Thursday, May 30, 2024

GAS Featured Poet: Hiram Larew

 Hiram Larew's poetry appears in Poetry South, West Trade Review, Iowa Review, Poetry Scotland's Gallus and Contemporary American Voices.  His most recent collection, Patchy Ways, was issued by CyberWit Press in 2024.  As Founder of Poetry X Hunger, he brings a world of poets to the anti-hunger cause. and

Every Minute


I love each no little thing –

The vast skies that a wink becomes

The crowds that any whisper turns into

The creek rising from mere drips

Such no little things

Even pants buttons and what they do

Or roadside weeds becoming anthems 

Or this tiny splinter that festered

I love them every minute

For my own sake

Thursday, May 23, 2024

GAS Featured Poet: Peter Cashorali


"Peter is a queer psychotherapist, previously working in community mental health and HIV/AIDS, now in private practice in Portland and Los Angeles. He is the author of two books, Gay Fairy Tales (HarperSanFranciso 1995) and Gay Folk and Fairy Tales (Faber and Faber, 1997)"



The boxes of things taped and saved from three moves back, 

Library of every book, 

Jewel box of keepsakes, 

Files on the hard drive, 

Email archive, 

Journals of then what happened, 

Way we’ve thought of ourselves since in our 20s, 

Chronicle of how things work compiled over decades, 

Soul made by pacing the earth, 

Spirit distilled drop by drop from every lived instant, 

Mind risen from traffic on neural roadways, 

Body of cellular billions built live from molecules, 

And what shall we hope for? 

That these things 

Enter the permanent collection 

And we be their museum forever? 

Or to be relieved of them? 

To be where the old apartment building stood, 

Where the breeze comes and goes 

And nothing stops it.



Somewhere in the brain we live other lives,

Haven’t left our hometown, married differently,

Didn’t stop for a drink driving home that night,

We did or didn’t catch that disease,

Weren’t quite quick enough and got hit by that car,

Didn’t survive the injuries, died,

There was or was not an afterlife, we burned

Forever in hell, reincarnated again, again,

Resolved into recyclables, zeroed in oblivion.

So many options. No escapes.

That multiverse they talk about? That’s us

Spreading out through it all at the speed of light,

Already everywhere, being human, what it means.

The Departed


They come back and slowly heal

From what they died of, the disease,

Dementia, even the despair

That found relief in suicide.

Slowly they regain themselves,

The ones we loved, who they’d been,

Who they were becoming when

What happened to them happened,

Their humor or their certainty,

That delicate not reproduced

Way in which they met the world

That never fully registered

In our knowing—here again

As if having gone as far

Away from us as they could go

There’s nothing left but to return.

But before they can come back

They first must leave for good, into

We never will see them again

And we learn to live without

Who we cannot live without.

Thursday, May 16, 2024

GAS Featured Poet: Lily Swarn

 International Beat Poet Laureate India 2023 -2024 and Caesar Vallejo award for literary excellence by  UHE, Lily Swarn, internationally acclaimed, multilingual poet, author, columnist, gold medalist, university colour holder, radio show host, Peace and Humanity Ambassador, writes different genres. History On My Plate won her the Best Author Award. Rippling Moonbeams got Chandigarh Sahitya Akademi award for Best Book of the year. The Divine Dialect of Flowers is nominated for the Panorama Golden Book Award.

She has over 70 international and national awards .

Lily’s poetry has been translated into 21 languages. She has authored eight  books, including A Trellis of Ecstasy, Lilies of the Valley, The Gypsy Trail, Yeh Na Thi Hamaari Qismat, A Passionate Affair with Trees, The Divine Dialect of Flowers .

Lily’s work has been published in numerous anthologies as well as   European and international  magazines. She is often invited to participate in global conferences.


Sometimes the light has to struggle to emerge from the tangled web of darkness 

Sometimes your aura pushes its way through the claustrophobic queue of tear streaked orphans 

Sometimes I light the rusted lantern of kerosene smelling life 

Sometimes the sunny dandelion has to force its way out from the crack in the sidewalk 

Sometimes the ice cold air from the  upper Himalayas decides to turn benevolent 

Sometimes I know you are around by the way the moon beckons me with hushed gestures 

Primal Me

Uncoil the primal me 

and emerge 

The superior me 

Unshackled by primal fears 

Unadorned by man made hopes 

Mechanical  love swung out of 

Concrete buildings on tarred roads 

Primal pain moaned and yelped 

Screamed and yelled 


Primal me 

unashamed of my body 

Its voluptuous contours 

Its raging needs 

Its anguished hormones 

Striding like Venus incarnate 

Encompassing love and desire 

In one fertile leap of prosperity 

Primal anger unfurling high on

The mountains of want 

Released from hollow corners 

In simmering waters 

Unleashing the river of life 

To meander at will to its Creator 

Primal sounds beckoning me 

Loud like the beats of the Nagaada 

That called the troops to war 

Reddening the blood in my stream 

Crimson mouthfuls sucking out 

The violet venom corroding my insides

Primal like the roots  of the Banyan tree 

Fondling  the earth reverentially 

Emerging stronger with its humility 

Lustily uttering the name that hovers 

Shakily just beneath my plump lips 

Shorn of artifice 

Bereft of guile 

Primal me in my holy sunshine 

Naked emotion hanging to dry 

On virgin beaches in ethereal skies 

Shaken , buzzed , hissed , hummed 

The primal sound whistled in the 


Beyond gender it's cosmic energy 

Going around the earth and reaching me 

Loud and clear for whatever is released will come back to me 

Primal throbbing pulsating me 

Primal me 

Spinning On Hate 

The world seems to be falling apart 

Spinning deliriously on hate and bigotry 

The centre explodes with the piercing pain of shrapnel 

Frightened earth darkened with congealed blood 

Of a million corpses flung around by mindless war 

Grief oozes out of shameful clouds watching from above 

Vacant eyed orphans search for dead parents 

In alien refugee camps with strange faces 

Smoke spirals choke kindness and love 

Sinister viruses sap out the life force 

As a beseeching universe gets trampled 

With more intruding satellites 

Snooping into homes and hearts 

Thursday, May 9, 2024

GAS Featured Writer: TOMMY CHEIS

Tommy Cheis is a Chiricahua Apache writer, medicine leader, veteran, and Cochise descendant. After traveling extensively through distant lands and meeting interesting people, he now resides in southeastern Arizona with his horses. His short stories appear in The Rumen, Yellow Medicine Review, Carpe Noctem, ZiN Daily, Spirits, Red Paint Review, and other publications. While his first novel, RARE EARTH, is under submission, he is at work on his second.


“White-Painted Woman let Lightning drop Rain in her vagina. After a while Child-of-Water was born.”

Four dikohe, or Horse Holders, seated at the cardinal directions around a mesquite fire, snigger. No doubt old Eddie chuckled too when he learned about our primary cultural hero. This trip, which we run every year to initiate our boys into manhood, has been nhzoo—good. I didn’t know if Eddie could handle the physical rigors of the deep Gila Wilderness, but now, teaching four boys ranging from twelve to fourteen who they are and what’s expected of them, he’s in his element.

'“ One day, when Child-of-Water was your age, he wanted to go out. But it was raining. Lightning crashed. His mother said stay in the wickiup because it was too dangerous.” On this cold night, under a blanket of stars, in a place as it was at the beginning of time, he’ll talk to these boys until sunrise. “But Child-of-Water told his mother, ‘I’m the Son of Lighting! Lemme out, goddamn—god bless me!’ So White-Painted-Woman shouted, ‘Hey Lightning! This here’s your son!’”

Over the last three days across a sweep of Wilderness, Eddie and I, in white linen trousers and breechcloths, trade-cloth shirts, leather vests, moccasins that turn up at the toes, eagle-feathered caps and bandanas, led our apprentices on horseback to sacred sites. We taught them to find water and food. To tolerate hunger and thirst. To make and interpret old hand-signs, speak in battle-code, wrestle, run, use weapons. They learned discipline and followed orders.

"Bull...Baloney!" Eddie says, imitating Lightning, “but tell you what, Lady. I’ll give him a test only my son can pass." So Lightning made Child-of-Water stand to the east and smacked him with a bolt of black lightning. BAM! Nothing happened to Child-of-Water. Same thing from the south with blue lighting. CRASH! Nothing! Same from the west with yellow. POW! Zilch. Then from the north with white lightning, BOOM! Bupkis! Child-of-Water stood there better than before holding bags of cash. I’m kidding. So Lightning admits, ‘OK, well, I guess he is my son since he survived and shit like that.

“So then Child-of-Water wraps himself in deer intestines and goes hunting. This was when giant animals roamed the earth and I was your age. His mother doesn’t want him to go but he’s persistent. Child-of-Water finds this nest of eagles terrorizing the whole fucking neighborhood. Stealing meat, scaring everyone. So he takes this big war club and kills them, then plucks the youngest like a chicken and eats him.”

The dikohe are dozing. Eddie howls like a rabid coyote, jolting the apprentices to attention. They laugh so loudly they’re heard in Albuquerque. “I’ll cut to the chase, sleepyheads,” he says. “Tomorrow’s your big day.”

On the fourth day, dikohe learn the most frightening skill of all—to be alone and self-reliant.

“Child-of-Water is scared but picks up a bow and arrows,” Eddie recounts. “He’s offed Eagle. Next, through trickery and a little help from his friends—lizards, gophers, shit like that—he kills Buffalo, Antelope, Giant. That’s why no monsters are left and his mother’s safe and you can all eat meat in peace. Now you know why after a battle everyone sings and dances. It all happened right under your asses.” 

Eddie waves the apprentices away an hour short of dawn. The boys untie their horses then climb in their sleeping bags, lead ropes in hands, ready to awaken and mount the instant danger comes. Within four minutes, they’re snoring.

Then Eddie and I hold vigil by the dying fire. Nothing ill will befall our dikohe.

This Morning’s Star

On graduation morning, each of the nineteen newly-minted suicide bombers dispersed like a virus sneezed into the world with death his purpose, save one. The boy, Muhammad Jihad, on Abu Zil’s orders, boarded a bus of ISIS fighters. After an unremarkable journey, the driver halted before a shattered brick factory to let him off into a grey paste of chilly wet Euphrates air and choking concrete dust. A scruffy fighter in a sand-colored balaclava and fatigues exited next, confirmed his identity, then pushed him up sandy stairs through a crumbling wall and into a quadrangle.

Rebar tentacles snaked out of collapsed buildings like larvae of steel octopi. A cage of metal bars and a diesel backhoe surrounded by rubble brooded in the center. Ready and waiting were three video cameras mounted atop tripods and one atop a surviving pillar. Nineteen armed ISIS fighters secured the perimeter fence and the scrubby desert beyond the parched river. Scruffy Fighter steered the boy through two mute guards and into a bomb-damaged office in the sole surviving structure.

A handcuffed prisoner in an orange jumpsuit sat in a chair at a folding table. His dimpled chin and wide ears were enough to have sparked grade-school teasing. Beside him, an ISIS fighter in a fat-strained uniform smoked desultorily. The space stunk like a revolting patch of August cement as fat raindrops fall and petrichor peaks only for a careless shawarma vendor to fumble onions and raw lamb onto the street.

Fat Fighter greeted Muhammad Jihad. “Asalaamu alaykum. Thank God we found you in time. He would have been angry. I hope you like films, as you’re going to be in one. Our friend,” Fat Fighter slapped the prisoner’s face, “is this morning’s star.”

The prisoner smiled feebly, then went back to reading a book entitled, The Last Confession. The boy catalogued facial cuts, florid bruises, bloodshot grey eyes a Crusader inserted into the gene pool, and a fractured jaw. “Muhammad Jihad,” said Fat Fighter, “meet Lieutenant Umar al-Talib, Royal Jordanian Air Force.”

Do I shake his hand or punch him? “Did he defect to The Cause?” Gales of laughter stung the boy to the quick until thoughts of Abu Zilquashed his defeatist thoughts.

“Umar’s had a rough week,” Fat Fighter explained. “We’ve shot all his scenes but the big finale.” He hugged Muhammad Jihad jihadi-style, all ripe with sour nicotine-sweat, then headed out into the courtyard. “Fix him up, Abu Habiby,” he shouted to his comrade.

Abu Habiby, shouldering a wooden broom handle wire-lashed to a bundle of diesel-soaked rags, kicked the door shut. In the thumb-web of one hand, dangling by his thigh, he held a hypodermic syringe. He dropped the torch on the table then dragged Muhammad Jihad into the corner. The boy’s head smacked brick. Angry ice-blue eyes bored from his balaclava’s oval. “You, a mere Cub, get to pronounce and execute sentence! Why not me? Min ayna anta?”

“Gaza City.”

“Ah. It is right that a Palestinian will kill this crusader pilot,” he agreed. “It is written.”

The pilot ignored them and read quietly.

Habiby handed the boy an index card upon which instructions were neatly written. “You’ll read, then the brothers will guide you.” He handed over the syringe. “Inject him with the scopolamine. It will erase his mind and destroy all resistance. When you bring him out he’ll be coherent but with the free will of a stone pigeon. If you say, ‘Lay down on the train tracks,’ he won’t flinch when the locomotive saws him in half. He who takes scopolamine enslaved to him who gives it.” He hawked a glob of chalky mucus on the pilot’s face then strutted out.

Nineteen minutes later, after a quiet-on-set announcement, Muhammad Jihad faced the drugged Lieutenant Umar al-Talib, a man twice his age, and pronounced death by fire for the crime of apostasy. Then he nudged the condemned in the back with the torch to goad him into a gauntlet of ISIS fighters forming a chute to the cage.

The pilot shuffled in socks and sandals and punished each fighter he passed with a glance. “I killed no innocents,” he insisted. “Each of my bombs hit a military target.”

The boy, wondering if he’d been drugged instead, focused on torch-stench and an imaginary line connecting the tangerine prison suit with the brutal steel cage.

“I’m ashamed. I wish I’d drowned,” said the pilot, who’d been shot down then fished from the Euphrates ten days ago and two city blocks away, “before I falsely claimed my country is responsible for Palestine’s occupation.”

Muhammad Jihad searched in vain for Abu Zil in the hooded crowd.

“I was tortured,” the pilot explained, “but still.”

The cage, framed by fighters, sand and dust spun into a dun cake-frosting, and sky like dull-grey pipe, grew with each step. The boy poked the pilot’s back with the torch. Soaked rags left a dark transfer stain.

“I hope you get your country back. Drones,” the pilot pointed heavenward, “will make you famous or worse. I wanted to be a doctor. It’s not too late for your soul. Run from these people.”

Jarred, the boy scanned the sea of camouflage and dead eyes. Zil was nowhere.

“Keep your promise, Muhammad Jihad. Anwaar, in Ayy, in Al-Karak.”

Then two fighters seized the condemned, muscled him into the cage, and slammed the bars.

The gauntlet dissolved. Along the courtyard perimeter, fighters pointed rifles at the caged pilot as if he were a superhuman who could bend steel bars, escape, and devour them. Two collected Muhammad Jihad and led him a stone’s throw to a rubble pile, positioning him just so for the cameras. “I’ll light the torch,” said Hani, a short Egyptian. “Ramzi will signal you.”

“Once Hani lights it,” said Ramzi, a Saudi, “you’ll hold the torch aloft. When I nudge you, lay it here.” He pointed to a shallow trench in the sand running into the cage. It was dark and oily and lined with charcoal-colored powder. “Wait until it ignites. Understood?”

A fighter with a steel can wanded diesel onto the pilot, who sneered through the deluge. With each pass, his tunic and pants variegated into orange and black stripes until the pilot was a captive tiger awaiting the moment his keeper would make a fatal error and scores could be settled. Finally he faced Mecca, knelt, and prayed. Defiance did not affect his repose. He might have been in his village mosque in Ayy.

A hush fell. The boy’s body was torpid with terror and his torch waved like an orchestral conductor’s baton. “Ready.” Hani flicked a silver lighter open, spun the wheel, and lit the rags.

Before the boy could run, the vapor cloud ignited, then the ball of cotton scraps. Frozen, he held the roaring torch aloft until terrifying heat and a longing to please Abu Zil overcame his will and made him do as ordered. The wicked gunpowder and diesel admixture spawned a row of sparkling dancers and sent them skipping down the trench.

On reaching the cage they split and raced around the perimeter to encircle the pilot. While they reconnoitered and schemed, Umar al-Talib steadfastly professed belief in the oneness of God and covered his face. When they attacked, the boy dropped the torch and vomited.

The pilot prayed longer than was possible. When fattening flames jerked him to his feet his martyrdom, by force of will, was not the shrieking agony of a domestic cat, fur set ablaze by a neophyte-psychopath and left to comet down the street. It was a five-act danse macabre.

First, flamenco. He hopped and clapped to embellish the rhythms of unseen guitars and castanets. Palmas, pitos, y jaleos from onlookers instantiated the communal nature of his dance.

Ballet en flambé followed. With a fire-tornado-partner whooshing hair and flesh through the salon, the pilot executed a demi detourne and gave his back to the enchanted throng. Despite the ramifications of organizational apostasy, Muhammad Jihad, sob-wracked, screamed at God.

Belly-dance next. The incandescent pilot shimmied and swayed behind a veil of boiling cloud. The inferno dragged chalky air into the pyre. Witnessing Umar al-Talib’s agony, the audience moaned with desire.

Then came a faena. A cinder-matador sank to his knees for a last series of passes, drawing the beast to his sword. Having delivered the thrust, he slumped, victorious, head between bars, face melting into a sand-puddle.

Finally, a Passion. Sinews, contracting, broke bones, but he rose to his haunches and arched. Supine, charred hands clasped in prayer, he watched his soul taunt smoke-horns stabbing impotently at the best of him climbing a sky-ladder to Paradise.

Enraged, the mechanical dinosaur dumped a ton of rubble and sand, snuffing cage and contents. The ISIS media director shouted, “Cut!”

Like magic, Abu Zil’s voice rumbled in Muhammad Jihad’s ear. “I’m so proud of you.”

Before the crying boy could bask in his master’s praise, a frenzied mob swept him into its number. 

Thursday, May 2, 2024

GAS Featured Poet: Amy Christine Matus

        Amy Christine Matus is a writer from Milwaukee, WI where she was 

honored by The National Beat Poetry Foundation to be recognized as Beat Poet Laureate 2020-2022.

 She is passionate about the cathartic and connective spirit of art and engages in creative events, literary festivals, and collaborative projects both within her community. Amy also is passionate about traveling to participate in those farther away. She was a featured poet in CT at BeatFest in 2008, in Toledo, OH of the same year at Collingwood Arts Center, and most recently traveled to Kentucky to participate in an arts and literary festival in the summer of 2023.

She plans to continue joining other artists and forming a community while 

also highlighting the importance of the arts and staying connected and vocal. Her poetry and other writings has been published by New Generation Beat Publications, Good Japan Press, Rolling Thunder Press and other independent publishers. Amy also enjoys playing piano, singing and spending time in nature with her family and their dog, Hope.

Name Stake


no longer tries to 

convince herself that this 

is wedded bliss 

no longer hides bruises 

with pancake foundation 

she will not lie to herself 

or hide from him 

his Trophies 

At nineteen her mother had told her

she was lucky

to have found this man

Now, twelve years into her prize

Mother rarely calls -too busy living that UnLucky divorced life

on some fancy Florida beach 

She Cooks -makes sure the steak is rare to his liking

musing as he stabs the meat with 

cutting knife 

counts how many nights  she has stood by their bedside 

willing it sharp enough 

to slay sleeping dragons 


  to pass the salt

He never apologizes 

does not bring flowers like those

of daytime dramas 


he glares at the mess 

and she?

she cleans it up 

picks up shards of broken spirit 

split like toothpaste in their sink

She would never leave -the world not enough big 

    even in dreams 

She wears her apron -tight.

yet some solace

her fingers find daily 

as they open 

secret stash


birth control pills 

There will be no sons

     to carry on his 



Lower Case Cursive 

i am 


madly calm 

pout pale 

lips sealed like the envelopes 

that are licked after filled


Cursive love letters

lyrics in screenplays of graffiti on acrylic 

so quiet i am

and small

shades of nude

a bleached daytime moon

watching the flies

gathering to pause



oh...our shadows 

and these walls!

on the Verge


a cat perched

~ cheetah confessions ~ no issues with metaphor ~ i will say pussy willow



think sideways, honeymoon 

the hunt begins 

windowsill curious 

all cats we are on windowsills 




how it will sound

when these stanzas hit the ground 


nine life revival 

and how they will


deliberate. in alleys

calico and free

graffiti made by the 

 Heart Beat

let it be Loud

pulse pace breathe speak beat box hopscotch 

handstands and 


signs flying with feet

i am throwing my words into the World 


u n i to Verse

let’s see in Color

and feel 

as we think


slow down, stand still

holy the  glory

our chests

close enough to throb 

a vibration

that is god

that is god

that is god

and thunder! come the lightning 

poetic Leo cat 

be on the verge

windowsill curious 

chase . stop. 


screaming Grace.

Inappropriate Clothespin 

Then Everyone Was Shouting 

for us 

to look at the clothesline 

at the yellow dress that dared 

fly in the wind like a sunbeam 

and all of the women dripped with frowns 

pointing to the drab whites and off whites that hung

bulbs to berry 

from their wooden pins 

proper and quiet 

made of nothing but 

gravel and the scolding 

the children 

ran behind her garments surely their mothers would not look for them there 

they could pretend 

the dresses were wings to fly them far away from the endless rows of wrinkling foreheads and drying linen 

the young woman new to the block

with head held high 

walked to the row that was so scorned 

placing onto it a red dress

that hung like lust from her clothespin 

she placed it close to the yellow one

so they could hold cotton hands together 

and walked smirking to her doorway 

as the other mothers 

gathered up their children 

tssssk-ing like pigeons 

to prepare dinner for their husbands -yet- feathers to fancy 

perhaps tonight there will be peaches 

Brave and Sensual 

next to the stew pot