West End Love for All the East End Girls…

“So, are we doing this or what?” He asks me for the thirteenth time in the last five minutes. “We need to do this,” he reminds me once again. “We or you need to do this?” I ask barely looking away from my phone. “I’ll slap that thing right out of your hands,” he threatens. “I’m sure you will,” I sigh but I’m not putting away my phone. “Look you need to do this. You are in a rut,” he pauses rethinking his words. “No, you are stuck in some ditch in the middle of nothing town,” he declares. Should have thought harder I think to myself. “Well, I’m not stuck anywhere. I am choosing to be in the middle of nothing town because I want to be,” I let him know. “No one chooses to be in nothing town. Someone chooses it for them or they are there by happenstance,” he tries to recover. “Fun fact I am someone and this is where I have chosen to be,” I say in an abrupt tone signaling I am done with this conversation.

“Okay fine, I need this,” he concedes. “Now will you come with me?” I shake my head no.  “I need a second you know that,” he whines. “I’m not dragging my ass across town. I’m just not,” I proclaim once again. “I’m not shitting where I eat,” he admits. “Never stopped you before. I’m pretty sure your bathroom is right next to the dining area in that trash apartment,” I joke. But then I realize what this is really about. I have the nicer apartment. What a little snake, I think to myself. “Okay, you have me there. Correction I have shit too much where I eat. Is that better,” he smiles trying to get on my good side. “Didn’t we just go out the other night?” I ask deciding on a different way to get out of this other than pointing out I am better off than him. “Yeah, but you are single now. So, we can go out more. Maybe even twice a week,” he suggests. “Twice a week?” I ask my eyes growing wide. “That’s pushing it don’t you think?”

Before I know it I am driving his ass to the other side of town to haunt the usual spots. We don’t come here much anymore and for good reason. He tries to hand me a bottle from under his jacket. “Are you kidding me right now?” I ask pissed off. “Do you have any idea how many cops are staked out on this side of town,” I bark. “That’s what makes it even more fun,” he tells me before taking a swig. I shake my head as he puts the cap back on. “Just a little pre-gaming,” he smirks putting the bottle back in his inside jacket pocket. “You need to learn to find your center without alcohol,” I tell him. “Yes, Master,” he claps his hands together and lowers his head. Not amused I keep on driving and ignoring him. “I’m seeing a lot of ladies that should be having my baby,” he quotes excited behind the glass. If he wasn’t my only friend I wouldn’t hang out with him either.

“No one should be having any of your children ever, Jackson.” That is a fact for a lifetime. “It’s lyrics to a song. I don’t literally want a child, ever,” he rolls his eyes in annoyance at my lack of excitement for this evening. “Could you imagine?” He asks staring out the window. “I mean how does someone like me, like us, not literally carve the child right out of the womb?” He ponders into his reflection. His voice turning cold as it often does at times like these. “Could you imagine how boring it would be to wait for the thing to come out? Then have to actively try to keep it alive,” he shivers. “Plenty of our kind do it all the time,” I remind him. “Yeah, because they don’t know what they are,” he says turning to me. “I take it you have decided?” I ask looking over to him. “Yeah, I think I have,” he returns his gaze to the streets. “Let’s get ourselves a pregnant one,” he grins. His sinister smile reflecting back to him in the rolled up window.

Layne Ambrose

Beyond the End…

“Despite purified air, despite not going out for months, despite no human contact in over a year, and despite a diet balanced out to be everything that my body needs. I have become sick. I have become infected with something I have to silently suffer with. Alone and isolated I lost everything and yet I still managed to pack everything for this exact scenario. I have planned every possible outcome of everything. The architect of my own demise. How could I have been so careless? They warned me long ago but I didn’t listen. I didn’t think it was possible. Chasing darkness into the night. Should have known better. Should have been better than to question the idea of immorality. I dreamed of immorality but what is it really? It is nothing more than infinite knowledge and a never-ending legacy of pain and sorrow. Threw it all away. Should have let the idea of death take over. Would I be human then if I had?

I am well suited for immorality since anything that mattered died a long time ago. I’ve given up on the idea of humanity. Become more like God than I’d like to admit. I am as if I am immortal though only time will tell how long it will last. Time and days are a human idea. Immorality and life are God ideas, but where and what are you when stuck in between the crossroads of God and man? I can create and destroy anything I wish by shaping this reality. Shaping another’s reality. I am my own God and my own savior, but will I also be my own end? The question fills my heart with no answers. The isolation proves theories I thought were only myths. There is no God greater than the sun. There is nothing beyond the stars but more darkness. There is no true meaning of life beyond the end. Not when we can control it ourselves. I’ve unleashed the end of all things to come. Now is the time for me to enjoy the end. For we are our own damn God’s.”

“End of transmission,” the computer states. “But there is no body?” A solider questions. His uniform the same as the rest. “Then we have to assume he is still out there. We must find him. As long as he lives, he holds the power to end it all,” his superior says. “So, it is true then. He is the source. He is the God of all of us?” The young solider questions. “There is no God only the devil. This man is no architect of our creation or our end,” their leader barks. “He is nothing more than a virus. A sickness we have been trained and created to get rid of. We will find him and put a stop to all of this. Now let’s move out,” he orders. 

Valerie Hannigan

A Story Never Told…

“What the hell are you even doing up at this hour?” A voice asks with a yawn. I bang on the door harder and harder. “Ain’t no one want to see you in there. Hell, I see you and I don’t even want to,” the homeless man moans. “Shut up you stupid vagrant. As a matter of fact, someone in there really does want to see me,” I inform him. “Oh, really? That why you have been out here for a better part of an hour messing up my sleep? The only fact I see around here is that no one wants your ass around. So, why don’t you go ahead and give it a rest and I can get some myself. Got an early morning believe it or not. I’m a very busy man,” the homeless man mumbles into his filth ridden pillow.

I stop banging on the door and I’m ready to bang on something else. I raise my fists, “One more word old man and I’ll see to it that you get plenty of rest.” The homeless man giggles. He giggles at me. I can feel my anger and frustration rising. “Don’t go starting trouble when troubles already found you. Take my advice. I didn’t end up here by design,” the man preaches. I start to take the steps down to his garbage bed when a familiar sweet voice takes a hold. “He’s right you know?” Her voice cutting through the commotion. All I wanted from her was an acknowledgement that I was even there. “I’ll ring you in. I guess we need to talk,” she says from the second-floor window. I turn back towards the door.

“Are you sure Miss Kelly?” The vagrant asks. “Of course, she is sure,” I snap at the man. “There you go starting trouble again. I ain’t afraid of you. Honestly, I ain’t got nothing left to lose,” the homeless man smiles a toothless grin before putting up his fists. “Yes, I’m sure Frank, but if I change my mind,” she begins to say. “I’ll be right here miss Kelly,” Frank finishes for her. She smiles and moves away from the window. Moments later I hear the sound of the door buzzing and I head inside. Frank lies back down on his makeshift bed, “Can’t get no peace and quiet. Thoughts this was a good neighborhood. God damn kids with their pointless drama. You want a challenge. Try washing your ass with no water. That right there is a situation.”

I ascend the stairs rapidly. A flight of stairs in an instant. There is much to say and who knows how long to say it. The door is cracked and waiting for me when I get there. I take in a large breath. Be cool Miles. Be cool I tell myself one more time before knocking on the door. She is waiting just on the other side as I enter. “May I ask what is so important you have to disturb me and the whole neighborhood at 3 am?” She starts right at the door way. There are so many things that I want to say. All at once, but only one thing I should say. “I’m sorry.”  

“Sorry for what? What you did or disturbing everyone? Because only one of those things can be fixed with an, I’m sorry,” she says. “I’m sorry for all of it. I’m sorry I’m here so late disturbing you and everyone else. I’m sorry for what I did earlier. I’m sorry for a lot of things,” I say searching for my words. “Yes, you should be,” she informs me watching my reaction. “I’m afraid, your sorry has come too late. Unfortunately, the words are useless at this point and are no longer any good here,” she pauses for a moment to let it sink in. Her eyes trapping the light from the hallway within. Her eyes look different than the times before. Something so different than the times before.

“Kelly please,” I interrupt. “Kelly please what? Forgive you again and again? Damnit Miles you can’t just keep messing up and thinking I will forgive you later for it. You can only play a song so many times before it becomes background noise,” her eyes like fire now. I step closer to her. I let her speak her mind and now I have to try the one move I have left. If I can get her in my arms, I know she will change her mind. I’m greeted by an open hand on my chest, “Not this time Miles. We are done,” she says sternly. “This is the last time I swear,” I reach for the hand on my chest. She quickly moves it away before I can even touch her one last time.

“You said that two times ago and every time before. Let me say this so you understand. I am done and this is the last time I am going to tell you.” She locks eyes with me. “But?” I try to say. I’m at a loss of words. “It’s time for you to leave and I’m not asking. I’m telling you,” she commands with her finger extended towards the stairs. I look her in the eyes one last time before doing as I was told. There comes a time in any battle where winning is losing either way. I put us here and know damn well I’ll only do it again. There is only one thing to do. I turn and walk my new path. I hear the door close behind me and the door’s lock click over as I reach the stairs. “I didn’t mean it,” I say to an empty audience. From behind the door, she breathes a heavy, “I know,” before her held back tears fall to the ground.

I leave the apartment building at the slowest of speeds. Lost in thought. What have I done this time? What have I given up for nothing? Questions I only have excuses for but no answers. I pass by the vagrant known only as Frank. “Out on your ass I see. You ain’t the only one. Join the club as they say,” he lets out a small laugh. The street goes silent as I walk down the block. A coldness washes over me from inside. Where I am to go from here. I really don’t know.

M.T. Billings

Wait and See…

I’m startled awake confused as to where I am and where I should be. I can feel the bang of the door as much as I think I can hear it. “I’m going already. Give it a rest,” I shout but they don’t care. The door rattles with every strike. Must mean something to bang this damn long. I try to get up and at first it seems that I am having the hardest of times. Everything seems out of place in my brain as I. There’s no other way to describe what happens to me next. No way other than I rise up? A ghostly outline of my former self. Neither here nor there or anywhere to be exact. I watch over my lifeless shell. Who I used to be? Who I am now? Who I will be forever? Confusion doesn’t even begin to explain the feelings of everything that is happening. My door bursts open. No more banging. 

The first emergency responder to rush into my tiny studio apartment seems as though he is caught between two places. Nervousness and excitement flashes across his face in a slow motion that plays out in rapid speed. His partner half a step behind him. Their heavy bags land with a thud next to my bed, next to me. What is left of me? One of them picks up the phone next to my vessel’s hand. Says a few words I cannot understand as I once did, and hangs up the phone. The other man searches for a pulse. Finding nothing of course they begin chest compressions. The difference between life and whatever this is, is only a second but I imagine every second counts at this point. I imagine what is left of my time counts for something when a life is on the line. Try as they might the only fight left is the battle within themselves. They aren’t willing to let go. Not like my body has. I’ve made my peace as I watch them fail. As I watch the needle fall from my arm and onto the floor. I’ve made my peace I think though it would seem that I haven’t. A by stander to my own end and a shitty narrator to my new beginning.

If God is real, he is nothing more than a trickster. Proving a point that only the dead could understand. Even if everything feels like a dream or a shitty nightmare played out in my head. Is this real? Is this the high or something else? The two EMTs fight and fight to bring me back. I wonder why I didn’t do the same. Why do they care so much when I didn’t? I want to make them stop. Tell them thank you but I did this, and it is what I deserve. We die, I died, the end. What’s really left to say? A lifeless corpse with shit in his veins. How else was this going to end? Is this the way I wanted it? Sure, why not? Had to happen at some point or another. Death waits for no one or nothing. More so when you play with it like I have. This is what I deserve and they don’t deserve to watch it all fold out. Embracing my new beginning. Embracing what comes next it would appear that this was all only a warning. A second look at what it is that I have done. Something draws me back to my vessel. Tells me to lay back down. Not a thought or an idea the feeling is beyond my understanding to explain. I do what it is I feel I must.

Maybe if I lie back down. Lay perfectly still the two parts will become whole once more? Nothing left to lose any more. I try to recreate the position my body is in on the bed. What comes next is nothing short of a rebirth. The feeling of waking up after a long slumber as I spring back to life. Gasping for air and for the first time in what feels like forever I feel it. I feel it all. The tears flow down my face as I look into their eyes. Euphoric at first and then nothing but pain. Startled and relieved I grab the collar of the EMT closest to me, “Thank you.” Thank you is all I have to say. Thank you for what however we will just have to wait and see.

Valerie Hannigan

I’ve never done drugs nor have I ever been on the verge of death. I don’t know anyone who has almost died or died and then came back. This isn’t a very personal story though I suppose it could be. Because I may not know of anyone who has died and came back. I do know a drug addict or two. We don’t speak. Don’t need that shit around my children or in my life. No one needs that garbage in their lives. Life is never easy and why anyone would want to make it any harder than it already is, is beyond me. People will do what they do though for whatever reason they think they should do it. I’m not above it myself. I’m not better than every other walking asshole on earth. I got my own set of problems that need to be dealt with on a daily basis. Reflection and thinking past the now is the only advice I can give. It is the only thing that works for me. Could I use an escape? A fucking break from the chaos that is my children? I bet their little souls I could. The now. But when the vacation is over? When their soulless bodies are resting in my arms. What new chaos am I facing? How will my life be then? Peaceful.

Got lost in a fantasy there for a second. My life would be shit. Still here, but a little worse. Do it again and again, and what do you think will be left? Everyone wants to run away from their problems. But no matter how far you run they are still going to be right there. Dealing with them, accepting the challenge is the only way to get over them. Not the easiest of solutions. Not what anyone wants to hear. Cheat codes are the best way to play any video game until you’ve rode out the codes for everything they are. Then that game is trash and all you want is something new. The game isn’t what you can do at the end, but what we did to get there. Or something like that…

Beginning of All Things to End…

“Things went from bad to worse,” he says as they walk down the long corridor. “What do you mean?” One of his colleagues asks. “Most importantly they are being taken to the facility right now to insure there will be a future them,” he says ignoring the question all together. “Doesn’t matter there won’t be,” another colleague responds. They move quickly through the corridor making sure no one sees them. “Sure, maybe not now but twenty or thirty years from now when they have figured it out. It will be the end of the world,” the leader lays out. They arrive at an unmarked door. Looking around he inserts his key card, “Quickly we don’t have much time. The cameras have already alerted them, I’m sure.”

The three of them enter the room. “We need to erase whatever we can,” the leader says. “What are we even really doing here?” One of them asks. They walk through the stacks of tanks. Each one containing what looks to be a fetus. “Trust me they won’t have cloning figured out by then. Cloning doesn’t work now and by the time it does it’ll be two hundred or more years from now. And even by then none of them will be relevant beyond history books,” a colleague states unsure of his own predictions. “Exactly, we need to stop them now. These are all nothing more than failures. But the potential each container contains. This is where it all starts. This is where we have to make our stand,” the leader assures them.

“Your fear of that future is irrelevant. Some other monster will take their place,” one of them proclaims. They begin pulling electrical board after board as the tanks switch to back up power. “We will impact the next fifty years by our actions today. We fucked up already letting them go into hiding. Who knows exactly how much information they were able to collect behind our backs?” The leader admits. “Doesn’t matter they won’t have us when all this is over. The others will find them and do their part. Same as before. This won’t be over but you’re right we can slow it down.”

The lights begin to flash as the backup systems trigger from the disturbance. “We are in the final moments of our chance to do your part. Destroy whatever you can,” the leader orders. They split up and rush through the room pulling board after board. Quickly they pull what they can as they hear the door open and the boots of their oppressors marching through. “Use extreme force,” they hear someone order before they hear the sound of bullets breaking glass. The sounds of screaming and death soon to follow.

The floor becomes saturated in more than just blood as the last one of the resistances takes their final breath. A solider walks over to their dying body. “If you do the devil’s work then you are,” a bullet to the head silences the room. “Sweep the room, recover the bodies, and report back,” the solider orders. The others do as they are told. Dragging the bodies of the dead to the center of the room. The sound of the door opening again fills the room. The sound of footsteps on glass follows.

“Report,” a man in a white coat demands. “All deserters accounted for and terminated. Zero causalities on our side. They were unarmed. Damage unknown. Believed to be minimal,” the solider reports. “Good job. Could have been executed sooner, but good job none the less,” the man in the coat says. “Thank you, sir,” the solider responds. “Now if we can figure out how they were able to bypass their programming?” The man in the white coat questions out loud.

M.T. Billings

As The Heavens Fall… Something Different…

As Before

Blood runs cold, the night air not as warm as before
Thoughts run empty with your celestial talking
Does the mind stop even after you make it
What separates us from animals if not for sin
Inhaling fire to stay alive one more night
Stripped to the bones, pressed against the cold
Giving into the things that make us whole, want and need
More to do every day easy to feel used
In the dark searching for an escape from internal questions
Believe that one day all will be well, manufactured lie
A dreamer exhaling upon the world tonight
Knowing you are wrong is the worst feeling of all
Blood runs cold, the blue flames washed away
A rebirth of existence praying to a lord from before
Does the devil hear the call as the heart stops beating
What separates us from animals if not desperation
Breathing fire to stay alive one more night
Stripped of all reason, the skin goes cold
Kneeling before it all to feel whole once again
More is needed, nothing is ever enough
In the dark searching for answers to life
Believed that one day all will be well, synthetic truth
A lost soul screaming to the heavens tonight
Knowing there is no answer is the worst feeling of all
Blood runs cold, prayers left unanswered in the night
As above so below, as before so it is now
Naked and alone

The mood struck me as I think of what to do with my time tonight… spending time on twitter can feel like this from time to time… as though one is shouting for attention… only to hear nothing back… social media in general feels like this to me… it turns me off from the whole thing… rather sit in my closet feeling sorry for myself… instead of out in the open feeling the same way… I’m told though if I want people to notice my work then I need to get out there… not sure if I hold these truths as close to my heart… destined to be naked and alone as before…

Getting anyone to notice anything is a challenge… wish I had some sort of secret to share… some profound philosophy to explain it all away… unfortunately all I have are visions of slamming my head into a wall until I no longer care… not helpful I’m aware… but there is something there… a feeling locked within the madness… an lack of effort that doesn’t come across as desperation sewn into the thought… a lack of something… a lack of confidence?… a lack of fucks?… I’m sure I’m missing something… no one was born whole… always searching for the missing parts…

Unsure of where the content of this poem comes from… as I rest on the thoughts that consume me…

Merch… Threadless… Books… Amazon… Broken Thoughts… Twitter

Scarping its way into the world. Teething On Concrete is the newest collection of poetry by Layne Ambrose. Sobering, haunting, and downright depressing. Ambrose takes us on a journey the only way he knows how. Across the razor blades of his mind. Ambrose’s take on what it means to live will not be forgotten any time soon. Whether you are preaching, kneeling, or teething on concrete this collection is here to satisfy your needs.

“Putting this down wasn’t much of an option.”
M.T. Billings, Shaky Town Rebellion

“Jesus…”
Sylvia Ambrose, Cover Artist

“Concrete never tasted so good.”
Korbin Copy, Is That A Funeral?

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