VOICES FROM THE FIRE: James Maj

“Goldilocks at the Rubicon”

VOICES FROM THE FIRE: Anthony Kane Evans

A Walk in the Woods

There was a car crash.  One of those accordion-style pileups.  Black ice.  The cars were still skidding in, adding to the damage.  I saw her trapped in the middle of it all.  Blue-gray car.  Make smashed out of all recognition.  She was screaming.  I was trying to get onto the motorway, but had to keep on leaping back over the barrier – scrambling down the embankment – every time another car came gliding in.  There were people running out onto the motorway, waving, trying to get the cars to slow down, before the inevitable next vehicle skidded in, but they were simply coming in too fast.

Every time a car hit, and the ricocheting movement started, the woman would scream.  Of course, others screamed along with her, but her scream was the most prolonged and the one which sounded most desperate, as though some part of her was trapped.  Of course, she was trapped, otherwise she would have got out of there.  A middle-aged man was filming the cars coming in, on his mobile phone.  There must have been thirty cars involved as well as one HGV.   At least thirty people (myself included) must have called emergency services, who else would they have been calling?  Ten minutes must have passed since then.  Where were they?  The ambulances, the police, the fire brigade, the Automobile Association, the Royal Automobile Club?

I went over to the guy filming.

“I’m going in,” I said.

“You must be nuts,” he said.

“Shout out if you see something coming, alright?”

“You’re nuts!”

“Will you please shout out?”

“Sure.  Sure, I will,” he said.

I climbed over the barrier.  Looked back. 

“Clear!” he shouted.

I started clambering over the cars.  One colour after another.  An artist’s palette.  She was still screaming intermittently. 

“I’m coming,” I shouted.

“Clear!” the man shouted.

“I’m coming,” I shouted.

I was on the bonnet of a white Saab.  There was a yellow car in front of me, a 2CV; I didn’t know they were still going, well, this one wasn’t.

“Clear!” the man shouted.

I saw her clearly, the woman in the blue-gray car.  A redhead.  The colour combination didn’t work.

“I’ve come to help you,” I shouted.

“Car!” the man shouted.

“Brace yourself!” I called.

I clung onto the roof of the Saab.  I heard the incoming vehicle crash, but it was a dull kind of hit and there were no reverberations.  It must have managed to slow down some.

The 2CV was partly lodged into her door; I climbed over it, there wasn’t much left, and onto the roof of her car.  She stopped screaming.

“Clear!” the man shouted.

I got down onto the passenger side of her car, opened the door and got in.  It was a Golf.  She looked at me.  I looked down at her trapped knees. 

On what remote frontier of heaven and hell

Shall time allow our divers ways to meet?

“You’re not the ambulance people,” she said.

“No,” I said.

“Then what … now what?”

I wound down the window.

“Clear!” I heard.

I took off my tan leather jacket and put it over her legs.

“We wait,” I said.

“I’ve already been waiting an hour,” she said.

I looked at my watch.

“It’s only been fifteen minutes since the first pile up,” I said.

She squinted over at my watch.  A Hamilton with no second hand.

“You sure it hasn’t stopped in the crash?” she said.

“I wasn’t in the crash,” I said, “I was over there.”

I pointed past her head.

“In the woods,” I said, “Looking at the new buds.  Trying to find the three-hundred-year-old oak tree.”

“Walking?” she said, “In this weather?  It’s freezing out there!”

“I had a flask of coffee with me,” I said.

“Truck!” the man shouted, “Truck!  Get out of there!”

“Better brace yourself, this could be a bad one,” I said.

There were a few seconds of silence.  A real calm.  Then it struck.  Like thunder.  I heard the grinding of metal.  Other hits.  The accordion being squeezed.  The noise getting louder and louder.

“Brace!” I shouted.

“Fasten your …” she said.

We got hit.  We moved.  The yellow 2CV seemed to move backwards.  A black Mercedes – driverless – shot by my window.  Another car, one of those small Italian jobs, possibly electric, crunched into the passenger door of our car, pushing me over closer to her.

“Well, this is cosy,” she said.

“Clear!” the man shouted.

I could hardly hear him as there were still noises going on ahead of us.  And screams, though it was easy now to figure them out as the screams of spectators, rather than the screams of participants or participant observers (as I took myself to be, not quite prepared to admit I was in the mix).

“I think I can move my right leg,” she said.

I lifted my jacket and looked down.  Her right leg was gone.

“It’ll need a bandage,” I said.

I took off my tie.

“Bit thin that, isn’t it?” she said.

“Sixties-style.  I’m a bit retro, I’m afraid,” I said.

“Shouldn’t we just try and make a run for it?” she said, “What’s up, can’t you get the other leg free?”.

“Best that we stay here till help arrives,” I said, “Now, you hold the jacket and look out of the window, while I …”

I got the tie around her thigh and made a tourniquet.   There was blood all over my hands.  I wiped my palms on my pants.  I took her hands in mine – she seemed suddenly a little paralyzed – and I made her lower the jacket.

“Clear!” the man called.

“What’s your name?”

She turned towards me, her wild ginger hair all over the place, as though we were under water.

“You know, I’m an awful snob,” she said.

“Me, too,” I said.

“You’re just saying that to be nice,” she said.

“Ambulance!” the man shouted.

I wound the window all the way down.  You could hear it, its siren, echoing.

“I’m just going to get on the roof,” I said, “You stay put.”

“I won’t go anywhere.  Promise,” she said, “Have we met somewhere before?”

“No,” I said, “Look, I’ll just be on the roof.”

“The Swedish ambassador’s?” she said.

“No,” I said.

I climbed out of the Golf and up onto the roof.  At the back of the pile-up, beyond a white pick-up truck, there seemed to be a bank of ambulances or police cars.  There were flashing blue lights anyway.  An army of them.  And sirens, an army of sirens.  I took off my shirt and started waving it.

Off the Rails or Kill john compton…

“I’m going to kill john compton who doesn’t use capital letters.”

Is a phrase I uttered over the summer as I agonized over the most jacked-up word file of all time, while working with a different publisher at the moment.

Presenting the second edition of john compton’s intimate and unflinching poetry collection POEMS: TRAINRIDE ELSEWHERE…originally shepherded by the dearly departed Bill Corbett of Pressed Wafer Press, Dumpster Fire Press is honored to bring readers the second edition of a poetry collection not be missed for the first and experienced again and again.

POEMS: TRAINRIDE ELSEWHERE… is definitely off the rails and takes you to a whole set of tracks and I’m stopping with the railroad references right now, it’s my own choo-choo-choice!

Ha! That was terrible, someone other than john compton, kill me!

There’s a history between friend and fellow poet john and I. Both starting off as editors for Concrete Mist Press and going into two radically different directions with a multitude of indie presses in the technical and artistic aspects, TRAINRIDE kind of brings us full circle as it is one of the four books including: THE GRIND, John Doyle’s LEAVING HENDERSON COUNTY and R. Keith’s HONEYDEW: THE CORRECTED TEXT that initiated the genesis of Dumpster Fire Press, which I’m sure by now people have somehow been able to cobble together.

Essentially this marks the end of an era and allows DFP to fully fly unfettered, as it ever wasn’t and as much as I want to relay the ongoing, tediously conversations regarding: line spacing, file formats, table of contents alterations…I’m not because everyone would believe john and I are secretly in love and the last thing I need to do arouse ire of a jealous husband.

So social awkwardness out of the way…I’m going to let the poet himself speak as well as the exquisite art of cover artist Megan Merchant.

Art by Megan Merchant

[sonnet]: we fucked like drugs

we fucked, null, in the shower

until i bled. his huge cock

embarked through me—bore power

that i craved—his hands were locked

to imprison me. he pumped,

briskly, painful ecstasy

& i screamed & begged & felt

the great desire he dealt

like i was a whore, sleazy,

& deserving it. he cummed in my ass a blast of cream

so hot it burned within me—

he held me in that hushed dream.

his cock softened inside me.

Check out the link below, and as irritating as it could be, it was a twisted pleasure to work with john and an honor to follow Bill Corbett of Pressed Wafer. This is what small press is all about, not always about your own voice but continuing to render certain other voices are heard as well.

Also we’ve got some cracking manic things heading your way in April…Poetry Month…the Cruelest Month.

VOICES FROM THE FIRE: Ryan Quinn Flanagan

Windows, Horses Broken

Vandal remnants, an old sweeper of glass

in an ill-fitting smock, almost embarrassed to look up

as if he has faltered in some unnameable way –

windows, horses broken, three different colours of graffiti

which may suggest the number of guilty parties,

morning foot traffic walking by on the wide,

careful not to stare as though they too feel some

discomfited humiliation at the sight of a kneeling red dustpan

and the sound of all that shattered glass.

Gym Rats & Field Mice

She’s as stiff as an old lady

and I’m stiff as a young man.

You don’t want to have a problem with me.

I have a problem with me.

It’s terrible.

–It’s lots of mufflers in the sound.

–It’s gym rats and field mice…

“For twenty bucks, I’ll give you the best

damn Lorca you’ve ever had!”

Crushed Glass in Chow Hall

The uneven shoulder blades of the window

are captured moisture,

it is strange how you can’t stop thinking

about the inside while on the outside;

the other takes a lot less imagination,

something akin to conjugal visits and dog-eared

doozies from the prison library,

that slow-wheeling cart with many kites

tucked inside the books so everyone knows

who to kill and how which reminds me,

crushed glass in the chow hall will get you banned

from the kitchen, but not before what’s done is done

and since those charged with investigating

are really just investigating themselves,

there will be a single fall guy who almost

certainly had nothing to do with anything,

maybe he refused overtures so now you are just

killing two birds with one stone which is

always best when you can.

Sloppy Jalopy

He would never admit that he drove around

all night looking for the right one.

That he pulled up to the curb and chatted the girls up.

His wedding band tucked into his sock like a pro.

That he met this latest one outside an impound lot.

I started calling her: Sloppy Jalopy.

Just to piss him off.

Insinuating that he may have had too much to drink.

That Sloppy Jalopy may have been a tranny.

Had an Adam’s apples large as the sun.

He got very angry.

Started defending her as though she were his wife.

Not that he had any problem with “those people.”

I laughed and poured him another drink.

Asked about his missing wedding band.

He seemed to be losing on many fronts.

Shit!

he said.

Taking the thing back out of his sock

and putting it on his finger.

I could see the panic on his face.

Like this wasn’t the first time.

I’d hate to be you wife,

I said.

I’d hate to be your husband,   

he responded.

He had me there.

No one would want to be my husband.

Not even Sloppy Jalopy.

The best blowie

in the entire impound yard.

I hope you don’t plan to sell her for scrap,

I prodded.

He knew exactly who I was talking about.

As though I had been right there in the car

with them the entire time.

How he drove to the place she suggested.

The money up front and then down to business.

VOICES FROM THE FIRE: John Stickney

The Memory Twins Huff and Puff and Rescue the Day

VOICES FROM THE FIRE: Richard Modiano

Poem for Danny Baker

The world of real life, the raw urgency of the moment—

the taste of black coffee, of charred red meat,

the recoil of the Glock in your hand, the poem that forms in your brain—

waits for us beneath history,

its mysteries passed down through

generations in the currency of moments

so intense they annihilate time itself,

moments that can be suppressed, discouraged and denied by

the rules, laws, and regulations that hem us in from every side.

We adventurers track these moments through this world

as hunters track the most prized of prey.

As long as we have hearts in our chest

we will find ways to them again and again.

History is haunted by its own karma—

the moment of freedom, of real poetry

brings all its unsettled debts back into play,

to be discharged forever so life can really begin.

What we want now are moments so overwhelming,

so irresistible that

the entire control system of regulated life

melts before their scorching radiance

When the world ends,

white dust will fill the air like

the curtain at the end of a play.

A rain of desperate bodies will fall from the windows

of burning buildings, drumming the concrete below.

Men with splinters in their eyes

will stumble though the streets choked with debris;

women clutching babies

will pick through the rubble and tear out their hair.

Our generation will go to its

grave shouting its

last words into a cell phone.

Or perhaps it will arrive as a thief in the night,

 step by invisible step. Factories

will disappear overseas and corporations

vanish into thin air, taking jobs and retirement funds with them.

 Cities dying from the inside out will spread like ringworm,

 the shrapnel spray of suburbs slicing through forest and field.

Wars will reach from continent to continent and neighborhood to neighborhood –

the terrorists won’t make peace with the horrorists

who would enforce it at any price,

who keep trying to impose harmony between oppressed and

oppressor with fear and fire power.

 Gas prices will rise with global temperatures and tides,

acid rains will fall with the last of the redwoods,

 computer systems crash with stocks and stock markets…

until one day everyone has cancer.

Or else nothing will happen at all,

business will continue as usual:

prison guards pace concrete tombs,

psychiatrists contemplate madness,

demons glare from the eyes of ministers,

consumers are bought and sold in the marketplace.

It’s after the end of the world, whispers the homeless man,

don’t you know that yet?

Others, mysterious and knowing,

who have held themselves aloof from the discussion

until now, finally interject: “Which world?”

Dawn breaks over the East River

The poet takes a picture

            Insomnia

(for Puma Perl)

VOICES FROM THE FIRE: L.B. Sedlacek

To the Guy Snoring in the Library

How can you – yes you!

sleep

at a time like this

sleep

with all these books

sleep

magazines, CD’s, audiobooks

sleep

reference books, dictionaries

sleep

yes you! at a time like this

sleep

snoring learning against the pole

sleep

you looked like you were studying

sleep

but it put you to

sleep

and I was kinda glad that

sleep

a guy who works at the library

sleep

woke you up and also glad

sleep

that I didn’t sit near you

sleep

even though I wrote this poem

about

you

sleeping.

The Butcher’s Broom

Of that ilk

of that sort

a tartness in wine

harsh and stiff manner

won’t work with

groups of peasants

tenants in common

occupying a cottage

and some land

a happy little coterie

clubs and society

sharing the same attitudes

passion for particular topics

a tight-knit group

persistent, territorial, consistent

the rise against

landowners and

their eponymous estates

rapid

huge

inexorable

upheaval

speaking, pleading, personifying

unyielding

inflexible

a fitting etymology

for things made

things talked about

things to change.

Starved for Correction

The correction fluid

lacks nutritive value

it’s devoid of

significant value or

interest and maybe

a little juvenile

or puerile … jejune

just like you

the bottle’s empty

I poured it

out the meager

hungry paper dying

to be corrected

will have to

suffice on morsels

or curb its

appetite a rarely

satisfying proposition but

all it’ll ever

get in emotions

caring, empathy, sympathy

from someone like

you.

VOICES FROM THE FIRE: R.M. Engelhardt

Shakespeare,  Kerouac

& Bukowski Are Waiting

And You’re Running Late

(In Memoriam For Gerald)

Everyday

One Poet Enters

Another Exits

Handing Over The Pen

It’s the story of

The world the story of

Words the story

Of what makes a

Poet a human being

And makes a human

Being a poet

To each

Their own voice

To each their own

Gifts to share

We have been

To heaven &

Thru hell

Drank in bars

And fought

For & against

Everything

But in the end

We all walk out

The same door

Beneath the big

Red glowing

Sign that says

“Exit”

ASYLUM

Every morning comes in

Like smoke 

A vision through

The trees

We have wasted

All this beauty

All this precious time

With postcards

From the damned

As memories

As our souls still

Bleed for better days

She was the universe

The black hole

You fell into

That you

Never escaped

But that

Defined you

Forever

GHOST

Like you

I was once

Human

A part of all

Things connected

But now

After these times

After these wrongs

I’m just no longer

Here disappeared

From all my friends

The bars & the big

Bad wolf called

The world

Woven

Now intermingled

With the fabric

Of history

And time

Tragedy

A Non Entity

Just a memory

A stranger

Still

Without an

Obituary

Or a song

Living

Somewhere

But just

Not here

Anymore

GENIUS IS A

DRUNK IN THE BASEMENT

A

Broken Record

Broken poet

Broken song

Something

About the flowers

Something about love

Shufflin a’lone gainst

The night &

The darkness once more

Broken Record

Broken poet

Broken poem

She is

She was

She’s a ghost

She’s the apocalypse

Taking away her burning  love

In a broken world full

Of broken thoughts

Broken words

Lighting up another

Cigarette in the dark

An epiphany

A cliche

Another poem

A

Broken Record

Broken poet

Broken song

What happens

What does that

What hasn’t been

Said that hasn’t

Been sung?

Said?

God is in the trees

God is in the closet

God is all around us

Desiderata

Touch that holy

Veil muther fucker

Touch that veil before

It’s gone

But the devil

Is hanging out

All alone

In the basement

Writing

Poems

Drunk

A

Broken Record

Broken poet

Broken song

And that shit

Is pure genius

Worth more

Than any pushcart prize

Made of gold

For

Genius is just another

Drunk in the basement

Talking to himself

Writing poems

To a bottle of

Gin

DEATH BY PUNK: FINAL (official) CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS

That’s right…DEATH BY PUNK is heading your way in April the cruelest month, just in time for Dumpster Fire Press’ colossal series of events to coincide with Poetry month…even the anthology is more than just poetry…

So send you punk, DIY, counter culture and/or death themed work to

clockworkoomphstudios@gmail

if you feel so inclined to be part of this milestone for DFP, it being the first anthology…

also get a chance to overshadow editor in chief Mike Zone’s own subpar writing as an added bonus…

March 1st is the Deadline

You can also still submit the ongoing VOICES FROM THE FIRE rolling e-zine/blog, no theme required and if accepted wind up in an actual tangible anthology that may or maybe consist of two volumes a year…things are rapidly shifting in this small press world.

Oh and in April because I don’t have enough going on, I’ll be announcing a new anthology with another fantastic theme…

what could it be?

Stay surreal, see ya’ next week for the next installment of VOICES…

VOICES FROM THE FIRE: R. KEITH