VOICES FROM THE FIRE: Steven Dee Kish

Bad Friends

I flip open my zippo lighter…flick …flick…

The orange flame lights my Kent cigarette; the smell of tobacco fills the air.

I grab a church key and open a bottle of beer.

I’m drowning my sorrows with booze; it soothes my parched throat.

Half buzzed; I take a stroll to MY community center.

I bust through the door like the Kool-Aid man.

I scan the room; the plight is palatable; my life story is the same as there’s.

I tell the bartender to line them up; he pours bottom shelf liquor to the brim of the shot glass.

The booze makes my cheeks flush.

It warms my soul like visiting a long-lost friend, but who are my friends?

Jack Daniels…Mary Jane…The Marlboro Man?

All my friends are bought; They don’t seem to have my best interests.

Yet, they take away the pain so quickly.

Another lost soul sits beside me; he forces minor chit-chat.

He tells me about a new friend and asks me to visit him.

Sure, why not? I’m not married to my friends; there is no ring on my finger.

My new friend gave me a cord to tie around my arm; Is this a true friend?

Doesn’t he know I hate needles?

After our first conversation, I find myself jabbing myself every day.

My life is out of control; my friends are running my life.

The dim lighting in my roach-filled apartment hides my pain.

I am alone; I need help!

I’m stuck in the basement of life and need to take the first step of twelve.

My friends keep me right where they want me, and I can’t stop buying my new friend.

Holiday Road

The wheel’s hum on the asphalt road.

A cold Christmas wind slightly pushes the car.

Soon, children and families will be ripping decorative paper.

The sounds of joy invade the morning silence.

There will be no joy for me.

My destination is unknown; fingernails grip the leather steering wheel.

The sparse headlights are my Christmas lights.

My present is a single snowflake.

Unfortunately, it disappears when it hits the defrosted windshield.

Voices on the radio try to keep me company.

I spy with my little eye…. Faces inside cars.

Who are these lonely drivers on the holiday road?

Loners?

Queer fish?

Zealots?

Boo Radley?

The heat from the car vent blows on my expressionless face.

My phone that never rings is riding shotgun.

Have people forgotten about me?

Am I unlovable?

My broken heart is my GPS.

Memories from my past become abundant.

Anguish, regret, and misery take hold of my soul.

Enjoying the sounds of the seasons seems like decades ago.

A gas station hosts a family dinner.

A Styrofoam cup is filled with sorrow.

It’s so bitter I chase it with a mug of eggnog.

The driver’s seat is calling me to sit until the next fill up.

There is no mistletoe, no hugs, no family gatherings for me.

The open road is my family.

Family Dinner

Gather around my vagabond friends.

Families and friends have abandoned us ages ago.

They have their reason; they say we were too: harsh, thoughtless, and destructive.

We have our reasons: childhood trauma, addiction, and mental health issues.

Black sheep is what family calls us as we now take residence in the streets.

A nosy highway overpass becomes a home; A filthy dumpster becomes our supermarket.

Time and circumstance have brought this batch of drifters together.

Let’s take a seat in our favorite back alley and have a family dinner.

Our souls are starving and need nourishment.

Dented soup cans, stale bread, and curdled dairy lay on a grubby cardboard box.

The main course, an expired brown hunk of beef brisket.

There’s no pre-meal prayer as greasy hands reach for the questionable food.

We cannot help ourselves; selfish ways take hold, and we start fighting over the smorgasbord.

Food flies into our mouths in hopes of nourishment to soothe our broken panhandling souls.

A brief moment in time, our bellies are full.

Temporary smiles appear on our dirty and careworn faces.

Meaningful conversation fills the night air.

This is our perfect moment in time.

Bang! Our moment disappears.

Throats swell as we all gasp for air.

Our broken brains start to become dizzy.

Dirty hands start to reach for each other.

Our fractured souls fall into trash and grime that surround the scuzzy alley.

Rotten food seeps from the corner of our mouths.

This is no tryptophan nap; it’s a forever sleep.

Bodies full of rancid cuisine finally succumb to the plague that infested their last family dinner.

VOICES FROM THE FIRE: Shane Allison

VOICES FROM THE FIRE: Ivan Jenson

Note for Note

When the snow
the sun and the sea
was like my
wind-blown hair
just another thing
out there within grasp
like the first gasp
of learning to ask
for what should
be a given
like a for goodness
namesake
no need to be stolen
because it is
waiting for you to take
advantage of the newness
the red white and blueness
me the prince
and she the princess
of darkness and lightness
and yes, this may all sound
merely musical
like Sir Lancelot
singing Camelot
feeling weak
while acting strong
you see I sold
my whole life
for a song  

Empty Nest

You promised
that it would all
come full circle
for me
like a cast
or class reunion
and I would do
a victory lap
around the lap
of luxury
and you said
I would look
around to see
loved ones
surround me
dancing round
and round
like a marching band
not like this accusatory
Custer’s last stand
because blame is
the only thing being
passed from hand to hand
and now nobody’s buying
the family brand
and to think Yoko
didn’t even break
up this band

Phantom of the Phantasm

From crystal clear
to out-of-focus
my vision is
mostly hocus-pocus
from my dream
of spotting my
perfect Pocahontas
in the New York
metropolis
to my over-abundance
of inner reflection
sparkling in my iris
like guilty-pleasure
deflection
I am just overly
desirous
like a pre-histrionic
Tyrannosaurus
crushing
every beautiful thing
in this enchanted forest
a long-in-the-tooth
literary sorcerer’s apprentice
who learned how
to begin but not
how to end
this overflowing
life and death

sentence

Story Time

Don’t worry I won’t
let go of everything
from the summer
grapes of Bacchus
to the winter storm watch
of a January love affair
or the warm hands
of a telling look
in fact I am
taking it all in
from the sights
and the in-the-round
sounds of modern
Shakespeare
written within
the daily dialect of
average, everyday
night owls who
hoot and holler
while drinking spirits
and shunning spirituality
in exchange for sensuality
what I am saying is
I see free verse
in the prose
of the universe
and I know there is
no reversal
because this is all
happening live
with no rehearsal
and this possibly
meaningless
structureless plot
is all we’ve got

Revelations Reflections Resurrection

Our final release for National Poetry Month…

From the author of IMMORTAL DREAMS and PSLAMS OF LAST DAYS featuring a cover and interior by DFP’s very own art director Dillinger.

Milenko Županovic’s work can be a lot to take in with an unflinching view of the world derived from esoteric mystical texts of both an Old Testament tone yet a New Testament blessing of peace offered after all the flames have been burned out and the blood washed away.
Dillinger and I have the had the honor of publishing two of his previous works; IMMORTAL DREAMS and PSALM OF LAST DAYS which has had some people questioning of why we were publishing this type of work in the first place…doesn’t it stand for everything DFP against?
When we started this press, it was to give voices to those seldom heard…this isn’t necessarily dogma or a theological treatise as it is a journey throughout an ancient world reconciling itself with a world on fire descending somewhere we can never be sure where…
The volume you hold in your hands offers a perspective with a bit of history, theology, and philosophy. You’ll find poetry and prose from both the two previous volumes with new material completing a trilogy that takes us out of the world of dreams through the last days into visions of what may come to be in order to find a salvation of sorts.
While reading this won’t result in immortality it may plant new seeds of contemplation to grapple with a herculean set of revelations about to crash down upon our ever-fluctuating mortal realm teetering between rigid order of a satiric nature or wild insanity.

Seldom have I ever gotten a poetry manuscript where I’ve been allowed to run wild with the formatting but here we go!

VISIONS OF IMMORTALITY is the culmination of last two works leading to a wild series of revelations and from what we’ve seen from Milenko’s future VOICES FROM THE FIRE contributions we’re in for a divine apocalyptic treat.

Golgotha
In cold
chambers
death
gruesome shadows
sinners
disappear
in the dark
depths
faith
on the hill

of crucifixion.

art by Dillinger

Is not the end

Dive into darkness

Avoid octopus of

death

that blindly search you

touch the bottom

with a scar on the soul

emerge on the surface.

View

Constant search

for the remaining parts

of childhood

turned into a quest

for the rest of their lives

and sinks

looking at us

eyes closed.

River of salvation

TAKEN FROM THE WATER

Papyrus reed, the women worked silently in the dark, the soldiers were coming from afar, waiting for the stones, leaving the snake winding trail of broken ground, hot coals in his mouth as evidence of a small barge with a reed boat on the river, weeping mother and a sign from heaven, stones were hiding the sun, snakes grew closer, the soldiers heard a child crying, they searched the whole area, but a small barge with a secret wing.

Ring in all rubies is not broke faith in him, and the embers kept in the mouth, to the dismay of many, commands were disseminated in the wilderness, but the snake had a tail made ​​of wood, a small barge is overdue in the hands of a ruling that gave the child in care.

Selected was saved, the sun is bacalao kingdom, but soldiers are still looking for any child when they came to be, not where you have more, but they still heard the child crying, the board hit the ground, raised a huge cloud of dust, which obliterating the month, there were no lights in the desert, except in the room selected.

He put out his hand toward his mother, separated by the sea, crying is silent when it came to their mother’s arms, the army was defeated, huge waves had covered their tijela.Voda is continuously radiated from the rocks, commands the sacred mountain, the wind grew stronger , the sea is once again separated, the snake was already almost all the wood, the more she could not move, the stone statue at the bottom of the ocean, women make a small boat of reeds, wooden stick into a snake was lifted at the top of the mountain sacred to and relied spoken commands.

A stone statue on the sea floor, but nobody tells you is not heard, the frescoes in the churches have changed color, the arrangement is no longer the same, the statue will start moving towards them, the stone on the holy mountain, a sign in the desert, a small barge is not overturned, the wind carries away from the soldiers, crying child, to light the statue as a halo shining, the sea is separated, the water emerges from the rock.

A mother embraces her child who does not cease to cry for them along the river comes a small boat, rescue is near, trembling reed, his mother’s hand caressing a baby’s head, a barge with them and sign it.

The wind is stronger, the cold is great, the mother embraces her child, approaching the boat, bush burning in it, warming their faces, arms to the bush baby, eternal character, embrace of mother and child.

Black hole

The horrible

screams

in the dark

depths

times

missing

in the ashes

stars

on fire.

Dust

Spirit

of apostles
                the gallows
                figure of betrayal
                                       in silver
     dust
                                     

  disappears.

Milenko Županovic

Milenko Županović was born in 1978 in Kotor (Montenegro). By profession he is a graduate marine engineer, but in his free time, he writes poetry and short stories. His poems and other work have been published in The Stray Branch, Mad Swirl, The Horror Zine, Antarctica journal,,Mobius,Vox Poetica,Ascent, Aspirations Magazine,,Rio Negro Magazine,,Axxon,Balkanski književni glasnik,Versewrights journal, Ariel Chart,Nova Fantasia,TreeHouse Arts,Emitor, Every Day Poems, La Ira de Morfeo,Down in the Dirt,Edizioni Scudo,Tragovi,Full of Crow,Poets

In 2010 he wrote and published his first book, a collection of stories, and he also written and published few collections of poems (ebooks). In 2015 he wrote and published his second book, a collection of stories and poetry. In 2016 he wrote his third book, a mini collection of poetry Testament of Ancestors (published in USA, project Poems for all). His books Martiri , Simboli Segreti , Rituali Sacri and Collina di teschi were published in italian language by Edizioni  Scudo. His chapbook The Blood of Poets was published by Scars Publications.His brochure –collection of prose and devotional poems Dreams of Gods was published by Mount Abraxas Press.

April was cruel but the cruelty was worth it…just not next year…maybe…

VOICES FROM THE FIRE: George Schaefer

WHO’S ON TOP?

Flip a coin to determine who’s on top

Endlessly we bicker it never stops

Lazy man I am indeed

You mount your faithful stead

We both enjoy inhibitions we drop

MY FINGERS MANIPULATE       

I carefully caress long golden thigh

My fingers manipulate a deep sigh

Ever so gently she moans 

Her pleasure sets lustful tones

Higher and higher my fingers do pry

MY EGO COERCED

With cat o nine tail harshly she did whip

My discipline for insensitive quip

My wrists handcuffed to the bed

To this stage my actions led

My ego coerced to mighty deep dip

IMPRESS MY FRIENDS

I only fingered you to impress my friends

You didn’t seem to mind it never ends

One finger leads to another

My face you now threaten to smother

Kama Sutra we read follow all trends

VOICES FROM THE FIRE: Paul Warren

Any Given Day

VOICES FROM THE FIRE: Ryan Quinn Flanagan

Sex with Robots is Quality Control

You never see THESE jobs advertised in the papers.

Anyone who would apply and sit through that interview,

they don’t want.  Sex with robots is quality control.

And if they settled on that most efficient method 

of assembly line work, things could get rather intimate

outside the lunchroom.  422 orgasms a shift and you 

could claim it was the bloody job drying things up

and still drive home to some meatloaf–making breadcrumb wife 

who wasn’t very smart or she would have tried to get 

that very same job 

years ago.

Hit Piece

The word hacks put out this poo poo head kill shot,

this 1500 word hit piece in the dailies that was

meant to knock out the power again,

digging up dirt like paid shovels instead of 

real actual people and when they couldn’t find

that smoking gun as they say in the industry,

they just made it up; the lawsuits would come first

if they came at all (most just folded to the pressure),

years in the courts before that inevitable retraction

nearly a decade later on page 23, in print so small

that no one ever saw it; just that original giant headline

on page 1, that is how it would be forever.

In the minds of the reading public.    

The lead story.  Breaking News!

Some slanderous slag off rushed to press.

So the scandal rags could sell party favours

back to the confetti lobby again.

Drubbing

It always happens.

Away from prying eyes.

Four kids down the alley.

Beating on this other kid

who quickly turtles.

When he goes down,

they begin kicking him instead.

A real drubbing.

Too dark to see the blood,

but you imagine it must be there.

That wheezing of a wildebeest on its way out.

Surrounded by a pride of hungry lions.

One hanging onto the jugular,

the others tearing flesh where they can.

And it is unusually cold.

The weather, I mean.

The rest is just what you would expect.

On a night such as this 

or any other.

The neon from the corner convenience

out to blind entire armies out of their last 

stanky leg retreat.

Something for the Road

The jukebox has gone silent 

in a musical sense.

Not a single thing in tune

for over an hour.

And the bartender eyeing the clock

like some angry salamander 

out of love and out of time.

I could lay it out 

so the vacuum cleaner salesman

with a bum shoulder

could pitch his tent for 

his tribe.

Really wig out on the wam

of discount smokes.

That dry mouth smack

so that I ask for something 

for the road.

Crumpled money from careless pockets.

Blue chalk cubes finding the floor.

The pool table in the back 

torn up as though on hungry 

lion safari.

That buzz of insomniac neon.

A bowl of salty safe house peanuts 

leaving the shell.

No way to tell all the tells

at this luscious yellow 

urine puck hour.

Out of pants 

that would never be caught 

wearing themselves.

The blankets on this bed

like hours of idiot 

mummification. 

A slight breeze through the window.

Over the hair of long snoring arms.

A few dozen landlords 

waiting on rent with the locksmith

from the boonies on call. 

That rusty smell of water 

from the showerhead 

awaits you.

A fresh mouse trap 

of the snap.

And that sound of early morning 

traffic I feel half-sorry for.

In my favourite failing undershorts.

A warm beer beside the bed 

like liquid waterfalls of the poor.

He always said 

he was going 

to write into 

the papers 

to complain 

about this 

and that 

so he could 

bring about change 

and maybe 

see his kids 

once in 

a blue moon

after the breakup 

and that 

they would 

pick him up 

and give him 

a weekly column

because there was 

things to be said

and a readership 

out there

that needed 

to listen

and when 

the war broke out 

he said 

he would go 

over there, 

don a bulletproof 

vest and everything

even though 

where “there” was 

was changing all 

the time

and he couldn’t 

spell worth 

a shit

and the Men’s 

shelter down 

along Princess

read all the 

outgoing mail

to limit 

the stalkers 

and crazies

in a single 

wide net 

that carried out 

Thursday night

louse checks 

with volunteers

from the walk-in clinic

that tried 

hard not to 

pity you

even with those 

once bright

downcast 

eyes.

VOICES FROM THE FIRE: Beau Blue

A Public Apology

Well, it finally happened .. I went too far .. and now I have to apologize .. I should never have uttered the slur that all my Repuglican friends are so upset about .. and I am sorry .. please forgive me. When I uttered the slur: “Trump has the ethics of a used car salesman, the compassion of a Nazi death camp guard.” I was angry ..

<Knock, Knock!>

“yeah? ..”

“Mr. Blue? Mr. Beau Blue?”

“yeah ..”

“Mr. Blue, my name’s Edsel Frobush, and my associate here is Henry J. Rustingout .. we’re from the International Association of Used Car Salesmen, Rush Street branch.”

“yeah, so?”

“May we come in, Mr. Blue? Thank you. We’re here to see you about a certain parenthetical episode that many of the members of our Association are upset about?

In particular, the linking of the name Trump with the ethical behavior of used car salesmen?”

“yeah, and? ..”

“We’re offended greatly by this particularly ugly aspersion and we would like an apology. Even the shadiest member of our group found your remark appalling. None of our membership is SO loathesome as to need to be associated with that name.”

“Look, I didn’t mean it .. OK? I’m sorry. I’ll never do it again. It was a weak moment, I didn’t know what I was saying. Will that do?”

“I’m afraid not Mr. Blue. We need a public apology. After all, this slur is a grievous assault on the character of men who are already burdened enough .. surely you understand t        he need to erase such a public stain with a public act of contrition.”

“Yeah, alright, I will .. I really am sorry .. AND I’ll say so publicly. Will that satisfy you?”

“Yes, that should do it .. sometime very soon, OK?

“Yeah, yeah as soon as I can .. today, OK? I realize that you guys couldn’t possibly be as bad as ..”

<Knock, Knock!>

“.. Will you excuse me for a second? ..

yeah? ..”

“Mr. Blue? Mr. Beau Blue? My name is Heinrich Schlutzgard, and my associate here is Adolph Offenmaker ..”

Sundown at the end of the driveway

“Dad, why are they fighting in Yugoslavia?”

“I don’t know, some men don’t want to be Yugoslavian.”

“Is there oil there?”

“I don’t know that either. Are all these cats hanging

            around you for a reason, boy?”

“They bring me things … mice, salamanders, BIG spiders…”

“Alive?!”

“Sometimes … but I gotta be fast!”

Tom and Jerry

“I lost my penis once.”

“Really?”

“Yeah, when I was …ah, twenty-two I think.”

“Wow, you musta been scared.”

“Nah, I found it again. I’d left it with my car keys.”

“No Kidding? In your car?”

“Yep! A Fire-engine-red GTO convertible …

God that thing was cherry! When I sold that car?

Now THAT was a time I was scared.”

“Oh yeah, why?”

“About the same time I sold it?

I misplaced my BALLS for a couple a weeks …”




NOBODY GETS OUT ALIVE…JUST RECYCLED

That’s how it felt editing this ambitous poetry chapbook from the ever-evolving Edward Wells…our fourth release for NATIONAL POETRY MONTH…

cover by James Maj

I’m not going to bullshit anyone, the manuscript was accepted before I was stern with guidelines and such…

However, I liked this cat after meeting him virtually at one of Mad Swirl’s live open MIC’s via zoom during the pandemic and we both corresponed in a socially awkward manner, almost like askew brothers from a mirror universe…okay too far…

It was a pain in the ass to essentially edit spreadsheet poetry but what a read it was. Sometime you need something to truly question the nature of what is considered “original writing”…then you look at you logo of flaming garbage and realize…ha, of course I accept it and that made liking it even better.

As much as I want to use my quasi fancy degree to explain the content exposed by Wells allow me to rather have him explain the origins of the manuscript…

This text has at its origins in a quotation of Walter Benjamin: “translation does not find itself in the center of the language forest but on the outside facing the wooded ridge; it calls into it without entering, aiming at that single spot where the echo is able to give, in its own language, the reverberation of the work in the alien one” (“The Task of the Translator” [1923], in Illuminations(1968)). Around the time I encountered these thoughts on translation, I began reading the poetry of Hwang Jin-I and Otagaki Rengetsu. I thought I might attempt some translations. I was fond of some of the poems that came out of that process working with multiple electronic “translators.” And I was not discouraged by the feedback I received in workshops. Considering the guidance I received from translator and professor Jen Hofer, I realized that in terms of translations, these pieces were failures. Still, I and others were interested in the product of the process, so I continued. The result is this chapbook of reassemblances,poems of a non-existent life, based in part on my own.
-Edward Wells

she was a bright moon was a famous gisaeng of the king mythlike inspiration today where her korea was her words rarities on lost love and gaesong palace and falls     after hwang jin-i 1506 – 1560    without law or covenant or god free of need for allegory and analogy explore       after the hebrew song of songs undated    
      no legal code survives documentation of legal practice abounds         after seeking ancient egyptian legal texts        born nobu of spring in secret and adopted learned kokinshu lost those close soon seemed lost all cut then nagisage to tonsure       after otagaki rengetsu 1791 – 1875    
everything nothing everything to send to people to people to give to one person ozark plateau only cherry blossom viewing to be ahead of others only in the first place only first offthe mountain is the old mountain and the water is the old water
it will flow to the day and night and there will be old water
i am like water too no no no
lets see to be slow down pour it somewhere else to another place water okay water all right welcome to someday with the kicking someday in the morning style victorian river willow scatter died scattered dirty look for the water investigate the water in the fall to be formed in autumn become autumn bun maple on the brush on a bush to give up kicking to give up princess princess mycelial of the mountain princess thin falsely thinned diced out of the month out of the moon out of the wig is heaven wig is the main wigsome thinking also no more also this is a human being this is a copycat everything putting it over hold up im holding over  
a locked garden a locked wave a sealed kind i am a nun my brother is a meditation an impregnated stone a sealed bowel   i am from leaves a bride from leaves to come precharter prenear cougar and mountain lion from every corner with me you will come from me from the beginning from the beginning from the columns of the mountains from the mountains   you have a beautiful beauty and there is no god in you youre a beautiful and you dont have any school   shut up this is my sister my bride in the spring shut up a sealed fountain kindergarten is my sister my bride closed the spring a sealed fountain 
the mountain is the old mountain and the water is not as the old water and those of the water will be the same as the watersmt ida mt ida mine and tail mine and tail also in the mine cherry flower cherry blossoms cherry blossom pine also smells pine also smell choctaw island #78 also smells can you fill it in could be buried i wonder if you can sprinkle it
a coldness pain a cold a coldness aqueduct water now everyone body ice ice to be disgusted charmed to be sad white thread of the waterfall i want to go back the pain of my sideit is hard to come back when i work
a hill cane the cane find a secret one after another one person one with a headache old village here homes wormwood comes to an end wormwood at the end wormwood become fall fall the autumn cold bamboo crying  wait sweets and my pet its my uncle and its my friend sloppy girls his thighs and his vessels the pillars this is my uncle and my neighbor the sons   his hands are golden hands filled with the crown of gold from the mouth of a tooth from a sheet of sapien his hands are golden cylinders filled with fainting sapphires   the city rotations in pimples i was carrying my foil the hot mary i find the guards in the city my intention is an attack they carried my feet up the guards of the armies   founded on his pillars  atop the ground i see him like a brick as a young man the racks on my my lord peace its appearance like leaves a guy like cedars

VOICES FROM THE FIRE: Laszlo Aranyi

Lady Babalon