29 November 2021

Three Poems by Michael Reich

Present Inabililty

You didn't

            learn to be a paramedic


       glass stuck in his leg


present.          inability to


W a t e r

Human beings are life

am i alive?

their energy
keeps you going

social contacts


      (humans are like

w a t e r)


the mind

fighting the death

of the body

the mind

               altering the death trip
pushing it away

im minding my mind
by typing on this mind made contraption phone

19 November 2021

Three Poems by Joseph Goosey

Top Ten Scientists Who Would Be Executed Today

Why earn a salary before graduation
when you could explode the federal reserve
board building & finally communicate
with your birth truth? Sitting here
holding an ice cube to this mouth wound
of unidentifiable origin, at least I know
what's inside: one decade
of mandatory guilt & a lifetime
of cancerous plastic compounds
courtesy of Dupont corporation - 
not only cancerous
but likely to blame for this brain
coming to you now, live
& nobody's request,
from the least lucrative of stages.

Slice New York City Open

& change your religion 
from Agnostic to O Shit 
They're Coming For Us 
From Below & Above! 
Nobody will ever care
about the panic attack 
you'll obviously have 
immediately following. 
This isn't The Sopranos.
We don't get that brand 
of public compassion.
We get lemon slices 
milked onto bland 
afternoons at best 
or a no knock warrant 
served at second. 

E.E. Cummings Was A Huckster McCarthyite

& that’s fine. Nothing new.
We’re all occasionally awful.
I’ve got my share of rotting thoughts like
E.E. Cummings was a total bigot fuckboi.
& that’s not fine.
People evolve
but E.E. Cummings chose elsewhere
& tricked whatever middle school you attended
into peddling his brand
of individualist trash.
Snakeoil trash as companion piece
to Atlas  F’n Shrugged. I mean
Just. No. Now those foundations flourish
even more than then
& nothing screams unique
like being the worst.


11 November 2021

Blood Ceremonies by Howie Good

A phone ringing in my dream wakes me. I recite like a prayer the plain honest names of the streetwalkers whose throats were cut and bodies mutilated in the night fog by Jack the Ripper: Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes, Mary Jane Kelly. I was only seven years old when I saw the movie, but I remember it was in black and white and that no one felt safe. Do not look behind you! The two atom bombs were dropped that summer. There was a glittering in the sky, and it went all over the world.

06 November 2021

E(X)treme(fitz), a Sports Fiction by Lard Alec

Announcement: All pupils named Doug.
Please come to the lounge on Concourse K.

Please join us for coffee and remarks. 

Dougs: We cannot come. We are injured by golf cleats.

                        David Berman

            My name is Scott and I live in a houseful of Scotts. I can’t remember how it started, exactly, but one of us put a ROOMMATE WANTED ad up on our alumni list serve, and before you knew it, I and the other Scotts responded to the initial Scott’s post, or they all responded to me, saying, “Sure, we’ll live there,” and, now, well, here we all are.

            We live in a weirdly large-small 800-square-foot townhouse with four bedrooms on just three floors. The fact that there are fewer floors than Scotts creates an imbalance I’ve yet to fully comprehend, but this nagging asymmetry corrupts nearly everything we do. When we are home together, things are bad. Every time one of us wants to cook food in the kitchen or watch TV in the miniscule living room, there is a terrible fight. I am perhaps the only Scott who sleeps here most nights, because I’m pretty private for a Scott and also I am not dating anyone. Several of the other Scotts or perhaps all of them are dating the same young woman: Teresa? I’m not sure.

            But we do talk occasionally and share some ideas. One of the ideas that one of the other Scotts shared with me was E(X)treme(fitz), or Xfitz for short. Xfitz is “a total body workout system that mixes PSYCHOLOGICAL HYPER-EXTENSION THERAPY, weights, tights, running around, and loud incomprehensible music.” It’s sweeping the nation and not long ago it swept up one of the Scotts, who then swept me up in the craze as well.

Here’s how it happened.

(Dinner, evening, misery).

            One of the other Scotts (OotOS): “Hey! Don’t use the microwave. It’s mine.”

            Me: “It’s not yours. It came with the place.”

 (OotOS): “Don’t use it. The food that you’re cooking smells bad. I will hit you if you press any more BUTTONS!”

            Me: “Oh, so it’s about the food then and not the microwave, which you now admit, I am guessing, belongs to us all?”

            (OotOS): (Sniffing loudly): “What are you cooking? Eggs?”

            Me: “Egggggggggg…” I pause, ostentatiously, “ssssactly!”

            (OotOS): “Oh, I see,” he says. “Protein?”

            Me: “I guess?”

            (OotOS): “Protein’s number one for building muscles. All the Xfitz athletes are eating it now.”

            Me: “Xfitz? What the heck is Xfitz?”

So OotOS spent the rest of the night explaining Xfitz to me. “It’s more than a sport. It’s a body-mind aggravation paradigm that results in total growth, total spiritual exacerbation. It was founded by this guy named Bill…Bill Something. Everyone just calls him Bill. He made himself perfect through Xfitz a few years ago and then disappeared into the Oregon woods. He’s a billionaire.”

OotOS then went on to demo some of their exercises and meditation techniques. They were violent and extraordinary. He made many scary noises and broke most of our plates. At some point, he turned off all the lights and hid. He said Hide and Seek was big in Xfitz and that he hoped to one day become a master.

“Bet you can’t find me,” he taunted, but he made so much noise crawling into a cupboard filled with broken plates that I found him with ease.

“Whoa,” he said, blown away by my quick discovery when I opened the door. “I’ve got to tell COACH about you. Come with me to Xfitz tomorrow.”

And I did.


E(X)treme(fitz) TRAINING HALL: Coach Steve


            At first, I saw him only faintly through the dim lights of the decommissioned airplane hangar and the tangle of equipment all around. He wore a kind of stepladder of a beard and an evidently fashionable bodysuit that most of his charges wore as well: lyrca, littered with dollar signs, assault rifle silhouettes, anarchy symbols, and ventilation panels. About 30-to-60 students stood in even rows before him, holding hellish barbells, glowing with fractious health.

            “Alright, first, here we go. Today. The exercise is, um: Snitches! The Snitch is an incredibly important weight-body-lift that involves flinging the bar very high. VERY high, as you all know, and then running away. How fast is important, yes. But HOW you run, whether like a gazelle or an extinct raptor or a BEAR (loud synchronized laughter from all the students) means everything.

            “Now the question is, how?  How, um, do I throw the bar…?” Then Steve went through an exhausting series of cues, which his 30-to-60 students followed exactly. They seemed to me like fairly well-off somewhat attractive people who liked physical pain and following elaborate instructions. But in this moment, they were angels in a choir.

Let me explain. One of the most beautiful moments of Xfitz is when an instructor, like, for example, Steve, commands many or all of his students to perform a great snitch lift during which the bars go haranguing through the air. Below, all is tumult and madness. People dash off like gazelles or baby raptors or, gruesomely, bears. There is a great flurry and then, just as the snitch bars are about to land, a pulsing, deep, devotional silence.

            In this silence I heard a sort of ethereal recitation begin inside me. It was as though some great gorgeous monster was saying my name, Scott, in such a way that it could never be confused with another’s, even another Scott, and it was telling me to be watchful, not just before the glorious spectacle at hand, but in every moment of my life therefrom.

            And then there was the crash of the snitch bars. The Devil’s Silverware, I heard one call it, sometime later. To me it sounded like the panic attack of many ill bells in some phalanx of leapfrogging clock towers. It is not unusual for the eyes of Xfitz athletes to change color during this moment and this moment only.

            “Great church of dementia!” I said rapturously.

            “They all say that,” said a knowing voice just inches from my ear. I turned and suddenly I was enmeshed in a great beard.


He smelled like expensive coffee, sweat, bullets, chalk, and rust. Steve took me aside to a cobwebby corner of the gym, where we could be alone with his alluring odor. For many minutes, we just stood there, breathing.

“So, Steve,” I said.

“Coach Steve!” he screamed.

“Right, Coach Steve! Can you um, teach me the—“

“Let’s start with the Hair of Demosthenes!” Steve screamed, and as he screamed he pointed to an illegible tangle of ropes that dangled above what seemed to be a ball pit. But when I looked more closely at the pit, I saw that it was filled with crushed soup cans.

One of Steve’s more measured evangelists later told me that Steve misremembered, with tragic enthusiasm, ancient history and mythology and named many Xfitz activities after his delirious quasi-memories. As we walked toward the ropes and pit, Steve “explained,” screaming all the while, the name behind this dreaded exercise.

“Demosthenes was a demigod and politician who had affairs with a Gorgon! In his youth, he had three brothers, who were all killed during a hubristic voyage into the forbidden ocean by the sea god Mars! Demosthenes begged the powerful Gorgon, who had eels for hair, to build him a ladder to heaven, so he could visit his brothers, hang out for a while, and, you know, catch up! By then, his brothers were the constellation Orion, also known as the Three Goats!”

Before I knew it, Steve and I had waded into a churning pool of metal. My legs were scratched and cut to bits by soup cans. 

“Alright, grab a rope and climb, if you want to live!”

Steve monkeyed up the rope in no time while I swung back and forth like a helpless child.

“Help?” I said.

“No! Climb!”

“I cannot. I am too weak.”

“Close your eyes and listen to me! Listen to me as the world dims! Imagine that you are a tiny steamship chuffing through the sewers. Around you is filth! Alligators snap at your paddle wheel! All is murk and feces! What do you do!?”

“I don’t know what I do!” I said.

“You climb, damn it! Climb!”

I felt a warm puff on the top of my head as each of Steve’s hot exhortations reached me below. And, without knowing what my own frail Scott-body was doing, I pulled myself out of the bleeding lake of cans and began my ascent. In the end, I was not climbing rope, but Steve himself.

“Good! You have climbed into a new era, a new phase of psychosocial evolution. You are no longer a Novice, but an Arbiter now!”

“An Arbiter! What does that mean?” I asked, as Steve intoned into my eyes.

“You tell me! Tell me or I drop you to your DEATH!”

“It means, ah, that I alone judge my existence. It means that the whole universe appears before the great court of myself!” I said.

Steve squeezed me then with such force that I thought perhaps he was trying void my bowels from without.

“Yes! You are a gifted student of Xfitz! Founder Bill would be mildly sickened but also amused by you. You must not let the others steal your mind-beauty!” He pointed below at a scrum of jealous gawkers who leaned with viscous ease on their knobby barbells. “They will steal it and become greater in the process. You must perfect the art of Hide and Seek! Now, hide!” he said, as he held me, swaying, in the rafters.


The lights went off with a demonic clunk. Steve slithered free of my grasp and left me alone on the rope. I could sense the swarming Xfitzers hunting me in the dark.

When they come for me, I must kick them, I thought. But even then, I would be found, and martial victories would count for nothing against this greater disgrace. I stretched out a free hand and felt for an adjacent rope.

Got it.

I swung to the neighboring rope and then repeated the process until I was, I hoped, near the edge of the soup-can-pit. When I thought this was so, I did a fireman slide down to the bottom, blistering my hands, shins, and crotch badly in the process.

My feet landed on rubber matting. I could hear the whooshing of Xfitzs people all around me, like large, swooping bats. I crouched low and spider-crawled away from the frenzied masses. Occasionally two Xfitzers would collide and gnaw at each other until they realized they were allies of a sort. As I made my way into some kind of gymnastic cage, I heard several of them talking about me.

“He looks weak and dull minded. I am sure he is already dead.”

“Isn’t he Scott’s roommate? Scott says his roommates are all dung people, dumb as buckets.”

“He did. There’s no way this new Scott still lives.” Then the trio seemed to engage in some kind of surreptitious hand-slapping game, damp and rhythmic, Clap, slip, slorp, clapslipslorp, clapslipslorp, for a minute or so before they skulked off in different directions.

How long must I hide, I wondered? Then, morbidly, I thought, Weren’t the greatest of all hide-and-seekers the orphans, the marooned? Those who tucked themselves away in nooks and drains and fridges and air ducts so secret they were never found? Was that to be my fate? A starved champion whose greatest victory would become nothing more than lore, a magnificent reality that cheapened to rumor over time?

“Did you hear about the Scott that locked himself in the walk-in-freezer? Died sucking on frozen peas?”

“Wait, I heard he hid beneath the hood of an old panel van and couldn’t get out. Poisoned himself sucking anti-freeze from a punctured hose…”

And so on.

No, I thought. The greatest hide-and-seekers always revealed their tricks with flamboyant and dickish triumph. They transformed their invisibility into an act of mystical revelation. They blinked into existence from nowhere, like fresh subatomic particles blooming from the bowels of some great flickering quantum nightmare of spacetime.

As these thoughts dropkicked my brain from some other and superior plane, I began to see in the dark. Suddenly I beheld the Xfitzers groping and pouncing at phantoms. And I laughed as I saw it.

Coach Steve was wearing a great big wilderness backpack, filled with supplies: water, ropes, carabiners, rare pemican, and so on. Evidently, he was prepared for a long hunt. I crept up behind him, unzipped the bag, and quickly and quietly, replaced his gear with myself.

“Ugh,” said coach Steve to his bearded Xfitzs first mate, Tyler. “I must have accumulated some CNS fatigue with all my recent snitch workshops. This bag suddenly feels heavier than a kegerator.” Tyler offered nonsensical congratulations and encouragement in return, before sprinting off to climb and search the Vaseline wall.

Over the next few hours, the Xfitzers dropped like flies. They need to eat every 80 minutes or so, or else they risk slipping into temporary and harmless comas. Eventually, Steve, Tyler, and Kara-Bonnie were the only ones left.

Kara-Bonnie, doing some muscle-ups to stay awake, said to Steve in a perfectly even voice: “This rat is greatest Hide and Seeker I’ve ever seen.”

Tyler nodded, “He must have evaporated. Perhaps only his clothes remain.”

“No,” grumbled coach Steve in a semi-hysterical yell-whisper, “Um, he’s still here. I can sense his arrogance. There is a smirk somewhere in this darkness. I must stomp it out!!”

Just then I kicked coach Steve hard in the kidneys through the bag.

“Agh,” he said, “That would hurt most men. Me, it merely PERTURBS.”

Then I unzipped the bag and wriggled up to his shoulders, piggybacking him like wayward nephew.

“Ta-dah?” I said. Somehow, the lights clunked back on, and the remaining Xfitzers stared hard at me, their phantom, their Virgin Mary on a slice of toast, their wives’ tale come to life.

“Surprise,” I said, doing a hammy, sitcom kid kind of thing with my hands. But really, it was no surprise. It was an edict, a pronouncement, a shuffling of kingdoms. The reign of coach Steve had come to an end. The era of Scott had begun.



I renamed the club to reflect my new glory, though in truth, I still had much to learn. I could not yet perform a snitch lift, and I was weaker than most children, so I required constant assistance from my underlings to complete the most basic of exercises. This would change in time, I thought, but in the meantime, I would lead the club thanks to my credentials as a visionary Hide and Seeker, and a first-rate survivalist.

Over time, Scottfitz became so popular that nearly all of the Scotts in the metro area joined, as well as many of their useless roommates, and their Teresa girlfriends. Many other typical Xfitzers migrated to our club as well: they were former division II athletes and current office park thrillsters who had a love of paraphernalia and structured play. They had bogus special-forces beards and belly-button rings and loved to recite their injuries which they alternately savored and ignored. They had, in short, everything it took to become pretty good at something, but they sorely needed my guidance when it came to accessing the fruits of psychological extremity.

Night after night, I appeared in front of them, my first mate coach Steve repeating everything I said in a crazed bark:

“When they lights go out, that’s when voices will speak to you,” I said.


“To you,” I prompted.

“TO YOU!” he continued.

“They will tell you that the possible has not yet been defined. But that you are the Arbiters of possibility. You are already perfect but will become more so with time. You are the judges of the real. Physical reality will become your servant. Your souls will glow—wait till I’m finished, Steve!—your souls will glow with becoming. Your failures won’t matter anymore. Your dreaded condo fees will be nothing more than the eraser dust you huff away from the pages of your immaculate journals. You will revise the universe with your will. You will become a Scott, and then a non-Scott, repeating this cycle until you have lived many lives, remembered whole epochs of fantastical history from parallel dimensions. You will no longer have arms but wings. You will be able to hide anywhere and then reappear from behind the veil of your singular ingenuity. Your bosses will admire your confidence. Your children will sigh less. You will see those alimony checks for the trifles they truly are. You will be great people, hyper-extended spirits, masters of the commute.  No one will be prouder, will feel better than you do when throwing Frisbees to your bounding dogs. Believe me. Close your eyes and believe me. Close your eyes and see. Steve? Steve!” 


02 November 2021

Three Poems by Brian J. Alvarado

mayday parade

the air tonight in collins drum filled glass

vanilla ice cream under pressure screams 

red hot chili pepper jams with sting

let jimmy eat the rich confusing world 

a marmosets it off as one suggests

a ‘roo makes spinaroonies cool again

the elephant and hierophant pli√© 

and whiskey tango foxtrot could be next?

if whack-a moles could only harmonize

to lie in wait like roman candle troops

igniting endless wicks of ticket rolls

a cirque flambé with cotton candy plumes

a carnival of excess—carousels,

both forging and destroying revolutions

mortar in epistle, ossia in not so many words

a snail mail trail that tails stale railroad tracks 

to whom it may concern, a doe, a dear,

a dodo rhea mufasa latte doe

a cock-a-doodle doo coo coo ca choo

to filibuster further would entail

iambic trochee pterodactyl rawr

an anapestic curveball foot to boot

a buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo

uh testing, 1,2,3- is this thing on?

the knob goes to 11 on this bit

this ad(-lib) ends in 5-4-3-2-1…


a volta must emerge from the fracas

this couplet incomplete without you. ‘hi.’

it’s wednesday night, and you know what that means

a wilder thing emerges from the void

a short and wide tasmanian devil corpse

caught in unmasked excalibur’s riposte

will thunder light a beastly rose once more?

katana kindles broken tamashii 

an undefeated streak of jaded gilt

digs ruby root canals in UFOs

come pentagon and phoenix kingdom come

to fear the revelation of the proud

and powerful the party dawns elite 

jurassic goes express to hollywood

debut a sacrificial factory nightmare

to feed a hungry lunatic enthroned


Brian J. Alvarado