Thursday, December 10, 2015

my dog is deader than yours


by jean-claude etranger

illustrations by roy dismas






everyone was gathered around the fireplace.

even colonel waters, who had been wheeled in, sniffling and grumbling, by a ferociously scowling nurse jaspers.

the windows had been thrown open to the night.

a wolf howled in the surrounding hills.

clyde took one look around the room and got down to business.

maxwell was seated on the blue divan, nonchalantly murmuring to colette, but turned when he felt clyde’s eyes on him.


“it was a sweet setup, maxwell, “ clyde began, “and you almost got away with it.

everybody was looking for the hinkydink. and they thought they needed the birkenstock to find the hinkydink.

what nobody cottoned to was that the birkenstock was the hinkydink.

how did i figure that out? it was the postcard. the same postcard that seemed to seal the deal once and for all against eberhart. the postcard that was written in red ink - “

suddenly hogan burst into the room.


“clyde! stop right there, old buddy!”

clyde smiled tolerantly. “what is it now, hogan?”

“it’s miss wildwood.”

“you mean you found out where she came from?”

“no, we found her! in a motel in bakersfield - a little buzzed, but alive as you or me.”

“you mean - ?” clyde gasped.

“that’s right. the body in the burned yellow camaro wasn’t her at all - never was. it looks like we all are starting from scratch.”


the people gathered in the room - mrs cora davis, jenny white from the chronicle, colonel waters and nurse jaspers, and of course maxwell - began to snicker and giggle.

maxwell leaned back and let out a loud guffaw. “well, mister clyde, it looks like your carefully constructed case has blown to the proverbial smithereens.” he looked around. “by the way, does anybody know exactly what a smithereen is? no one has ever properly explained it to me.”

mrs cora davis and jenny white laughed out loud.


“so that’s the great clyde…” someone in the back of the room said.

clyde looked down at the cold fireplace. he wished there was a fire in it, and he could jump in it.

his case had been blown to bits like a nest of dead wasps dropped from the top of the taj mahal…

*

later that morning, in maggie’s diner.

hogan put his coffee cup down. “well, got to run. i am on the public payroll, you know, and have to put in an appearance.” he tossed a half dollar on the counter, and got up.


he slapped clyde on the back, gently. “don’t take it so hard, clyde. today is another day. and you might get another case - some day. ha, ha !”

clyde didn’t look up as hogan went out the door.

neither did the waitress leaning on the counter down by the cash register.

there was no other customers in the place. the waitress, whose name probably wasn’t even ruby, did not come down from the end of the counter to offer clyde any consolation, or to speculate on the unpredictable nature of existence.

she yawned.


it wasn’t like the old days.

so it’s come to this, thought clyde.

the big case - the big case that was going to him back on top -

just another spider web in a hurricane.

just another cat up a tree that was cut down forty years ago.

outside it was a gray day, with the threat of rain.

a cold rain.

there was a quarter of an ounce of coffee in clyde’s cup. did he want to finish it?


or didn’t he?

he couldn’t make up his mind.

behind him, the door opened. the little bell above it jangled.

clyde didn’t turn around.

a shadow fell across his coffee cup.

the guy who had sat down beside him - and who had six other stools and three booths he could have chosen - weighed at least three hundred pounds. and that was without his bowler hat and camels hair coat.


“hello, clyde.”

“hello.”

“remember me?”

“can’t say that i do.”

“i didn’t think you would, but no harm in asking.”

the waitress appeared. “what will you have?” she asked the newcomer.

“the special.”

“we have more than one special. we have - “


“i’ll have the special with the most calories. i tell you what, i’ll have that and i’ll have the special with the next most calories too, how’s that?”

“that sounds good, mister. coming right up.” the waitress scribbled something on her pad.

“i didn’t think you would remember me,” the stranger said, after the waitress had moved away to hand the order through to the kitchen.

“i give up,” clyde told him. “who are you?”

“randy peterson.”


“pleased to meet you, randy,”

“ha, ha! but you don’t remember me?”

“i am sorry, i don’t.”

“walter j abbott elementary school in springfield, ohio?”

“elementary school?”

“see - i told you you wouldn’t remember me.”

“and you were right.”

randy peterson smiled, but fell silent when the waitress brought him a cup of coffee and a big plate of toast as the first installment on his two specials.


“but i’ve been following you, clyde,” randy resumed, when the waitress departed again.

“following me? clyde looked up.

“ha, ha! i mean following your storied career in the papers. not following you down the street, ducking behind doorways, ha ha!”

“oh.” clyde looked back down in his coffee cup.

“i kept track of all the famous cases you were involved in - the silver walrus case, the beheaded peanut case, all of them. one in particular - the redheaded buzzard case, i had my own views. i am not so sure you got it right.”


“i think all those cases are closed,” clyde said.

“oh, i know that. i didn’t follow you here to talk about old cases.”

the waitress came back with a plate heaped with pancakes and put it down in front of randy peterson.

“thank you, sweetheart.” randy grabbed his fork and prepared to attack the pancakes. “don’t worry, clyde, i will get to the point.”

“i hope so.”

“eventually.”


(to be continued)



Thursday, December 3, 2015

2 poems

illustrations by palomine studios



no more

by horace p sternwall



there are no more secrets for spies to steal
no more mysteries to be revealed
no more conspiracies to be exposed
that is just the way it goes

everything is out in the open
wisdom of the ages? - keep hoping
what you see is what you get
enlightenment is falling without a net

alas! the younger generation
heeds no stately peroration
from graybeards staggering to the grave
dreams are now reality’s slaves

oh poor demystified planet!
now just one big slab of granite
who will write your epitaph
when the gods chuckle and the angels laff





poem for everyone

by wiggly jones, "the little hippie boy"


look out the window
what do you see?
i don’t see you
and i don’t see me

i see ten trillion desperate souls
filled with bomb and bullet holes
marching through the purple gloom
of john the baptist’s hotel room

i am not attila the hun
i am more st stephen
i never get mad
nor do i get even

nobody owes me anything
that’s the way i see it
if the picnic ends tomorrow
so be it



Tuesday, December 1, 2015

dusk


by frederick flynn

illustrations by konrad kraus





mike did not express any great surprise when eddie showed up at his door, although they had not seen each other for twenty-two years.

“remember me?” eddie asked.

mike nodded. “eddie. how you been?”

it was just starting to get dark. the street behind eddie was deserted. mike’s house was a run down one story. it looked like it might never have been painted at all. the little patch of land in front of it was all dirt, no grass.

mike’s ten year old chevy pickup was parked in a driveway. it had a new coat of green paint.

the other houses on the street looked abandoned. there were no vehicles parked in front or beside any of them.


mike looked up and down the street. either eddie had walked, or whoever drove him had taken off.

“can i come in?” eddie asked.

“oh, yeah, sure.” mike backed up and waved eddie in.

a hall led into a kitchen, the only room with a light on.

eddie looked around. the kitchen was not too dirty. there were some clean dishes stacked neatly beside the sink.

a girl was sitting in a chair beside the kitchen table. she looked about fifteen. she was naked, and bound firmly to the chair with elaborately knotted ropes. she had something in her mouth - a rag or a ball, with a gag tying it in.


eddie looked at her. “i hope i’m not interrupting anything.”

“no, she can wait. she’s not going anywhere.”

“same old mike.”

mike shrugged. “some things never get old. “ he sat down across from the girl, in the only other chair. “so what can i do for you, my friend? you want something to drink? all i got is beer.”

“i’ll take a beer.”

“help yourself.” mike nodded at a small refrigerator behind eddie.


eddie took a can of schlitz out of the refrigerator and popped it.

mike relaxed in his chair. “i repeat, what can i do for you?”

“you heard from phil lately? phil winters?”

“phil winters? are you kidding? he’s been dead for eighteen years. i ought to know, i killed him.”

“maybe you did, but he’s alive again.”

“you don’t say so?”

“yeah, this new technology, you know.”


mike nodded. “i heard about it. i didn’t know anybody was using it on a bum like phil winters.”

eddie took a sip of the schlitz. “maybe he wasn’t such a bum as we thought.”

“no?’ you mean he was connected? to who? i don’t remember anybody giving a shit when i killed him.”

“it looks like he was rich. his folks had money.”

mike slammed the table. “i knew it! i always suspected it. there was just something about him. damn! we should have kidnapped his faggot ass and held him for ransom.”


eddie nodded. “well, that was then and this is now.”

“so what does he want now? is he looking for me?”

“i don’t know what he’s looking for, but some people are looking for him.”

“where do you come in?” mike asked.

“they asked me to look for him. they’d make it worth my while, all that.”

“yeah, right. damn, this is a lot to take in.” mike closed his eyes and rubbed his forehead. “all this new stuff, it’s just too much for me sometimes.”


with a glance at the girl, eddie slipped something out of his back pocket.

what mike did not suspect was that “eddie” was not really eddie at all. he was mal-dor, an agent of the tricanean trans-time empire, and that the girl in the chair was the princess aleaaa of the house of nor, whom he had been commissioned to rescue.

eddie pressed the little gray disc he had in his hand, and a bolt of blue flame dissolved mike’s guts into a quickly cooling pink puddle of fuzz…

turning the gray disc over, mal-dor used it to quickly cut away the princess’s bonds and gag.


“whew! i thought you would never get here.”

“everything was under control.”

“that’s easy for you to say. did you have to spend so much time jabbering with him?”

“i was probing his brain - seeing if he knew anything.”

“and did he?”

“do you care? “

“not really. why don’t you get me one of those beers? i’m thirsty.”


“are you crippled? get it yourself. and let’s get out of here.”

“my arms and legs are all numb from being tied up.”

mal-dor took a can of schlitz out of the refrigerator and gave it to the princess. “now let’s go.”

“have you got a ship?”

“no, i walked from clavon-7. of course, i have a ship, it’s right around the corner. can you walk, or do i have to carry you?”

“i can walk, big boy. just wait until i find my clothes.”

*


forty-eight hours later. dusk was falling again.

dolan and jefferson looked down at mike’s body.

“look at that hole, will you?” jefferson shook his head. “ i know it’s nice and clean in its way, but it gives me the creeps. give me a good old-fashioned bullet wound with pus and guts and maggots.”

dolan nodded.

“it’s time’s like this,” jefferson continued, “i wish i was back in the andes, chasing pancho garcia.”


dolan rolled his eyes. he had heard it all a thousand times before. “let’s look for some kind of bullet.”

“you know there’s not going to be no bullet.”

“there’s a hole in front of him and a hole in back, ain’t there? regulation says we look for a projectile, which we will either find or not. so let’s do it, soldier boy, and get it over with.”

“all right, all right. i just hope we get back in time for the game.” jefferson looked around. “is there a tv in this place?”

“i didn’t see one. but we can look.”

***



Monday, October 12, 2015

3 poems by 3 poets

illustrations by palomine studios




the dream

by wiggly jones, "the little hippie boy"


stalin never wore a suit and tie
because he was just a regular guy
and neither did mao ze dong
because he truly loved the people all day long

the human race was willing and eager
to be saved by woody guthrie and pete seeger
but j edgar hoover and richard nixon
betrayed their dreams by putting the fix in

if lorca and gary cooper had defeated franco
and john garfield and henry fonda robbed every bank, oh
there might still be time to save the earth
from the koch brothers’ stalactitic mirth

as the earth fries like a slice of spam
who will denounce the oligarch’s evil sham
where’s emma goldman? rosa luxembourg? mike gold?
down moloch’s hill the world’s already rolled






soupy fedora

by chuck leary


he wore a soupy fedora
in the streets of gomorrah
and waited patiently for autumn
in the alleys of sodom

as the train pulls out
the flower girls shout
and the newsboys cry
for a slice of cherry pie

the rain pours down
on the fedora’s battered crown
and the downturned brim
hides the infinite sadness of slim

chance flashed him a card
and he tried very hard
to remember its contours
and down the rain still pours







fair ladies

by corinne delmonico


all women can not be the same
they must play the beauty game
someone must be placed above
all others in desire and love

billions of ladies crowd the scene
but one must be crowned queen
for to see them all the human brain
would collapse under the strain

paris hilton had her day in the sun
we hope she had some fun
then it was kim kardashian’s turn
she still has fame to burn

now fate has given the world a gift
taylor swift
no need to cry and cuss
when you also have miley cyrus



Monday, September 21, 2015

3 poems


by horace p sternwall

illustrations by roy dismas




the twilight of twilight



in a long forgotten age
poets maudits were all the rage
drunk, unshaven, and ill dressed
the bourgeoisie they quite impressed
with words grandiloquent and sage

every mountebank and magus
made a claim yet more outrageous
in their desperate ascension
to the summits of pretension
with every street corner their stages

they measured out their days
in bistros and cafes
watching honest citizens pass
they trembling raised a glass
as they composed their unmemorable lays

one no longer hears or sees
much about poets maudits
their absinthe-stained cravats
and battered wide-brimmed hats
have vanished in a green reverie


*


bohemian nights



a slubberdegullion named suzy
drifted through the days blue and boozy
she followed the pattern
of an unregenerate slattern
and could not often choose to be choosy

she had no reserves of gold bullion
when she dined it was often on slumgullion
when her partners in crime
threw her a lousy dime
she said, hey pal, thanks a mullion

no one was up to the task
of ever caring to ask
if suzy had any dreams
or just floated down life’s stream
holding tight to an empty flask

one night she was just gone
but no one commented on
that most unremarkable fact
whether from indifference or tact
and they kept on drinking until dawn


*


ezra



ezra wrote some poems
they didn’t take up much space
he had a twinkle in his eye
and a smile upon his face

ezra wrote some poems
they didn’t take up much space
he had made his contribution
to the culture of the human race

the years stretched out before him
repetitious, bleak, and long
he had some thoughts on the history of civilization
that his fellow humans found quite wrong

ezra wrote some poems
they didn’t take up much space
they will be preserved forever
in a silent purple place


*



Sunday, September 20, 2015

fighting words


by jack dale coody





the road may be long and lonely
the way may be dark and bleak
demons may hound and surround me
but i lift up my voice to speak

kings may laugh on their golden thrones
and darkness cover the earth
they can banish me from the city
but i know what my words are worth

o lackeys off the powerful
and priests of jealous gods
i will never cease in my quest for truth
no matter what the odds

you can call me a bum and madman
a parasite and a freak
you can build a thousand walls to contain me
i will lift up my voice to speak

masters of the universe
in your towers built with lies
i will lift up my voice forever
without subterfuge or disguise

the highway is crowded with howling dogs
the woods with ravenous beasts
serpents may drag me to the pit of hell
i will lift up my voice to speak




Monday, August 31, 2015

hitchhike


by roger "pegleg" wilson

illustrations by konrad kraus and danny delacroix





i decided to hitchhike to fresno california to buy a banana.

i got a ride outside barrington vermont from a guy in a 1963 oldsmobile.

he said his name was john. i believed him.

i told him my name was ted.

after that we didn’t talk much.

the car rocked from side to side on the highway like a boat on a stormy sea.

night fell.

we were halfway between pittsburgh and louisville kentucky when the car turned into two cars.

the one with john at the wheel speeded up and disappeared from sight.

the other one with me in the passenger seat kept on.

there was no steering wheel.

i could drive it with my mind but i couldn’t slow it down.

and i couldn’t stop it because it had no brakes.

traffic increased when i got almost to columbus ohio.

it became harder and harder to keep in my lane.

big semis and buses began crowding and passing me.

but i couldn’t slow down.

then i heard a siren. the highway patrol!

i wanted them to catch me but i couldn’t slow down.

then i saw a dirt road off to the side.

somehow i got the car on to it!

the car bounced and bumped along between the trees and over the rocks but at least it started to slow down.

finally it stopped!

i breathed a sigh a relief. i was still alive.

i got out of the car fast before it could start up again!

me and the car were in a clearing. naturally there was a cabin in the clearing.

there were no lights on in the cabin.

it started to rain.

then i heard the sirens again.

the highway patrol had discovered where i went and was following me!

would they believe my story about not being able to stop the car?

about driving it with only my mind?

the rain started to come down hard. that decided me.

i made a dash for the cabin.

even though somehow i felt positive there was nobody inside i started pounding on the door.

the siren stopped but i could hear the patrol car coming down the road.

i pushed at the door. it opened.

“anybody home?” i called.

even though i knew there wasn’t.

i bumped into a table.

there was a dark shape in the corner - an old-fashioned icebox.

i opened it.

there was a bottle of coca-cola inside - it looked nice and cold.

and a banana.

a bright yellow banana.

i didn’t have to go all the way to fresno california for a banana after all.

***