Dumpster Fire Press presents the fifth and final release for Poetry Month…

Art- Dillinger

SPEAK OUT AN EMOTION by Li Kan… a poetic, philosophical journey which in the end leaves the reader not only yearning for more poetry but leaves you wanting to speak out an actual emotion which is the essence of what poetry is about and ultimately Li Kan covers in his own work serving as guide in which own life mirrors one’s own in an askew existential reflection…

Hey you can’t reader Heidegger without first reading quantum physics but at least you can still read poetry with or without the physics and philosophy but that’s what poetry does, brings that vast array of interconnected cosmic existential play onto the mere optic nerve perceived mortal plane, full allowing one to speak out an emotion with a certain amount of colorfully coded depth…

I could be wrong…usually am…forgive me April has been cruel…and it’s National Poetry Month.

Though there couldn’t be a more fulfilling way to end it with this final release… which was a grand collaborative effort between myself and translator Xi Nan who perfectly encapsulates the work of Li Kan…

“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.”

But who is Li Kan?

contemporary Chinese poet, professional manager in marketing management. Founder-member of the “Fanglin Jiushi Poetry Festival” ,editor in chief of Suit Yourself annual poetry anthology . Author of one personal poetry-collection; a few of his poems have been influential. He lives in Chengdu, China. Li Kan’s view on poetry: read poems happily, write poems happily.

A Windless Day

The windless day is

Like a book

Leaning there

Like a pendant

Suspending there

Like a porcelain

Placed there

I walk from this room to that room

Feel it like clothes

Hanging there

Like a bed

Lying there

Like three o’clock in the middle of the night

Vacant there

I walk from upstairs to downstairs

Feel it also like grass

Greening there

Like a flower

Blossoming there

Like water on the ground

Slowly spreading to the edges

Like dust

At the beginning suspending in the midair

But right now

Being eaten by the air

It’s been an exceptionally brutal month but DFP continues…although don’t expect five titles a month again…

It’ll be back to the standard 1-2 titles maybe 3 if another issue of VOICES FROM THE FIRE is warranted or there is another anthology, that just can’t wait to be released but it’s nice to go out on a high note for April with this paramount poetic work that also serves as another milestone next to DEATH BY PUNK (DFP’s first anthology) as DFP’s first bilingual release.

Stay surreal, we’ve still got VOICES FROM THE FIRE rolling until the very end of April for the observance of National Poetry Month

oh and for the salvation of your sanity…speak out an emotion…PLEASE!


My Day

I’m sitting
and watching
the cars
go by

they carry
away my
day on
their hoods

my day
looks so
good as
it passes
me by

that I
might even
live it


The Roadkill

You already have arisen to the steady sobbing.

“Do you think her son is still locked inside?”

I step out.

Night has left its sanguine plumes on our staircase;

its predator moans in the darkness; spring mates

in the pollen ridden milieu with humid heat.

No snivelling I hear. 

Your hands have the threshold in their choke-hold.

The throbbing in our hearts is singular and dead 

by asphyxiation. I say, “No. They took her son away,


Rita went to her job the other day and didn’t return.

Her three years old son remained bolted inside.

We would not babysit him since we found F-words 

lying around in presence of our own child.

Idle Haunting

The senescent ghost of our household

dies everytime it stares at a mirror – 

an ever-playing groove, and the frayed music

roams around our flesh and its spirit.

One mandatory rope swing in our yard

gives away one or two untimely creak.

One black-naped oriole calls to nothing,

and I do not know which bird’s titular tune rings.

I and my daughter stands at the oblivion point 

midst the threshold. Light laves us and the ghost alike.

Again and again summer comes, goes.

The shadows grow to decay to regrow.

Sometimes I push my daughter on the swing.

Some nights it rides high on itself.

Crude Letters

One ‘I need a white shirt day’.

Wrinkles set dumpster-fire 

in the yard of ‘Yes sir’.

My colleague’s ears itch; still he hears me

while sucking one dead insect from his latte. 

He whispers something about an F-word mail

one should keep in an ‘in case of emergency’ folder.

I stare at the pavement below, a naked man 

turns in his bed made from a decayed overcoat.

For these days we keep ‘I support’ badges,

and then there flow the other days when

we toss a coin that bumps against the homeless flesh.




Busted the zipper on my jeans, fatso 

blue hair fading growing out grey-black 

beard already snowy – 

66 maybe 20 years left. 

“We’re building a community 

of health and wellness” 

– the billboard promises – 

while here comes Homeless Dirty Hands 

with his label’d 

Zombie Survival Kit bag

Was the girl in the 

faux snow leopard coat 

speaking in tongues 

or just really 



Once again Los Angeles 

and Richard has a new way to make coffee – 

the coffee maker broken. 

“Turn on the gas & light the stove 

you’ll probably need a flashlight” 

handing it to me 

the Japanese screen at the window 

torn methodically by the cat 

one big gash 

lets in the gray brilliance 

of Mar Vista morning fog 

not yet burned off from the beach 

the smaller tears 

a pattern of strange beast poetry 

feed me that was good touch my belly


It said “near the airport” 

– it wasn’t – 

“Non-smoking room” 

– stench of cigarette decades. 

– Free wifi down  

TV broken 

I hurried back to Terminal 5 

after broken sleep –  

bus to first day of retreat



The White Flag is Willingly Taciturn

The over-weaponized army marches

as gun-shells spill from open mouths

still wide from the war four years ago,

while the “torchbearers” rev 

by a new fuel, untapped, standing by.

We, with the phantom-shrapnel pain

in our chests, watch from our balconies

as they burn the parchment-paper dream

only to cradle our conscience safely

because this is a war we never signed up for, 

and thus, “not our battle” so, the white flag

we raise waves in smoke-brindle winds,

a hush, taciturn, when our voices

wielded properly, could be javelins.

Chemical Transfiguration

The extended-release capsule sinks inside

and dives through these intestines like Smaug

relishing his treasure-horde.

As the clock strikes two,

this placid lava-body melts into laminate floor,

threatens to heave with each serotonin-sear.

This planet-body’s core spins, then tumbles

until its innards begin to quake,

until synapses spark thunderstorms above.

Every night this ribcage caves

before its torn asunder because 

that’s what it takes for this desert to rain,

because a smile seems worth the cost,

an effortless breath worth the pain

of a forced chemical transfiguration.

Cyborg Butterflies

The congregation

chants “amen” at every word

spoke, a weekly loop

as tawdry chandeliers sag [sad],

heavy on their chains. 

An eight-year-old boy

shuffles his Bible, releases


in an array of color [until]

they fall out upon his lap

As the grown ups pray

to the angels lead astray,

he plays with laminated

butterflies, and dreams [desperately]

he’s far away, carried out

on their solid backs

because his angels are strong,

made of an alloy,

an unshakeable armor, [numb]

cyborg robbed of gossamer.



come hither you delicious tyke
allow me to bathe in your beauty
wash over tongue and jaw
with fragility so sweet

white heated cankers throb
and dissolve with each swallow
one bubble haughtier than the last
crowded laughter chimes truth

the roots of your beginning
christened and blessed in
holy waters as throngs of revelers
belch into the face of the majestic

your powdered face tightens
as our cheeks swell with spiked
tears, legions of them falling
on tiny knees and wrists

bark away, bark you must, young sire
lets the angels shiver at your arrival
spill your poison down our gullets
make heaven wait another day

for now, we meet


Burrow your way
past the vines
past the roots
past the bark that hides
my inner self
and cut free the hanging fruit
that builds with soot
with shadows
with shallow uncertainty,
then release your blade
from its leather sheath
let it angle its way into
the heart
into the mind
into the soul of the trunk
surrounded by Whitman’s fallen leaves
protected by Abe’s grave branches
hidden beyond distant shores
of a naked face
covered in yet
another season
of forgiveness.


there was this young boy
with a smashed in nose
and a hair lip
that revealed but one nasty tooth
jutting out his face.

his daddy was a pig skinner.
the kitchen of his shack was filled
with hanging pig skin.

one day I sees that boy clawing
his way out the riverbank.

his eyes were wild and stricken.

then i sees him dragging his
own body through the bramble
and his legs were bent back and pinned
to his ass, just stuck in place.

he’s screaming of course.
and he’s using that hanging tooth
to claw his way through the mud and grass.

never seen that before


My whole mind
my whole world
for the briefest of days
was consumed with this
wall-eyed woman that spit lies
that grew horns
that seemingly radiated
in the rain
she was full of clouds and whispers
she wore lime colored clothing
her stocking were always torn
her toes smelled of custard
and her lips were tortured with praise
always going on about this
always going on about that
always going on about herself
i grew to love her narcissism
so baked in crashing contradictions
compounded fibs hijacked at night
she would wake up lying
she would wake up in a halt
she would wake up and immediately
launch into a diatribe about all the things
she was going to do that day
but never got around to doing
it grew tired
she grew sour
my face fattened with her lies
her lies lost light
they had no real edge,
no meat on them anymore
then one day,
she was gone
poof, just gone
a ghost
i missed her for a minute
her dirty stocking
and spring-colored blouses
her crossed eyes
and cracked lips dried out by fiction
but every story has to end
even the ones filled
with nothing but lies

VOICES FROM THE FIRE: Allison Grayhurst

What were you as a man Aristotle?

           Bend the mind in fifteen different places

to pull out a particular, that

at the moment of capture,

shifts form and demands further



through definitions, substances,

entities – modeling God

on unity, and evil on chaos.

           What genius generates such a mind,

dilemmas purely in abstraction –

a voice swimming in a multi-layered

vortex of ideas and sophisticated vocabulary,

adept at defining, circulating, making movement,

unparalleled density in each paragraph,

in each line of unmatched cerebral dexterity?

           So I found you and I don’t know how

to take you in, if I can, but your observations

of elemental spirituality are exciting, and each read

is a like long dive into a living coral reef-barrier –

colours alien, animals sublime – both prey and predators,

proficient in the art of survival, and the energy!

Take me in –

           if what I thought would take a week,

takes months, and I sift through

your summits and grooves slowly, tasting

sugar, sour wine, touching

the tips of wings from the flight of many birds zipping

around my atmosphere at capacity – sometimes

as shadows, sometimes showing their bright plumage,

and those times I can glimpse, participate

in your singular reasoning, hear a man’s voice

labouring under metaphysical complexities

and bend my mind to the cyclone of your gospel,

spinning, upside down but in perfect order –

           maker of an intellectual sermon,

thinker uncorrupted, unlike your mentor Plato was

with his didactic prejudices, with his what-fors

his where-fors – but you!

           piecing out the divine,

making meals, ideals without rigidity,

chaptering out the primitive and the holy combined

with your plying, delving, ricocheting symphony


The Peace of Angels

 I will release to receive

the peace of angels.

I will count the changes

as realizations, tip over

the radicalized, and be singular

in my transcendence.

Purpose is a translation. Within

are experiences discarded

or validated by memories.

Floating or being summoned

are counterweights, dangerous to stand


but in the middle.

Loss is a hot vapour – burns as it first rises

and then, no more.

Love is everything – fills a moment

with the breath of eternity.

I will find the colour that draws me

the closest and I will choose it.

I will release the rest, know this surrender

as an exhale, a baptism to witness

that splits the sky.

No grief, No madness

 See yourself with real eyes,

there is no need for useless mythology.

The winter has come, the plants have died.

In spring they will take root and begin

to show promise. Just like you,

nothing magical –

You swell in times of joy

and deflate in times of sorrow,

stitching the inflatable boat.

This is your seat, accept it.

The struggle is the dream,

a hot order of suffering, unnecessary. Stand up, kiss the Buddha and sit down


 Unyielding heat

joined to the glowing trees

and take-away flowers.

My pleasure is broken

like a dream when waking.

Today I vanquish my delusions, eat

the green strawberry and circle

my loneliness, ghostly but growing

bones and ligaments.

My choice feels like a crime

when there are only some I can help save,

when my soft embrace must yield to stiff arms

and August has just begun –

no shade, no signs of rain.


*Note to accompany: This text, the remarkable wild:/ an unknown continent/  a term used to mean/ geographers were positive/ imagination to run riot/ writers depicted/ gems and jewels is a creative reading, which is to say sourced from, The Remarkable Voyages of Captain Cook by Rhoda Blumberg and The Wild Orphan by Robert Froman,  it is comprised of multiple sections which appear in sequence yet seemingly not in completeness. This may be experienced as a literal opening for the reader to engage in Nils Enkvist’s concept of interpreting the text, which is the building of a “text world”, It may also bring to the mind the work of Kathy Acker for some readers.

the remarkable wild:

an unknown continent

a term used to mean

geographers were positive

imagination to run riot

writers depicted

gems and jewels


it was late afternoon

in March

from that moment on

a privileged passenger

passionately interested in botany and zoology


cut off from the outside world


an unusual man

official instructions

to proceed southward

to make discovery

to describe the people

to cultivate friendship and alliance

to take a correct observation of the transit of Venus

the first voyage

was a tunnel into the side of the hill a quarter of a mile down the valley

busy unlocking the great, rusty padlocks and swinging the huge door on its squealing hinges

once he overheard


thought they wanted him to overhear


was positive he was dealing with spies

more interested in fortifications than flowers


land of giants

consisting of two artists, two sailors, an astronomer, a surgeon,

charts, and notes

nine months after

in the direction away

the surgeon did not feel unhappy or mistreated

the astronomer nuzzled her and encouraged her

the difference, in size and strength, between the surgeon and the others was getting a little greater almost every day

noiselessly and swiftly

she crouched behind a bush one last time

and made a little sound halfway between a purr and a meow

it was the last time



succumbed to the embraces

remembered had been destroyed

stealing everything that came within their reach


beautiful silver-trimmed white jacket


a quadrant

an iron rake

twenty-five large canoes that were loaded with fish



the fish began to rot and stink

the astronomer chose a site on the beach for observing the transit

surrounded by a wall that had six swivel guns 

where love is the chief occupation

the price for lovemaking was nails

there was not a cloud in the sky

a penumbra spoiled the viewing

all over the world

the direction of the wind had changed

air no longer flowed

one sailor and one artist caught on the breeze the scent of the surgeon

she did not hear the sailors until they were almost on her

barking and lunging from this side and that

the second artist was filled with awe

never had she seen an animal so handsome as the surgeon nor a spectacle so dramatic

the whole world seemed empty


the second artist stayed where she was a long time

her pain and misery slowly got to be a little less

then she heard the second sailor talking 

“you won’t have to worry about them

they’ll starve quick after her”

the astronomer was not hungry for his supper that night

but he tried to eat a little

all he could see was a dark, narrow opening

astonishing customs

hundreds of pricks that drew blood

to hold the surgeon down

the astronomer in mourning gashed the top of his head using sharks’ teeth until blood flowed freely

the opening was big enough for him to get his head and shoulders through,

but the idea of crawling into the dark cave made him a little sick

one of the stones seemed a little different

it was furry

faintly warm

for a long moment he could find no sign of life

then he saw the surgeon’s sides slowly rise and fall as she took a tiny breath

rising to his knees, held her to his chest

“starving!” he said out loud

“starving to death”


cannibals and goblins

she seemed to be a monstrous, supernatural waterbird

the offenders collected shells, flowers, tree blossoms, and stones, probably for magical reasons

they hid in the bushes

tired and frightened the astronomer somehow decided that the surgeon was safe

he crawled beside her, curled up, and went to sleep

he had always liked her

even her smell seemed pleasant to him when it came faintly from a distance

he felt very confident

the astronomer knew the surgeon would never hurt him

what he noticed was the sound of the surgeon’s voice and her smell and feel

for many weeks she was almost everything that mattered to him

her presence became a reason of purring with contentment


a unique land

two weeks after

the offenders ran away

they had no desire for possessions

all they seemed to want was to be gone

but the surgeon did not have to think about them now

all that mattered was the wonderful fact of having the astronomer, the other artist, and the other sailor and being so important to them



colorful butterflies

watching attentively

flailing wildly

blended almost invisibly

a healthy crew

proud of an unusual record

fanatic about good nutrition

teeth loosened or fell out

joints swelled

covered with sores


the surgeon was growing bigger and more beautiful every day


six weeks after

open sewers and stinking

garbage-filled canals

a cesspool that bred killing diseases

the four others were dead

while the astronomer and the surgeon were bedded down

two years and eleven months after

home again

fulfilled their instructions

she began to realize where she was

the offenders’ scent lingering in the space probably triggered a dim memory

she had been unsafe here before

she apparently accepted the imprisonment as the natural way to live

when the astronomer came back each morning

he greeted her with a great display of mews and purring 

she would pick him up and cuddle him for a while

and he would lick her labia and clitoris vigorously

who wants a firsthand explanation of these charts or a private report