being young was weird, being older is weirder by R. Jones

Punk Noir Magazine

R. Jones is a writer based in the northeast, where he lives in a haunted apartment with his elderly dog. Read more of his work in Expat Press, Hobart, Misery Tourism, and elsewhere. Check out more of his writing at https://linktr.ee/jonestown00 and shout at him on Twitter at @jonestown00.

Two Poems by Rusty Barnes

Punk Noir Magazine

Rusty Barnes is a 2018 Derringer finalist and author of the story collections Breaking it Down (Sunnyoutside Press 2007), Mostly Redneck (Sunnyoutside Press 2011) and Kraj the Enforcer (Shotgun Honey/Down & Out Books 2019), as well as four novels, Reckoning (Sunnyoutside Press, 2014), Ridgerunner (Shotgun Honey/Down & Out Books, 2017), Knuckledragger (Shotgun Honey/Down & Out Books 2017) and The Last Danger (Shotgun Honey/Down & Out Books 2018), His fiction, poetry and non-fiction have appeared or are forthcoming in many jourrnals and anthologies, like Dirty Boulevard: Crime Stories Inspired by the Songs of Lou Reed (Down & Out Books 2018), Best Small Fictions 2015, Mystery Tribune, Goliad Review, Smokelong Quarterly, Red Rock Review, Porter Gulch Review and Post Road. His poetry collections include On Broad Sound (Nixes Mates Press, 2016) and Jesus in the Ghost Room, (Nixes Mates Press 2017). He founded and edits Tough, a journal of crime fiction and occasional reviews. He lives in Revere, MA. You can find him on Twitter @rustybarnes23.

My Top 13 “Transgressive” Novels to Read Before You Die by Stephen J. Golds

Punk Noir Magazine

Wikipedia says that “Transgressive fiction is a genre of literature which focuses on characters who feel confined by the norms and expectations of society and who break free of those confines in unusual or illicit ways.”

A good friend of mine, and a probable literary genius, once said that it’s debatable if transgressive literature even exists anymore. What’s transgressive in 2022? He calls it “Alternative Literature”.

Maybe, he’s right. I don’t know.

What I do know is “Transgressive” literature is certainly hard to define.

Everyone has their own definition.

For me “transgressive” authors are writers who write how they want to write, without worrying about what genre or box they may fit into. They have a story to tell and they bleed their words on the page until the story is done. They’re artists who blend poetry and prose effortlessly whilst writing about things that could/would still be considered taboo in today’s society.

You’ll never see these books on a supermarket shelf, but you’ll likely see them on the shelves of readers who live and breathe books.

These are my top 13 “Transgressive” books to read before you die.

Yeah I know I missed out a few. But these are mine. Feel free to add your own in the comments below.

13: Digging the Vein by Tony O’Neill

12: Hating Olivia by Mark SaFranko

11: So the Wind Won’t Blow it All Away by Richard Brautigan

10: Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen

9: Chump Change by Dan Fante

8: When I was Five I Killed Myself by Howard Buten

7: Nothing Important Happened Today by Will Carver

6: Suicide Casanova by Arthur Nersesian

5: My Fault by Billy Childish

4: Leaving Las Vegas by John O’Brien

3: Ask the Dust by John Fante

2: Ham on Rye by Charles Bukowski

1: 4:48 Psychosis by Sarah Kane

Or if you’re looking for some “transgressive” crime noir spanning the 1920’s to the 1960’s 😉 Please give my own novels a read

Stephen J. Golds was born in North London, U.K, but has lived in Japan for most of his adult life.

He writes loosely in the noir/crime genres, though is heavily influenced by transgressive fiction and dirty realism.

His three novels are a trilogy of connected but stand alone novels that deal in themes of mental illness, trauma, betrayal and twisted love.

He enjoys spending time with his daughters, reading books, traveling the world, boxing and listening to old Soul LPs. His books are Say Goodbye When I’m Gone, I’ll Pray When I’m Dying, Always the Dead, Poems for Ghosts in Empty Tenement Windows I Thought I Saw Once and the story and poetry collection Love Like Bleeding Out With an Empty Gun in Your Hand.

My Top 13 “Transgressive” Novels to Read Before You Die by Stephen J. Golds

Punk Noir Magazine

Wikipedia says that “Transgressive fiction is a genre of literature which focuses on characters who feel confined by the norms and expectations of society and who break free of those confines in unusual or illicit ways.”

A good friend of mine, and a probable literary genius, once told me that it’s debatable if transgressive literature even exists anymore. What’s transgressive in 2022? He calls it “Alternative Literature”.

Maybe, he’s right. I don’t know.

What I do know is “Transgressive” literature is certainly hard to define.

Everyone has their own definition.

For me “transgressive” authors are writers who write how they want to write, without worrying about what genre or box they may fit into. They have a story to tell and they bleed their words onto the page until the story is done. They’re artists who blend poetry and prose effortlessly whilst writing about things that could/would still be considered taboo in today’s society. Mental health, suicide, sexuality, poverty, addiction, abuse and trauma being just a few prime examples.

You’ll never see these books on a supermarket shelf, but you’ll likely see them on the shelves of readers who live and breathe books. These books never made the New York Times Bestseller lists, but they’ve remained cult favorites and probably always will do.

These are my top 13 “Transgressive” books to read before you die.

Yeah, I know, I missed out a few. But these are mine. Feel free to add your own in the comments below. There’s nothing better than discovering a great book you never knew existed.

Okay, so here we go. My top 13. Chosen because they’ve remained with me, carved into the very fabric of my soul like the drunken tattoo I woke up with that one long, crazy weekend in Osaka…

13: Digging the Vein by Tony O’Neill

12: Hating Olivia by Mark SaFranko

11: So the Wind Won’t Blow it All Away by Richard Brautigan

10: Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen

9: Chump Change by Dan Fante

8: When I was Five I Killed Myself by Howard Buten

7: Nothing Important Happened Today by Will Carver

6: Suicide Casanova by Arthur Nersesian

5: My Fault by Billy Childish

4: Leaving Las Vegas by John O’Brien

3: Ask the Dust by John Fante

2: Ham on Rye by Charles Bukowski

1: 4:48 Psychosis by Sarah Kane

Or if you’re looking for some “transgressive” crime noir spanning the 1920’s to the 1960’s 😉 Please give my own novels a read

Stephen J. Golds was born in North London, U.K, but has lived in Japan for most of his adult life.

He writes loosely in the noir/crime genres, though is heavily influenced by transgressive fiction and dirty realism.

His three novels are a trilogy of connected but stand alone novels that deal in themes of mental illness, trauma, betrayal and twisted love.

He enjoys spending time with his daughters, reading books, traveling the world, boxing and listening to old Soul LPs. His books are Say Goodbye When I’m Gone, I’ll Pray When I’m Dying, Always the Dead, Poems for Ghosts in Empty Tenement Windows I Thought I Saw Once and the story and poetry collection Love Like Bleeding Out With an Empty Gun in Your Hand.

Dog by John Bovio

Punk Noir Magazine

The ambulance ran over my dog, which I had more fondness for than for my mother, whom they were here to help. There wasn’t a lot left to help at this point. Father had shot himself, she found him, and I found her, trying to scoop his brains back into his skull with her wine glass.

“We need to sedate her,” the EMT said.

“Please,” I said.

“Are they trying to kill me?” mother said.

“I don’t think so.”

“Am I dying?”

“Maybe. All we have is hope.”

Splatter from a shotgun blast leaves pieces everywhere. It’s nearly impossible to clean up. Once a week or so, mother would find a bit of skull, brain matter or flesh in her underwear, or Special K she’d poured into a bowl and forgotten. She’d call me while drinking boxed Chablis and would smell like paint thinner by the time I got home. Sometimes she’d fallen and had shit and pissed herself because she couldn’t get up.

The stupid little Bichon Frise she’d bought from a puppy mill barked at me constantly. With my own dog dead and mother not to be trusted, I fed and walked the little bastard. It still barked at me. The dog ain’t right. The noise from the dog and Fox News made me want to shoot myself, or someone else, though Father had beat me to the punch.

“I talked to my therapist today,” my mother said. “I like it because we don’t have to talk about your father’s death anymore. We can just talk about whatever. And she’s a Trump supporter, so that helps.”

I fill her car up because she doesn’t know how. Father had done it for the last 50 years. Now I do it. I hated letting her drive because the car was always coming back dented. Then would come a story about how someone had sideswiped her. I would nod along while looking for the remote to turn down the volume of the television. People don’t admit loss of hearing, they just keep turning the volume up. She couldn’t hear me if she didn’t see my lips move.

“Do you want these? They’re brand new. Look, the tags are still attached. Your father never wore them.” I picked up the Costco polo shirts as if I was considering it.

“They’re not my size, really.”

“But they’re brand new. And they were on sale.”

  I took the dog for a walk. It barked at me the whole time. I tied it up in front of a bar and went inside. It kept barking.

“Is that your dog?” some guy asked.

“No.”

“You just walked up with it.”

“Yeah.”

“Can you shut it up?”

“It’s my mother’s dog. And I can’t shut her up either.”

I heard a high-pitched whistle before I opened the front door. In the kitchen, all four burners were on high and water sputtered out of the teakettle. I turned off the burners, walked into the den and found mother typing frantically on her iPad to one of her Facebook friends as Fox News whined in the background.

“Do you want a cup of tea?” I yelled.

“I hate tea,” she said. “Could you pour me some wine?”

I use a wheelchair to take her out now. She brings a thermos of wine and a 16 oz sippy cup full. We go to her granddaughter’s soccer game, and I wheel her into her spot on the sidelines. A larger, more talented player runs over my niece and scores a goal. When the cheers die down, mother screams, “Hey ref, open your eyes! You’re missing a great game!” The other parents say she’s “cute” in an “I’m glad I don’t have to deal with that” way. My niece scores two goals. Her team loses 4-3 on penalty kicks that mother sleeps through.

Three weeks later, when I get to the house, there’s an ambulance in the driveway and I hear the dog barking. The strange neighbor lady with blue hair who just walks in unannounced runs up to me.

“I found your mom on the floor. No. She couldn’t get up. Really bad back pain.”

“Did you call 911?”

“Yes, she didn’t want me to. Screamed at me, actually. Is she always so ungrateful?”

As soon as I stepped off the elevator, I could hear her. “Are you trying to kill me?” Nurses looked down at their charts to avoid eye contact as I went down the hall to the room. As I stepped into the room, a doctor was chewing out the nurse. “Just do what I say. You get to ask questions when YOU are a doctor. Where the fuck do they get these people?” He turned and saw me in the doorway. “You the son?” “We have to run more tests. We don’t know what’s causing the pain and if we give her something for it, it may make things worse.”

“You can’t make her comfortable?”

“No.”

After two more days of expert care and mother screaming, the doctor told me the primary artery leading to her intestines was 95% blocked and surgery was required. “The arterial wall was punc.. it ruptured during the procedure, and she bled into her abdomen. There was nothing that could be done.” He hurried out of the room.

“Is that how doctors admit to killing people?” I said.

“No comment,” the nurse said.

I took my bag and father’s shotgun, turned on all the gas burners on the stove and looked at that little fluffy white fucker barking at me. He ain’t right, but who am I to judge? “Come on, asshole.” I opened the door to my truck, and he jumped in. I put the shotgun behind the seat, threw my bag in the bed, and we headed west.

When we hit the highway, the little son of a bitch stuck his nose out the window, smelled the open road and never barked at me again.


John Bovio is a writer, artist, and chef. His work has appeared in various publications and galleries around the world. He lives in Oakland, California.

God is a Killer by Max Thrax — a Punk Noir Book Review by Scott Cumming

Punk Noir Magazine

God is a Killer by Max Thrax

Sometimes the world of literature is a slow-moving beast and so it was with the announcement of Max Thrax’s debut novel eighteen months ago. Max has been a constant fixture on the indie crime scene over that time cultivating a selection of dialogue driven stories that hit hard and fast.

In his debut, he brings us a Koreshian, religious fanatic looking to rekindle the flames of his cult in MacDougall pitting his wits against Sheriff Fitzroy, who in the absence of MacDougall has built up illegal enterprises and tightened his grip upon the New Hampshire small town they are both looking to rule, but there’s also corporate interest in the town and more specifically, the site of MacDougall’s former cult now inhabited by Sarah, a former member and wife of out antagonist.

Thrax pulls out the gamut of crime noir influences and themes as corporate, corrupt and religious threads meet in a whirlwind of influences spanning from Thompson to Higgins to Cormac McCarthy. The violence is unrelenting, the dialogue searing and the existentialism a gun to the head keeping you glued to the page.

The characters all pace in the darkness of life, but Thraxmanages to make them distinctive from one another especially our holy man, MacDougall, who’s voice is wild and full of religious fervour which goes beyond being an act for the sake of building a following. Sheriff Fitzroy feels plucked from a Thompson novel with his sheer ruthlessness in holding his illegal activities together and rouses the interest of Federal agents given the motorcycle “club” that’s moved into town haven’t suffered so much a single arrest in the six months they’ve been there.

Thrax’s debut is a full out assault on the senses dealing in racuous violence, skullduggery at various levels of authority and exploring the human condition. This is a book you definitely need to get your hands on as it brings it all to the party and will have you eager for more!

4 poems by Beth Mulcahy

Punk Noir Magazine

Our Father

He can’t breathe anymore

he survived that war

but now he can’t breathe

The war that put itself in him

the one that found its way into each of us

and into all of us

like osmosis

which we hoped was real for studying

when we’d sleep with history books under our pillows

the night before a test

but not real for trauma from a war we didn’t fight

His war wasn’t in our history books

it wasn’t history yet

it wasn’t talked about

not at dinner and not

in our Collier’s 1950s encyclopedias

the war was in a basement chest

medals, combat fatigues, boot polish and a hand grenade-

hidden away, dusty, not forgotten

We knew better than to ask

where did the scars on daddy’s legs come from?

why does he shake at night?

and the anger-

we knew to just keep soldering through

that’s what soldiers do

But the war found its way out of hiding

and infused in us anyway

its fears became our fears

its paralysis, our own

Its paranoia drained our joy

It nearly took him away

Then one day it was ok to talk about

and the purple heart came out of hiding

and a documentary was made

showing all the ways that all the presidents

could have not ruined all those lives

but it didn’t erase the years of not talking about it

it didn’t change the ending

or the aftermath

I know we were the lucky ones

I know we are the lucky ones

and our father-

he can talk about it now

about what they did

and what he saw

and we can try to make sense of the torment

that found its way into our rearing

But he can’t breathe anymore

our father can’t breathe anymore

so the war stories

live in the spaces

between

gasps of air

that war

will never be done

and I can’t make it go away

not for me

not for him

every path I take leads back to it

But he needs air now

he only needs air

and oxygen comes in a can

Our father can’t breath and

I’m still trying to save him


A Door That Won’t Open

Like talking through a closed door that doesn’t open, I ask, are you ok over there? I come everyday to this door to listen, to knock—sometimes loudly, to get something from you, and sometimes softly just so you know I’m here, listening. Sometimes I try to look through the keyhole. Sometimes I spend hours trying to find a key that fits or a way to pick the lock. I don’t know what I hope to find. I think maybe it’s better this way. We are less likely to disappoint each other if we stay on our own sides of a door that won’t open. But how are you really doing today? What’s happening? The door is a filter through which seeps only what you want me to have. Who are you really? I can’t see what’s behind your words. I only believe you because I need to and the truth doesn’t matter. Truth is not why I’m here, only tethering. I only need you to keep coming back too. I only need us to sit here, our ears pressed against the wood, in a tenuously tight tethering.


Timber Tower

What is it with me and the logs? Why this obsession with the carcass of the beheading I ordered? You appear as though you were once an innocent tree. But we both know better. You went too far in your encroachment and now you are reduced to a mere pile of logs, a dead heap of garden ornament and I like you so much better this way.

I couldn’t take it anymore so I gave my blessing for your demise. No, no more, I said. I can’t take it anymore, I said. The black berry blemishes you left everywhere infected the whole yard with a pox, rendering it unusable. I couldn’t even look at it, let alone set foot. I was over it. I was done cleaning up your messes. Make it disappear, I said, I don’t care anymore, I said. But you didn’t disappear, you reincarnated, transformed into a shrine to yourself by which I am transfixed. A shrine I worship.

I come to you every day to see your colors from the inside out. The neat circles, fixed now. You’ve stopped aging as you weather the seasons in pieces. I watch each day take its toll on you. I see how you shine in the sun wet with dew and how you stand stoic under layers of snow and ice. Look at you now, saturated with rain. Unmoving through it all, you amount to an unflappable heap of lumber, to which I am drawn, haunted by your inevitable eventuality- a split and burn in the name of fire.


Fear

That’s what it looks like

alone

no one can find you

no one knows where to look

no one’s even trying

That’s what it tastes like

acid

chemicals that don’t work

bile in the back of your throat

That’s what it smells like

rancid

blood on concrete

That’s what it feels like

numb

But the way we learned to cry—it doesn’t make a sound


Beth Mulcahy (she/her) is a Pushcart Prize-nominated poet and writer whose work has appeared in various journals, including Full House Literary and Roi Faineant Press. Her writing bridges the gaps between generations and self, hurt and healing. Beth lives in Ohio with her husband and two children and works for a company that provides technology to people without natural speech. Her latest publications can be found here: https://linktr.ee/mulcahea.

2 Poems by Sam Szanto

Punk Noir Magazine

Bio

Sam Szanto lives in Durham, England. 40 of her poems and short stories (as well as a story collection) have been published and listed in competitions. In 2022, she had a poem published in Wax Poetry and Art’s Poetry World #3 collection and Alternate Route Zine, and has three poems forthcoming this year in Horned Things Journal and Blue River Review. She won the 2020 Charroux Poetry Prize and the Twelfth First Writer International Poetry Prize, and was placed second in the Hammond House International Poetry Prize in 2019. She is studying for the Poetry School / Newcastle University MA in Writing Poetry.

W/r/t that fire at the abandoned mill by Clem Flowers

Poetry, Punk Noir Magazine

please, let me explain –

it was an accident

I know, I know

just, when I saw

You

I felt all the finch feathers & wine-drenched dandelions you put in me ages

ago all go flooding back up & into my throat

when You asked if I wanted to go look at the fairy garden You had helped make out in the hub with all the rotten hay bales & hunks of metal that look like cybernetic wagon wheels

a little miracle You managed with a flick of the wrist and some menchika booleroo

& then I go and throw up all over everything

You were so nice

to help

& pat me on the back

& tell me it was okay

I didn’t even notice I’d kicked over that forgotten Standard Oil can

& yes it was a thick sludge that more resembled congealed Golden Corral gravy then something to lube pistons & gears that came belching out that little tin of tetanus & hepatitis out in the backyard but

when it was met by the lit tiki torch that had been felled during the wind that had come up & felt quite nice as my face went all flush while I was hunched over

“Wow. That’s pretty.”

Then we screamed.

Then You called the fire department

You were so nice

to help

& pat me on the back

& tell me it was okay


Clem Flowers (They/ Them) is a poet, soft-spoken southern transplant, low rent aesthete, & dramatic tenor living in a mountain’s shadow in Home of Truth, Utah with their awesome wife & sweet kitty.
Hella queer & Nb poetry editor at Blue River Review, with publication credits including: Olney Magazine, Blue River Review, The Madrigal, Pink Plastic House Journal, Bullshit Lit, Corporeal, Holyflea, Anti-Heroin Chic, & Warning Lines Magazine. author of chapbooks Stoked & Thrashing (Alien Buddha Press,) Two Out of Three Falls (Bullshit Lit,) & eating rain// matchstick graveyard (Alien Buddha Press.)
Found on Twitter @clem_flowers