My Online Jean by Peter Mladinic

Good fighters don’t like to talk about it
but Jean did, a teen in a home she broke
a girl’s jaw, in prison picking fights
with panderers who pimped children,
time in solitary. I was infatuated. 

Jean an ex-con my online flame
roller skated in her cellar, fired from
John Deere, high one morning on meth
she came in and set a table on fire.
When a woman slammed a car door

on Jean’s leg, I said why not kick her ass.
She didn’t. Some of the online luster
wore thin. Her fights happened when
young. After 40, pregnant Jean decided 
to abort, then to have the kid. I think 

Jean was afraid to fight the woman who 
injured her, my crush, my woman 
who loved women in jail, in prison.
She sent a picture: a beauty, long thick
wavy hair tried to shower with her. 

They did coke lines, made love, I think,
on a table. Jean said it was great.
I still have the other girl’s picture.
She looks like Kayla, a lawyer, paints
animals. Jean liked to roller skate.


Peter Mladinic’s fourth book of poems, Knives on a Table is available from Better Than Starbucks Publications. An animal rights advocate, he lives in Hobbs, New Mexico.

2 Poems by Jeff Taylor

Subliminal

the letters on the screen
are inhabited by people

who want to kill you


they are flourescent bulbs
trapped in the walls of a maze
shaped to spell freedom


after being fed six pills 
every three hours 
for nine weeks 


the letter people

ate through the walls
and hurled themselves  

into the space between the text

 

their true goal 

is to direct


but the pharmaceutical regimen
freedom put them on 

 

left them susceptible

to believing

 

they must be standing 

in a pool of your blood

to make a dollar

 

they think love has a shape

a color

a required equipment list

 

a representative is asking you to lie on the couch

a profile has been created for you 

 

you will be prompted

to select a legacy administrator

 

press spacebar to continue


I’m Not, But I Am

I’m not 
campaigning
to be President

but I’m 
building 
my library.

I’m not 
the founder
of a social 
network

but I’m 
wearing
a hoodie.

I wasn’t 
born with
a Silver Spoon 
in my mouth

but I talk 
sitcom philosophies.

I’m not 
a spy

but I’m chain 
smoking.

I didn’t go 
to flight school

but I’m a 
stoner.

I didn’t 
find God

but I married 
my best friend.

I’m not 
a cult 
leader

but my 
children 
love me.

I didn’t 
consider myself
an alcoholic

but I 
over-celebrated
every 
minor holiday.

I didn’t 
create change

but I’m 
listening 
to podcasts.

I’m not 
the Heavyweight
World 
Champion

but I beat 
myself 
up.

I didn’t make 
the All-American Team

but I know how to 
play the game.

I’d make 
a terrible waiter
but I’ll bring you 
what you 
ask for.


Host of The Garage Poets Open Mic, Jeff Taylor has been writing, publishing and performing poetry for over 20 years, he has recently had poems publshed in Ethel Zine and the anthology American Graveyard (Read or Green Books). Jeff lives in Massachussets with his family where he performs with the poetry/music collective Garage Poets. 

Peckerhead: Another Uncertain Turning Point by  D. R. James

Heartfelt, brainfelt, bodyfelt, prickfelt,

rushing full tilt toward your personal zero.

               —Stephen Dobyns, “Syracuse Nights”

Why would a mid-May robin want in so bad
at my kitchen window she’d implement
her bob-bob-bobbin’ against glass clearly streaked
with her own shit and spit?

I’ve yet to look into this.

And notice I first assume a she
and so imagine a requisite bundle of baby blues
expanding in her little bird body,
making her cockamamie, as does any condition
that’s annually stipulated indifferently.

But I could just as soon assume a scene
about a he, one mad male’s incessant pecking
driving me loony, in which no deterrent works for long
to convince him that surely my world
will not appease the prick
of his anxiety.

So I wander to what you may be way ahead of me
wondering: “What damnable spans of blank illusions
have come to be our clear delusions,
passively smacking us
with our own featherweight attempts to enter
what we should be shunning?”

And I hope you haven’t missed the double entendre
(or my finesse with French), that clear
can be obvious but also clearly
a death: a friend says that hawks—
even hawks!—hammer his massive passive-solar windows,
then overnight the neighbor’s cat skims by,
so by morning the decks are clear again,
except for those few odd tufts
dispensed in ignorance.

But would you say that I’m over-
personifying, that this pecker-headed insistence
must just be some apathetic act of survival
at its fittest? In which case,

would you say that I’ve clearly demonized
an incorruptible effort arising from anything
but love,
and whose instinctual persistence will simply discover
the crack, the gap, or the loophole—
or it won’t?

Which leaves our trick as to trust in
what, an inclination? Or trust in
what, our best estimation?  Or
what—just don’t?


Recently retired from nearly 40 years of teaching college writing, literature, and peace studies, D. R. James lives, writes, bird-watches, cycles, and vegges with his psychotherapist wife in the woods near Saugatuck, Michigan. His latest of ten collections are Mobius Trip and Flip Requiem (Dos Madres Press, 2021, 2020), and his prose and poems have appeared internationally in a wide variety of print and online anthologies and journals.
https://www.amazon.com/author/drjamesauthorpage