The Bomb Maker from Kabul


Ruminative silence pulsates
over the disquieting drone,
on a wine crate
a vibrating smartphone.

The susurrus of branches
over the rooftop now;
a four-fingered hand,
nails red and polished,
reaches out.

The greeting is brusque,
the voice gruff;
the breath, mothball musk,
steams up the grimy glass.

Outside the breeze picks up,
and the snow whispers
secret communications
against the window.

A red nail taps the red tab;
the phone disappears
into a parka pocket
draped over a chair;
on the backrest a name
engraved in bronze:
Sergeant S.C. Grear.

The bomb maker sighs,
remembers her first bomb.
Like her first kiss
in a back alley in Kabul.

Goggles, face mask, gloves;
she returns to work,
to what she loves.

Tonight she controls the
the storm in the West;
she’s an Afghan goddess.

words & photography by Ramon Ramirez

Pub Religion


His brow grows thoughtful at my question –
vexed, even,
if you take into consideration his high forehead,
now crumpled like the pages of a shithouse magazine.
Tasting the venom on his tongue –
forked, no doubt –
he mulls over a response by biting down on his bottom lip.
He downs his drink and belch-orders another whiskey and lime.

The bartender’s eyes flash brass-belled pleas,
Go home already, lads!
but there’s no way in the deepest pits of hell I’m heading home,
not before the man with the magazine frown responds.

A heavy-set barmaid senses trouble;
she’s wiping away –
authoritative strokes –
the impregnated smell of cigarette butts
and stale ale from empty tables.
The front door jerks open –
the wind, thin,
yet strong enough to breathe life into the dying embers,
smoking to light the fireplace with devilish fire tongues.

The silhouette of a man appears the entrance –
axe in hand –
shower curtains of rain behind a set of shoulders so broad,
he could be a walking brick shithouse
wearing stained magazine pages for clothes.

He shuts the door.
The windows rattle.

A raven,
nestled in the neck folds of the giant’s leather coat,
cocks its under the man’s long, matted locks;
the bird registers its new surroundings
with a flash of intelligence
in the black marble of its whip-smart eyes
before grooming its weather-greased feathers.

My drinking partner breaks the ice
by choking on a cube;
spewin’ and spillin’ the rest of his beverage
down the front of his shirt,
over the cherry wood counter.

His face is pale,
his lips the colour of dead maggots;
no need for him to reply to my query;
the answer I’m looking for walks toward us,
growing larger with each echo of his heavy boots,
hand crafted,
the finest crocodile leather money can buy,
shining like the silver of his whiskey flask
reflected in the raven’s eyes:

Bacchus is alive.

words by Ramon Ramirez

art by Craig Hopson

Goodbye, Soldier

Morning on the Mine

Goodbye, Soldier

No trace of alacrity
in the young soldier’s once gregarious manner;
his once beaming smile
now a gruesome grin
or grimace
when he dismounts the steed;
his once booming voice
now a mumble and a stutter;
and beneath the war paint,
his skin a deathly pallor.
Rifle slung over his shoulder,
he loosens the girth,
takes of the saddle,
stirrups in a tangle.
From the trenches
the reek of death and decay,
burnt flesh and gunpowder,
gaping wounds
that pulsate,
at the teats of the corrupt,
wallow in sorrow
for yet another war
gone to fuck.

words and photography by Ramon Ramirez

The Man with the Mermaid Tattoo


The Man with the Mermaid Tattoo

He can feel gravity’s pull
deep in his heart
a graveyard echoes:
Not much to live for
now the kids are gone,
wife hooking somewhere in the city streets.
He pours a double vodka,
mixes it with the pulpy bits
in the bottom of a grape juice carton;
stirs it with a plastic Chinese take-out chopstick.

“No need to drink from a cup.”

The syringe is cracked;
the ashtray full;
the scabs over the mermaid’s nipples
on his forearm itch.
He leans forward,
kisses her full on the mouth:

“Never have your eyes looked so alive, my love.”

When the rat poison burns his blood,
he clears his throat, and coughs up bile;
he straightens his tie
because he’s got style.

The Mercy Hour

The Mercy Hour

Taste tranquility at dusk.
Emotion-dust settles
and all is forgiven,
if only a fleeting thought,
the day’s memories
into gully-knifed street bellies,
reshape hopes-
those glued-together dreams
that push up
from within
gully-knifed street bellies’
pus crusts
only to be picked up at dawn
(or trampled into tarmac cracks)
by the soles of shoes.