8 Jack Kerouac inspired haiku by Jackie Chou

my pretty name
on your lips–
dawn birdsong

my poem on the screen–
a cockroach!

two in the care home
yelling together

the poem’s ending
also its beginning–
enso circle

living the dream–
the suburban house cat

in an attic room–
think outside the box

the bird
who flew in last night 
dead by the coke machine 

a pink tree
that's not sakura–
only pinker 

Bio Note: I write free verses, rhyming poems, and Japanese short form poetry, some of which saw the light of day in journals like Alien Buddha Zine, Spillwords, and Cajun Mutt Press, Fevers of the Mind Press. I am also a Jeopardy fan.

Jack Kerouac inspired poetry by James Schwartz

“I was surprised, as always, by how easy the act of leaving was, and how good it felt. The world was suddenly rich with possibility.”

– Jack Kerouac 

"Walking With the Ancestors in Detroit" 

I find myself in love
With my lost lineage 
Before my ancestors 
Rebelled from
The Church
Marking us 
As Anabaptist heretics 
The statuary smashed
Generations of conformity 
Against the present
Predecessors of a
Polluted body
Donning buttoned costumes 
Banning bicycles 
Shunning family 
Welcoming tourists 
To our forefathers.

I find myself walking down 
John R past midnight 
To the gas station 
On 6 Mile  
The street is deserted 
Only a lone sex worker 
Huddled in winter shadows 
& her coat 
First snow of the season 
I give her $5 
& tell her to go eat
Stepping over
A dead rat
A syringe 
A wig
A broken bottle
In my hoodie.

Bio: James Schwartz is a poet, slam performer and author of various collections including "The Literary Party: Growing Up Gay & Amish in America" (available on Kindle 2011), PUnatic (Writing Knights Press, 2019) & Motor City Mix (Alien Buddha Press 2022). On twitter James can be found under @queeraspoetry for a follow.

For fuck’s sake listen by Joan Hawkins

For fuck sake’s listen

Often when I tell someone 
my husband was 20 years
older than me
I can feel them 
My life
to a cliché.

So let's get it out of the way
I was not his student.
Except in the sense that all
lovers are students
because the ones we love
teach us something about 
love and ourselves
that we didn't know
Every man's semen
tastes different
And every sexual relationship
has its unique signature 
of improvisational 
that each lover has
to learn
But I got no grades or
promotions for taking
that particular class.

And he was not a father figure.
So put your Oedipal fantasies aside.
They're all mixed up with a whole
 bunch of other assumptions, anyway.
See my dad had a serious heart
attack right after I was born.
He was dying for most of my life
a frail man- not some handsome Byronic figure
that I wanted to take away from
and it's true=I adored him
But I certainly wasn't looking to
recreate that experience
-taking care of a dying man-
the morning I met Skip.
And you see Skip was not my father's age.
He was my brother's.
That's a whole other mythology.
So put that Daddy fixation story
back up on the shelf.
Our parents--
Skip's and mine- were roughly the 
same age.
We had more in common
than you can possibly imagine.
Children of Depression-era parents, 
we both hoarded string and bits of
aluminum foil
Like it could all dry up tomorrow
Knew a lot of the same songs,
called the frig
the icebox.

When I met Skip
I had a whole history 
of hurtful love affairs 
behind me
and I thought I was through
with love and trying to be 
someone else's
idea of Joan.
He was trailing the wreckage of
a bad marriage
also sick of trying to measure up
to someone else's dream.
We eyed each other-- there was
 but we were wary
as 2 boxers caught up in the ropes.

Our first date- two months later- 
we went to City Lights- 
drawn by inclination
to different parts of the store.
He stayed downstairs- foot propped up on
the table
smoking cigarettes,
reading a play by Lorca. 
I sat on the floor upstairs, coat fanning out
around me-- lost in a 19th century
"Doesn't sound like much of a date,"
my friend Allison said.
But she didn't understand
how energy could swirl around
that store-- bringing
zephyrs of smoke and 
total immersion from
one floor to another.
How sometimes you can touch
without much proximity at all.

On our second date, he drove out behind
Golden Gate Park
Stopped the car and said
there was a letter in the
glove compartment.
He sat and waited
while I read what 
he couldn't or wouldn't tell me
-that he was falling in love.
"So what do you want to do?" he asked
when I finished reading
-gruff as hell--
"Do I take you to lunch and we talk,
or do I take you home?"
I told him I was hungry and too broke
to buy my own meal.
And yes, Chinese would be fine.

We were together 37 years
up and down through good times
and bad
Always drawn to different stories,
he with his foot propped on the table 
me sitting on the floor, coat fanning out 
around me,
but always hell-bent on coming 
back together 
meeting on some mutual floor.
And talking-always talking-
nine to the dozens
about our singular 

This year is the 10th anniversary of his death
He stays so close, I can feel his breath sometimes.
And I still get those questions-
that look when people
ask how we met? how old was he?
 who introduced us?
That look that says they think
they know something.
They think they know something
about me.
Well they don't know shit.

So I wrote this poem to say
that when a woman tells you she
married an older man, loves an older man
don't assume she was-or is- a trophy wife,
or a student in the front row hanging on his
every word,
or an Oedipally addled young thing
looking for Daddy.
to what the fuck 
she tells you
about her life. Listen 
for the love.

Oct 8, 2022

Bio: Joan Hawkins is a writer and spoken word performer, who focuses mainly on creative memoir.  Her  poetry and prose have appeared in Avalanches of Poetry, Fevers of the Mind, the Performing Arts Journal, Plath Profiles, and Sand.

Two poems are forthcoming in a special poetry issue of The Ryder Magazine. She and Kalynn Brower have co-edited an anthology called Trigger Warnings, which contains one of Joan’s stories; it’s currently under consideration by Indiana University Press. “My Writing Teacher”  comes from a manuscript in progress– School and Suicide.

Joan lives in Bloomington, IN with her cat Izzy Isou. She is currently the Chair of the Writers Guild at Bloomington.

Poetry about Joni Mitchell and Jack Kerouac from Elizabeth Cusack

What is that feeling when you’re driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? — It’s the too-huge world vaulting us, and it’s good-bye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.  Jack Kerouac, On the Road

Jack Fell Down

My first husband broke his neck
I had a bottle of Jack
Just after he fell down the stairs
Then they asked me for a eulogy.

I said, “Well, he wrote three novels
And he never published a thing
He didn’t trust me for a minute
But thank you for calling.”

My daughter wept, and I made her laugh
She hadn’t spoken to him for years
I said, “Well, isn’t that just typical?
Gone in the blink of an eye!”

They asked me for a eulogy
And I suggested Jack Kerouac
He never really did look back. 

You’ll be brushing out a brood mare’s tail While the sun is ascending And I’ll just be getting home with my reel to reel There’s no comprehending — Joni Mitchell, Coyote

You’re Not Mine

A coyote does not hide in sunshine
Behind mirrors and angles
Biding his time
But like a coyote you are self-contained
And you lope and you saunter
And you play your game
You appear to be wanted
You follow the crowd
You remember me slightly
But then not at all.

I dress you to play
At a cattleman’s ball
I watch you smile
And I watch them fall
No regrets coyote
It always ends this way
With a sideways glance
As you’re walking away
I never believe
A thing that you say
I’m living with the dead anyway.

I thank you for breaking
My heart one more time
I like your dance
And I like your style
I see it coming
For a desert mile
And I open the gate
Hello coyote
And goodbye again
I’ll see you again
Every once in a while.

Bio: Elizabeth Cusack is a recovering actress. Ever since playing Rhoda Penmark in “The Bad Seed” as a child, deservedly, she has endeavoured to keep up her end of the bargain. Elizabeth has been blessed with the best of teachers over the years, mostly from the school of hard knocks. She has championed and performed in fringe theatre in America. Elizabeth edits her favourite poet while not otherwise inspired by her muse to write. 

Book Reviews from Spriha Kant: “Breathe” by Helen Laycock

Review of Helen Laycock’s Poetry Book “Breathe”

                                                              Book Review by Spriha Kant

The sagacious poetess “Helen Laycock” needs no introduction. She has shown varied phizzogs in her writings, all influential to make the readers submerge deeply in them. 

In this book, the poetess has filled her certain set of poetries in a cell, and each cell is followed by a quote. 

The poetess in this book has expressed different feelings and has stated different circumstances through nature using personifications, metaphors, and similes. 

It is always said, “Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder.” Some poetries describing beauties of others unfurl the magnificent beauty lying in the eyes of the poetess, showing a few glimpses seen by the beautiful eyes of this poetess from one of the poetries “Dragonfly” below:

“you share
your iridescence
when you alight
on the fence,
flashing bright
your oiled magic”

“wings silver-strutted veils”
The poetess has created some poetries as frames, each inserting a picture of death, some pictures are of tragic death that can strike the hearts of sensible readers to bloody tears, one such tragic death can be seen in her poetry “Wisdom,” in one of the frames, the death in the picture is a ravenous vampire standing on the threshold, this picturization is in her poetry “Wolf.”
Quoting below a few stanzas from the poetry “Wisdom”:
              “Once white under 
                  a bright moon, 
                 ghost of dusk, 
               the love-faced barn owl, 
                   will soon be a husk, 
                its flight forever silent, 
              its round light shuttered, 

                    You fired, you goon.”
The poetess is the light in the darkness in some of her poems. This can be cited from the following stanza from her poetry “Virus” in which she acted as a pearl diver by taking out positive aspects from all the negativities of the world:

               “Two still worlds 
                   hugging quiet 
                  as nature unfurls 
               on the peopleless stage. 
                      Softly, it heals, 
               waiting for the creep 
                     of gentle feet 
                   and the whisper 
               of heartfelt promises 
               now we understand.”

Apart from acting as a pearl diver, she has also acted as a live painter by painting beautiful poetries based on her keen observations. Showing below one of the live paintings “Pinked” drawn by the poetess: 

“In the shimmer of sunset on rippling lakes 
             a flamboyance of flamingos 
                   are blushing lilies.”

The poetess in some of her poetries has also worked as a boatwoman by propelling personifications in her rivery-poetries. The words of the poetess Gabriela Marie Milton “A banquet of candles floods the streets” from her poetry “Professions” in her book “Woman: Splendor and Sorrow: Love Poems and Poetic Prose” fits to be used as a metaphor for the beauty of these rivery poetries. 

Quoting below a few stanzas from a few rivery poetries:

“The light begins to slumber, 
 and the rosy windows kindle, 
and the water strokes the barge 
        with soothing calm.”

“Gulping its way down the valley 
            of her slanted palm, 
a tawny brush sweeps and drags, 
sags between finger and thumb, 
for inspection and settlement.”

“Little glinting messengers, 

“Wind breathes fragile waves
        into saffron dunes”

However, the poetess has also swelled a few rivery poetries with pride by hoisting the flag of the glorious victory. This swelling is influential to motivate the readers to remain optimistic proving that the poetess is a light in the darkness. Showing the swelling in the following stanza from the poetry “Focus”: 

“Grey armour succumbs, 
  curls into a shot pellet, 
       rolls into the treasure trove”

The poetess has also worked as an intimacy director in her poetries “Tomorrow’s Bonfire” and “Moon Eyes.” 
The poetry “Tomorrow’s Bonfire” shows physical intimacy. Her direction to her   words is influential enough to make the readers visualize as if they are watching an erotic movie, showing the teaser of this erotic movie below:
“She bends her neck and gazes through the dark. 
 Her curling tongue begins its careful sweep, 
 maps contours, sampling the bond. 
 The slippery mass, inert, lies in a pool, 
 as limp as his discarded sodden shirt.” 
The poetry “Moon Eyes” depicts emotional intimacy, quoting the following words glittering with emotional intimacy:

   “we were together, 
            faces lit, 
     little moons 
      in our eyes 
like lucky pennies 
    in the darkness” 

The poetess has also worked as a tailor by beautifully sewing the metaphors and similes in her poetries like a sequin on a cloth. Showing a few sequins below:

           “blanch wintry night”
           “diluted sun”

          “frail as moon-thrown lemon-barley light”

                 “as chrome
             breaks a hole 
         in the chalky sky, 
              they are lit 
              like tinder.”             

                     “fleeting furrows  
             falling like chiffon festoons”

                wrap up in overlapped, buttonless macs, 
                     peering over their collars like spies. 
                Some are the discarded gloves of thieves, 
                      balled-up leather in untidy pairs. 
                         They drape: grey, collapsed umbrellas 
                      broken by the windy commute 
                              and flung onto pegs.”

The poetess, on the one hand, has urged her readers to embrace the beauty of nature and interact with nature in a few poetries and has also paid tribute to nature in her poetry “Earth Mother” while on the other hand has shown nature’s inhospitable attitude in the poetry “Pines” which is commendable. 

This is a mesmerizing book for those wise poetic souls who are nature lovers and have beautiful hearts with a good sensibility as well as sensitivity. 

Bios (Helen Laycock and Spriha Kant):

Helen Laycock

Poetess and storyteller, Helen Laycock’s writing encompasses poetry, microfiction, flash fiction, short stories, plays, and children’s novels.
Former recipient of the David St. John Thomas Award, and nominee for the Dai Fry Award, Helen Laycock has been a competition judge and a lead writer at Visual Verse. Her poetry has been incorporated into a U.S. art exhibition and her collection Frame was featured as Book of the Month by the East Ridge Review in 2022. 

Most recent publications are in Sun-Tipped Pillars of Our Heart and Afterfeather, both published by Black Bough.

Her poetry appears online and in numerous writing magazines and anthologies such as Popshot, The Caterpillar, Writing Magazine, Poems for Grenfell (Onslaught), Full Moon and Foxglove (Three Drops Press), Silver Lining (Baer Books Press) and From One Line (Kobayaashi Studios). 

Imminent publications are The Storms Journal, Issue Two and Hidden in Childhood (Literary Revelations)

Current poetry collections available are Frame, Breathe and 13 (poems written in just thirteen words); she is also in the process of compiling several more themed collections.

Many of her poems can be purchased as postcards at Pillar Box Poetry.

Her website Conjuring Marble into Cloud showcases some of her work.

Laycock’s flash fiction has featured in several editions of The Best of CafeLit. Pieces also appear in the Cabinet of Heed, Reflex Fiction, The Beach Hut, the Ekphrastic Review, Serious Flash Fiction, Paragraph Planet, An Earthless Melting Pot (Quinn) and Lucent Dreaming – whose inaugural flash competition she won. She was longlisted in Mslexia’s 2019 flash fiction competition and her work has several times appeared in the Flash Flood as part of National Flash Fiction Day.

She is currently compiling a second volume of microfiction, Ink Spills, to complement Wind Blown, a collection which came about because of the Twitter #vss365 challenge.

She has also written several short story collections as a result of competition success.

These fall distinctly into one or other of the categories, Dark or Light


The Darkening

Minor Discord

Peace and Disquiet


Wingin’ It… Tall Tales of (Fully-Grown) Fairies with Issues


Light Bites

More of her short stories and flash can be found at her website Fiction in a Flash

Formerly a teacher and a writer of educational text, Helen’s children’s fiction is suitable for readers of 8+ The stories are mainly mysteries, but a bit of humour has crept in, too, with a new book about to make an appearance shortly. You can find out more on her children’s website.

You can follow Helen at Facebook or at Twitter

All her books are available on Amazon.

Spriha Kant

Spriha Kant is a poetess and a book reviewer.

Spriha’s poetry “The Seashell” was published online at Imaginary Land Stories.

The poetries of Spriha have been published in four anthologies, including, “Sing, Do The Birds of Spring”, “A Whisper Of Your Love”, “Hard Rain Poetry: Forever Dylan”, and “Bare Bones Writing Issue 1: Fevers of the mind”.

Spriha has done five book reviews, including, “The Keeper of Aeons” by Matthew MC Smith, “Nature Speaks of Love and Sorrow” by Jeff Flesch, “Washed Away: A Collection of Fragments” by Shiksha Dheda, “Spaces” by Clive Gresswell, and “Silence From the Shadows” by Stuart Matthews.

Spriha has collaborated on the poetry “The Doorsteps Series” with David L O’ Nan.

Spriha has been a part of the events celebrating the launches of the books “Nature Speaks of Love and Sorrow” by Jeff Flesch and “As FolkTaleTeller.”

Spriha has been featured in interviews, including, “Quick-9 Interview” on feversofthemind.com and “#BrokenAsides with Spriha Kant” on thebrokenspine.co.uk.

Spriha has been featured in “Creative Achievements in 2022” on thewombwellrainbow.com.

The links to the features of Spriha Kant are: