Feature Poet: James Diaz

James Diaz is founding editor of the literary arts & music journal Anti-Heroin Chic. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Ekphrastic Review, HIV Here & Now, Occulum, Philosophical Idiot, and Quail Bell Magazine. He is the author of the forthcoming poetry collection, This Someone I Call Stranger (Indolent Books, 2018). He currently resides in upstate New York.


Survival Mode

I want the place in you
where the pages are missing
and the sheriff called
your mother to tell her the news
of your brother
split in two on the rails
in California at 4 am
and your mother
threw an ashtray through
the window and the dog
began to bark
until the whole neighborhood
was involved in this loss
that no one will mention for years
to come, out of caution—
out of what it means to survive
without losing your fucking mind
I want the place in you where the book
came up empty and you threw your whole shattered face
into my chest and wept and I said nothing
because I too had lost things this immense
because I know how necessary silence is sometimes,
when the chips are down and the morning sun turns atomic—
see, no one really understands till they lose more
than they’ve ever had—
and knowing you could always lose more
you fight like hell for whatever’s left—
this is what they really mean by have and have-not.


The People I Know Do The Best They Can

“My addictions make me hate,
but my afflictions make me kind.
I’m a circle,
not a straight line.”
                            —Johanna Warren

Gino says
his sobriety saved others—
him, he’s not so sure about

Rita boxes her shadows
at night
keeps a blade
for door frames that stick
calls her sponsor at 3 am
musters strength
from god knows where
and gets out of bed
like a broken
rag doll
empties her drawer
for quarters

this is grace
whether you know it or not
finding change you didn’t know was there.


All Hail! Anti-Heroin Chic, edited by James Diaz, is a fine online journal that publishes regularly, on a rolling basis. To learn more about the journal, please click on the header image below . . . 

Previous Feature: Yuan Changming

Yuan Changming published monographs on translation before leaving China. With a Canadian PhD in English, he currently edits Poetry Pacific with Allen Yuan. His credits include ten Pushcart nominations, seven chapbooks, Best of the Best Canadian Poetry (49th Shelf, 2017), BestNewPoemsOnline, Threepenny Review and 1,379 other publications worldwide. Yuan also hosts Happy Yangsheng, a blog devoted to wellness, happiness and longevity.


Spider and Leaf

We are all spiders
Confining our lives to webs
Hung at dark corners

High up on tree’s top
You flutter with power and pride
Until your downfall


The Superlative

Higher than the Tower of Babel
Wider than the Great Wall
Is the screen that has separated
Me from you, from them, from God

Mightier than the a full-scaled earthquake
More destructive than the biggest hydrogen bomb
Is a soft touch, a gentle hit on the keypad
As small as a baby’s palm

Smarter than the world champion of chess
More charming than the sexist Hollywood actress
Is a chip in the AlphaGo-like robot, ready
To give every adult as many orgasms as desired

Yes, as some people make machines smarter than all
And machines make everyone all the more stupid
Who is to rule this world, who is hidden
Behind the thinly shrinking screen?


Father Knows Why

You know well where your son lives,
You forget his address, and each time
Your birthday approaches, he forgets to call
You. He is simply too exhausted by his job,
Too occupied with his own family affairs, or
Too busy hanging around with his pals, while
His baby daughter spends all his money
Saved to pay his mortgage. You miss him
A lot sometimes, but you don’t want to go
To California, or near where he dwells. You
Know you always could—there’s even no need to
Apply for a visa; there will always be plenty
Of time for travel. Your father came to visit
You only once. That was a trip from the other
Side of the world, to Vancouver, Westside.


Basic Punctuation

, before any utterances from God
. behind the human reality in the moment
? after each sentence written in history
! at the end of every show of nature


All Hail! Yuan Changming’s most recent collection of poetry, Dark Phantasms (2017), is available from Flutter Press. Simply click on the cover image below to learn more . . .

Previous Feature: Joan Colby

Joan Colby has published widely in journals such as Atlanta Review, Gargoyle, Little Patuxent Review, Midwestern Gothic Poetry, Pinyon, South Dakota Review, Spillway, and others. The author of over twenty books, her most recent collections are Carnival (FutureCycle Press, 2016) and The Seven Heavenly Virtues (Kelsay Books, 2017), with Her Heartsongs forthcoming from Presa Press in 2018. Visit Joan on Facebook, or on Twitter @poetjm.


Elements: Steel

A bracelet of linked steel,
He’d forged for his oldest daughter.
A man who daily worked with fire
Blazing in the blast furnace’s maw.

The mills along Lake Calumet
Thronged with immigrants. Sweating men
Who knew it was all they had
To give their families. She wore that gift
As if it were sterling. He labored there
Until the Chinese undercut
The market. The chugging train
That hauled the slag to a fiery cliff
Where it fumed up in an urban sunset
Ceased to rattle along the tracks
And the mills stood silent as pyramids,
Tombs of the work of countless men.
She handed on the bracelet to her daughter
And said remember all I’ve told you.


Disclaiming Omens

Swooping up from a cornfield, the redtail hawk
Rides a thermal carrying a snake
In its talons. It seems like an omen
On this Friday the 13th
In the haunted month of October.
Against the lowering sky, like a spectre

The hawk vanishes into the upper spectrum
Of atmosphere. Only a hawk’s
Penetrating eye could pierce through the October
Overcast. The Madonna pins the snake
With her sandal to symbolize 13
Ways of assessing an omen.

I say it’s definitely ominous,
This scenario. You think it’s spectacular,
How the hawk stooped from 13
Stories of sky-scraping cloud. Hawk-
Eyed to spot in standing corn, a snake
Wriggling through the remnants of October.

The harvest goddesses of October
Could tell us everything of omens.
Medusa with her coiffure of snakes
Freezing onlookers upon the spectrum
Where oddity is ranked. Opinions hawked
To a market of the 13th

Power. On Friday the 13th
In the month of souls and demons: October,
You will not be astonished that a hawk
Materializes bearing the omen
Of misfortune. Against the sky, a speck
Dangles. Only a snake

You say. A bad day perhaps for snakes.
The superstition of Friday the 13th
Raises the perception of a spectre
When frankly, it’s an ordinary October
Afternoon. You disclaim the notion of an omen
Insisting a hawk

Is nothing but a hawk in an October
Field. Thirteen spectres will not convince you
That a snake can be more than a snake: an omen.



All Hail! Joan Colby’s awards include two Illinois Arts Council Literary Awards and an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship in Literature. Her Selected Poems (2013) received the FutureCycle Prize, while Ribcage (2015) was awarded the Kithara Book Prize by Glass Lyre Press. In addition, three of her poems have been featured at Verse Daily, while another was among the winners of the Atlanta Review’s 2016 International Poetry Contest. Currently the senior editor of FutureCycle Press and associate editor of Good Works Review, you can learn even more about Joan at her website by clicking on the author photo to your right . . .


Previous Feature: David Spicer

David Spicer has had poems in Alcatraz, The American Poetry Review, Chiron Review, Gargoyle, Midnight Lane Boutique, Ploughshares, Rat’s Ass Review, Reed Magazine, Santa Clara Review, Third Wednesday, and elsewhere. The author of Everybody Has a Story (St. Luke’s Press, 1987) and five chapbooks, he’s the former editor of raccoon, Outlaw, and Ion Books.


Close The Blinds Before You Arrest Me

If I could chew a lizard I’d be
a monument to impossible feats
when it concerns you, Detective.
Instead, I’ll settle for a goblet
of cherry wine from the vineyard
at dusk in my zoot suit. I’d chisel
bone for you, babe, like any sculptor
would. I’d pin your badge on my
nipple and surrender just a sizzle
of my impossible lust for you to sleep
in your water bed if you’d lick me
one more time and renew our vows.
I’m your dunce who’d drink quinine,
wear a rawhide jacket instead of my
zoot, I won’t lie because I’m a coward
when I kneel before you, Detective.
You’ve conquered me like a carpenter
swings a hammer, and I’d volunteer
to wear a wire if I could count on your
mutual thirst. So, close the blinds after
you arrest me, Detective, let’s flirt
a little before we cuff together our lonely
bodies, before we engrave pacts upon
our eagle-spread thighs and belong
to each other for at least one night.


Stake Out

Combing my lemon-drop hair
and slipping on shades with a plaid
blazer behind the razor-thin glass
of this seven-eleven’s stockroom,
I sneer at nicknamed crackheads
who embarrass themselves as armed
robbers. I need a martini—
or at least a Merlot—before I jerk off
this donkey-decorated necktie. I wish
the Panhandler would beg his grubby
ass in here so I could click
on the barbed wire bracelets
or offer him cashews and rice soup
after I pour some pipewash down
his scabby throat. I hope I don’t linger
in here too long because I’d rather
wash laundry in my underwear.
Screw this humiliating gig,
it’s not like I’m hunting
a diamonds-and-pearls thief.
The Panhandler is a punk, a dope
puppet, nobody to gush about.
But orders are fucking orders, and I have
to collect a salary, even if I scramble
out this swinging door and blow away
this Panhandler, this so-called bad guy.


All Hail! David Spicer’s latest chapbook, From the Limbs of a Pear Tree (2017) is available from Flutter Press. Simply click on the cover image below to learn more . . .

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