VOICES FROM THE FIRE: R. KEITH

VOICES FROM THE FIRE: Dan Provost

Come With Me

We walk the steps

of forced life within a

filthy neighborhood— a doomed

scenario that tortures existence into

a blind escape stare, where the

angels of the absurd cannot comprehend

a vision of a place where ugly people

play for keeps…

Not Science Fiction

Head still

staggered…

Tilted—

Far away from all the

terror you

           have seen…

Self-inflicted

Maybe, maybe not

Addonizio

I’ll never be cool like that pretty lady who writes crosscutting poetry and plays the blues harp.

Her books continue to examine how she lives life on her own terms, owing explanation to no one.

Don’t we all want to say that about ourselves?

Quietly, I sit in my mancave in Northern New England watching the young/old walk by, always with hints of remorse.  Attempts getting into a zone where words enhance my true soul are often stymied.  The big boy magazines reject my shit without any explanation on how to jot better.

Getting on stage either to recite a great observation or playing some Little Walter tune on the harmonica—Kim A. has it going. 

I’m always stuck in inward violence.

I also realize that this should not be looked at as a “contest.”

But, I do.

And I’m way down on the scoreboard…with no timeouts

left.

VOICES FROM THE FIRE:Milenko Županovic

The son God

In the light

of shadow

prayer

on the hill

Golgotha

the heart

of the city

Jerusalem

is bleeding

saints

in tears.

Mother

Hide your

 believers

 with prayer

in arms

heart

new life

at dusk

demons

in the fire

missing.

Blood

 Traces

of blood

holy

Grail

verses

of solitude

faith

by poetry

hidden.

Black Flags

Creepy

screams

flags

on the mountain

light

in the hands

of hero

in the lost days

of apocalypse.

VOICES FROM THE FIRE: Jake Sheff

Looking for Harajuku Girls During Hanukkah on SW Nyberg Street

After a rough night on a soft bed, my oral

Fixation – for serious – had me seeking some

Bone-blonde flawless flame at New Seasons

Market. Honestly, the only animal that is

Territorial around ideas was getting kind of

Fistic in my chest, inside that smoking cloche

Of half-regrets. Now beauty walks in beauty’s

Absence, or it isn’t beautiful at all. But as

I walked between Cabela’s and MattressFIRM,

It hit me: normal animosity is always there

For no good reason, either in a sleeping bag

Or silver-colored scarves. I don’t believe free

Will a thing, but know that into being paradise

I sing: I took this nostrum and a look into

LA Fitness when the cuckoo clocks went off.

Greed for money’s bad, but greed for meaning’s

Worse; as always, the twain contended – like

Science and equality – as I gazed upon the teller

Inside Banner Bank from outside. Her face

Was full of one, her fist the other, but my

Scientific fact-checker – blind to things

Like poetry and pride – said I had to move

On. And like so many times before, I didn’t

Ask, “Move on to what?” – the very question

Frightens the living. Honestly, the day took me

In stride, as if the very phrase, “as if,” was

Now sci-fi. Honestly, I never try to change

Another’s nature; that’s a rare achievement,

Rarer yet, is it not worth the effort. Still, I stood

Outside Batteries Plus with a girl on her


Cigarette break, and said, “Flowerlike, my snow-

Flake: your person and your personality…”

To which my learned company replied, “You know

Who has no dignus? You, dingus!” The mRNA

Of oblivion; I think she was Bolivian…

I acted American, and it wasn’t until I sat

Down by my lonesome in The Good Feet Store

That she and I were on decent footing again.

I answered my own question there with, “God only

Knows,” and meant it, without believing in Him.

The devil can be so Homerican! It’s safe to say,

I’d leap over barrels and five-barred gates to

Meet the Sugarplum Fairy at Pieology or Mud Bay.

Good people only know good facts. I only say

Bad facts out loud if the Philharmonic Orchestra

Is warming up, and I never answer honestly when

People ask, “How are you,” unless I’m in Home

Goods. I put bindweed in my ears when I walked by

The highly intelligent higglers in GOLFTEC.

Gallantry, gall and Girl Scout cookies were getting

Me ready for a nap, but the galaxy wouldn’t stop

Spinning. For serious, I’m sad to say, some jolly

Fellow – a widow’s man – was moving through

The aisles at Michael’s like King’s knight to bishop

Three. I don’t know what it means if my tea leaves

Are teal…Someone outside Red Robin said I

Have a basenji’s baseness, and her friend accused

Her of “charitably characterizing again.” Now there are

Two ways of disliking the non-pharmaceutical

Interventions life will offer: one is to dislike them,


The other is to write a nice Yelp review – some well-

Off words – for Bright Now! Dental. Permanent

Ephemera can’t give critical thinking toxic megacolon.

For You, I Beat the Living Shit Out of my Inhumanity

The crowd is jeering, as I make myself

My pet peeve’s bête noire. My cruelty,

Whose crown is golden, looks at me with

Sorrowful eyes. Some witnesses have second

Hearts for brains, to bathe themselves

In the muddy, midday light of empathy,

Whose crown is golden. Ingratitude takes

Hold of me. I’m strangled by the desert’s

Wings; pale black, night-blooming wings.

Sweet nightmare, why’d you have to go

And do that? Selfishness makes wisemen

Lazy. Phony magnanimity might brush

Your mane, my bruise-bronzed heart is

Fine. It goes both ways – correction’s fist –

And I’m no overzealous corpse. This isn’t

Any form of love… Sometimes the meaning

Wears the word out. Would you look at

That! Norman Mailer wrote the donning

And doffing protocols for golden crowns

On garlands of paper flowers. I think it’s

True, and dangerous to forget: too much

Respect grows best in majolica flowerpots

Painted by Toulouse-Lautrec. If it’s the whip

My anger wants, it’s the whip my anger gets.

A Pillar of Snow
After John Ashbery, “Into the Dusk-Charged Air”

He used to walk a runway like a hotel with

an appetite, like India away from Taj Mahal.

The crowd was his sierra, tempting him

with exodus; a tango for an over-40 thrill.

He could’ve won an Oscar as the charming

side of March or Romeo, but the heart

cannot be dressed in Yankee Doodle genius.

Instead he kept a hotel in his eyes and Nissan

Altima. In India, a Chevy Malibu had washed

his feet with headlight madness. A Ford Sierra

lost its grip on reality by the light of his tan. Going

for Apollo’s car, he blew a kiss to pull the sun

faster than an Alfa Romeo or winged minute. He

turned a Volkswagen Beetle’s brain into a Yankee:

“Out, out –

The beauty spot – a stain

On man’s eternal eye;

A fact – or two – are slain

To prove fertility” 

He offered up tonight as a hotel for tomorrow.

India had taught him violence was a bad joke.

He wore the Sierra Madres to officiate all of

yesterday’s tangoes with today, and vowed

to avenge tomorrow’s death. (The o-shaped scar

on Romeo is from that ruined breath.) His

catwalk flowed into the Yangtze river out to sea.

Sex and Information: Three 11-year Sun Cycles

Man:

Your body is a list of facts: “Humility out-virtues

All virtues,” and, “There is nothing more odious than

Being humbled,” to name a couple.  The sound of

Light is something in your breasts I wouldn’t dare

Behold, but your booty tells me: “Behold

Suffering, the opiate of the gods and spice

Of paradise for men!” And copulation, in a space

Without direction, reminds me in your eyes

It says, “The hawk was born of riddled fire; the hawk

Was lust in love expired.” Then laughter comes into

The sky, a supernova not in line with doctrine.

Woman:

Your body lends appearances a speech, the most

Repulsive malady in other people, but you

Mumbled. And my interpretation (to light a

Sound) was, “Something in the beast you shouldn’t dare

Behold,” but your shoulders told me: “Behold

Suffering, the piety of men and the spice

Of paradise for none!” The population in your eyes

Was sent to space without direction, reminding me,

“The mother’s map is in my lover’s lap.” I forthwith spun

The wheel of fascination, and a selfless axle

Birthed a fiction purely friction to the doctor.

Blackbird:

This bodiless adventure is a word embodied;

Sex: akin to blackbirds that out-shadow shadows.

To name a couple – Crumbling Light and Timeless

Sound – is something in your rest that isn’t dark

Or cold, but your grunting archways tell me: “Behold

Suffering, the poetry of gods and the spice

Of paradise for minds!” The most repulsive melody

Is space without a blackbird for the eye; remind me

Why: the man is hawking riddled tires; the woman’s

Map is plainly just a line of frisson poorly drawn: frozen

Fructose. From where I’m docked, I see more levels.

A Reckoning of Sorts

Tried to be clever with this title but finished up a ten hour day as I type this and to be honest, after fighting Amazon over copyright issues and Lulu with formatting issues I didn’t want to write this but the second May release from Dumpster Fire Press deserves more than that…

Cover art by Dillinger

SOBER THOUGHTS FROM THE CRAZY HOUSE is the solo debut poetry collection by J. Maxwell whose work originally showed up in DEATH BY PUNK.

J. Maxwell

While I didn’t find his work outstanding at first, I did find it good enough to publish as I corresponded more frequently with him, and he tried to hock his to Dumpster Fire Press and I became annoyed most especially as he told me his story as I was like “Oh, no another stereotypical strung-out character who kind of write and fancies himself an artist…”

I got to know him, hence a reckoning of sorts, so when I actually almost reluctantly sat down to edit his book, I marveled at his story and applaud him for relaying his tale through different stages of his addictions bleeding into recovery and I’m grateful to him for actually sharing that with alongside with the fact he had confidence in Dumpster Fire Press as a potential home for this grand work.

Being small press doesn’t mean we have to shy away from what can be considered mainstream stereotypical issues…mental health and addiction affects a plethora of people across a wide array of spectrums, so why the hell not?

Especially if the writing is good and Dillinger just happened to have a cool concept to go with the cover right?

Dumpster Fire Press is proud to present the debut of poet J. Maxwell with his first collection SOBER THOUGHTS FROM THE CRAZY HOUSE… a poetic narrative chronicling the path of wayward youth to uncontrollable self-loathing addict in a downward spiral finally crawling from the wreckage in an artistic rebirth.

Never Again

It never got so bad

As Johnny Cash

Where I needed loved ones

To fend off my demons

With rifles pointed to kill

I was never a Nikki Sixx

I never had to be shot up with adrenaline

To kickstart my heart

I was never put in a stretcher

Laid up in a hospital bed 

Where so many end up a statistic

I dodged that bullet

I never spent more than a night in a cell

To sleep off the high

Never spent more than a few hours 

Behind those bars

Alone with my thoughts

It was enough to show me

I didn’t want to go back

But that didn’t make me stop

I carried on for a few more misadventures

A wayward son still searching for peace

In all the wrong places

Shaking hands with the wrong people

Until I had one too many hangovers

And I was sick of being sick and twisted

That’s when I decided

I was never going to use again

To let myself feel again 

And never abuse myself again

Because all I did was put myself through hell

And I didn’t even get a handbasket for efforts

KELP ME!

An escape from National Poetry Month and poetry just in general….

Dumpster Fire Press’ first release for May features the spectacular short fiction collection from VOICES FROM THE FIRE contributor and fellow MAD SWIRL contributor Harry McNabb.

Featuring cover art by James Maj.

“It’s a real pleasure to release Harry McNabb’s latest story collection.  I first encountered his work on MAD SWIRL and instantly became enthralled during the first virtual mic realizing these were tales meant to be read aloud…which got me all charged up but not entirely in an erotic way either…”

“Harry McNabb is one of those rare original voices you seldom hear about because, well to be honest the simulation existence we mainline ourselves to in order to sustain a basic form of survival attempts to veil us from the bizarro reality we actually live in and the types of stories Harry tells isn’t too far off base from the way we live, it’s like the hero’s journey in a vicarious bizarro fashion…”

“Anyway, Dumpster Fire Press is really proud to release this book and give a shout out to a seldom heard voice such as McNabb and another shout out to Colton Basinger for easing the editing process, DFP wouldn’t exist without you guys…”

“Most importantly, I look forward to the day or evening I head back to Texas, hang out with the Mad Swirl crew and meet Harry in the flesh, perhaps we’ll collaborate on a film called “The Great Interstellar Spaceship Pie Eating Contest” and he’ll take me to the mineshafts and show me where the bodies are stored.”

This is one of those fiction collections that has a little bit of everything for everyone or rather anything for anyone.

Stories meant to be read aloud at inappropriate times and places such as JESUS AND THE JAMES BOND FACTORY…

So there’s a bunch of James Bonds at the James Bond factory and I’m killing it on the production line stuffing tongues into mouths when a big hyena comes skulking over to me and I don’t know how it got here because we have forcefields between the plant and the forest where the hyenas live.  I say, “go away, scram!” to the hyena and it takes on a flirty expression that sort of says, “but I don’t wanna go home…” and I am having none of that.  I know some of my colleagues like to date and copulate with hyenas, but I don’t because I love Jesus and Jesus loves me.  I tell the hyena, “get lost, you stupid hyena!” but it puts its paws up on the assembly line and insolently grabs one of the tongues with its jaws.  For a moment my countenance takes on that of an evil, red-eyed, and growling lawnmower.  What the fuck?  Why can’t everything be perfect like a penny into a slot?  I went back to adding tongues to the heads of James Bonds.  The heads have mouths and noses but no eyes because that is the next step on the production line ahead of me.  My head feels like it’s on fire for a second due to an intermittent allergic reaction to the tongues.  It hurts but I power through the pain because I need this job because I gotta get that bread.  The funny thing is, whenever I get this allergic reaction, I have X-ray vision for a second.  Doctors don’t know what causes it, and they wanted to send me to a CIA hospital, but I said no, and they said yes, and then I said I was lying about the whole thing because I am schizophrenic and so they gave me anti-psychotics that I don’t take, but pretend I do. I’ve studied schizophrenia thoroughly in the DSM, so I know what to say.  I decide to take a break and I take off my gloves.  I see one of my coworkers stroking the hyena with desire in his eyes and I roll mine.  I walk across the gangway and look down to see a sea of freshly minted James Bonds saying, “Vodka Martini shaken not stirred,” and other catchphrases.  This sea of men is also where they learn to flirt and have sex with each other.  Some of them will get movies.  Many others will die on missions.  I make it to the break room, and I go over to the VHS player.  I scour the titles.  Cruel IntentionsBilly MadisonEvent HorizonPump Up the VolumeAdventures in Babysitting.  Then, bingo:  The Passion of the Christ

We’ll just leave it there for right now…

I really can’t say more rather than you should just pick up the damn book and read.

Stay surreal as DFP still contends with getting out the latest issue of VOICES FROM THE FIRE , in the meantime support someone who is actually creative…

VOICES FROM THE FIRE: Dillinger

VOICES FROM THE FIRE: Andrew Darlington

The Black Venusian Scrotum-Worm

Beyond the plague damned world…

(1) He awakes. Something is knocking at the sky, trying to get in.

She lies beside him. She hears nothing other than his breath, his heartbeat, the warm pulse of blood in his veins. He rises with a curious sense of unease.

An endless golden day. He paces barefoot from the shade, across warm sand to the water’s edge where ripples dash themselves across clusters of weed populated by small maroon crabs. They rotate sensory dishes to observe him, before scuttling into the safety of moist weed cavities. The world has no end.

— 0 —

(2) Dormant for a billion years, a random particle-drift infiltrates the air-scrubbers. Circulates on breathe-in breathe-out cycles. To eventually be inhaled. Lured on throbbing body-rhythms to the warm nutrient flow of seminal fluid, to bask in its potassium-rich testicular organic-bath, revived in spontaneous cellular division to multiplication and growth. A black slug-worm. Then two.

In order to proliferate it acts upon its host, increasing sexual desire that will result in ejaculation into further hosts. Swarming within its tight scrotal incubator in its millions. On the return flip there is love… and a lover. Two carriers. On Earth there is love, and there are more lovers. In the madness of an induced global orgy the Scrotum-Worm spreads around the world before its presence is even identified. Because humans are always driven by the reproductive imperative. Then the worm begins to modify its host’s spermatozoa to better serve its needs. Evolving from parasite to symbiote. Into a fused devouring hybrid intelligence, with each grotesquely deformed gonad slapping soft and wet, squirming, coiling and slithering with a million black worms.

— 0 —

(3) The sterile orbital habitat alone survives uncontaminated. It is sealed and isolated as a human last-chance refuge. With artificially inseminated uncorrupted embryos reared free of all social contact.

He awakes. Something is knocking at the sky, trying to get in…

VOICES FROM THE FIRE: Leah Mueller

Pandemic Neoliberals

Tacoma, before

everything went to hell:

eating fresh salmon and

drinking martinis

against a sunset backdrop

of Puget Sound

moments before

the car crashed

into a utility pole

at ninety miles per hour

and nobody

survived the accident.

Tow away the wreckage,

no one wants to see it.

Take off your facemask,

order another martini.

None of this is normal, but

it’s good enough for you.

Cocoon

Safe.

Safer.

Safest.

Make a list

of your fears,

so you

can cover

each base, and

save yourself

from harm.

A hazmat suit

works in

a pinch.

If your

hazmat suit

doesn’t fit

right, some

air could leak in,

and the whole

precaution would

be for naught.

Better stay

home forever,

stare at the wall,

grip your

sofa armrests

tight in your

sweaty hands,

and for God’s sake,

never shower,

mow your lawn,

or use the stove,

because home

is the most

dangerous place

of all.

APRIL WAS CRUEL…

National Poetry Month draws to a close, it was brutal to say the least but most of it self-inflicted for some odd reason…

Dumpster Fire Press made an event out of it, releasing five titles going hard with daily entries for VOICES FROM THE FIRE and while it drew me away from my own creative endeavors and a multitude of other projects I’d like to put out with different people, I’d sure as hell would and probably will do it most of it again.

There’s nothing more pleasurable as a small press publisher than to help in showcasing the work of a poet and artist who hasn’t been heard of much before, often or not at all. For DFP, the press stuck the objective of being a venue for a multitude of voices and will continue to do so.

I highly encourage everyone to peruse through all the VOICES posts from the last month and check out what has been posted if you haven’t already and most definitely pick up what will probably be one of the coolest issues of VOICES FROM THE FIRE vol. 2 “April was cruel…”

Cover art by Dillinger

Shameless plugs abound….I’ll babble more about this issue when it officially drops but here’s the rest of them

The first volume of VOICES FROM THE FIRE…a series from Dumpster Fire Press collecting poetry, prose and art from here, there and everywhere else in-between. Spotlighting voices heard, seldom heard or never heard at all. First featured on the VOICES FROM THE FIRE series via dumspterfirepress.com. Come, jump into the fire with us…let’s burn together.

Two women. Two complete strangers who embarked on a single journey together under the direst of circumstances bring you a unified vision of beauty celebrating the joy of living and love. Rita Marie Recine and her friend Svetlana Kostantinov vowed to write a book poetry together to chronicle their journey through life and adversity. Sadly, Svetlana departed before it could be completed but Rita Marie continued and along with Dumpster Fire Press we are proud to present this heart touching collection of poetry.

Bleeding Heart Poet takes you to another time and place, drawing you into lives ravaged by war in a land where voices are seldom heard from or even heard at all. Letters as poetry or poetry as letters to a certain “president”…war, propaganda, geopolitical manipulation? What is it all good for?

Roz Washington is a force of nature in terms of poetry, a blend of Hip-hop, mystic visions and voices seldom heard from various walks of life. Words meant to be read aloud invoke the mythic back into ordinary existence rendering our star dust rooted world back into cosmic consciousness in one’s daily contemplation of being. Sun Life isn’t just a collection of poetry, it’s a philosophy that will get you to reconsider the ground of all being.”

Dumpster Fire Press is proud to partner with translator Xi Nan in bringing poet Li Kan’s work from China into the West. Li Kan’s poetry writing uses a lot of spoken language, and the contents of his writing also focus on personal daily life and emotional experience. On this basis, he puts forward the writing concept of “flow of life” (生命流). In recent years, Li Kan has experienced a lot of philosophical thinking in addition to his daily writing. The ideas of Heidegger, Laozi, Zhuang Zhou and others have a certain influence on the formation of his writing philosophy. In poetry writing, this also makes Li Kan’s poems show a good internal order, harmony and rationality.

I wish there was enough space to thank all the artists and poets who contributed as well but then again, I guess that’s why a second volume of VOICES FROM THE FIRE is being released relatively soon.

I myself am burned out but still working on May releases….

Next week Monday, VOICES FROM THE FIRE will return to its original format along with some announcements regarding future release dates or rather relative times, it’s been an organically chaotic process and the revelations to be shared.

Also, secretly I love anthologies…the birth of conception, editing, reading submissions all of it in the unification of a multitude of creative voices…

Yeah a sucker for pain who isn’t going to sacrifice his creative elastic eye yet but keep in mind never let anyone down who entrusts me with their work.

Stay surreal kids, April was cruel but the dumpster fire itself is only going to flame on, despite a certain human torch of a marvel who might be furious I absconded with a certain slogan but hey, we all can’t get miraculously hit by cosmic rays to find a cynical thing that sort of resembles a jilted state of bliss.