SB Stokes



I roll in

like a dirty negative

Karate chops

slicing from behind

Arm locks stopped

Ninjas put down

like bad dogs

Feathered hair messed

Masks bloodied

Haven’t even

pulled out my gun

Spinning like a punching top

Kicking nuts

Giving guys cuts

Mustache power blast

Nunchucks snapped

Adam’s apples cracked

Angel flights like wings

like carrier pigeons delivering:

This beating’s for you,

ambushing lackeys!

Handing out cracked

and fractured craniums

smashed in faces

like Halloween candy

filled with razors





If I weren’t a werewolf, I’d want to be a vampire, or a robot, from another planet with rings and red smoke, requiring elaborate ventilation systems. Mounted hoses and tubes, decorated with pointless lights, on the exterior surface of my space suit. And despite it being the future, the audio of our communication devices needs to be consistently inconsistent in its reliability and sound remotely, vaguely, like a CB radio from the 1970s, requiring a strict adherence to outdated (even now) and outmoded call-and-response protocols, such as “over” and “out”. If I weren’t already in space, walking around in a suit that looks like “the future” to some past designer, a witch, or a warlock, or some lonely wizard, with a wand or a staff made of rare and magical wood with jewels, or stones, or crystals, or skulls on it, or around it, or hidden in a secret compartment or pocket on this person’s person, traipsing around the modular lander vehicle, made up of a series of polygons, which reminds me of one of my favorite videogames, back when they were still called videogames and you had to have a special machine of some kind to play them. Maybe if I weren’t sitting here, crouching really, slumping, cowering, hiding, bathed in the blood of so many bodies, all dead now, or undead, take your pick, zombies or vampires or reanimated automatons driven like tractors by tiny insectoid aliens, nested in the brain, behind the eyes, now gone glowing blind to anything, any input, other than those electrical impulses given and transmitted from the driver aliens, the parasitic overlords who created the realms we fear. If I were a parasitic overlord, I’d still want to be a werewolf ninja pirate vampire superhero mastermind criminal rebel terrorist movie star deviant outsider genius poet from another planet in orbit around a giant magical space station inhabited by futuristic space wizard robots, driven by vampire computers, high on intergalactic deviance, mustache rock and Lucky Lager pumped into my light-spangled, vaguely metallic, space suit as the moons crest the horizon and I begin my metamorphosis.




Quantify a forgotten birthday

an early morning slip away

a gather your clothes and run

kind of day

dim robot crystal screams

clear like firewater fueled machines

made from hair you gave me

a moment in the rearview

burnt mirror stare, or glare unseen

sheen on black cat glass

electric, like guitar or chair

these empty windows

missing from milk cartons for yrs

no a/c or cold beer

Qualify a sentient moment shared

between knowing or unknowing participants

poop deck docked knockers

clock slop on crippled sleep

sleek thoughts creep from underneath

like smoke through rug from chinks

in floorboards weak

weakened by each step taken

in cold or heat

this forgotten birthday

a chastening quandary

keep running toward your family

just an old clock wound up and served

con papas fritas y sea bass piccadiddle 

y Djarum Super Special

cutting classes, like “Anal Drudgery 203”

or “Interwoven Conundrummery 818”

trimming fat from low-hanging fruit flavored underthings

Sabotage a big haired birth dream

carve your face into her neck in sweat

a skull formed from this nest

of fools and gym sock grinders

competitive Edisons of myth

customized suede and acid washed denim blinders

an afternoon’s hormonal torture sift

bringing down a busload’s finder

setting VHS tapes adrift





The old world holds the door open for you if you can or have made children. Pulls out the chair and stands when you enter or leave a room. Tips its hat and gives you a polite smile, the old world. The old world also sells you into slavery and/or prostitution, no questions asked. The old world was an old boy invisible and indivisible. The old world had manners and refinement and social order. The old world understood the value of respect. The old world smoked indoors near young children. The old world had a dirty nickname for every single race that you could think of. The old world thought this was just fine as long as it was fair. The old world burned children in factories and on streets and in their homes during wars and during the other old times they called “peace” on TV or on the radio. The old world sold kids too. Sold them like fresh killed tuna or chickens or rabbits. And beat them and hurt them in ways that made them bad. Old world bad. The old world called this “life” and “school”, particularly the one affiliated with “hard knocks”. The old world said, “If it doesn’t kill you, it makes me stronger.” and we all know just how true that is. The old world was smaller and dumber than us, but also a whole lot meaner, and that always counts for something. The old world walked with a limp and was called gimp or cripple. The old world called some folks “queers” and some folks “perverts” and many folks just plain crazy. The old world didn’t need an explanation or even comprehension. The old world didn’t have a use for constant contact, with each other or their government. The old world slept with their doors open and their minds clear. The old world dreamt of simple things like a new gingham dress or fresh pressed slacks. The old world made rope of hemp and then strung each other up with it. The old world branded people and called some animals and others criminals and this gave them the right to torture and maim. And then the old world got up and hung and burned other people, took their property and watched them die through the eye holes of their pressed white robes. Oh, the old world of strip mining and sandblasting. The old world of knife fights and shootouts. The old world of battlefields and gang rape. The old world of playground bullies and gangland murders. The old world of oil spills and cave-ins. The old world of polluters burning tires and pouring oil into rivers. The old world of animal massacre, but only after humans. The old world knew the value of a dollar and a dollar had a value. The old world understood a hard day’s work. And union busting and head cracking in the name of payola progress. The old world looked smart in public and said, “Yes, Ma’am” and “No, Sir” to your face. The old world cut its nails with a knife and washed its hands with powdered soap. The old world might have enjoyed dancing, but only when drunk or when at weddings and only with a cousin or the sister of a friend. The old world was so lovely, if only from a distance, lit dimly with floating tea lights on tiny metal reflectors, a big band playing a slow song in the background on black water in the night.



SB Stokes has an MFA in Poetry from SFSU. Last July, he and some friends created Oakland’s first literary pub crawl. His poems have appeared recently in SEX+DESIGN, Bare Hands #10, Bong Is Bard, and on his own blog, MASS COMMUNICATIONS. His first manuscript is currently available for publication.