Wednesday, December 03, 2014

by Bruce Hodder
At ten pm under a thin December moon, Declan O'Connor, a short, overweight Irish shift manager, arrived in a new BMW to interview candidates for a cleaning job at the meat factory. He was half an hour late, but as he was in charge, who was going to tell him that?
Two Polish men, one Lithuanian, one Latvian and one English man had been waiting silently in the canteen since half-past nine. Once O'Connor was in place in his office, with his usual cup of coffee and his biscuits, a woman in a tabard came into the canteen.
"New starters? Follow me."
The candidates were escorted to a meeting room, where they sat together around a big table talking quietly, mostly in Polish, but occasionally in broken English.
"What was your last job?"
"You never work?"
"A day here, a day there."
"How long you been in England?"
"Six months."
The Latvian man, his blue eyes hollowed out by melancholy, told the Englishman, "Used to be jobs so easy to come by. Now nothing. So hard. Something very wrong."
The candidates were called one by one down the corridor to O'Connor's untidy office, and returned to the meeting room five minutes later.
"His accent so hard to understand," said the Latvian man. "Ireland is part of England? Same language?"
The English candidate went in last. O'Connor told him with a conspiratorial smile, "You're in a minority here. There are only two English people on the shop floor. And most of the managers, of course."
They had a cursory chat. O'Connor asked the Englishman about his experience, although the job had been advertised as "full training given." If he had known experience was a requirement, the Englishman would not have bothered to spend money he didn't have coming all the way across town on such a cold night.
Afterwards, he was sent back to the meeting room as the other candidates had been. They waited another five or six minutes for O'Connor to come in and announce three successful names out of the five. The chosen ones who would come back in tomorrow and start their training.
There was a complete absence of feeling in his voice or on his face as he read out the names. He might have been sorting fresh joints from rotten.
Leaving with the others, too tired to feel sorry for himself, the Englishman said, "Well, that was a waste of bloody time."
One of the successful candidates, walking behind him, laughed and said, "Can you smell the dead meat?"
He was right: the stench rising from the factory floor was thick and awful.
Pushing open another door marked "exit", the Englishman looked at his mobile and realised he had missed the last bus home. Perhaps understanding why he looked so annoyed, and perhaps not, one of the Polish men touched him on the shoulder.

"Hey, bro, you want a lift?" he said.

Outside the winter chill closed around them. 

Friday, November 14, 2014



Bethany (Bee) Stiana Patience

Performance poet, marketer, founder of ‘Run Your Tongue’ spoken word night, and Charles Bukowski devotee. Bee graduated with first-class honours in Creative and Professional Writing from the University of Nottingham. Following a brief period working as a poet in schools, she has since moved into the fast-paced world of marketing, where she’s able to use both the left ‘logical’ side of her brain and the right ‘creative’ side. Inspired by people and places, Bee’s work focuses heavily on the five senses, and she believes that every word counts. Her ultimate aim is for readers and listeners to see, hear, smell, taste, and feel her poetry. Bee also happens to be the 2012 Nottingham Poetry Society Slam first prize winner.




Written in response to a poem called ‘Song for Bethany’ by the late Graham Joyce; a fabulous mentor, an incredible author, and an insanely missed friend.


for Graham


life tasted like candyfloss

rolling ourselves in rizlas of earth

finding feet through hopscotch

joining freckles like dot-to-dot across

shoulders and collar bones

imagining cartoons and unicorns

onto skin





and arrowheads and bluebirds from chests


stabbed breath

twenty-nine reckless

glasses of wine

then coming up Sunday

aching gazes down stranger’s spines


unmarking red lines

under empty cigarette packets

and double-decker wrappers

what do they know?

what do I know?


standing in love with another

not falling

promising not to let them hurt me

as much as the first


or the second


or the third


pulling thorns

and arrowheads and bluebirds from my chest


underneath my tongue

broken guitar strings

are buzzing

like heavy rain on the sunroof of a car

like standing on the edge of a platform when a train goes past


I’ll use lowercase for every single word

so that each letter knows their worth



and I will write


I will write


 I will write


I will write


and listen

to the sound of











He Didn’t Want to be a Victim


What did you carry?

Anything –  flick knife, lock knife, butterfly knife


How can something so beautiful share its name with something so...



I didn’t want to be a victim. I’ve seen things, lost things.

The whisper of prison missed my ears beneath the shouting streets.

A slap on the wrist – I can handle that

then he’ll fall back into concrete embraces,

continue to subsist in a vulnerable bubble of kindred pretences


choosing violence, over conversation


Because they live in another post code?

Their skin’s a different colour to yours?

Or you can’t pronounce their surname?


I didn’t want to be a victim.

I didn’t want to be anybody’s victim.

We can’t harmonise with a handshake.


Peering from my back pocket, hidden in my jacket


the blade

boasts protection, saves face in front of connections


better to arm yourself with a weapon, denote intimidation

than be a victim.



I didn’t want to be a victim.

I didn’t want to be anybody’s victim.

We can’t harmonise with a handshake.


And now all I see are these walls

eats and sleeps a metre away from his toilet –

it disgusts him. The drip



of the sink, syncs with the thud of his heart and the blink of his eye

    as he tries to forget

the encounter of my shank with their skin


puncturing layers of cotton, cells, tissue

flesh tearing

at the point of his knife                 

and the life that taints his iron hand

that can’t be washed away with peroxide.

Unnoticed, until


around half past seven, eight o clock

he’s there. Just there


A lost receipt for a packet of wine gums

an elderly leaf, shrivelled

beneath your foot




The stranger captured in the background of your photograph


Always there

wrapped in

damp, last month’s shirt, rolled in tobacco


as if he grew from a seed of ash in the air

you stare

at this 1900s circus beast


but it’s you who paints a smile on your face.


A naked head hides

under the peak of a cap

his hair lost

years ago

to a receding hairline

along with everything else.


Both hands placed below his chest

his fingertips kiss

earth’s cast offs trapped

under his nails

his hands offering

a bouquet of decaying fruit


‘Excuse me? I don’t suppose you’ve got forty-six pence?’


He glances at the change cradled in his palm


‘I’m just short and I need to get a bottle of pop?’


For a heartbeat, you panic

smell diesel, taste metal, hear train brakes

barbed wire pricks your spine



you think, he needs more than a bottle of pop


Two small spheres of black ice, too close together

look at you



‘Uh no, sorry-’


Before you’ve finished, he’s turned away

as if swung by a gust of wind

zig-zagging through the blind


unnoticed, until

he asks them


He’s asked me three times – twice

in the same night, once


He’s there, always there. Just there


He mustn’t have remembered me.

I remember him.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

The Beatnik Is Back. Long Live The New Beatnik!

Today the New Beatnik launches.

Remember the old Beatnik? It ran for six years, until other commitments, which included a fortysomething university degree and an unfortunate energy-sapping involvement in politics, took me away from the work that really mattered. Without knowing it, I was also getting ill. I had a growth beginning on my lungs, and pneumonia. But I survived. Suffolk people are stubborn as old tree stumps.

Now the time has come to give Beatnik another go. But this time, or at least for now, it will be a little different. I won't be accepting unsolicited submissions for the time being. The volume of material I received before, once Beatnik was listed online (without my knowledge) as being open for contributions, was crushing. I loved reading the poems, and meeting, long distance, the poets, but I couldn't keep up.

As I say, things may change. I may even get a little helper in. But until then I'll be approaching the poets and asking them for work. With any luck one or two will even say yes.

An important point: the Beatnik reference in the site name doesn't mean that all the poetry is Beat or Beat-inflected. It's just a name, and an indication of my own favourite reading. But my taste in poetry is broad and the material you find here will reflect that.

If you want to correspond with Beatnik, feel free to email me at I'd like to print your messages if possible to stimulate discussion among readers, so if you do write, but you'd rather it stayed private, please mark your email 'not for publication'. I want, also, your recommendations--poets I should be considering for publication here.

Currently I plan to post once or twice a month. The first featured poet, who I saw recently giving a stellar live reading, will be appearing soon. She may not be known by everybody, but I'm sure you'll like her work as much as I do when you read it. Keep an eye on the page, or like The New Beatnik on Facebook for updates.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012



the mile being level the sharp air
center where you burned the warm
my eye heard the sound of the thing
but only the sound my blade was
made of the thin blue ice mile under
the river it skates by pushing that
in the limit which it maintains and in
regard to response the response
to her whom the rhythm which is
the harmony is where am I where I
am of the feet which move aligning
me without any conscious thought
until I am in you thought simply that
if we make a quick survey of the
river the wood which it pulled
would hide the string which did not be-
long here together and with her eagerly
before me the pain would then
break and each step slide on down
the hill fast enough perhaps as if it
was possible and if I do not need
to go up to the top I just need to try 



the city and you you are there so
your love is the you man and the you
corner of the street is defended you
use the come on to come in and let
someone far cross the time someday
just for the hell of it you lost me
on the stairs I hear the heart ex-
plaining the beat so many years if some-
one was you then you would know
it I was expecting you so use one in
a million what is true someday he’ll
someday do what can be done be-
fore the trial and then you will know
you know and I’ll make your bail   



being the last message in the last bottle
it was something that I had to
read when obtaining the good ones
ignore the lie of the differential it
is thought that we want entirety
entirely but if or when we get it then
we can’t handle it I was crossing
the garden to watch the fight of the
red ants with the white I was not
unaware of the similarities between
ants and men but for honest sweat
and the promise of the brown earth
you see with one eye more than
half of what you see with two and so
what is chosen is as good as the
land can produce it is no empty small
thing but as big as anything can be big
hard to imagine I listened to the 
strange purple flowers who talked to
me I opened the door to the NO
of empty thought but surely no matter
how elevated you get you have
to come down sometime so I be-
lieved in self-reliance but you know at
some point we all need help when
the hot day deserted me I was left in
the cold to find my own way over
the fences topped with broken glass
and barbed wire but the top
of the mountain was up there where I was
going the boundaries made no difference
so ignorant of any aftereffect
I had to steal the where from the
nowhere to wake up and fly right but
moved by the mercy of the salt
like a child who has it easy easy the gun
held to your head and the well full
of your own blood and the so-called
epiphany you got wasn’t what you
hoped for so it’s back to the factory
for you you puppet and next time
you’d better have the proper respect



she provided the liquor
and the fire pedestrian lit the room the roses
danced on the table
and the cat insulted me all night which I thought
was hilarious and the
cat just got pisseder and pisseder and so in the
morning the landlord
kicked me out on the street someone came up
to me and spoke a
Spanish I could almost understand and I just kept
nodding and they
went away shaking their three heads the mountains
separated in front
of me so I dragged my carcass up thru the canyons
and sheets of ice
glared back at me a dog wanted to bite at me but it
had a steel wire muzzle
so I grabbed at him and his walker ran away
with the bitch so I
went to ground but didn’t have the technical skill
to put the slug in the slot
and the brakeman pushed me through and
out on the tournament
floor the dragons came roaring out and I had
to step into the belly
to get to where I was going I looked at all this
as if I were my own
ghost and I guess I should have been frightened
but if you must know
to tell the truth I just didn’t know who I was



the achievement of wealth is a chimera
you can take the appropriate
expedient and clip its wings whether
grasping at the best straw is a
wise course of action or letting the
mystery play play itself out we do
what little we can to lighten the
damage if the process can go or be
reversed you have to have known
that something would change the
cost is not large in the short-term
but in the long term brutal money
wasted is only time so someone
stabilizes while someone else tries to
get rich quick the rule of law
and legislation won’t stop the process
of  erosion but only slow it down
or else speed it up so in light of the
present condition we can either
try to sit stock still or run it into the
ground cause either way y’know
absolute power stupefies absolutely


Bio: "satnrose is a well-known antiquarian bookseller, and formerly a not-so-secret messenger in the innermost depths of Capitol Hill and K Street. He has been published in a number of literary magazines, but since his reincarnation as 'satnrose' a couple of years ago, he has been published in EVERGREEN REVIEW, ICONOCLAST, DANSE MACABRE, COUNTEREXAMPLE POETICS, wtf.pwm,  OYSTERS & CHOCOLATE, APPARATUS, GLOOM CUPBOARD, ESCAPE INTO LIFE, MAD SWIRL, METAZEN, THE NOVEMBER 3RD CLUB, STRAY BRANCH, THE CITRON REVIEW, THE COPPERFIELD REVIEW, THE HELL GATE REVIEW, THE BLUE JEW YORKER, MASTODON DENTIST, FULL OF CROW, FORGE,  ROSE & THORN JOURNAL, THE MAYNARD, NEFARIOUS BALLERINA, COUNTERPUNCH, deadpaper, theviewfromhere, MAVERICK, CALLIOPE NERVE, THE BATTERED SUITCASE, PSYCHIC MEATLOAF, HAWK & WHIPPORWILL, etc., etc."

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Michaelsun Stonesweat Knapp

When a poet sends a really good batch, it's hard to say no to any of them. Here's another three by Michaelsun Stonesweat Knapp. For a brief bio of the poet, go to last week's posting.

If Crime Doesn’t Pay Sandwiches Will

There are two reasons
I know of
Why most people
who are missing fingers
lost them in the first place

either they’re a great carpenter
but lost the digit
to a saw blade
while they were distracted

or a  Yakuza
who failed their Oyabun
and had the extremity cut off
to teach them a lesson

So when the woman at Quizznos
handed me my two Sammies in their brown bag
and I noticed she only had
one knuckle per finger
my immediate thought was
she had to be the world’s greatest woodworker

but then it occurs to me
why then was she
working the register
at a sandwich joint?

So the only logical
is that she was
at one point
just a really shitty gangster.


Rob and the Birds

Rob is a carpenter
for the county fair;
has been since high school
before either of his kids were born.
He’s the one

who does the work
in the repurposed hanger
with tall wide doors
that lets birds and the wind in.

Every night at closing
he walks between the walls
of the hanger
and the facades
he builds every year,
throughout the year,

looking for people
who went through an access door
to hide. He never finds anyone,
but what he does find
, next to the various wrappers of God knows what
, resting on the sea of kettle corn that he walks on,
are dead birds.

The ones the wind brought in
and left to twist
in the cool air conditioner breeze.

The sparrows starve
and fall, unable to fly or even waddle.

The pidgeons find the corn
back there and their stomaches soon burst.

The hawks are the worst for Rob.
They manage to look so stately
, so immortal,
while trapped in the hanger.
They last the longest
, eating the other birds,
but they too die. And Rob

brings them all out. He
carries them like friends
, wraps them in white newspaper,
and takes them to the dumpster out back
where the birds had wanted to be
from the moment they flew in,
and couldn’t fly out.


Sink or Float?

A carrot?
A potato?
A can of tomato paste?

A fork?
A rock?
A coke?

A Florida orange?
A four by four?
A plastic orange?

A car?
A scream?
A brother?

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Michaelsun Stonesweat Knapp and Natalie Morales

Michaelsun Stonesweat Knapp

Venice on the Second

it’s twenty eight hours shy of July Fourth,
in Venice, by way of the 10 freeway, 
and the sky groans in its sleep
with premature fireworks and
electricity running relay races on telephone wires.
In this city by the sea,
in the parking lot of a Ralphs,
a homeless dog is tied to a shopping cart collector
and alternates saying first, “Save me,”
but then “Go away.
I listen, eating a peanut-butter cup
I’ve gotten for being a good boy;
sit on the hood of mother’s Toyota Sienna,
which both looks and drives like a whale,
and after considering the dog’s requests
I turn to him and reply
and he hushes-up and lays down
until he’s picked up by a man
who isn’t a homeowner either.

Bio: I am a 22 year old, Native American, college graduate from the Los Angeles area. I have been published in In Somnis Veritas, Creepy Gnome, and will be in the upcoming editions of as well as California State University San Bernandino's newpaper The Coyote Chronicle.


For Kathleen

Some people would rather you stay with the abusive boyfriend
who demanded seventy-five hundred dollars
in return for your life
who bought you birthday gifts with your money
because he’s a chivalrous motherfucker
who put a cigarette out on your face
since the ash tray was full.

God would rather you use your soul
to carry around demons
like an old suitcase
Pastor would rather you batter-ram your emotions
into a sardine can
on the tip of a pinhead.

But let me tell you
who you are is fine with me.
And let me tell you
the caged bird doesn’t sing.
You’re a peacock, not a parrot
so let your wings breathe.