited into the sink.

Shit in the wastebasket.

Beheaded the doorknob with an icepick.

Pumped the shotgun with buckshot. Ducked out front,

mowed down the lawn. Emptied the garbage

on top of the slaughter. Dumped in the empty can

the handful of rats the arsenic finally took to a better life.

Raised the can high overhead. Crashed it down

like the Great Depression.

Out flew rats, bounced off the apple tree,

ricocheted over the swingset, like stiff acolytes grinning.

Dented the galvanized can,

till it took an edge keen as a guillotine.

Chopped off rat heads, teased out teeth.

Scratched across the walls outside

how deliberate a butcher I demanded being known to be.

Then hungrily hung myself from the apple tree.

But the limb snapped,

and I fell choking atop smashed grass and beheaded rats,

to continue one more week to die the life of a working stiff.

Willie Smith


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



They had me on the show.

I was a guest, I was drunk;

I didn’t know; I didn’t care, it didn’t matter – fuck it.

They had me stuck between Ed

and Johnny. Johnny was smiling over

at Ed and Ed was laughing out into space.

They were making light, making

like I was just a drunk, didn’t have any money;

looked, acted and smelled funny. So I

got my gun out and gave it

to Ed. He took it in the gut;

never stopped laughing. Something green

like caterpillar blood seeped out of his 3-piece business suit.

Johnny gave Ed the deadpan.

I turned and shot Johnny’s wig off.

Two people in the crowd died laughing. Then I

pistol-whipped his aftershave, prodded his deodorant,

broke his plastic nose with the butt of my gun.

I was taking my time. We had an hour and a half to kill.

I shot off Johnny’s tie, suspenders, belt,

backbrace, shoelaces, sock garters; turned and

shot off Ed’s bra.

Wheeled and

shot holes in Johnny’s shoes

to make him dance, but he couldn’t. He was too stiff

and shattered into a thousand shiny pieces

of expensive shit. That was it.

The crowd gave it to me, pounding me

to death with applause.

Ed, who by now looked like some gigantic black beetle,

got up and walked off the air. 

Willie Smith



It could have been something

More something worthy

Than me watching

Walking you away

Slowly From


John Bergman                                  



She was fat as a pimple,

dumb as scum on the Susquehanna;

but no ordinary Philly whore:

she was a drunk dirty lady

from down in lower Darby,

a stinko queen who had,

or one of her sisters,

been on the scene since the beginning of sex.

I creaked up the wood stairs

and swung open the hard-sprung door

into the hallway and the door banged behind

and left me in the dank stink

of fried eggs and catpiss. Ambled down

the butt-scarred hallway

to the number the man sold.

Brushed dust off the knocker

and banged. She waited for the word;

I said it, went in; she kicked over a gin bottle

with a flat grin and etiquette evaporated

as we rolled on the floor like boa-constricted sweathogs.

She was no ordinary Philly whore,

she was a fat dirty lady

from down in lower Darby,

simple as a pimple, ugly as a bug

in a wino’s beard, dumb as

scum on the Susquehanna,

but sexy as that Lexington shot:

you heard convulsing 400 pounds

round the world

that night for ten dollars we made meat sing.

Willie Smith