VOICES FROM THE FIRE: Milenko Županović

Mount Sinai

The serpent

of unbelief

in the hearts

 of sinners


 of the faith

on Mount Sinai

holy commandments

in the dust

 of the past

the light

  a new dawn

in the shadow

 of the cross.



of the gods

in the arms

of destiny


of centuries


of believers

in the womb

the last


of paradise

The last Christians

Bloody tears

on the faces

of believers


from heaven

in secret chambers

of the last Christians

at dusk

of Judgment day.



i watch television 

interviews with bandits 

bent on destroying the last 

vestige of democracy under 

the guise of saving democracy 

saving amerika, make amerika 

great again 

i watch neighbors, brothers, 

sisters, people from the grocery 

stores and pharmacy, from 

diners on Main Street, 

gas stations and repair shops,  

from high white 

towers of corporate indifference 

to the shallow graves of those 

recently departed, i watch  

them rise up in a delusion 

empowered by the defiant, 

incited by the defeated. 

all i feel is rage  

as i watch the television,  

as amerika falls to its knees,  

as the sword of fascism begins to fall. 

i think of 1923 germany, the first coup 

of a madman but not the last, 

a fuse lit that our desperate lips 

cannot blow out. 

i think of Kristallnacht, 

and stalin, mao, and pol pot. 

death to democracy, death 

to amerika, 

and i never thought the first 

shot would come from 

neighbors, brothers, sisters, 

all the people around me, 

near me. 

they say this is to save amerika, 

to save democracy, 

similar songs of freedom 

rang out in confederacy in 

the 1850s. acts of sedition then 

and now. 

and over these last few months, 

last few years, no one dare 

dream that civil war would 

return to amerika. 

but will anyone notice, will anyone 

tear away from social media, mental 

masturbation, the ongoing stupefaction 

of under educated masses? 

i am not elite 

i am not better than you 

i am not smarter 

i am not anything more 

than a simple man tired 

of vilification for simple 


i will no longer stand down 

and wait for the halls of freedom 

to be painted red. 

i’m here, i’m ready. 

come get some


and a preacher stands outside 

the backdoor of his parish church 

screaming at God without a thought 

to passersby and the juxtaposition 

actions may represent, questioning faith writ large


if the fascist stooges that trampled 

the Capitol lawn and the gilded halls  

of pain and glory had been any other color 

than white, the steps of freedom would run red 

and bodies would stack up to the second floor. 


this sadness is an ancient creature

A year of plague,

A year of fire storms,

of the deaths of clever

friends and brothers,

of being a refugee,

of watching confused citizens,

watching the angry mob swarm.

pestilence and famine

draw differences so sharp

inequalities come glaring

into life and death relief

the mob is here to bargain

do you care

what you believe?

White Privilege, Cops and Knees

Nineteen fifty-nine, before the bricked-up

storefronts of today’s Rebecca Avenue,

cousin Willie and I were fighting

with all the fierceness twelve year olds

muster when they’re faced with losing position

at the table. All the tables. On the street.

We broke the shoemaker’s plate glass window.

Willie pushed me through it with one great heave

and I grabbed, took him with me into the store,

onto the floor.

Mr. Ingomar was startled, and angry,

on the phone to the police instantly.

Cops are humorless and frightened most

all the time, ‘cept when they’re humorless

and facing pre-teen boys that one day

will be men they’ll have to stand against,

maybe, so they present how menacing they can be.

The steely-eyed one coming into Bjorn’s

that day was stern and threatened destruction.

But no one touched anybody else.

Well, Willie kept throwing jabs

all the way through the lectures

and the only knee involved was

the one I nailed Willie’s butt

with on the walk back home

to face our parents’ wrath.

2020’s Disease

Wilkinsburg, city of churches,

a suburb of Pittsburgh,

ravaged by Polio,

the summer disease.

Frightened parents,

Doctor Salk’s vaccine.

Every child at Johnson’s

School was marched past

Nurse Smiley to Doctor

white coat and his instruments.

All the fathers exhaled,

moms went back to jarring condiments.

The deaths were talked of constantly,

newspaper pics of iron lungs in rows.

The battle of the century was won

but foot soldiers left on crutches

were all children on their own.

Now another epidemic tornados

through the countryside unfettered.

The viral casualties invisibilities, all that can be shown.

All the Lizards Acquiesce

The Republicans are showing their support

for smashing the American Republic in favor of

a fascist cult leader. They’re sick of democracy.

It hasn’t gotten them anywhere in the last 40 years.

Fuck democracy that means a cruel oligarchy

makes all the rules and gets all the money.

The senate of Rome eventually became the

rubber stamp of dictatorship and an empire

was born .. is that an argument for tyranny?

That’s what the Republican senators and congressmen

are waiting for .. other fascists to impose

a tyrant on their people. Whoever it is,

it has their consent. It’s a sad day, a stern test.

They will kill their miseries with AR-15s

aimed at election workers just doing a job.

No sir, there was no tricky software flipping votes.

No sir, we never once saw Elvis stuffing ballots in his coat.

Obligatory Editor’s Rant

Well, it’s not really an obligation…I still have free will, after all…don’t I…that’s a tricky inquiry isn’t it? Being electromagnetically spastically animated bones and meat on an interconnected bio-sphere to further propagate the zany super-cosmic string that is life with existential multi-planed vibrations so the universe doesn’t flatline.

I shouldn’t be writing this, I should be completing my story for the DEATH BY PUNK anthology due out in April but…I’m not.

For some reason, I believe some people actually follow this page and may even be fans of DFP and/or *gasp may even want to have their work showcased somehow, some way, somewhen… and here we are or rather here I am spitfiring whatever comes to mind…so let’s start with a week in review.

VOICES FROM THE FIRE….what of it? Tinkered a bit with it due to lack of art and prose. Not a big deal. VOICES will every so often return to the regular format when enough prose and art pieces return.

Originally it was to be: one poet, one prose writer and artist once a week. I’ve now gone to several poets in which I try to lump together in an oddly thematic way and attempt to tie it together at the end of the week with a visual coda by an artist associated with DFP.

So there ya’ go VOICES FROM THE FIRE… a little light on prose and art. You can check the “about” page on here to see how and what to submit and definitely where.

Gets collected in a massive year end anthology…however it’s not even March yet and it already over 100 pages, if we get over 300 pages, expect a slimmer second volume toward the end of the year. It’s organic process, as I try to run a press, write my own shit and work full time.

So if things seem a tad frenetic, they are but hopefully the end result will be something worth reading and looking through…I don’t know, it could all be empty faith that eventually makes look like I’m full of shit and that’s okay too if you think Dumpster Fire Press is projectile vomiting flaming garbage.

Secondly, wow…DEATH BY PUNK is shaping up to a stellar anthology…the response has been overwhelming and if anyone is still interested in contributing punk and/or death themed counter culture work of the visual, poetic and varied literary sort….



Back cover illustration to Death By Punk ’cause y’all sick of Dillinger’s epic front cover

Finally, DFP’s March release will be the second edition of John Compton’s book POEMS: trainride elsewhere…

Cover still progress for trainride elsewhere

Also…this April for Poetry Month expect 3-4 releases along with an announcement regarding the next Dumpster Fire Press anthology…

It might be fun or I might go insane, who knows…


Another round

I’m drinking with Edgar 

while Baudelaire claws 

the turf and howls outside. 

Poe is a lot drunker than 

he should be…a cheap date, 

a ‘lightweight’ even. 

“You know that Lowell 

wrote that I am only two- 

fifth’s genius?”, he stutters. 

“So fucking what!”, I reply, 

Look what you did to that 

guy out there!”. 

“Yes”, yells Baudelaire, from 

the lawn, “A rotten influence”, 

and calls for another round. 


The sun sneaked 

out this day, 

I imagine to 

please the masses. 

Most think all 

is well with 

the stark sunlight, 

Makes some others 

want to hide… 

to hibernate even. 

Cold and rain 

can be conquered, 

either by wardrobe 

or by shelter, 

but there is 

only so much  

one can do 

to beat heat. 

Some would rather 

risk heat exhaustion 

and skin cancer 

than chapped lips 

and cold feet. 

Crazy events are 

coming of age. 

Icebergs are melting… 

tornados, quakes, and 

other phenomenon are 

striking in the 

most diverse places. 

New England area 

grows colder while 

the West burns. 

Not looking forward 

to summer coming. 

All has changed. 

Without Mourners

A discarded 

child’s toy 

in an 



It was 

once loved 

and embraced 

for security. 

It once 


what was 

not supplied 

by humans. 

It now 

lays abandon 

exposed to 

all elements. 

Not a  

fit ending 

for something 

once precious. 

It perishes 

without mourners. 


organ to organ

don’t laugh at their joke?

the customer gets mad.

don’t ask follow-up questions to their life story?

the customer gets mad.

serve everyone in the queue

who is before them

before them?

the customer gets mad.

the customer is never not mad.

one wonders if being right all the time

is worth it.

one wonders how people will cope

when confronted with a genuine problem,

like cancer of the spleen or assault.

one wonders how I’ll cope,

when I realise I’ve wasted my life

pandering to everyone else’s narcissism

for minimum wage.

I’m only paid to scan groceries! I’ll wail

as the mad customer

assaults me

in my cancerous spleen

until it’s

as swollen with sickness

as theirs.

double cunt

o cunt with a 50-pound note

why do you always buy something for under a pound, 

like chewing gum or a bottle of water?

o cunt with a 50

how can you stand there unapologetic

while we call for a supervisor

to open the safe out back

and bring out armfuls of coin bags

to give to you?

cunt with a 50

you do realise we’re going to be low on change

for the rest of the shift now?

and we’re going to get endless shit about it all day?

cunt with a 50, why do you need all that change?

cunt with a 50, where did you get that 50?

and why can’t you put it in the bank?

what you up to, cunt with a 50

that means you can’t use banks?

cunt with a 50,

this is why

you’re not just

a cunt with a 50

but also




shit happens

sir, I tell him, you can’t return these shorts.

not with all these …


I’m not having this! he warns. I’m gonna get my mum!

and storms out … 

it’s pretty sad

to have a grown man

with a shitty arse

threaten you with his mum.

sadder still

when he keeps his word:

look out the window:

she’s already marching across the car park towards us,

her special boy scurrying behind her,

smiling …

he’s not too special to have car keys.

he’s not too special to wear a wedding ring.

he’s not so special

he can’t stand outside your local polling station

telling you to how to vote.


he’s just special enough

to crap his pants

and get his mother to fight his battles,

when he isn’t

driving or voting or breeding

and I stand at the counter

waiting for them both,

the shit-stained shorts beside me

and not much else.

I tell her the price and she says:

no! they’re on offer!

she jabs a finger at her biscuits.

two for one!

well, they’re obviously not, I say.

otherwise they would have scanned through as that.

well then someone’s put the wrong sticker out on the shelf!

she reckons. that’s not MY fault! but you still HAVE to honor it!

trading standards! TRADING STANDARDS!

I ring the bell for help.

another worker comes over.

I ask him to check the price label on the biscuits.

he runs off.

we wait …

the biscuits are in aisle 14,

so we wait for some time …

can’t somebody else jump on to serve?

someone in the queue says.

no, I say. there’s only me and my colleague,

and he’s busy checking the price of the biscuits

for this lady.

everyone tuts and mutters.

we wait …

the worker comes back:

them biscuits aren’t on offer, he says.

yes they are! she says. you’re lying! go get the sticker!

so off he goes again …

it’s disgraceful, this is! she says.

wasting my time like this! and these people’s time!

she talks to the queue: aren’t they?

the queue nods: they’re on her side. 

we wait …

my colleague comes back, wheezing.

here, he hands her the shelf sticker. see?

no! she blinks at it. no no no!

you’re LYING! you could have got this from anywhere!

you’re just trying to embarrass me in front of all these people!

she asks the queue: aren’t they?

the queue nods and nods: they’re still on her side.

take me to biscuits, she says. I’ll PROVE it!

and off she goes, dragging my colleague with her …

we wait …

can’t you serve us while they’re doing that?

someone in the queue says.

I could, I shrug. but then I’d have to cancel her transaction.

so? they say.

so I thought you were all on her side? I ask.

what’s that gotta do with it? someone asks.

are you gonna tell her she has to join the back of the queue

when she comes back?

and you know what someone says? they say:

we won’t BE here when she gets back!

yeah, exactly, I say. it’ll be a whole new queue

and I’LL have to tell her to join the back of it!

that’s YOUR problem! someone says.

we don’t work here, YOU do!

I think I’m beginning to understand,

I say

and walk off.

the biscuits weren’t on offer

but you already knew that.

everyone did:


my colleague

the queue

maybe even the mad woman

and I had half a roll-up left

which I lit up

and it lit up

and I toked



I’d Like To Say…

I tell him nicely

a couple of times—

not into dudes

but he persists

sends me shots

of his mouth

wide open

tongue out

please let me

he says

you won’t be disappointed

he’ll even meet me

at a gloryhole

pay me a hundred

to let him do it

I imagine it—

myself as a whore

I should be a whore

after all

but no…

I’m not doing that

I’m not there yet

finally I quit answering


and pull the ad

cuz tonight’s evidently

not the night I’ll find

what I’m looking for

just like every night

that came before

and I’d like to say

I don’t understand

his brand of desperation

as I turn out the light

and lie here

not sleeping

and later

as I jerk off and cum

down the throat

of my stupid



Days Of Our Lives

sometimes I wonder

how much it’s all

just an act—

monkey see

monkey do

too much TV

too many movies

and we become a race

of soap opera stars

wailing over problems

we secretly wouldn’t

give a shit about

if only ordinary life

didn’t bore us

so damn much

I think that’s part

of Dexter’s appeal—

an examination of the soul

of a psychopath

who learned to fake

every emotion

to blend into society

we identify

with his “dark passenger”

because maybe

we’re all a bit more


than we’d care

to admit

and yes

I’m aware the irony

of using a TV show to make my fucking point

So, What Do You Do?

Many days I’d stand there

in my supervisor’s office

waiting for him to get off the phone

with some pain-in-the-ass 

so he could explain to me

the potential pitfalls of the day’s jobs.

And after he’d hang up,

and say “Jesus Christ!”

he’d go on again about quitting

and becoming a dishwasher.

It became an inside joke—

we were both gonna quit

and find our “Dream Dishwasher’s Job”

and leave the stress

of machine shop life behind.

Well, I may have found mine.

Interviewed yesterday for it.

Both the white-shirt manager and 

the kitchen supervisor

seemed to like me,

and after the interview, 

he bragged about what a cake job it is,

as he showed me around—

the walk-in, the ovens, the sinks,

the racks full of trays waiting 

to be delivered to that building

over there. He pointed and said,

“There’s the mental hospital.

That’s like a prison.

They’re all fucking crazy in there.”

(I must be fucked up, because

something about washing the dishes

of the criminally insane

somehow appeals to me.)

The pay is surprisingly good, too.

Plus I can listen to music, 

get a free meal sometimes. 

The only downside I can see

is going on a first date,

and having her ask

the inevitable question…

And I’ll look her straight in the eye,

and say, “I’m a poet.”

On second thought, 

maybe “Dishwasher” 

sounds a bit more impressive.


Taking a rare full weekend off during a snowstorm for an out of town excursion…

It an attempt at romance while courting death…

in meantime, DFP is still taking submissions for DEATH BY PUNK until March1st

Poems, stories (20 page limit), photos, art, essays…whatever

anthology covert art by Dillinger

Oh and as always VOICES FROM THE FIRE the blog later to be collected into a massive year end anthology needs more stories art but will always eagerly accept poetry as well.

Submission guides are located on the about page, don’t be lethargic even if you think it’s punk rock…it’s not.


Stay surreal.



Walker’s Bend was a small town. Nothing exciting ever happened there, until Henry Parker got killed by that thing living under his porch. That was fifteen years ago. There have been a few strange happenings since then, including me seeing the thing that killed him; not when it happened, but a few weeks later. It was a sight to behold.

No one had actually seen the thing under Henry’s porch until I saw it that night, and possibly only one other person since, that I know of. Hell, nobody even knew it was under there. But they said poor old Henry’s body was torn to shreds and there was blood everywhere. Everybody figured it was probably a mad dog or a bear, but I can tell you it wasn’t either one. I’ve never been one to believe in monsters and such, but I can’t really think of any other word – other than monster – to describe the thing I saw sitting on Henry’s front porch.

It was a dare that led me up there that night. I was thirteen years old, and me and a few others were out back of the Stop-n-Shop, sharing a bottle of Sloe gin we got from Benny Finch’s older brother. Benny was the one who dared me.

“Bet you won’t sit on dead Henry’s front porch for ten minutes,” Benny said.

Amy Jensen smiled, looking at me with her Sloe gin buzzed blue eyes, “Go on, Ronnie, show

him you ain’t chicken.”

I took a drink from the bottle, handing it to Amy. Damn, she was pretty. “I’ll stay longer than ten.” And with that, I walked on up to dead Henry’s house. I’m sure some of my courage came from all that alcohol, and Amy Jensen’s smile may have had a little something to do with it.

            Henry Parker had lived alone, and he didn’t have any family, so his house stood empty after his death while the State was trying to figure out what to do with it.

It was one of only three home son Stone Creek Road. The other two were farms, so there was a bit of distance between the homes. It made for a long walk late at night. At least it was a clear night with a good moon.

It was going on ten o’clock when I got within sight of dead Henry’s place. I didn’t see the thing at first, but I did hear a knocking sound, so I stepped off the side of the road and crouched down behind a tree. That’s when I saw it sitting there on the porch. Its legs – at least I think they were legs, it was hard to tell – were hanging off the edge of the porch, swinging back and forth like it didn’t have a care in the world. It was banging its head against the porch rail.

This thing didn’t look like you or me. It looked like its skin was turned inside out. I know it was dark, but with the moonlight, I swear I could see the blood running through its veins.  It was short, no more than four feet tall at most, but it looked downright mean. It had a head kind of like a deformed goat but with long claws like a big cat or something. I ain’t gonna lie, it scared the shit out of me. I was hugging the backside of that tree so tight I was starting to grow bark.

The thing finally stopped bumping its head against the rail and slid down off the porch, its claws digging into the wooden railing. It didn’t move like anything I’d ever seen. I thought it was going down on all fours, but it started walking all bent over. I still don’t know to this day if it had four legs or two arms and two legs. For a minute, I thought it had seen me and was coming after me, but then it turned around and started pacing back and forth like it was thinking about something. That’s when it started howling, or maybe it was screaming, I don’t know. But I do know it sent chills down my spine. When it finally stopped, it dropped down and reached under the edge of the porch, dragging out what looked like a small child. I was ready to turn and run until I realized it wasn’t a child, but a doll, and it was cradling it in its arms. The way that thing was carrying on, you would’ve thought the doll was real. It was like a mother caring for its young.

I knew then that I wasn’t going up on the porch. It’s not that I was backing out of the dare, it’s just that the situation had changed. I was only thirteen, but I knew enough about animals – and I guess even monsters would be considered animals – to know you didn’t mess with one and its

young. I started to back away slowly, trying to use the tree for cover. I was about three steps back when a small branch underfoot caused a very loud snap. I froze. The thing quickly turned its head in my direction.

Everything came to a stop; you couldn’t even hear a cricket. I was sure if I moved, that thing would see me. It tilted its head, listening. It was strange how it looked like a monster but acted almost human in some ways. It slowly turned around in a circle, raising its head and sniffing the air. I thought I was a goner, but then it turned its attention back to the doll in its arms. I waited until it started stroking that doll’s head again, and then I turned to leave. I had no sooner taken my first step when I heard it screaming again. I looked back just in time to see it drop the doll and start running in my direction, this time it was down on all fours. I headed back up that road faster than I had ever moved in my life, hearing that thing behind me, snorting and growling. I could feel all that Sloe gin working on my stomach as I ran, but there was no time to slow down. I stumbled as my foot came down in a pothole, causing me to lose some of my lead. The thing was gaining on me and I was beginning to think I’d never see Amy Jensen’s smile again.

Just when I thought it had me, I looked back and saw it come skidding to a stop. Right there in the middle of Stone Creek Road, that thing started walking upright again, round and round, snorting and growling.  I finally stopped running and turned to face the thing. I was feeling dizzy and sick to my stomach, on top of being scared half to death. It lunged at me a couple of times and I damn near fell down when I jumped back, but it wouldn’t come any closer. The nearest house still wasn’t in sight, but I could see the edge of their field.

I don’t know why it didn’t come any closer to me and I don’t know what made it turn around and go back. All I do know is that was the first and only time I saw the thing, and to this day, I still don’t have any idea what it was. Nobody ever believed me when I told them what I saw. Benny Finch just laughed and called me chicken. Amy never said anything, she just smiled and gave me a disappointed look.

There were a few stories after that, about people finding dead animals out at the end of Stone

Creek Road and according to the stories, it looked like something had made a meal of them. They finally tore down Henry Parker’s house and auctioned off the land. The demolition crew found what they called, ‘some kind of skeleton, about the size of a small dog’, underneath the front porch, in what looked like some wild animal’s den.

That was fifteen years ago, and I can still remember that damn things like it was yesterday. The one other person that I think may have seen it was Benny Finch. Amy Finch (formerly Jensen) called me today, the first time I’ve talked to her since I moved up here to Hatley. She said they found Benny’s body – or what was left of it – yesterday. He was drinking with some guys he worked with and decided he was going out to the end of Stone Creek Road. Benny always did get a taste for adventure when he was drinking. That was the last time anybody saw him alive.

 I wonder if he finally believed me?

Jim Graves

I’m going home for Benny’s funeral. You never want a funeral to be the reason for going home, but it’ll be nice to see Amy. Damn she was pretty.