by Doug Draime

I couldn’t tell whether she was
a man or woman at first. I took the
bottle anyway. It was four in the morning
and the rain was beginning to fall,
as we huddled together in the alley off of
5th and Temple in downtown L.A. The Night
Train was smooth going down warming my throat and
stomach. After passing the bottle back and forth
a few times, I found out her name was Sally.
She was younger than me; she took off her Cincinnati
Reds baseball cap, and her hair was matted and
filthy, but through it all, a radiant shiny black.
She asked if I wanted some sex. I told her no, I was
too tired for that. She seemed relieved, but shot me a
quick disgusted look. “You’re not a fag, are you?”
she asked. “No,” I answered, “just real tired.”
Sally was from Baltimore. Had been living on the streets
for over a year, and when she couldn’t stand it
any longer, the women’s shelter at the mission.
Her father raped her.
Her brother raped her.
Her uncle raped her.
Her mother broke her arm and called her a whore,
throwing her out on the streets when she
was 16. “The fucking world sucks, “ she said. I nodded in
agreement, taking another long pull from the bottle.
We sat huddled, talking together till the rain stopped
and the sun was breaking out over the downtown
skyline. Pigeons flew in the morning light overhead.
I left her there about 6 a.m. sleeping up against a cardboard
garment box, and headed back to my apartment in Silverlake.
It’d been 3 long days of booze, speed, weed,
debauchery, madness, lies and violence. Little
of which I remember, but I do remember
waking up in that stinking alley
next to her warmth, with no hope but the bottle,
no desire but to warm myself, no thoughts,
no future.
As I walked out of the alley onto 5th street I
looked back at her sleeping peacefully,
and in the light and fading shadows of
morning, she was almost beautiful.
After these many years of my life, of drugs, booze,
marriage, poetry, divorce, love, resurrection,
friendships, poverty, prosperity, death, homelessness,
children, betrayal, rage, faith; the endless nowhere shit hole jobs
and all the rest of the moments
which brought me to this moment, this memory,
my tears saturate the paper for Sally,
and I raise my fist to the world,
for her, myself and all the rest of you.

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with no peaceful resolution in sight

by J.J. Campbell

trailer park

small white town
in ohio

a bullet goes
through a trailer

the police are

a deputy investigating
the complaint pulls out
her camera to take a
photo of a footprint

that deputy is
shot in the face

a shootout ensues
with her dead body
caught in the middle

another officer is

swat is called

hours pass with
no peaceful resolution
in sight

gunfire erupts

all caught on

suspect is dead

either by his
own hand or

no one really
cares at this

happy new year

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by Alan Catlin

after reading Jackie Sheeler

After my mother died
the city cop in Midtown
South Manhattan recognized
the writing on the evidence
envelope as his own,

recalled the unattended
death crosstown in
Martha Washington Hotel
for Women as one of those
not-so-routine cases you
weren’t likely to forget,

said, “That room she was in,
it might be a bit of a mess.”

Like someone might be a
“little bit pregnant”
or “Unresponsive at the scene,
maybe dead for days.”

What he should have said
was, “It’s a fucking horror story”
but even that would have been
a lie.

It was worse than that.

Ten times worse.

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Mostly Basie with a Little Bach

Whenever I see a new woman, I know
I should look at her hair and her eyes and her smile
before I decide if she’s worth the small talk
and the dinner later
and whatever else she may require
before she becomes taffy,
pliant and smiling.
But that never works for me.
Whenever I see a new woman,
what matters to me is never
her hair or her eyes or her smile;

what matters to me is her saunter
as I stroll behind her.
If her moon comes over the mountain
and loops in languor, left to right,
and then loops back again,
primed for another revolution, then
I introduce myself immediately
no matter where we are,
in the stairwell or on the street
and that’s when I see for the first time
her hair and her eyes and her smile
but they are never a distraction since
I’m lost in the music of her saunter.

Years ago, tall and loping Carol Ann
took a train to Chicago,
found a job and then one summer day
walked ahead of me on Michigan Avenue
while I surveyed her universe amid
the cabs screeching, horns beeping,
a driver’s middle finger rising.
Suddenly she turned and said hello
and we shook hands and I saw her smile
dart like a minnow and then disappear
as she frowned and asked
why was I walking behind her.

I told her I was on my way to the noon Mass
at Holy Name Cathedral and she was welcome
to come along. The sermon wouldn’t be much,
I said, but the coffee and bagels afterward
would be plentiful, enough to cover lunch.
And Jesus Christ Himself would be there.
She didn’t believe me, not at all,
and she hasn’t believed me since.

That was thirty years ago and now
her smile is still a minnow
darting here and there but now
it’s more important than her saunter
which is still a symphony,
mostly Basie with a little Bach.

And I no longer traipse Michigan Avenue
as I did years ago looking for new moons
swirling in my universe. Instead,
I take my lunch in a little bag
on a long train from the suburbs
and I marvel at one fact:
It’s been thirty years since I first heard
the music in her saunter
and Carol Ann and I are
still together, praise the Lord.
Who can believe it? Not I.
Carol Ann says she knew
the ending from the start.
Lord, Almighty. Fancy that.

by Donal Mahoney

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new issue of Gutter Eloquence

One of my fav zines, I finally found enough free time to check out the latest release!

–Ross Vassilev

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Anytime Mintues

by Lawrence Gladeview

ever wonder
on their
cell phones?

please hold

[cue cute piano music]

please stay
on the line
is important
to us
and will be
in the order
it was

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by Gary Beck

Puny dreamer of caravans
riding the subway
with mindless drools
dead, but seemingly sleeping,
rattle the paper every corpse
for stations
(time for motions of illusion)
come like ermine visions,
conductors soliloquy mumbled,
the Canal Street of the soul.

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