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The Phone Call

Posted in April 2010, Poetry on April 19, 2010 by Black Coffee Press LIMITED

The phone rings.

A static voice starts
to speak.

“We haven’t heard
your mother in the
last two days.”

“Have you seen


“Your stepfather
He hasn’t talked
to her either.”

He was in Florida
visiting his family
the holidays.

While she was
chowing down on


“I’ll try to find

What can I do?
My kids are with me,
there is no way
can take them
to her house.

Not when I already
know what

she’s done.

I call my brother
he’s at

I tell him about
the phone call.

We both know.

She thrives on

She was mad at
her husband for

The phone rings.

“I found her. The
ambulance is on its


For seventeen years I
took care of her.

When I was too

I left to live my own
life and came back,

married with children.

After her breakdown
I gave up my life


to take care of her.

Now that things had
gone back to normal,

she was at work,
things were supposed to

get better

now she was back
on a regular

path, she couldn’t have
that. She missed the


But what do I do?
I’ll have to go.
I’ll have to give
up my



I stand over

comatose body.


The nurse comes in.

“Her husband called.
He’s back from Florida.
He says he’s tired. He’s


While I stand over
my mother’s

comatose body.

K.M. McElhinny is writer and poet of the dark and the in between. She chased the white rabbit down the writing hole over a year ago and is not trying to find her way home. She has been published with Smidge Magazine and Flashes in the Dark.  Please visit her at her blog


Posted in Uncategorized on April 15, 2010 by Black Coffee Press LIMITED

             Well, we didn’t really think this one out, that’s for sure. By “we” I mean the guy in the bed to my left, who’s barely holding on, the woman with the nasty skin condition on my right, and the new guy hacking away in a grimy bed across the room from me. The four of us packed into a room no larger than my cramped freshman dorm in Wellesley all those years ago. And “we” in this musty bacteria-cave are joined by all the other millions who came of age during Peace, Love, and Understanding.

            Jesus, the smell in here. You wouldn’t believe it. And the heat. It’s like a jungle.

            Yup, we definitely didn’t think this one out. Maybe after all of that – the anti-war rallies, the drive for civil rights, Kent State, womens’ equality – maybe we just got tired. Compassion fatigued. I’d like to think it was genuine, all that idealism, but these days I’m not so sure anymore. Maybe it was just a fad to be part of, a way to belong. One minute I’m marching down the street in Chicago with natty, unshowered hair, protesting the ’68 convention, and the next minute I’m strutting down Madison Avenue, wondering if the powder blue pant-suit is sharp enough for an interview in the PR department of a global advertiser.

            Oh shit, here comes Vladimir. He’s by far the worst of the male nurses. Came here a few years ago from Chechnya. Not much for small talk or bedside manner. But I guess having a Russian soldier point a gun at your wife’s head makes the idea of working for $5.75 without benefits far more palatable. It’s time to shut the eyes and feign being asleep.

            Well, the new clothes must have worked. We got those PR jobs. And those Wall Street jobs. And the CEO spots. And then we put our energy into buying houses and cars and timeshares. We told ourselves we had grown up, become “responsible.” But pretty soon that wasn’t quite enough. So we put our efforts into acquiring bigger houses and second cars. And then second homes to drive to in those second cars. And then that actor guy came along and ran for office, telling us that we were being held back by welfare mothers and the government. He told us that social welfare systems were a burden and he promised to “give us our money back.” And we went for it, eagerly. Adios to all that kid’s play idealism.

            Loud, heavy footfalls approach my bed. Vladimir jams his arms under my back while I keep my eyes pressed shut. He grunts and flips me onto my stomach using way too much force. I stare at the pawn shop photo on the wall while Vladimir drains a bedsore. He swears in Russian (“kutcha” – roughly translated, “old mangy female dog”) and stomps out of the room.

            Well, we kept at it for twenty years, voting in guys we knew would serve us economically. Sure, they were morons, but they were our morons. A few of us still drove ancient Volvos and clinged to Peace and Love, but the rest of us moved on, started getting ready for the golden years on the golf course and kept fighting back against taxes.

            A grinding noise fills the dank air. Vladimir wheels in a gurney holding a frail woman. Jesus, where the hell is he going to put her? What’s next, bunk beds? The woman glances at me and grimaces. She bears a striking resemblance to a girl I worked with in the Resistance Underground who later became a V.P for Raytheon.

            So we loaded up on houses and cars and stocks and bonds and turned a blind eye to almost everything else. You want to spend a cajillion dollars on missiles and military bases around the world? Fine, go ahead, just keep those taxes low. Two more wars? No problem, just throw in a tax cut and it’s all good. We just let it slide, let ‘em cut out the things other people needed. Hell, it didn’t affect us, so why should we have cared?

            The monitor attached to my IV starts screaming. Vladimir stomps over and slaps the machine with a beefy hand. The monitor submits and stops squealing. Vladimir mutters “pushka” (translation – “useless piece of ancient crap”) before sighing and plodding out the room.

            So why should we have cared? Well, apart from being a good thing to do, we never counted on the fallout, even the obvious parts that were looming right in front of our eyes. The stagnant stocks and bonds, the underfunded pensions, the national debt, the mega-drain of 80 million boomers exiting the workforce and taking those taxes with them, the lost manufacturing we never cared about. We kept thinking about tomorrow, just like the song at Big Bill’s inauguration told us to. But not the group’s tomorrow, just our own. And so here we are, trying to cover the medical costs of the boomers on the backs of Taco Bell serfs and Gap twenty-somethings and temps. I can’t really blame those younger people for resisting.

            My arm goes numb. I look up at the IV tube and see that it’s clogged up again. I shout into the hall, trying to get Vladimir’s attention. He looks out from the supply closet, where he’s sitting on a stool, powering down a bottle of Vodka. He flips me the bird.

            Jesus, it’s gonna take a revolution to change this. Where are the hippies when you need them?

Thomas Sullivan  His writing has appeared in Word Riot, 3AM Magazine, and On The Wing, among others. His comic memoir about teaching drivers education (titled Life In The Slow Lane) is now available from Uncial Press. To view more of Thomas’ writing please visit his author website at

Sick Day Home, Chicago

Posted in April 2010, Poetry on April 2, 2010 by Black Coffee Press LIMITED

Across the street (Chills)—
A criminal rolls off the wet
Blanket he has pledged himself
To until the memory runs out. In
The commotion of spent breaths
He chooses to proclaim: “Radiator
Heat is the most reliable heat.”

In the Loop (Muscle Aches)—
A wannabe angel paces greedily
Under a clearly dubious sense of
Displacement, bumps into a criminal
Who exits an alleyway; a criminal
Who has his whole life staked out
A detached pursuit of choice.

Somehow within (Nausea)—
I stand flesh-peculiar behind the sweaty
Disguise of a picture window, and I
Instruct criminality to score peril,
To seek back its burdened blush from
Bone, to disconnect for the slanted
Sentiment of a wet snowstorm.

John Hospodka is the author of South Side Trilogy


Posted in March 2010, Poetry on March 26, 2010 by Black Coffee Press LIMITED

I believe in lying in bed with my boots on.
I believe in airplanes and turbulence and
Hornets nests and neurotic old women,

I believe in making to-do lists
And then
Doing anything on
The list

If I really want to feel productive
I make a list
filled with things
That I have already done.

Example of a to-do list
by Justin Grimbol:
Sleep in
Wake up
Jerk off
Fight with woman
Eat breakfast
Check email
Take piss
Write poem

I like poems.
They’re short.

most poetry isn’t very good though—
you got guys like Ginsberg talking about
how holy their assholes are.

I like ass. I love ass.
I got
A cramp
in my neck
from staring at
Doesn’t mean
There needs to be something holy about it
Ass is good enough as it is.

Some are better than others.

Are impossible to not get a little religious about.
Some stay in your heart
Like a stun gun
Like a blizzard
Only it’s warm
It’s the inventor, the mad scientist
of all warm things.

I believe in warm things
I believe in sweating
I believe
That people only smell good when they smell bad,
I believe in lukewarm pizza

I always believe it’s going to be a warm winter
Until the first snow fall,
Then I hide in my room
I put my hands under my woman’s breasts and pretend they’re mittens.
the weather channel says we should be expecting 16 inches of snow.
It’s going to be a long winter.

When I was a kid
I felt warm in the snow.
I felt a lot of thing back then
That I don’t feel now.
When I was a kid
I actually believed that if you beat a video game
That you’d be rewarded with money
That it would come pouring out of the Nintendo
like it was a slot machine.
Why else would they make the games so difficult?
Why would people play these ridiculous games
Unless there was some kind of reward at the end?

I believe in that kind of passion
I believe in how your thumbs hurt
when you played Nintendo for too long.
This poem was written with those same thumbs
I believe in thumbs and chaffed legs
And stretch marks and pregnancy scares
And running out of gas
And all the scratch off tickets that are buried
Under the front seat of my car.
I believe in all those things that make you ask
Was it worth it? And then you shrug your shoulders
Because even if it’s not worth anything
You’re going to keep at it anyway.
You just can’t help yourself.

Justin Grimbol, lives in astoria oregon. His novel DRINKING UNTIL MORNING, will be coming out this summer, via BLACK COFFEE PRESS. Check out his poems at

all the saints and philosophers

Posted in March 2010, Poetry on March 25, 2010 by Black Coffee Press LIMITED


all the saints and philosophers
are no wiser
then the
willy caterpillar
my daughter brings to me
her gentle hands

Scott C. Rogers, American poet, writer and publisher. His current novel Love Like a Molotov Cocktail to the Chest can be found worldwide.

The Light the Dead See

Posted in March 2010, Poetry on March 24, 2010 by Black Coffee Press LIMITED
There are many people who come back
After the doctor has smoothed the sheet
Around their body
And left the room to make his call.
They die but they live.
They are called the dead who lived through their deaths,
And among my people
They are considered wise and honest.
They float out of their bodies
And light on the ceiling like a moth,
Watching the efforts of everyone around them.
The voices and the images of the living
Fade away.
A roar sucks them under
The wheels of a darkness without pain.
Off in the distance
There is someone
Like a signalman swinging a lantern.
The light grows, a white flower.
It becomes very intense, like music.
They see the faces of those they loved,
The truly dead who speak kindly.
They see their father sitting in a field.
The harvest is over and his cane chair is mended.
There is a towel around his neck,
The odor of bay rum.
Then they see their mother
Standing behind him with a pair of shears.
The wind is blowing.
She is cutting his hair.
The dead have told these stories
To the living.
Frank Stanford, “The Light the Dead See” from The Light the Dead See: Selected Poems of Frank Stanford. Copyright © 1991 by Frank Stanford. 

Untitled memory

Posted in January 2010, Poetry on January 22, 2010 by Black Coffee Press LIMITED

I remember my kite.
A blue diamond I carried around
all of the time, like a dream
folded into my back pocket;
a good book too good to share
both tattered with wear and tear
worn in like bare feet in the summer.

Its tail was my shadow
echoing down a long corridor
too big and spilling out of me
like youth when it gets too big
for penny loafers and expectations.

I was on my way to class
with footsteps heavy
as the books I was supposed to read,
but you learn to carry it
even when their covers were their only weight
and you learn that real life
is a homework assignment
and you learn
to keep your dream in a back pocket,
folded up, waiting.

I remember my kite
as I pull it from a trunk
of all my youth’s stuff
stuffed into a box in the corner
like a child in “time out.”
It never did see the sun
but from behind a window pane.
It never did find its wind.
And I have yet to fly.

d.m.riggs. is a writer and poet, living in knoxville, tn. he’s badder than bad bad leroy brown. though not necessarily clever.

Baghdad Redux

Posted in January 2010, Poetry on January 21, 2010 by Black Coffee Press LIMITED

I saw Quinn again tonight,
first time in years, sailing the streets,
weaving through people,
collar up, head cocked,
arms like telephone poles sunk
in the pockets of his overcoat,

the brilliant pennants of his long red hair
waving over the stadium
where years ago he took my handoff,
bucked off guard, found the free field,
and heaved like a bison into the end zone.

Tonight, when Quinn wove by me muttering,
I should have handed him the ball.
I should have screamed, “Go, Quinn, go!”
He would have stiff-armed the lamppost,
found the free field again,
left us all in his wake to gawk

as he hit the end zone
and circled the goal posts,
whooping and laughing,
flinging the ball like a spear
over the cross-bar, back to Iraq.

Donal Mahoney, a native of Chicago, lives in St. Louis, MO. He has worked as an editor for The Chicago Sun-Times, Loyola University Press and Washington University in St. Louis. He has had poems published in or accepted by The Wisconsin Review, The Kansas Quarterly, The South Carolina Review, The Beloit Poetry Journal, Commonweal, Public Republic (Bulgaria), Revival (Ireland), The Istanbul Literary Review (Turkey), Opium 2.0, Rusty Truck, Deuce Coupe, Poetry Super Highway, Pirene’s Fountain (Australia) and other publications.


Posted in January 2010, Poetry on January 20, 2010 by Black Coffee Press LIMITED

I am still paying off

the karma debt,

unrelenting gods bill me

from on high,

all the friends I ever had

are gone, they all

let me down in the end.

Out on the hard road,

the debris I’ve left,

the disasters, so many

wrecks on the highway,

such bloodbaths,

a thousand bridges

burning above hatchets

barely buried, and still

the walls to mend,

still the love for one

who never did love me.

Played the past so often

that today I wager

with empty pockets,

the die cast, the side of

snake eyes tossed,

this morning I wake up again

without redemption,

only a poor boy’s will

to pay his way

and the penniless pride to

keep pressing on—

Phil Lane His poems have appeared in various small magazines and online over the years.  He teaches English and lives in Northern New Jersey.