An Interview with Five Decembers Author James Kestrel

Punk Noir Magazine

James Kestrel is living the kind of life that a lot of other crime writers can only dream about. A practicing attorney, ex-bar owner, and world traveler who has won praise from the likes of Stephen King and Dennis Lehane for his newest novel Five Decembers (Hard Case Crime). He certainly has hit the ball straight out of the park with his most recent swing and deservedly so. Sharing a love for crime writing and Taiwan, I caught up with the Hard Case to ask him to answer some of our questions for Punk Noir’s Important Authors Interview Series.

 

Thanks a lot for agreeing to answer our questions here at Punk Noir, James. To kick things off, can you tell all of our readers a little bit about how you got started in the Literature scene?

 

I’ve been writing stories since I was a kid, and then I went to a boarding high school in Michigan called Interlochen Arts Academy, where I majored in creative writing. I also majored in creative writing in college (at a now-defunct school that occupied a former funeral home in San Francisco’s Mission District). Because I was otherwise unemployable, when I graduated, I moved to Taiwan and lived there for four years teaching English. I came back to the U.S. to attend law school, then moved to Hawaii. I started publishing novels in 2013, and have put out six under my own name. James Kestrel is a pseudonym.

 

Tell us about your most recent novel Five Decembers.

FIVE DECEMBERS is the most ambitious novel I’ve ever written. At its heart it’s a murder mystery, but its scope is enormous and spans the entirety of World War II. The main character, Joe McGrady, is a Honolulu detective who gets swept into the war and caught on the wrong side of the lines when he tracks a killer to Hong Kong just before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. I tried to write it like a punch in the gut.

What and/or who are your inspirations?

Dennis Lehane, Ian Rankin, James Ellroy, Ray Carver, Raymond Chandler, Megan Abbott, Laura Lipmann, Ernest Hemingway, and Haruki Murakami, to name a few.

 

What advice would you give to up and coming indie authors?

 

Unless you’ve been diagnosed with a terminal illness, there’s no rush. Slow down a bit, read, re-read, and revise, and then start submitting to agents or publishers. Otherwise you might publish six books and then have to change your name.

What are your plans for the future?

 

To fight again another day.

 

What is an issue you care about deeply?

 

Right now, preserving our form of government in the United States. I fear we are one or two elections away from the end of our 245 year experiment with democracy. My grandfather—a German-American who killed Nazis for his country—would have been disgusted by the political rhetoric of the last 4 or 5 years.

 

What novel are you reading now?

 

I’m reading THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA, but in Chinese. This is extraordinarily difficult for me and will probably take me until next summer to finish. I usually only read one book at a time, but I may have to find something in English so I’m not walking around with a permanent headache.

 

What music are you listening to now?

 

My wife plays piano and violin. Right now she’s working on Scottish Fantasy in E Flat Major, Op. 46, by Max Bruch. So I listen to that a lot.

 

Finish this sentence: Fuck ______!

 

Fascists.

 

What did you last eat?

 

The other half of my five year old son’s breakfast sandwich that he left on his car seat after I dropped him off at school.

 

If you could go on a drinking binge with 5 writers alive or dead who would you choose?

 

Ernest Hemingway, Yukio Mishima, Jack Ketchum (I had a drink with him once, and would dearly have liked another), Iris Chang, and Toni Morrison. I’d add Stephen King to that list but I know he doesn’t drink and I’d hate to be the guy who wrecked that for him.

 

If you could travel to a time and place in history what would it be?

 

Queens, New York, around September 1945. I would track down Fred Trump and give him a box of condoms.

 

What would you like written on your gravestone?

 

James Kestrel

1977 – 2177

 

(So medical science better get cracking on whatever it is that will make that possible.)

Formerly a bar owner, a criminal defense investigator, and an English teacher, James Kestrel is now an attorney practicing throughout the Pacific. His writing has won advance praise from Stephen King, James Patterson, Dennis Lehane, Lee Child, Meg Gardiner, James Fallows, Pico Iyer, and numerous other authors. A sailor and world traveler, Kestrel has lived in Taiwan, New Orleans, and a West Texas ghost town. He lives in Volcano, Hawaii.

The Punk Noir Magazine Top 21 Reads of 2021 Part One (As Read and Chosen by Stephen J. Golds)

Punk Noir Magazine

This was tough. Too tough.

I’ve read 67 books this year (according to my GoodReads profile) and choosing a top ten left me reeling punch-drunk, murmuring titles and author’s names repetitively on public transport. A literature obsessed version of Dustin Hoffman’s Rain Man. People avoided eye contact and moved slowly away.

I knew why. They knew. I would never be able to pick a top 10. That was crazy talk. An impossibility.

2021 has been a gold mine for readers (like me) searching for new and already established author’s to blow them away with narrative skill and lyrical prowess. I easily could’ve done a top 30, 40 or hell, 50. But…

2021…

21…

2021’s Top 21 !!!

These are the Top 21 books that blew me away and stole my heart this year. In alphabetic order because, dammit, I can’t choose and rank them. That’s too similar to a Sophie’s Choice dilemma for this editor. (My Cohort in crime BFJ will be compiling her own for Part 2, so hold on for that!)

1. The Black Viking Trilogy by John Bowie

I like to think of John Bowie as an early 2000’s Dr. Dre. He has published probably A-Z of the best crime writers on the indie scene to date at his magazine Bristol Noir, but is an amazingly talented writer in his own right. The Black Viking Trilogy is a testament to that. Gritty, poetic, nasty and beautiful, his prose is a BIG recommendation for anyone who digs the NOIR genre and wants to read a fresh narrative.

2. The Bristol Noir Anthologies by Bristol Noir

As stated above, these anthologies from Bowie and Bristol Noir are probably the best crime anthologies of the last few years. Collecting a wide variety of original voices, hard-core talent and gripping stories from all over the world, they’re an absolute must-buy/must-read for any crime fan.

3. Psychopaths Anonymous by Will Carver

Carver is a wordsmith, a storyteller, and one helluva writer. He has pulled the crime genre into a stolen vehicle and has crashed through the front doors of the publishing industry. What I mean to say is; he writes the story he wants to write and he writes it with originality, flair and skill. Psychopaths Anonymous is my crime novel of the year because it’s more than a crime novel, it’s an attack on modernity and trends as much as a story about a woman who drinks too much and murders folks.

4. A Chapbook About Nothing by Scott Cumming

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know, it’s not out yet, but I was lucky enough to read the early proofs and Cumming is one of my favorite poets at the moment. His poetry is self-effacing, endearingly honest and succinct in what he is stating within the deeper meaning of the poem.
He, as well as being one of the nicest and most supportive chaps on Lit Twit, is a poet to watch out for in the coming years as this debut chapbook is just the beginning, a stretching of the legs before a marathon, I predict.
Watch this space!

5. Charlesgate Confidential by Scott Von Doviak

This is one of the novels I wish I wrote. Absolutely loved it.

A haunted hotel.
Boston’s criminal underbelly.
An art Heist gone wrong.

Double-crosses and triple-crosses.
Stephen King like storytelling mixed with the brutality of noir’s darkest prose.
This novel has everything and it does it all very well!

6. Every Hidden Thing by Ted Flanagan

I put this novel on the shelf next to Tim O’Brien and Tobias Wolff. Flanagan can hold his own with the heavyweights. And this is a debut?!! He has the talent of writing the most beautiful, succinct prose about the ugliest of things and the fact that the author is also really a paramedic (and vet) and writing from hands on experience make this debut novel all the more evocative and moving.

7. History of Present Complaint by HLR

Listen. I. Shit. You. Not.

This is one of the most important poetry collections of the last forty years. I’m not just talking here.

The first time I read this collection, I had to get off the subway, find a bench and sit down. Take a few minutes. Then, I went back, rereading every poem over just to make sure that I had really read what I thought I’d read. Wipe the tears from my eyes. This collection DESERVES to be read by everyone. It NEEDS to be read by everyone. HLR is the real deal, once in a lifetime talent. If I had ranked a number one today, it would have been AHOPC HANDS DOWN.

8. Fallout From Our Asphalt Hell by Gabriel Hart

On the topic of once in a lifetime talents, here’s another writer that’s going to blow up any given day now because his talent is too big and too raw not to explode into the consciousness of the reading mainstream.

What I’m trying to say is: often you read authors on the indie lit scene and are blown away by their talents. More rarely, you’ll read an author and you’ll know in your weary bones they were born to write. Their talent seemingly too bright, too fierce, too strong to be held down within the confines of any one community or genre.

Gabriel Hart is one of those rare authors. He has proven time and time again there isn’t a single genre he can’t mold into his own stylings. Song lyrics. Non-fiction. Poetry. Journalism. Crime. Transgressive. He’s done it all and he’s done it all extremely well.

9. Soul Collector by Duvay Knox

And another rough diamond that flashes brighter than a razor blade in the sun.

Duvay Knox is the cooler American version of Billy Childish. Both hugely talented innovators, poets and fiction writers that make prose in their own too cool individual styles.

I think Knox is a writing genius and 2021 is only the start.

10. The Blue Hour by James Lilley

Lilley writes poems with an earnest honesty and vulnerability to them. Which is what poetry should be all about.

Extremely emotive, moving, disturbing beautiful words from a talented writer. This collection is his best work and is highly recommended.

11. A Troll Walks Into A Bar by Douglas Lumsden

Doug Lumsden’s Alex Southerland P.I trilogy really caught me by surprise. Not usually a fan of P.I. novels, as I find them the most unoriginal of the crime genre. If you’ve read one, hell, you’ve pretty much read them all. What else can be said that hasn’t already been said exceedingly well by Chandler, Spillane et al.

Right?

Wrong!

Lumsden has twisted and woven the noir P.I. genre into the fantasy realms and he does it all while using the hard, bullet sentence structure and punctuations to rival the aforementioned greats. We’ve got trolls brushing shoulders with mob bosses, pimps mixing it up with were-rats, gnomes, elves and mythological monsters of the deep. And its all set in a bastardized, seedy fantasy version of our own downtown areas.

If ever there were a trilogy of novels made perfectly for Netflix, it’s got to be Lumsden’s. I found his prose a pleasure to read and was envious as hell of his flowing sentence structures and talent for creating bright visuals of the world he creates.

If you want to read a fantasy crime novel, I can’t recommend Lumsden more highly.

12. The DI Erika Piper Trilogy by Chris McDonald

The Police Procedural Genre isn’t usually my bag, but the fact I thoroughly enjoyed and ate up all three of these tightly-woven mysteries speaks to McDonald’s talent for writing gripping and engrossing stories. Definitely a softer spoken narrative style but as the old adage goes it’s the subtle knife that wounds the deepest.

13. The Witness by Simon Maltman

I enjoy Maltman’s writing very much. It’s noir, but definitely noir for the 2020’s. Reading his novels is like listening to a talented storytelling mate recounting some twisted, criminal escapade they witnessed over a few pints down your local.

14. Witness X by S E Moorhead

I’ve reread Witness X twice now and I’ve got to say it’s one of the freshest, most interesting sci-fi/crime novels I’ve read in a long time. Loved the character of Kyra, a kick ass, strong, intelligent protagonist. This novel kept me coming back and kept me guessing until the very end. Really looking forward to what Moorhead brings next!

15. Vine Street by Dominic Nolan

1930’s Soho and a serial killer haunts London’s Jazz clubs. Two likable but broken detectives’ obsessions with breaking the case and catching the fiend spans decades and the UK.

Wow!

This novel is blowing up lately and rightly so.

Every few years a crime novel will come along that will hijack my mind completely. With the Molotov cocktail of a gorgeous setting, endearing characters, addictive plot line and visceral writing, Vine Street by Dom Nolan is easily one of the best crime novels I’ve read in the last decade.
It’s literary and Ellroy-esque in scope and ambition.

A great novel!

16. In Filth It Shall Be Found An Anthology by Outcast Press

This. Was. Dark.

Sometimes, I had to put it down, go make myself a cup of coffee and watch some cartoons. Otherwise I might’ve gone a little Jack Torrence.


Easily one of the best anthologies I’ve read this year. Like I said, this is the darkest prose you’ll read collected in one anthology and for me that’s a big stand out. Stellar work by all the authors involved. Can’t wait for volume 2.

Also, watch out for Outcast Press, they’re doing great things, are creative, innovative, dedicated and are going to be very successful.

17. Blackstoke by Rob Parker

What a great novel. I loved how Rob Parker jumped from action-packed crime prose to this dark, twisted, creepy small-town horror story with such ease.

Would love a television drama to be made from Blackstoke, because that’s how Parker writes, so bloody visually you can see it all playing out in your mind perfectly. Yep, even that gross, fucked up part.

18. The Bad Kind of Lucky by Matt Phillips

Phillips writes tight, crisp atmospheric prose that recalls the bygone eras of pulp and noir genres while mixing in a modern, hip narrative.

Slick, razor-sharp dialogue and realistic characters make Phillips The Crime Writer to Binge Read. The only true crime committed being my own late arrival to his work.

19. All The Sweet Prettiness of Life by Cody Sexton

2021 I became a big fan of Sexton’s work and words.

As with Cumming and Lilley, Sexton’s work is spare, beautifully brutal, lyrical and honest.

Another artist to watch in 2022.

He also has one of the coolest transgressive mags out there right now.

20. Slow Bear by Anthony Neil Smith

I write “noir” but I can count the number of modern books that fall under that genre currently on my bookshelf with one hand. Probably. I’m a big fan of the Black Lizard paperbacks, have collected a large sampling of Hard Case Crime. But I just haven’t found the modern 2020’s equivalent to those brutal, nihilistic stories of yesteryear.

Until, I read Slow Bear, that is.

Noir is a strange beast. Everyone has their own definitions of what fits the criteria. For me, the criteria for Noir are themes of loss, betrayal and darkness. There’s always an outsider protagonist on the ropes but not ready to go down without a fight.

I believe of all the books that have been published in the last few years Anthony Niel Smith’s SLOW BEAR is the penultimate modern noir novel and doesn’t just tick every single box of noir criterion but punches holes right through every single one.

21. Murder and Mayhem in Tucson by Patrick Whitehurst

The closest I’ve ever been to Arizona is the movie Raising Arizona by the genius Coen brothers.

However, after reading the immersive and fascinating Murder and Mayhem in Tucson by Patrick Whitehurst I feel as though I’ve been there many times.

I’m a big fan of crime non-fiction and Whitehurst has smashed the ball right out of the park with this latest release. It really doesn’t matter if you have an interest in Tucson, Arizona or if you’ve lived there. This book chronicles the cities bloodiest histories.

War stories, murders, robberies, cold cases, all of the city’s dirty deeds are dragged out into the harsh light of the Arizona sun and laid bare with a cast of characters including none other than the most infamous bank robber of all time; John Dillinger and The Godfather Joe Bonanno. 

I really enjoyed this and would highly recommend it to fans of crime non-fiction across the board.

***

Bonus Ranking

This has got to go to my extremely talented and very prolific co-editor

B. F Jones

She writes some of the most beautifully moving poetry and some of the most beautifully disturbing prose that I’ve ever read and it’s always a pleasure to read anything she writes.

***

Okay, it’s taken me a long while to work through, but there it is. I hope you could get some good recommendations from my list and I hope you enjoy reading them all as much as I did.

Thank you for reading!

All the best,

Stephen J. Golds

***

Tufskinz by Peter Relic

Poetry

In the brand new ruins

of Habersham Village

the placard outside The 5 Spot

MEATLOAF IS BACK! means

the dashboard light’s gone dark.

Marginalia in bike lane

Do not explore gravy-as-metaphor

suggests instead we seek analogy

in cauli mash sandwiched

between okra cakes

on special blue plate,

a stand-in for fate.

Will no one try to stop

KING OF TRANSPORT

tractor trailer impersonating

the fiery chariotry of process?

Now boarding Catch-A-Cat bus 25

to Probation Office.

Stuck on a traffic island

with a climate crisis sign

I burn each night

to keep cool,

I ask God’s Body

to spin it for a bit.

An Interview with Writer, Actor and Original Punk Jimmy Doom @JamesDoom

Punk Noir Magazine

Hi Jimmy, been a fan of your flash fiction since I originally hit twitter. Thanks a lot for agreeing to an interview. To start things off, can you tell our readers a little bit about how you got started in the Literature scene?


I’m not certain I’m in the scene. I wrote a book and write daily fiction on Substack. I rarely
submit to magazines because I’m impatient as hell and some of the turnaround times are
ungodly. I come from the Detroit punk scene. We are very much a DIY crew. Local Detroit
indie bookstores have embraced me, so I’m grateful for that, but as far as the literary scene
in general, I’m like a snot-nosed kid on the sidelines even though I’m not a kid anymore.


Tell us about your recent work?


My first book, (Humans, Being-A Story a Day for a Year) was released in December 2020.
It’s 365 stories of exactly 100 words each. It started as a way to prove to a certain popular
online publication that their pay system was skewed, but then I started having fun with the
discipline (and I loathe discipline) of writing to an exact word count in every story.
On Roulette Weal, jimmydoom.substack.com on which I publish daily, I do longer short
fiction and some flash in the neighborhood of 400 to 1000 words. Publishing daily is a
derailed roller coaster of a commitment, but I am having fun and I think my readers are too.
Most of the stories center on the fringes of society, or average people who are harboring
secrets that aren’t average or “normal”, whatever the fuck normal is supposed to be.
Everyone’s favorite seems to be Eggshells, about a bullied little boy and his eccentric mom,
or Grandmaster, told through the eyes of a chess prodigy who is rendered nonverbal in an
accident.


Describe your writing style in 5 words?

Spare, Unflinching, Brash, Caustic, Real

What and/or who are your inspirations?


I grew up on the west side of Detroit when it was the murder capital of the US, if not the
world. My friend John Williams was shot and killed blocks from my house, taking out the
trash at his dishwashing job, when we were still in high school.
I loved telling stories before that, but that’s when I told myself I wanted to do something
with my life that was different. That stark, stunning reality that it could all end in a second
was profound. I’ve been shot at 3 times myself.I knew I had stories to tell and in a way it
was safer to fictionalize them.

Elmore Leonard was a superstar novelist when I was a teenager. He lived in a wealthy
suburb just north of the city and would do local book signings. I would go to them and he
would encourage me to write. But I decided to be in a punk band first. I could have done
both but I was too much of a drunk, and I was also waiting on tables at an Italian restaurant
not too far from where John was killed. I dabbled in fiction, handwritten in notebooks. But
mostly I was on stage, opening for The Exploited, GBH, Murphy’s Law, Social Distortion, etc.
or serving gnocchi to wealthy couples in their 80s.
I finally pulled my writing head out of my dabbling ass and started devoting more time to
that pursuit, got a gig at a legendary Detroit magazine called Orbit. (Tarantino wears the
magazine’s t-shirt in Pulp Fiction). It was a raucous atmosphere. I wasn’t writing fiction, but I
was writing.
I guess the answer is the streets, life, fear of death, Elmore, some amazing women in my
life. Those are my inspirations.


What advice would you give to up and coming indie authors?


Some of them are gonna hate this: Write every fucking day. Set a minimum word count.
100 words? Fine. 500? Better. Set an achievable goal and stick to it.
If you love to write so much like people constantly discuss on Twitter, then write. No
excuses.
Watch your toes for this namedrop: Josh Malerman, author of Birdbox, Inspection, Pearl,
and a handful more, is a friend of mine and a fantastic, multitalented human being. We were
at a bar having a meeting about a potential film project, laughing, joking, and he looks at the
clock and says “Oh shit, I gotta go write.”
A movie based on his book was taking over the world, everyone from nuns to bus drivers
were blindfolding themselves based on a character he wrote, he had about four other books
out there at the time, but he was not going to miss a minute of writing. He could have easily
said “one more whiskey,” and no one would have flinched, but he knew. He owed it to
himself to write. He wanted to write. And he walked out the door.
All this horseshit on Twitter “my WIP, my WIP…” Eat my fuck. You should be writing 7 hours
a day and on social media one or two hours instead of the other way around. Trust me,
when you walk into a crowded bookstore and they introduce you as an author and there’s a
line of people getting their book autographed, it will be 1000x better than anything anyone
could say to you on Twitter.


What are your plans for the future?

Thinking about releasing a short story collection drawn from some of my best work on
Roulette Weal.
That would be the immediate future. I’m also shopping a feature film script, which is about a
guy like Walt from Gran Torino who meets Clean and Sober on Jack Kevorkian’s Farm.
That’s the elevator pitch, anyway. It goes deeper than that. There’s love and racism and
weed and destruction. Not in the same scene.


What is an issue you care about deeply?
Stop.
The way the less fortunate/houseless/downtrodden are treated. You don’t have to wait for
public policy to change. You shouldn’t.
See that guy on the corner with the Please Help, God Bless sign ?
He was in third grade, just like you. Something went wrong and now he’s on the street. You
both wanted to be goddamn astronauts or firefighters in third grade, and now you might
have a shitty job you hate, but he’s on the street begging.
Make eye contact.
Ask him or her or them their name. They have one. They’re a person.
Have a conversation. They might make you laugh your ass off or tell you some wisdom
you’ll never forget. My buddy Big Rick, this frail dude in a wheelchair who lives near me,
bums change and smokes by the party store, told me this hilarious story about cunnilingus
and a hot turkey sandwich. I laughed so hard I thought I was gonna pass out. I watch people
walk by him like he’s nothing. He’s funnier than most of the comics at the open mic night in
the bar down the street, myself included.
You’re not gonna change public policy overnight or maybe in your lifetime, but you can make
a difference in their day and they can make one in yours.
“But he’s probably an addict” Really? Elvis was. Stephen King is. You deify those people. If
they brought Amy Winehouse back from the grave you’d line up to give her $120. The person
on the street corner could use some love, some humanity, and a few bucks whether they
have substance abuse issues or not. There are a handful of stories in my book about street
people. It easily, easily could have gone that way for me. I got lucky. If you’re reading this, so
did you.
I’ve been lucky enough to have an acting career
https://www.imdb.com/name/nm3224066/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_0
as well as a writing career.
I did a scene in Kill the Irishman where I get the worst end of a fight. When I hit the ground,
they cut, it was a planned thing. There were tons of extras and production assistants and
other crew members who I knew personally. But the person who went out of his way to help

me off the pavement was Steve Schirripa, who played Bobby Baccalieri on The Sopranos.
He could have been in his trailer eating a donut and getting a foot massage. But he was
helping a stranger off the pavement. You can do that, metaphorically every day of your life.
It’s not difficult.


What novel are you reading now?

I’m reading my buddy Josh’s Pearl, about a telepathic pig, and the 3rd Installment of Robin
Hobb’s Farseer series, another one about animals with human connections. My cat
approves. He told me.

What music are you listening to now?


I missed my friends Busby Death Chair tonight at a bar called Smalls in Hamtramck,
Michigan (a little town entirely surrounded by Detroit), because I had to do some lame
interview…
I guess the most current band I love is Stuyedeyed from Brooklyn, NYC. They put on a
blistering live show that can’t be described in mortal terminology.
Hot Water Music is touring again. Somehow I’ve never seen them live, so I’m revisiting their
catalogue before I hopefully see them in February. My all timer is The Clash. I’ll listen to
them whenever, wherever.


What did you last eat?

Party store pizza. I had a rough day, didn’t feel like cooking or waiting for food, so I got
that. It’s right by the register. They pull it out and hand it to ya.


If you could go on a drinking binge with 5 writers alive or dead who would you choose?


I quit drinking, but just for fun, and something I most certainly thought of when I did drink:
Hunter S Thompson (doesn’t everyone pick him?)
Tom Robbins
Kurt Vonnegut
Katherine Dunn (though I would ruin her buzz just gushing over Geek Love in that horribly
repetitive drunk way)
Tad Williams

If you could travel to a time and place in history what would it be?

Very specifically I would like me and Marisa Tomei to lose our virginity to each other. You
know, on our wedding night at 18 or whatever.

What would you like written on your gravestone?


I’d like my gravestone to be refrigerated so that kids who are abused and neglected or just
lonely could go there and have a sandwich and a beer or a pop and tell me their problems.
Then they could scrawl whatever they wanted on it with a Sharpie.

Jimmy Doom @JamesDoom

I’ve had a ridiculously varied writing career, from 20+ year headliner of Detroit’s Erotic Poetry Festival to Fine Food editor of cultural icon Orbit Magazine ( made infamous by Quentin Tarantino in Pulp Fiction), to writing short fiction heavily populated by outcasts and addicts like myself. My book of 100 Word Stories (some of which are contained in Roulette Weal) Humans, Being, (A Story a Day for a Year) was released in December 2020 and at last count had over 155 FIVE STAR reviews.

The way of the dinosaurs by Albert Kirk Jr

Poetry, Punk Noir Magazine

COP26 Royal Reception
Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum
1st November 2021


You’re right to think it’s fitting
that the leaders of a fragile world
should stuff their guts in Kelvingrove
amongst some plastic dinosaurs
and scraps of ancient empires;
and also
(labouring the point)
you’re right to note the lizards
and dominions are extinct.


And when the deluge overwhelms,
when bleak descendants trawl our dregs
for mangled artefacts they’ll think
of Glasgow COP as Rapture,
the Spitfire and iguanodon
beckoning a gormless clutch
of feckless rich buffoons,
flanked by doleful elephants
and Dali’s hanging Christ.


Albert Kirk Jr is from Ayrshire, Scotland. He has been writing poetry since August 2020. BRISTOL STOOL CHART REQUIRED, his first publication, is available now: https://www.albertkirkjr.com/published-works

2 poems by Gerard Manogue

Poetry

further away from hell on earth

further away from hell on earth

sitting in your dorm room in 2011

under a dim red light

not worried about pestilence or supply chains

or the mayan calendar

telling you over japanese whisky

that further into the anthropocene

the climate would be less livable

ten years later i was right

our nation went from being

a shining city on a hill

to a shrieking city in a ditch

and my fear could power

that machine that has been dispatched

to the great pacific garbage patch

trying to save the phytoplankton

producing the oxygen you breathe


the bacchanalia will be short lived

the bacchanalia will be short lived

as the fruit has stopped flowering

it was written in the hieroglyphs

that the grapes could not survive the summer

the global superpowers

are developing hypersonic missiles

while the redwoods smolder

atlantic meridional overturning circulation

is shutting down

while the malls are completely vacant

bovine skeletons in death valley come to life

as aquamarine earth turns into amber venus

even pharoah could not see

the steamy dissolution of his firstborn’s soul


Haibun for a missing tree by Sarah Wallis

Poetry, Punk Noir Magazine

 

 

The girl who was under the tree, where is she? A beautiful girl I was chasing or was it a dream of me… she carried with her a rainbow bright umbrella and stopped, just for a moment, to twirl under the tree, some enchantment at work. Or was I cursed? Or was she? What was her name… oh I remember me now, that was the story of Daphne, and I was the Big Bad Wolf, the Bogeyman of old, and some busybody transformed her in the dazzling light of day to a green leafy shade, the height of a tree.

 

The people are in uproar and rue and have decided to miss the colour green. Who has stolen their green? Protector from wind and weather, the tall man in the corner, he who breathes… ahhhhh, a long exhale out, oxygenates the planet? Where is he? Something Surely Must Be Done? Oh I remember me now, the Big Bad came in the night, fought the good man who had stood on the corner for 300 years, before the corner ever was, unless some corner of an English field, somewhere forever time capsuled and pastoral (and she no longer exists, there is only this, only this…)

 

They fought a one-sided battle and they axed, axed, axed and he cracked like thunder, and they whipped like lightning and defeated the proud man of the last square foot of soil they allowed him. They stole him away like a child, with threats and grunts and noise in the night, and helpless, they fed him to the Big Bad Wolf, with the ‘what big teeth you have’ grin, and so it was that the chip, chip, chipper got hold of him.

 

 

world breathes suddener

than Daphnes taken, her Dad’s

three hundred green boughs.

 

 



 

 



Sarah Wallis is a poet and playwright based in Scotland, since moving from Yorkshire two years ago. She has two chapbooks out in the world at the moment, Medusa Retold, from @fly_press and Quietus Makes an Eerie from Dancing Girl Press, with How to Love the Hat Thrower due May 2022 from @SelcouthStation. She tweets @wordweave and you can find out more at sarahwallis.net
Attachments area

I always came around to your aesthetic by David Calogero Centorbi

Poetry

Like the sunlight held
in the crystals you hung
from the low tree branches in the side yard.
As we sat there,
I swore I heard voices coming from them.
Maybe the tree conversating
with the hot bloodlight that kept it breathing?
When I told you,
you said,
“Sure, you probably did hear voices.
But we cannot understand the language.
Maybe, once upon that time when we felt
passion for the rocky, wet, green, and blue places
that bore us,
but we left that embrace
so many years ago.”

You went in as dusk came.
I closed my eyes and kept still,
and hoped,
that if I wanted to understand the voices,
that hope
would become a prayer
the soon to be held starlight would accept,
and be gracious enough to whisper
to me
everything the voices were saying.


David Calogero Centorbi is a writer that in the 90’s earned an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Arizona. Now, he is writing and working in Detroit, MI. He is the author of  Landscapes of You and Me, (AlienBuddha press) and AFTER FALLING INTO DISARRAY (Daily Drunk Press)

Where rivers go by Ben Riddle

Poetry, Punk Noir Magazine

We sleep in the back of a sedan
they don’t make anymore; back seats
folded down so we can fit our feet
into the back and leave
footprints there.

All we have left are footprints behind
us, all we have taken are memories.
There is a powerlessness in
the proletariat, and
I am tired of going it alone.

I am glad you are here with me, and
we hold each other in the quiet
of the night; intimate, but
not romantic. There is
no longing between us; just survival.

Caryards are being sold for scrap and
coal mines are collapsing with
the weight of misuse,
automation is
quietly conquering Australia.

The march for progress is meaningful,
but mass producing workers that
don’t know their rights is not,
I can no longer spot the
difference between

Amazon drones on patrol, and
the dead eyes of people going to work
again again their insides counting
seconds between sign out
sign in sign out again.

I don’t know how much we can change,
or how far the twenty in my pocket will
get when we buy fuel, but tonight
we can see the Southern Cross
blazing bright like

there is hope, and the stars are
God, and I am Constantine watching
Christ come over the hill to baptise
the Romans. People drink
because there is nothing

to hope for, and people don’t stop
drinking because there is
nothing to hope for.
Sometimes the
change in your pocket

pays for leaving people behind.
The people you leave behind
don’t have to be bad, some
are just confrontation,
some speak anxiety

in quiet tones they think are kind, and
when I left you it was easier to
be me, or be sober, but
there are no jobs
left in coal mines or construction.

The recession looks like boarded up
windows, quiet streets and
domestic violence.
Beer halls made the union movement,
men and women standing on

bar tables saying this is enough.
This far and no further, but
we privatised the unions
just like everything else;
sold them to politicians, and

lobbyists looking
for sob stories about giving back, or
changing. Maybe Labor parties
are just about tax deductibles,
political clout, or

maybe the way to stop change was
to leave suggestion boxes in
break rooms and say
“you are being heard,”
until everyone believed it.

Sobriety looks like boarded up
buildings and places you choose not to
go, or remember. It looks like
not returning calls from
people that make you sick.

Sloping roads bleed into gutters
that dribble brown beer and
boilermakers in the rain,
like walking past
the warms of comradery.




The most important thing about Ben Riddle is that he is building a little library

2 poems by Jared Beloff

Poetry, Punk Noir Magazine

Politicians discussing climate change

                after Isaac Cordal


faces, stripped like tree limbs,

or fish lipping 

the water’s skin 

bald, scale sore and slow to rise,

or rocks that

hide beneath the

surface, determining the flow for 

what we 

cannot see:

an open mouth, a tongue caught

like a hook

speaking,

supplication sounds like drowning,

anger dips

under the ebb,

a ninth wave. we’ve run out

of names

for windswept

clouds and coasts battered

our arms 

tired, tied.


How to smile in front of a melting glacier


her jacket bunches at the knot, 

wrists held in place before her

smile’s rictus fades into the camera’s

light— she stands there wondering 

whether her smile is now seeping 

through sand to rejoin the ocean 

or the dark mountains revealed 

beneath its gleam.



Jared Beloff is a teacher and poet who lives in Queens, NY with his wife and two daughters. You can find his work in Contrary Magazine, Rise Up Review, Barren Magazine, Bending Genres, The Shore and elsewhere. He is the editor of the Daily Drunk Magazine’s forthcoming anthology of Marvel inspired poetry, Marvelous Verses. His work was nominated for Best of the Net 2021. You can find him online at www.jaredbeloff.com. Follow him on twitter @read_instead

Nature vs. Nurture by Laura Besley

Micro fiction, Punk Noir Magazine

When the sea slips over the cliffs and starts swallowing hunks of land whole, the village chief calls a meeting, suggests stacking houses to save space.

Everyone is in favour until it needs to be decided who stays on the ground level.  

A man stands up. ‘Bigger houses should carry the weight of smaller ones,’ he says.

‘No,’ another man says. ‘We should put the houses closest to the coast on top of those further inland.’

Disgruntled whispers grow louder until they roar around the room.

The chief raises his hand to get people’s attention. ‘We will stay here until we are all in agreement.’

Discussions rage for three days and three nights.

The sea remains ravenous. Silences them all.


Laura Besley is the author of micro fiction collection, (Un)Natural Elements (Beir Bua Press, 2021), 100neHundred (Arachne Press, 2021), and flash fiction collection, The Almost Mothers (Dahlia Books, 2020). 

Having lived in the Netherlands, Germany and Hong Kong, she now lives in land-locked central England and misses the sea. She tweets @laurabesley