Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Two Pieces by Michael Lee Johnson

Charlie Plays a Tune

Crippled with arthritis

and Alzheimer's,

in a dark rented room

Charley plays

melancholic melodies

on a dust filled

harmonica he

found abandoned

on a playground of sand

years ago by a handful of children

playing on monkey bars.

He now goes to the bathroom on occasion,

relieving himself takes forever; he feeds the cat when

he doesn't forget where the food is stashed at.

He hears bedlam when he buys fish at the local market

and the skeleton bones of the fish show through.

He lies on his back riddled with pain,

pine cones fill his pillows and mattress;

praying to Jesus and rubbing his rosary beads

Charley blows tunes out his

celestial instrument

notes float through the open window

touch the nose of summer clouds.

Charley overtakes himself with grief

and is ecstatically alone.

Charley plays a solo tune.


Raindrop Baby

I'm a raindrop baby

silhouetted in the night,

single-ringed single person

minus the 24 carat gold.

A harvester of night life,

star crystal,

a gather of sluts in my imagination,

a wild driver of the

anal sinful products of sex.

I run the highways drunk

as a skunk with his anus high in the air

in search of what I wished

or dream wild factual fantasy about.

Offended I simply piss somewhere.

Where does the highway buckle up:


Are these your initials lover

on my driver's license

or just a pained memory

the morning after my dream

turned to real piss?


Michael Lee Johnson is a poet and freelance writer from Itasca, Illinois.

His brand new poetry chapbook with pictures, From Which Place the Morning Rises and his new photo version of The Lost American: From Exile to Freedom is now available at: lulu. He also has 2 previously published chapbooks available at: lulu. The original version of The Lost American: from Exile to Freedom, can be found at: iuniverse.

He has been published in USA, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Scotland, Turkey, Fiji, Nigeria, Algeria, Africa, India, United Kingdom, Republic of Sierra Leone, Israel, Nepal, Thailand, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Finland, and Poland internet radio. Michael Lee Johnson has been published in more than 280 different publications worldwide. Audio MP3 of poems are available on request.

He is also publisher and editor of four poetry flash fiction sites--all presently open for submission:
A Tender Touch
Wizards of the Wind

Author website: poetryman

Author email:

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

4th of December she wore a beret by Dan Gee

4th of December she wore a beret

for just seven pounds!

a bargain apparently we are told;

in the credit crunch,

but then it seems a liberty to pay

only seven pounds;

Go and buy clothes made from people not old

Will they get some lunch?

So Mrs Brown why did you buy the hat?

Because it was “Cheap”?

100 packs of noodles for that price

even in these times,

The Daily Mail’s front page where you sat

With people who weep

Inside we see unaffordable rice

Even in these times.

That beret’s not cheap, it comes from somewhere

Accumulate loot

In today’s green mint weaving industry

In the credit crunch

So, about Mrs Brown’s hat do I care?

Do we give a hoot?

Will they taste your rich and glossy honey?

In the credit crunch

Most of the time I dwell in his room writing poetry and prose about nearly everything and anything, but occasionally, like all creative minds (and students), I’ll destroy my body with excessive amounts of alcohol. Poetry is a form that before this year I had hardly touched, but now I write poetry everyday, with the occasional splattering of flash fiction and play writing. Cheers!!!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Plain Jane Let America Die by F. Scott Francisco

America was born on Independence Day 1976. He had a troubled childhood. His father, George Chevron Washington, was arrested for gun smuggling around the day of his birth. His mother, Janette "Plain Jane" Hancock, never told him the truth. Instead she explained that his father had been one of the last good men to die in prevention of The Communist Domination of Southeast Asia.

When Plain Jane stopped breast-feeding, America went on hunger strike, dumbly staring at the microwaved formula. Until she again nursed him naturally. At thirteen, armed with cobblestones picked from Lexington Market, he and his friends wildly ran the streets of Baltimore smashing car windows and stealing radios and hubcaps until they were caught, arrested, and taken to jail where they refused to call their parents for bail.

America did poorly in school for apparently inherent refusal to conform to its mannerisms. He left his year-late graduation early to get stoned with two fellow graduates.

Plain Jane blamed America's attitude on his father. She would write George Chevron the occasional letter to document their son's progress.

America woke the day after graduation, smoked a cigarette scratching his head and balls alternately, lay his head down, and fell back to sleep.

The following day he decided to sell drugs for a living, and did so without interruption for the next ten years. It was his calling: he'd plenty of charm and little fear.

On unrelated charges around the ten-year reunion at his high school, America began a one-year sentence.

For another five years he sold until he was shot and robbed clean by a favorite customer, Axle President. He lay dying for a day before Plain Jane made an unannounced visit and saw her son on the floor, perhaps fatally wounded.

She offered ice to him, drinks, home-cooked food, to change the television station: all in the hope of easing his pain, making him more comfortable--as if he had simply come down with a case of the flu. Plain Jane acted as if she didn't notice the blood trickling out of her boy into the carpet, as if everything were in perfect order.

Although she had come in her Toyota Camry, which her son had bought for her with ill-gotten gains, she did not offer a ride to the hospital to her son; and although she had one of the newest cellular phones available, she did not call emergency people.

America's last coherent thought was that she had perhaps hired the hit.

America's story came to a quiet end.

Plain Jane never spoke of him again, and when folks asked about her son, she acted confused, as if she had never spoken of him before.
And America was soon forgotten.

f. scott francisco (b. 1981/tampa bay), postal employee, writes occasionally. reads daily. he began submitting writing in 2008. e-mail or see his site at

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Featured Writer: David Mclean Day 3

culpability and punishment

there is no crime but being born
said my body, no guilt
but existence,

and there is no wrong you do
but breathing; dreams
are innocent, always,

whatever you do in them.
and the only thing sinful
is being women and men

and living, every sin
beyond that is supererogatory
devilishness, though welcome,

not wrong in any sense.
for you, barely breathing,
breath is a crime that cries

to heaven. everything
you do beyond that
is just shit that happens -

there are no victims,
just other criminals
guilty of living


trees and clouds

the trees would pin the clouds to ground
like pizzas condemned to live in cartons
instead of roaming their natural
habitat, the forests in which they swim

with their children, kebabs and cigarettes
and lampshades. the trees are like mothers
who blind and cripple children, so nothing bad
happens to them, so they see nothing

to frighten them, so they don't get into danger,
don't go anywhere, the trees worry
about the clouds and their madness
as they dance for the mad moon

and go wild with desire under her;
but the clouds don't seem to care
they are like feckless boys, these vapors,
they only listen to their dealers

and dealers never lied to me, at least,
they give me exactly what i need -
clouds and moons and beasts
above all the miserly motherly trees

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Featured Writer: David Mclean Day 2


the scream is in the carnivorous throat
and the death we put there mourns itself
which is rather wretched

the stones smell like memory
and mourning worn like a priestess
dressed in black robes

and the taste of salt on the tongue
cold as coke in the nose
black as stone

and hope screams in the meat
the throat stores screams it needs
to believe in

so that there is approximate
passion, and some body
feels something

it is exquisitely easy to see
this is life and it is living -
there's no such thing as victims,

every body deserves everything


fingers and eyes

i found my fingers in the trees
and my eyes on the mountains
inside their resonant skull
rapped by the sun's knuckles;

though they were still lethargic,
like snakes who are the genitals
of gods unusually reluctant
to rape. i found my memories

in them. they were not married yet
and knew where the mustache grew
from the sold flesh that shrinks from it,
resilient flesh of night

clothed in time, and loath to go back
to fingers in the trees, groping for my eyes
on the unholy slopes, loath to go back to life
and be mine

Friday, December 26, 2008

Featured Writer: David Mclean Day 1

looking for

you were looking for me
and so was i
but all we saw
were memories and things¨
somebody else said,
probably lying, reflecting
themselves, and sort of expected
me to be,

so i wasn't, obviously.
but i found all these absences
inside me, if we shall talk,
metaphorically, of interiors
and interiority

when i am a surface,
a thin film over the world's
plenitude of emptiness -
stones and trees and all of history,
murder, crime, night and humanity,
and a few other things to which children

a dead crow lost
at a long gone goddess's
breast forgotten, there i found me
that i did not leave or need
to be, reasons for existing
were absences and just
not listening, love was
ignorance and memory blood,

all the surfaces were enough


winter drags

night's winter drags the body of an injured animal
behind it, calling it history, because social movements
and whatever happens there are the contortions of sexuality
and heaven is but a relieved bladder.

it is a wounded beast that crawls through us
and sweats its desperation on the page,
it is an open wound that never heals,
but bleeds and give us no pain

or forgiveness. it is being, because hearts
are leaky vessels in several senses,
it is a night and its injured animals
are people who are dead forever

already, but slow to understand
that the coffin coughs up
no truth for us, and real injured animals
are much more important than man

and all the nothings he understands

David McLean is Welsh but has lived in Sweden since 1987. He lives there in a cottage on a hill with a woman, five selfish cats, and a stupid puppy. He has two full length books out. One, pushing lemmings, at and another, Cadaver's dance, available at Alibris or There is even a self-published book of poems at Lulu called eating your night - Details of other chapbooks and round 680 poems in or forthcoming at round 290 places online or print over the last eighteen months are at htpp:// A new chapbook, La morte vivante, is available from Shadow Archer Press. Another chapbook is free online at He also features in a special issue of Instant Pussy available as a free download at Two more chapbooks so far are coming in 2009 from Rain over Bouville and Poptritus Press, he has recently been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Unspoken Words by Marie Gornell

whilst wind howls
outside window
first instances of
loneliness reach
even my womb;
blood shreds
from cervix
preparing my tomb.

Maybe its hints
of spring awakening
something deep
seeds i hoped
If you hadn't
been so weak.

Wind reminds me
i should mourn,
death of you and i
located deep in
my bones.
Like a lost child
again, waiting to
be reborn.
Even after all your
hate, am tired
knowing this
dilapidate is
part of moving on.

Why still i miss
your presence;
so scared of
In the end its
always this way
after all.
a shroud of
sloth was
our downfall.

Yet i loved
you motionless
lips smile, as kisses
explored soft skin;
tense muscles
relax as my fingers
knead over over
memories all
we have left;
what could have
been, what was,
now gone.

Never had the
to show
my love,
everyone thinks
you deserve
nothing more
yet i know
what i felt
in this brief

in emotions
from hate to
eternal love;
i cannot express
no more,
intimacy i crave,
yet with you
What i couldn't
say in last words
i utter now
i care regardless
of all thats passed;
Te amour
i wish you luck.

'Meet you on the other side'

Maria Gornell has been writing seriously for 2 years, after having a breakdown
and leaving university, she became a recluse for a while and found writing to
be therapeutic. After a while people began to comment on her gift and invited
her to open mic nights where she now reads her poems to audiences all over
Liverpool. She works voluntary with the wild transformation movement and is training
in counselling. She has been published in various online zines such as the beat,
Blacklisted mag, opiumpoetry, unheardwords, Heroin love songs and in print in
Liverpool 800 poems anthology, Heartbeats poetry journal and Agua issue 1.
She has also done various spoken word projects in collaboration with musicians
on myspace and is on 3 music CDS 2 with poetry over music and one with the
Musician Manic M from the Netherlands. She lives in Liverpool with her 15 year
old daughter.

Happy Holidays

Thank you to all the writers, photographers, artists, and readers who have made this zine a success. In a little over a month, we've already had over three thousand views.

Hope you all have safe trips and warm holidays.


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Photographs by Matt Maxwell

I am a schizophrenic writer, a haphazard photographer, an obsequious malcontent—tripping and sprinting and moshing to my own multi-limbed drummer. Some of my fiction has found its way into Mad Hatters' Review, Noo Journal, Sein und Werden, The Salt River Review, Flashquake, Eyeshot, Cezanne's Carrot, Defenestration, and others. I am also an associate fiction editor with Mad Hatters' Review.

Tin Roof by Crystal Folz

Tin Roof

We hear him skulking in the backyard. He lingers over the snapped branch, and I imagine his eyes brittling like ice. We don't know when he will speak so we stand in the backyard with our fingers entwined, listening to his heavy breathing and the rain misting the treetops.

It occurs to me that I haven't been this still for a very long time, and I think if I could reach out and touch them both, I could mold this moment like a piece of jewelry to wear a groove around my finger. Then the rain comes down hard and soaks the trees until they are black and wet like my insides, and I know I have to move or shake or let go of his hand.

We walk up the hill together, one of them on each side of me, and I want us to keep walking past the parked cars outside the bar house, cross the road, and stop for a moment at the pond. There, we could stand beside each other and stare at our distorted reflections as the rain comes down and laughter leaks through the windows in the bar. We might be happy, the three of us, gawking at the smiling faces in the water. I know I would.

Instead, we go inside and sit at a round table. They talk about the noise on the tin roof, and I buy the three of us double shots of whiskey. I should feel caught or busted but I don't.

The waitress brings a shot of Jagermeister, compliments of the gentleman at the bar.

They shake their heads as I drink it down. Cold, black, and wet, it coats my throat, feeling like victory inside.

Then there's just us, the empty shot glasses, the last of the acorns pouncing on the tin roof, and the man at the bar patting the stool next to him.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Photos by Christopher Woods

Christopher Woods has published a prose collection, UNDER A RIVERBED SKY, and a collection of stage monologues for actors, HEART SPEAK. His photographs can be seen in his online gallery,, which he shares with his wife, Linda. He lives in Houston and in Chappell Hill, Texas.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Cremation by Nicole Nicholson

someone's dream or
obligation just died before the
eyes of commuters

blazing car belches
cotton explosions of gray smoke
into the air

a sacrifice to
the ghosts – I silently hope
the inferno grows

our car floats
in a sea of moving
masses of pain

which crunch to
a slow, hesitating, rubbernecking halt
burn, baby, burn

roadside funeral pyre
she'll wear a burned shoulder
news at eleven

Nicole Nicholson is a 32 year-old writer and performance poet who draws inspiration from history, legends and folklore, people, nature, and the voices in her head. She blogs frequently at ravenswingpoetry and in July 2008, self-published a poetry chapbook, Raven Feathers. Her work has recently appeared in Young American Poets and she was featured as a Poet of the Week on Poetry Super Highway as well as a favorite writer in June 2008 on Poetry Dances, a web site featuring online poetry by emerging writers. She lives in Columbus, OH with her fiance.

A Call for Submissions/Featured Writers Updated

Beginning December 12, we will feature a writer throughout the entire weekend.

Featured Writer Line Up:

December 12 - Scot Young
December 19 - Tim Morris
December 26 - David Mclean
January 2 - Matt Finney
January 9 - Audrey Victoria
January 16 - Alan King
January 23 - Christopher Ward

New posts Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

If you want to see this blog updated everyday with a new piece of writing, submit and tell your friends. I want more, more, more!

Thanks for helping me out and keep that work coming.

The Guild of Outsider Writers

I love this group of fine people. Please stop by to have a look and meet fellow writers, some of whom you'll recognize from Shoots and Vines. Lots of things get done here and everyone works hard to spread the word and encourage other writers. OW was the inspiration behind my zine because of the quality of work I saw there everyday.

Outsider Writers

If you have trouble with the format or questions, send an email my way and I'll do what I can to help you out.

Scroll down Shoots and Vines and on the bottom of the right sidebar is a link to my profile. Leave me a message and let me know you found Outsider Writers from Shoots and Vines.

Hope you all enjoy the group as much as I do.

Notice: Regular Contributors

Regular Contributors will begin in February. Every Monday, there will be posts scheduled throughout the day written by the regular contributors.

Tom Sullivan
Audrey Victoria
Scot Young

If you have already been published in Shoots and Vines and would like to be a regular contributor, please send an email with regular contributor listed in the subject.

If your name is on the list, which I will update in this post throughout January, and you do not wish to be a regular contributor, let me know.

If we discussed this in the past and you agreed but don't see your name, that is because the email has drifted off somewhere. Please shoot me an email.

Thanks. I love the work you all have been sending me. I haven't read a book in almost a month.


Sunday, December 21, 2008

Featured Writer: Tim Morris Day 3

it's happening

in a sedated florescent glow,
rows and rows of pornography
are being molested
by curious hands...

between guilt-ridden tiles,
a boy fondles himself
in the mirror over a sink...

in the aromatic light of dawn,
a woman fingers the delicate labia
of her entranced lover...

in the drone of tomorrow,
a man on his knees sweats
at an altar, asking for his wife's
quick and painless demise...

in the overwhelming shadow of a cross,
a woman sucks at a bottle of gin
while spinning a razor blade
between her teeth...

all the while
carousel horses dance
to their happy, happy song.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Featured Writer: Tim Morris Day 2

The Prisoner


in the rain.

twelve rupees sit heavily
in my pocket
and i can finally
walk the garden
with my head held high,

but still...
i find it necessary
to peel flesh
from around my fingernails
and suck at the blood.

the moon...
ah, the moon,
her virgin hole not yet
pricked by indiscretion,
stretches lazily from
around the corner,
uncertain of her true conviction.

the air,
lays like lead on my skin
and a hunger swells
in my veins.

fingering the coins in my pocket,
one for each of the twelve pairs
of blood-stained lips,
i find myself at a table,
twisted and tired,
eager to be of use,

but i see the chains,
rusted and sanguinary,
and am afraid,
because the promise
has proven to be fraud...

in the shadows,
soothed by night's lithe fingers,
children dance to kalimba music,
the beauty of their laughter
an atrocity.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Featured Writer: Tim Morris Day 1

It's That Time

the time has come to roll the bones.

nero's ghost is perched on the hill
sawing at an archaic smile.

morphine drips from the moon.

go on ahead and roll them bones,
let's just see what the future's got
before jesus laughs himself silly
watching the preachers play drag-ass
to the grave.

roll the bones and watch them grow
important in the public eye.

we find ourselves wanting to eat the stars.

machiavelli's prince takes center stage
illuminated in a glow of our desire;
a man-beast twisted in a maelstrom
of poetry and lies.

roll the bones...
roll the bones...
place your bets and roll them bones,
dance on the devil's grave.

the war machine grows fond of your face.

the sad old sage plucks his komun'go
in the belly of this gluttonous day.

so roll the bones.
see what you get.
the sun is about to lose its race.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Two Pieces by David Oprava


he licks
the superego
what his seed
tastes like,
some salty drops
sticky like want,

rolling in tongues
over the barely
fallow bed,
he whispers
to the rough
of her words,

are your prickly-
just for me,
or anybody?

Fucking the smell
of the blanket he groans,
shallow bitch,
left him blue-balled
and itching.


I fuck a first grade teacher,


if a first grade teacher's
apple pie smile, butter cream hands
and need to care for the infantile
can't make me feel good about myself,

who the fuck can?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Ballad of a Rich Man by Tim Murray

If you stay up late enough
(say 4am)
You'll know the answer to everything
Because (it seems) the Western mind
Is trained to believe
That knowledge is a mere
Compendium of memorized
Tidbits, dates, names
With the occasional anecdote
Tossed in for a bit of intellectual spice
That being said
Your noggin full of
Categorized Pitfall scores
From Intellivision II tournaments
Should come in handy
In the event that you
Find yourself strolling along
The gray October sidewalks
Of Indiana where
You are sure to come across
A small cigarette smoke filled bakery
Named Sue's
At which time you'll be unable to fight the
Urge to order
A large slice of double chocolate cake
Simply because it is
A large slice of double chocolate cake
And the lady behind the counter
Will seem annoyed that
You actually wish to purchase something
But thru her grimace
She will neatly package
Your freshly baked
Slice of double chocolate cake
In a nifty little plastic container
And she'll slip it into a
Convenient brown paper sack
And she'll drop your
13 cents change
And receipt in behind it
And the belt of
Real live Reindeer bells tied
To the door handle
Will clang and jangle
As you exit
Returning to the
Leafy brown afternoon
One large slice of
Double chocolate cake
In the Earth

Tim Murray, b. 1977, is a lifelong resident of Northwest Indiana. His poetry blog can be found at

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Alleys are the Footnotes of the Avenues by Peter Anderson

The old man paused, his brimming shopping cart rattling to a stop. A window just above stood a few inches open, the apartment’s inhabitants tentatively seeking spring’s first warm wisps of breeze. The man himself had more than enough breezes, along with the bitter winds of the preceding winter just passed, none of it impeded by any window’s barrier.

The long alley he had traversed, veering slowly side to side to peek into trash cans and dumpsters for things of interest and maybe of value, ended in a T which he followed toward the street. There was no dumpster to be picked through here - nicer buildings kept their trash in chain-linked pens to discourage men like him from lingering, silently imploring him to take his business elsewhere.
He stopped, not ready to return to the street. Low sounds emanating from the window drew his attention, but he listened with eyes cast downward, the pose of a tired man merely pausing to rest. He knew that looking up at the window might mark him as a peeper, drawing the ire of neighbors and bringing the police.

He already had enough hassles in his humble life without bringing another upon himself.


The television murmured, excited putdowns and canned laughter occasionally rising through the living room’s slumbering lull. Bluish light flickered through the shadows, illuminating a middle-aged man who slumped in an easy chair, stockinged feet propped up, a half-empty highball glass within his reach. He dozed, having lost interest in the sitcom’s inanities, its forced mirth.
Before sleep came the old familiar words eased through his mind, the words of the essay he had pondered for so long, the treatise which would finally put television, and everything it represented about our culture, in its place. Down where it belonged, far down.

The medium numbs the senses, lulling us into dull complacency, cheapening our discourse down to a blather of catchphrases. Laugh tracks have taught us how to respond—uproariously at the more outrageous stunts, chucklingly at rare instances of subtlety. But laugh tracks teach us nothing about how to respond to seriousness, to sadness, and thus we have become immune, no longer caring, no longer sympathizing. If we can’t laugh we don’t respond at all. We have become disconnected from the world outside…

But the words, so often thought but still unwritten, soon gave way to the whiskey’s strength. He slid into heavy-lidded torpor, then finally into sleep. The words would remain unwritten for another day, another month, year, perhaps forever.


Outside the window, the sounds from within no longer held the old man’s interest. He reached into his cart, again securing a bag of soda cans, obsessively tightening the handles as he had done repeatedly throughout the long clockless day. Satisfied, he grunted quietly and leaned into the shopping cart, moving slowly toward the street.

As he cleared the building he felt a jolt of wind on his weathered face, the air turning colder as night fell steadily around him.

Peter Anderson's stories have been published in many fine venues besides this one, including Storyglossia, THE2NDHAND, Wheelhouse and RAGAD. He also has three novels-in-progress that may or may not ever be finished, depending on his whims, and a completed story chapbook that is desperately in need of a home. He lives in Joliet, Illinois, with his lovely wife Julie, charming daughter Madeleine and two literature-averse cats.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Revival, reunion when I think of you by Audrey Victoria

I drop down fifty flights of stairs and the moon beckons me nowhere except
where a sight-seeing tourist from the inside is exploiting my garnered limp.
His gullet is adorned with crumpled skin and mole colored jewels.

Inside my nose is stinging and I take it as a sign that the
scorpion has just crawled inside. And my tongue will speak words
of models drawing out my past vision of vernacular suicide.

I crawl to the coffee shop and order shots of espresso until my chest explodes.
I wait for you by the front window but you're nowhere to be seen.
I assume it's because I gained weight again and I feel fat again.
Since I quit mind surfing I don't ride as smooth anymore.
I must confess, back when abyssinian hands stroked my laden back
I used to mind fuck you in the alley and you didn't know it.

Limping and leaving, my heart stops and I am clutched to a street light.
The fat gullet trumpet vine has wrapped around my bronchial tubes again.
Manipulation is a tired tactic and I prefer pure fucking instead
I will wait for you half past five next weekend if I am not dead by then

I will merge into you but not frighten you.
I will sing to you gently but there will be no song even if you ask for one.
There will be no moment for images because you will be blindfolded
I will leave you one foot to find in the garbage. Most importantly
I don't know how to love. It's your crumbled clutch, displacement
with boring sentiment. Yeah, it's that role I play.

Inside I know that flash you want of that woman standing sprawled
dripping clean with wet and glitter all over your mommy's blanket.
What a coward you've become. God, all gracious, the women
The women just want to screw you all over. The vision of their
Robert Plant Fantasy. Go on, bro, grunt and give them your disease.

My skin is still smooth and I still flutter like a pixie
all over your jewels, stealing them. The yawn of the guitar still runs down my leg
and as the new moon raises the energy depletes from your
soul merging with mine accordingly.

Most likely you will have a nightmare about me tonight.
a hallway will rise up in magenta and run like a trumpet vine,
run from your toes to your abdomen to down your trachea
where then you will blossom orange, finally spreading
something half beautiful, even if you're still a weed.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Featured Writer: Scot Young Day 3

covered in dust waiting for rain

this old truck tucked
just into the woods
off a dirt road
cedar growing
through its skeleton
used to haul
field dressed deer
during season or not
sometimes moonshine
up and down these
ozark roads paved
in mud and chert

old man penley
left it here one day
got pissed off
cause it wouldn't
pull the hill
loaded full of wood
backed off in trees
and just said
came back a half
dozen times
stripped it clean
nothing left now
but a speedometer
one chrome bumper

just sits
permantly parked
sometimes a summer
home for roadrunners
but always rusting
a shell of the 50s

neighbors pass by
nod toward the truck
and say
that penley
he was a crazy

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Featured Writer: Scot Young Day 2

hey jude

most everybody
had a shitty childhood
not that every minute
was a fucking nightmare
but the shit seems to stand out
stays fresh and
rubs off on your clothes
when you walk
too close to yesterday

i'd say you wear it well
like a yellow star
pinned to that dirty shirt
so others can
pick you out

bribe the guards
with what you got
to avoid the showers
because the smell
of shit is still better
than standing in line

bar time

been watching her for an hour
other end of the bar
stripper tits
blouse tied underneath
i caught her looking
bedroom eye lashes
like pulling down
the shades
guy walks in
buys her a drink
sits down
i moved closer
she lit a cigarette
told the new guy
through a cloud of smoke
that the lousy
sonofabitch she had last
night couldn't keep up
she wanted a man
to go all night
who wasn't afraid to give
a woman what she wants
holding a full beer
he looked over at me
I shrugged
looked at the clock
it was still early
and i was closest
to the door…


28 days of kama sutra

teenage car sex
under a cheesy moon
eight track plays
croce low
love song
sets the mood
top down to give
us more room
you borrowed
yr sister's
kama sutra
had 20 minutes
before the porch light
came on
we were on day 1
I prayed for 27
more just like
this one

Friday, December 12, 2008

Featured Writer: Scot Young Day 1

The Early Years

In 1954
my father bought

mom a new pink &
white dodge

she loved that car
so much she painted

the house to match
the mills brothers sang

you're nobody til
somebody loves you

that night
I was conceived

after a couple
of cans of heidl brau

and for a brief

all was right
with the world


Before Girls

we would push our bikes up
the steep hills
then zoom down zig- zagging
like daredevils
wind in our face
drying out the butchwax
made to wear by dad
until we couldn't roll any farther

like a thousand screaming locusts
the maris mantle and mays
rookie cards clothes-pinned
to our spokes turning
our schwinns into
wannabe triumphs
old man smith would yell
as we flew by
you little dumb asses
was all we could make out
for that summer we were
the wild ones spitting
gnats from our teeth


First Day of Girls

in seventh grade
first hour I saw
carmela occhipinti
big itailian smile
ta-tas to match
orange mini dress
off-white pokla-dot s
are there bombshells
at 13?
never saw this
in grammar school--
those chocolate eyes
cut right to the center
of a 7th grade
boy's heart
nothing else mattered
before or after

that polka dot image
was burned into this
kid's brain
testosterone &
raced to every corner
of my body
as I stumbled
into the chair beside her
--slouched in jeans
white t-shirt
checked her out
through the corner
of my eye
checking me out
through the corner
of hers

today I learned
on some reunion site
she had died--
breast cancer
of all damn things
it made me sad
I hoped her life
was good
as I saw her
in that mini dress
and remembered
how many times
I dropped my pencil

In another life Scot Young used to be a construction worker but for the last 19 years he has been paid to hang out with kids. He started writing poems again after a 30 year absence and has published one or two. He may be the only school principal in America to have all of Christopher Robin's books and occasionaly teaches a poetry class to the Breakfast Club. He once sang with Kenny Loggins and wrestler Dirty Dick Murdoch, but mainly he just puts bread on the table.

Stop by to see more from Scot on Saturday and Sunday.

Shoots and Vines Compost: Scot Young

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Two Pieces by Alan Kelly


I watched the building opposite

the hotel

Fill with sun

making bright

eyes of its bare windows

The palms of my hand

On the eerie pane

He made small


On the back of my legs

And the scream that my mouth shaped became full

with squares of light


In Her Head

In her Skull




Walls papered by flesh



In her skull




Halls carpeted with veins

Lined with

Daguerreotypes of Dead Folk

Glaring out

At her

From jaded


Serious, ridiculous, overblown, pretentious & warped, Alan K has written for Film Ireland, Streetwise, The City Guidebook, Pretty-Scary, GCN, Penny Blood, 3:AM and ButcherQueers. His fiction has appeared in Beat the Dust, Lit Up Magazine, Gold Dust, Parasitic, Dogmatika, The Bloodied Quill and forthcoming in Sein and Werden.

Shoots and Vines First Print Zine

Shoots and Vines first print zine will be available in January. Eighteen pages of black and white art, prose, poetry, and flash fiction.

This is a grassroots attempt to distribute the work of our contributors and get their names out to the public. I have two places already that will let me distribute the copies. All copies are free. We are keeping the zine short in the hope that people will make copies and distribute to their friends.

Submissions are now open. Please add Print Zine Submission to the subject of your email. Remember that the zine is ten 8" by 11" pages folded in half. Long pieces of poetry or fiction might be rejected due to length. I want to put as many writers in the zine as I can. Artists can submit small images to decorate the pages. I'm also looking for two larger black and white drawings, plus a cover design.

I'll put a copyright on it for the contributors, but this zine may be printed many times and I can't control where it goes after distribution.

If you are interested in receiving a copy of the zine so you can make copies and distribute, let me know. Again, this is grassroots work. I don't get paid. You don't get paid. Contributors do not get paid. What we will get is the opportunity to help fellow writers and artists.

The back page of the zine will have a link for each contributor so readers can find more good pieces of work online. Contributors will receive one copy to do with as they please (hopefully make copies and distribute).


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Air-conditioned Speed of Sound by Andrew Taylor

Take cover for I am on the

prowl again. Dredging through

past gardens of placidity, seeking

out any chink of light which could

pierce the armour which encircles

what was once my heart.

I pace the floor and ignore what

convention holds. 'Night time is for

freaks and ghouls' - welcome to

the ghoulish freak show. Rule out

driving out to the coast, the weather

is unkind and besides, my flask is broke.

Arm my bedside table with Norfolk

Punch, Melatonin and Chivas Regal

and sit on the bed awaiting the

challenges that are to come. Open

the notebook, tattered and torn, to

a free page and begin to write.

Silence wraps its cool arms around me.

I ponder wiring my headphones to

the stereo and listening to Chet Baker.

Nothing could kill this silence.

Better this than the heat and sweat of

a nightmare.

Monday, December 8, 2008

catman by Steve Ely

i know this guy all his life he killed cats the first time he was eight years old

he dropped a litter of kittens into a half filled bucket and shoveled in dirt until the mix stopped quaking

there was one up a tree in his garden he got lucky with a halfbrick and watched it bounce off every branch before it hit the ground he finished it with the flat side of the shovel

he killed a tabby with a bat playing cricket on the street it just walked past and he slogged it in the head he said it was a six

his staffie roofed a tom on a shed up bull lane he knocked it down with a branch the dog crashed face first into the brambles swaggered out with it limp in its grinning jaws

he chased one tree to tree in the graveyard throwing sticks and stones until after minutes or hours it came tumbling down the dog ripped it apart or maybe that was a squirrel far as i know he had nothing against squirrels

this warehouse had a problem they were breeding among the pallet stacks he took a 4.10 terriers jawtraps poison he showed me a photo four cats six kittens lined up dead

a grey one crept in the bushes near his feeders leaping out at the robins and blue tits he took aim from the kitchen window and shot it through the eye with a .22 pellet gun

he drove his car off the road and dented the wing swerving to hit one on the a638 outside upton

a black one walked in through the open front door and curled up on his hearthrug he couldnt believe it he coaxed it into a sack and drove out to the reservoir

he never tied fireworks to them because that was just cruel and he didnt do it for the cruelty just to kill them

i asked him why do you hate cats so much and he said i dont know i just do dont you hate something if you had a rat in your house wouldnt you kill it or maybe its music bagpipes perhaps i cant give you a reason theyre sly i hate cats

are you answered

Extracts from Steve Ely's massive poem JerUSAlem, have been published in a range of litzines, including Beat the Dust, Laura Hird Showcase, Dogmatika, Black Mail Press & Paper Cut. Other poems and short stories by Ely have been published in Literary Chaos, Lit Up, Lilies & Cannonballs Review, the Savage Kick, The Slab of Fun, Magma and elsewhere.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Stalking Dana by Paul Corman-Roberts

With a bottle of pink hearts gripped firmly in my
right hand, quivering, like I was jerking off and…I
suppose I really am after all.

There must be a hundred of these little heart shaped
pills scored by my flaxen haired roommate from one of
the most “reputable” pharmaceutical firms in Tijuana.
She told me I could take a pill or two whenever I
wanted and since I’ll always be home before she is I’m
not seeing anything particularly wrong with a few
consecutive whenevers.

I swallow four, one right after the other, light a
clove cigarette and try to look innocuously through
the window of my innocuous ‘83 Nissan Sentra from my
innocuous parking stall, and into the storefront
window of the Al Phillips Dry Cleaners, only all too
conspicuous in my innocuousness.

She’s at the window. There’s no mistaking the
freckles, the all-American girl next door pony tail.
Kimberly Drummond: convicted of robbing a video store
six months ago. But I fell in love with her years ago;
endless masturbatory sessions in my grandma’s shitter.

It’s not like I don’t have business on this side of
town. My agent on a shoestring got me an audition
down the street forty five minutes from now and I have
uniforms that need to be pressed and creased. It’s not
easy holding down a bohemian lifestyle while passing
for a government employee.

The tell tale heartbeat and adrenal flow begin their
all too familiar buildup from my toenails all the way
up until they hit the top of my teeth which then begin
sliding across the surface of my bottom teeth with a
consistency known by Hell’s Angels and a long standing
ritual engaged in by many a pathetic lonely young man
since the advent of the industrial age.

Am I proud? No. I feel dirty. Would I rather be doing
anything else?

Hell no.

I hold the uniforms under my left arm, the clove in my
right as I make my way through the front door.

I’d found out she works here at my job, when a Tech
Sergeant said that washed up drug addict actress they
busted last year pressed his uniforms. How to break
the ice?

“Hey, I’m an actor too.” She doesn’t work the counter
though. I’m stuck with the homely woman who in turn
looks longingly at the slot machines being serviced by
a tech guy on the far side of the waiting room.

I place my order loudly. I want her to notice. Notice
my pungent clove cigarette, which always pisses off
the old Vegas service crowd. She looks right through
me though. My hair is too short. My face is too clean.
I get my suits pressed and creased. She wants a bad
boy. She wants long hair. She wants weed. She wants
blow. How do I tell her?

“Hey, I have weed. Hey, I can get blow from Evil
Knievel. Hey, I’m an actor too. Hey if you quit this
job, join my newly founded theater company and move
into my shared room apartment it’ll help out both of
our careers and you can have the pleasure of knowing
that I am your wonderful savior every time I crawl up
on top of you just to see that crease in your brow.”

Transaction ends. I’m going back to the Sentra. I look
back hoping to find her staring out the window after
me. Too late; she’s at the counter talking to a guy
with a pony tail. Is it…? Goddammit, yes, it’s the
service tech guy. He’s got a pony tail.

Years later of course, I find out what Dana really
wants is something neither myself nor the pony tail
has. Years later I find out she turned down the role
of Regan in The Exorcist and the role of Violet in
Pretty Baby; years later when she overdoses in her
in-law’s bathroom. I still like to think I could have
been all those things to her, a way for opportunity to
translate into, if not happiness, at least a
manageable contentment; a warm body that makes you
laugh & can be counted on to be there.

If only it were that easy.

For now; brain bubbling in a primal cauldron and eyes
exploding, I head to the auditorium at the Summerlin
Public Library for the most prestigious community
theater organization in Las Vegas, which is the
artistic status equivalent of the most prestigious
pantomime troupe in Los Angeles. In front of an
audience of two dozen competitors, a girl younger and
more beautiful than Dana, which is to say less
experienced, melts down completely at the beginning of
her improv assignment and stalks off the stage “I
can’t I can’t I just can’t do this & I guess I’ll see
you guys down at the mall or something.”

I nail my improv. I get the spot in the prestigious
workshop. I know now what I’ll say to Dana. I come
back the next night to pick up my uniforms from the Al
Phillips Cleaners with my rap and my approach down

Dana’s not working that night, something about a hot
date. Heading back to the Sentra it seems to me this
particular dry-cleaning shop does an incredibly lousy
job of pressing and creasing my uniforms and I swear I
will never return to this place for my business again.
I try to convince myself that I am somehow different,
that I am somehow better than the meltdown girl at the
audition sure to be hanging out at the mall I am now
headed towards with a handful of Pink Hearts.

Paul Corman-Roberts toils in a boiler room next
to the edge of a major-interstate highway. "At least
it's job security!" Shoot him if you get a chance. Or
check out his site & stuff at

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Abacus: A Love Story; Or, the Concept of Zero by Donna D. Vitucci

She thought about the way water shapes stone. Face it, stones take a battering over time. She wanted to put the stone on his tongue, but instead she put it in her mouth and sucked on it. It tasted of the sea and every element of the sea—-grit and rain and brine and live creature, fish, cousins to fish, snails, kelp, microbes, algae, a living universe that swims to reach light.

“Why have you so many ideas of violence?”

“I don’t.”

“Yes, you do. When an expectation is created your head, you prepare yourself for assault, blood, mayhem. When really, all that’s around the corner is disappointment, is love.”

“You make it sound like those are the same thing.”

She raised her eyebrow, held her tongue, bit down on her next words to keep them hid.

“Maybe it’s my career in law enforcement,” he said.

“Maybe you don’t want to be happy.”

“No, I do want happiness.”

“You seem to avoid it.”

“I do not.”

She let him hear himself.

He paused, and said, “You don’t know me like you think.”

“This could be true. I can admit that. So inform me.”

She motioned him toward her but he knew it was a gesture meant to go with her next words.

“Give over something important. Something I can begin building you on in my unconscious. A base, a foundation, a pedestal, something you-true that won’t erode.”

“Now that sounds esoteric.”

“You think so?”

The way he cut a glance to her and away, the thrust of his profile insisted, “You know it does.”

She guessed it implied “Quit harassing me,” but she wasn’t about to quit. She was just getting started. And she wouldn’t call it harassment anyway. Again, she’d call it love.

She even spoke this aloud: “I call it love.”

“What?” The very word flailed. She’d pitched him into the middle of a sea, water over his head, choking salt and gulping for air. She did that, she stole his share of breath.

She’d been talking around the stone in her mouth, a pretty neat trick. She had an adept tongue and good concentration. Thoughts didn’t sidetrack her, but emotions might. The stone was to help her focus. The stone was enduring.

She took it out of her mouth and closed it in her fist. She tugged his arm to make him stop walking this beach, to stand still with her. With her hand at the back of his neck she drew his face down to hers and kissed him. When they stopped kissing to breathe she again reached to his face, the back of his jaw. She ran her fingers along the line to his chin, pulled his chin down. She curled her fingers over his bottom teeth and pressured him.

His slackened jaw felt like it might widen and engulf the sea. He would not resist the need to lick her knuckles.

She set the stone in his mouth, on his tongue, a squid-like sea creature as it appeared to her. She closed his mouth, that gaping trap.

In the stone, he tasted her, he tasted the first earth, the first waters, the angels and hell. He tasted what was cast out, what was cast away, what was saved; the violence she abolished in him, her salt, his own blood. He tasted the New World and the seas that spanned her globe.

This was only their first day on the beach. There would be more. They tallied blocks of language and suffering and desire, not numbers, and so they abandoned the tools like calendars and diaries, that documented gain and loss. They counted on nothing. They had one stone between them.

Donna D. Vitucci lives and works in Cincinnati, Ohio, helping raise funds for local nonprofits. Since 1990 her stories have appeared in dozens of print and online journals. Recent work has appeared or is forthcoming in Front Porch Journal, Juked, Night Train, Ginosko, Insolent Rudder, Smokelong Quarterly, mourningsilence and Another Chicago Magazine. Abacus was written after walking the shore of Lake Michigan during a very special artists’ retreat this past September.

Friday, December 5, 2008

by Seth Trimble

(Click image to enlarge)

100% spray paint

The Look of Love, Take Two by Ben Tanzer

It is late. The sky is meringue. The dress is retro. The hair which is sometimes highlighted, and sometimes shaggy, is without bangs, and there are little pigtails bleached at the tips, wildly jutting out from each ear. She has a crooked nose and a crooked smile and she makes it work. She listens to The Sadies and reads George Eliot.

You warily move around each other at the office, almost stalking one another. Or do you? Maybe it’s all in your head.

Still, there are times when she looks right at you, through you, with longing and desire, both humored and intrigued.

Tonight she sits there on the bumper of a van outside some club where a work event has just gone down. Her eyes are half-open. Coin slots on the uneven plain of her face. She’s been drinking again.

“Sit down,” she says patting the spot on the bumper next to her.

“How’s it going?” you say as you take a seat.

“I need to stop,” she says laying her head on your shoulder.

“Why?” you say feeling the heat from her cheek burning a hole through your shirtsleeve.

“I have a problem.”

“Do you?”

“My husband says I do.”

“But do you think there’s a problem?”

“Yes, and I need to stop if I want to save the marriage.”

“And do you want to save it?”

“Yes, no, I don’t know,” she says briefly looking up at you.

Is that an invitation, or is that just defeat? Her head drops to her chest. It looks like defeat.

Ben Tanzer is the author of the novels Lucky Man (Manx Media, 2007) and Most Likely You Go Your Way and I’ll Go Mine (Orange Alert Press, 2008) and the short story collection Repetition Patterns (CCLaP, 2008). He also blogs at This Blog Will Change Your Life, which is the centerpiece of his vast, albeit faux, media empire, and edits This Zine Will Change Your Life, which you should totally submit to. Cool?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Resurgence by Charles Brooks III

Taking turns guessing where songs start,

Hank Mobley records get shuffled with Led Zeppelin

while window fans scatter acrid smoke.

LP's deliver Kerouac's drunken haikus

and Nat King Cole's Unforgettable.

Discolored cardboard, unsellable in back rooms

a decade ago, two decades,

now vinyl redeems itself.

Real disciples always keep a table

spinning for Saturday afternoons,

or a Wednesday night.

You can turn it on and dance alone,

realizing Ray LaMontagne sounds like winter.

Charles Clifford Brooks III is a poet and freelance writer living in Georgia USA. He was inducted into the National Creative Society his senior year at Shorter College where he also obtained a BS in History\Political Science with a minor in English Literature. Along with his creative endeavors, he also contributes articles to several magazines and a newspaper. He was recently brought on as Poetry Editor for Literary Magic Magazine. In August of 2008, Ghost Shadow Press picked up his first book of poetry “Whirling Metaphysics” to publish in 2009.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Casaubon and Amparo by Aleathia Drehmer

One day, she plants a great tree

in the image of man, culled

tiny brown seeds taken from cored bounties

leftover, pies baked and eaten warm.

She moves fingers through rich soil,

spayed earth moist and gathering

under nails; places each polished hope, gingerly.

Nestled in the corner, guarded by old

weathered legs, crossed keepers of the rains

and snows and sun-dappled summers.

Starling's golden tritons between blacktop brambles

all gorging till beaks come away

berry-stained and full.

She waters his roots with her purple can,

speaks to him in kind

while trimming long blades with shears,

laughing at herself, to him,

and blushes cheeks into apples.

She drips ruby nectar down his throat

stolen from the hummer's bell feeder

when his branches begin, buds curling out,

and iridescent bodies swirl around her,

new northern lights.

When he comes to her strong and constant,

she lies beneath him, rusty fingers reach

to touch her face, gold tears floating

in the brush of reality.

And she reads him volumes of Poe and Pound,

questions the universe and space, knowing

he won't ever answer her the truth,

but attempt every time.

He is there when seasons turn,

their heart growing, in him and he never

pushes her back or away,

and she will smile,

one day.

Aleathia Drehmer 2008

Aleathia Drehmer is currently trying to hibernate for the winter, but not having much success. She is an active staff member for The Guild of the Outsider Writers. She lives with her darling daughter and crazy cat, Carrot, in rural Painted Post, NY. She has been lucky enough to be published in many online and print journals over the last few years. She is even luckier to have great friends and one damned patient boyfriend.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Mardi Gras Man by Aimee Nelson

Communiques for Xanadu by William D. Freeman

Like Marco Polo,
I traveled here and there,
touching distant shores
and seeking aces in the trees
from Anchorage to Florence,
falling in love in Rome,
while my best friend shouted,
"Hello, Yates,"
perched on the precipice of the parapet
of Blarney, claiming to see Killarney
and reciting 'Kiltartan's Cross'
three-sheets to the wind
while Kitty gazed up,
wiping whiskey from her face,
ruddy and fair,
dreaming of cold nights
of warm debauchery in Munich's streets,
strung out, passed out and stoned
while passers-by muttered, auf Deutsch,
"Why must youth be wasted on the young?"

I graduated from Randolph-Macon College in 2006 with a BA in English Literature. My poems have previously appeared in The Duke's Dispatch, The Stylus and online in LitUp Mag. My freelance work has appeared on In addition to poetry, my interests include travel, photography, blues and jazz guitar and free software advocacy and I
currently work for a web hosting company.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Heathen by A. Razor

I am on the run tonight

from the memories of

past judgment and

failed futures

I cut the lines that

run down the middle

of the road

with wild swerving

maneuvers that are

barely cloaked in

the luminescent

darkness that

shrouds the industrial

part of town

I sense a pervasive

Sense of life’s coil


as the road

rolls by in torrents

of blackness lashed with

iridescent lines that promote

some order to my direction

I am tempted to lose control and

drive into walls and objects

but the feelings pass almost as

fast as the lights and the painted stripes

that seem to demarcate my life from my end

and as the all that life and feeling and light and

world trail past me

I feel like I might have lost what was

in pursuit of me and

what I had been in pursuit of

all at once

and I was left to wonder

which I would miss more

and which I would need less

as if the whole thing could be

divided that easily

into separate sides

of reality

when you are


at this


A. Razor was born in Brooklyn, NY in 1963. He was soon brought out to southern California and raised in areas ranging from Yuma, AZ to Las Vegas, NV to Hollywood, CA to San Bernardino, CA. His early experiences living on the streets of Hollywood and Venice Beach, CA and his later institutional experiences as an inmate and parolee as well as a squatter and homeless rights advocate inform his writing with a perception of a marginal and disposable existence in a society where life is cheap and hope sometimes seems unattainable. However bleak it may seem, there is always an element that speaks to the spark that the writer believes to be the essence of the human experience. He has read his works and been published in many places by many people over the years. A short film, 13 Cuts Of A Razor, will soon be available on the internet and at bookstores. Excerpts of the archived footage can be seen on YouTube.

This Man by David Erlewine

The man sitting across the desk once offered me $20 to run down his block in my underwear. He never paid. Such moments still snake through me. He ends his phone call, holds out his hand without standing up. No blink at my fake name (thank you, chemo!). Before I can answer, he informs me I look like a Lexus guy. It is quite possible this man has never given me another thought. I find myself unable to listen to other things he goes on to say. This man will listen to many, many grievances during his final hours.

David Erlewine has flash fiction and short stories published in a variety of print and web lit journals, including HOBART, IDENTITY THEORY, IN POSSE REVIEW, LITERAL LATTE, PINDELDYBOZ, SLOW TRAINS, SMOKELONG QUARTERLY, and WORD RIOT. Most recently his work has appeared in the anthology "WHAT HAPPENED TO US THESE LAST COUPLE YEARS?"

He lives in Washington, DC, with his wife and two children. When informed that Daddy writes, David's son exclaimed, "And he does dishes!" Thankfully he didn't reference Daddy's unhealthy time spent refreshing Facebook.