Nick Demske


Cartoon logic liberally applies itself to the technicolored characters of its reign.

The cult phenomenon's ghost-writer is a snow flake in the avalanche.

Hey, Nonny Nonny—the woman shaves her legs. That's weird. And a super total turn on.

In a world where a bipedal dog wears a turtleneck and trousers, another, nakeder dog is the property of an anthropomorphized mouse.

You've been bamboozled. Hoodwinked. Lied to.

The planet is really a dwarf. And the dwarf is really a little person.

The bright implants turn on the very artist who hand drew them.

The subdivision architects model their design after a theme park's.

I walked outside with my shirt off today. I bleached my most intimate essence.

The rules evolve with each passing season.

The game is a commercial rap artist.

A rabbit waxed its special purpose.

A narrative dominated its lover.

My master mentality first starred in “Chain Gang; the afterbirth of a nation.”

I am the largest body in the Kuiper Belt, which is a belt of asteroids that encircles the entire solar system.

Your implants, your cochlear implants. Your coke off an augmented glute.

I can see. I'm free. I'm happy as a pup.

My love has come home. His boat on mine shore.

I'm going to feel complete.

Nick Demske lives in Racine, Wisconsin, and shelves books at the Racine Public Library. His self-titled manuscript was selected by Joyelle McSweeney for the Fence Modern Poets Series prize and was published in 2010. One goodreads reviewer has said of it, "If I wanted 'clever' play with cliche and idiom I'd go watch really bad poetry slam performances on YouTube." Another: "...reading this feels like watching family guy."

New work of his will soon be appearing in Broome Street Review, jubilat, ACM, Compost and elsewhere. Nick is a curator of the BONK! Performance series, a founder of the Racquetball Chapbook Press and an editor of the online venue boo: a journal of terrific things. Visit him sometime at


Angela Horner

She’s got this thing she does
sometimes, this bend &
flick like waterdroplets are sucking
her eyelashes. She practices, her mirror
a jumping jack on the wall. She will stand in place
and her body will move, or her body will stand in place
and she will move. She will place a leg side-
ways or right side out, bend her lashes: each cervical vertebrae a repeat
of forward motion, something she hums with her lips til
each limb whispers in motion.
Her friends taught her that he wants her:
he bumps it into speech through semaphores (A, E, I, O, you
raise the flag for surrender) and she leans
forward to catch these vowels. They turn into verbs:
Arms raised, raised skirt, skirt short, shorts gone.
There’s something wrong so she’ll try this leg lift
to the beat of drum drum, drum drum, but it didn’t catch him
in time.

Angela Horner is a Baltimore writer, copyright editor, and host of the Moaning Pipe Cabaret.


Joseph Riippi

Make Art

Load and cock and release. See the fins cut the air like knives. See the fins in the air and rising. See the children underneath and playing. See the boys on the ground and screaming, smiling. Load and cock and release. See the parents praying. See the sprinklers, their summer spitting. See the fire behind the fins and roaring. Load and cock and release. See the flags in the wind and blowing. See the grandparents looking up and pointing. See the fins still rising. Load and cock and release. See the loading-man over there reloading. See the water from the sprinkler arcing. See the television, the radio tuning. Listen for the men recocking. Load and cock and release. Listen to the talkers talking. Watch the girls in the sprinkler soaking. See again the loading and releasing. Load and cock and release. See more fins, smoking sky, more firing. See again the sprinkler spitting. Watch and remember the children playing. Load and cock. Release, release. Look, there, the grandparents remembering, the wheels spinning. Load and cock, release. See and hear the parents screaming. Load and cock. Load and cock. See and hear the children laughing. Load and cock and release. See and hear them splashing and pointing. See and hear that one crying. Load, release. Cock, reload. See and hear and listen, remember. Loading, recocking. Loading, releasing. Watching television, stealing televisions, waiting for what’s coming. Loading and cocking, release. No news is coming so load and cock and release. No news is helping so load and cock, aim and wait. Now you’re singing, you’re writing.

Joseph Riippi is author of The Orange Suitcase (2011) and Do Something! Do Something! Do Something! (2009), both from Ampersand Books. Research, a novel for performance, is currently in production with the claque in New York City and set for staging in late 2011. Visit


Jason Plein


I told her what I wanted to make, a set of instructions which would be followed by assistants or volunteers or by people coming to the show.

"There will be circular gears," I told her. "The circular gears will revolve inside larger toothed circles - like negative-space gears, basically. Like a Spirograph, but bigger. To the gears you attach a length of wood or metal or something; at the end of that length is a pen; the whole contraption is above a large piece of paper. It will be mechanical; it will be rigid and mathematical - once you put the pieces together you start the machine or turn the crank or whatever, and the process is basically automatic - but human error will enter in because it will have to."

"Hmm," she said.

"It's the interaction between this mathematical rigidity, this mechanical process, and the humans who follow it, the gap between the Platonic abstraction of the instructions and the errors in the execution. It's the errors that animate it: the errors turn it from math-y abstraction to the interesting, messy real."

"Hmm," she said again, unimpressed.

"I'd call it 'Hylozoic.'"

"What's a hylozoic?"
"You know, what Ptolemy thought about the planets, circles revolving on circular tracks, points on the circles rotating as the circles revolve."

"No, that's called something else." She took out her phone - a black plastic rectangle that was like an iPhone but was not an iPhone - and she searched on Google and she showed me the Wikipedia entry for deferents and epicycles.

"What's a hylozoic then?" I asked. It was the title of a Rudy Rucker book I'd never read (but I'd read the one before it), and it was in that Sonic Youth song.

She used her not-iPhone again to show me another web page, the OED's entry for hylozoism, from which I learned that hylozoism is the theory that life is a property of matter. From the entry for hylozoic (I borrowed the phone from her for a couple minutes) I learned from the OED's quotations that it was used as a synonym or semi-synonym for atheism.

I was glad my error had not been made public, that I had not named an entire show after what I thought was circles in circles and was, instead, the name for the idea of an inanimate universe, or a universe animated only by itself and not by God. It's academic, anyway: I do not make art; I only tell stories about art which will never exist outside the Platonic space in my head and in yours, stories I tell my wife or type into a laptop or write down in a notebook.

Jason Plein is not a young man, but he is a young writer. He works for a big software company.


Gary Sheppard

Empty Lake

Fish covered the shore. Turned it silvery gray with a weighted copper shine. The water was feathered, clouded with mud and cypress stumps and Aunt Candy at the bottom in plastic wrapped tight. She said how she adored my voice, its blueblood timbre. I stood there forever watching the men drag the whole bottom, after she had floated up, before they unwrapped her on the fishy shore. There was nearly an entire set of luggage floating. Uncle Rey commented on the color. Almost maroon. I could not remember how I sounded. There were people from all around the territory closing in, grabbing looks. The air was wet and stank of chimneys and diesel fumes. A sweet, burning char at the back of your throat. The people edged closer. Not much was much left when they flapped her open. A mushy, wet form, hair a darker brown. Voices mumbled that it didn’ t look like her. Someone loosed my lure from the plastic and handed it to me. Then the wind picked up and the whole spectacle went cold with skiff. And my mouth was sore from all the teethy chattering. The women were scared and had big eyes and they stayed away like the dogs that wanted to sniff but could not. Everyone said something. Uncle Rey said how I must be hungry. He was right. He said he could fry up a couple of pork chops and that they probably wouldn’ t be as good as the ones Aunt Candy made, but they would be good. We stood there together for a long time looking at the empty lake and all the fish on the shore. I could not keep them. I could not see beyond the day. I could not do anything. Not a single thing could be done. In a year’ s time it would be dry where the lakebed was and you could find the best stones for skipping, or keeping.

Gary Sheppard's writing has appeared or is forthcoming from The New York Tyrant, Word Riot, and The Chiron Review. He is the recipient of a John & Renee Grisham fellowship. He lives in Oxford, Mississippi.


Ryan Rader

Heavenly Bodies

The moon tonight is close enough to be touched.
Pet the moon. Run your eyes around her brow,
her blemishes. Don't let your fingers go
where poorly flown spaceships have crashed.

Talk to the moon - remember, she knows where you sleep,
and with whom, and the cheap shit you both drank.
Give compliments and good advice to the moon.
She hasn't been feeling well, she's put on weight,

doesn't look herself - resembles a worried balloon.
Be careful where you fly, be gentle when you land.
The moon is close because she wants you near.
She loves us so much though we rarely speak.

The moon and I have had a falling-out.
Every morning I wake up and she would be gone -
but every night she would watch me while I slept
and it is so hard to stay angry with each other.

I am still amazed at her repertoire of talents:
When distant, she still interprets the sun.
When full, she glares at the earth so fiercely
we pull the ocean over us like a blanket.

Ryan Rader is a bass guitar with an extra heartbeat. He will graduate from Ball State University with a degree in Creative Writing this May and will also graduate from a drunken man-child into an emotionally student young adult.


Timothy Willis Sanders

It’s just nice and I want it

She says, “I love hiking. Used to go with my dad,” and skips songs. “Once we were walking. This man behind a bush.” She makes her hand an O. She shakes her hand and says, “Right here.” She presses her calf.

“They said they hadn’t seen him before.”

“I want - I don’t know how you say it - Mass-ooo-Mahnn Guy....”

“We took a different trail.”


She rubs her stomach and says, “Full of Mass-ooo-Mahnn Guy.” She signs the receipt. She flicks a peanut off her chest and says, “There’s a toaster oven at Target. Fits probably 6 bagels. It’s 89 bucks.”

“I’ll have money. After this paycheck.”

“Dad tried to catch him. He’s old.”

“It’s Digital Convection.”


She watches her navel being circled. She watches her legs lift and bend above her. She sniffs back snot. She looks at her shoulder and pretends. She imagines her friend Sarah and pictures Sarah’s blonde hair. She says, “Sarah doesn’t have problems,” and opens a window.

“I said I don’t have my cigarettes.”

“Stop bringing my dad up. Wish I never told you.”

“I checked my purse.”


She takes a bath. She dries off and walks to her room. She takes another bath. She dries off and walks to her room. She gets dressed and picks up her purse. She says, “Going to Target.”

“It’s just nice and I want it.”


She walks through sliding glass doors. She looks at her face in the display model. She wipes under her eyes.

Timothy Willis Sanders is the author of the collection Orange Juice and Other Stories. He lives in Austin, TX.


Shane Jones

Remy The Dog-Child

Remy the dog-child is full-up on crystal and every time she barks she coughs up white crystal fungus in the sharp shape of pine trees. She runs through the diamond mines barking and sending the shapes into the sky. Remy the dog-child runs.

When she gets to the bottom of the diamond mine she sees three caves. Cave one reads: House. Cave two reads: Window. Cave three reads: Cabinet. Remy the dog-child takes ten blue crystals from the pockets of her neon green shorts. She throws them into the sky as an offering. Three crystals fall back down and land a few feet away in a print of sand. The choice has been made, and Remy the dog-child sprints into cave three, an arc of black diamond mine dust formed behind her.

Inside cave three is a room. Inside the room is a floating cabinet with four drawers.

“Pick only one,” says a voice.

Remy the dog-child sits back on the tail of her spine.

“But how do I know which one?”

“Throw the crystals against the wall, see what sticks,” says the voice.

“Are you Mom?”

“I’m Dad,” says the voice.

Remy the dog-child takes the remaining seven blue crystals from her pocket. She eats one and watches the floating cabinet tremble with haze. Colored bars of red, blue, pink, prison her vision for ten seconds then dissipate. She takes the seven blue crystals and throws them against the wall and four stick.

“Does that mean drawer four?”

“It does,” says the voice. “What else could it possibly mean?”

Remy the dog-child rumble-walks and barks her way to the cabinet. Tiny numbered carvings 1-2-3-4 label each drawer. Four is the bottom drawer. Remy the dog-child wants a mother, not a father. Inside the drawer is this: Remy the child. Remy the dog-child pulls Remy the child out of the cabinet and unfolds the girl and holds her like a child. Remy the dog-child stands and becomes a second Remy the child and now they both stand facing each other and calling each other Sister.

“Very good,” says the voice.

Shane Jones new novel, Daniel Fights a Hurricane, is forthcoming from Penguin Books.


Ryan Walker

I like tailgating. I mean, I like drinking in parking lots,
I mean, before a show or a game and a little bit during,
or at home in the bathtub with Oprah on.
I like drinking from a plastic syringe
or from an inflatable pool toy.
I feel self-conscious about drinking tequila from a baby’s bottle,
but have done so while riding a mechanical bull.
When I drink, I am more likely to call a psychic,
and have generally received good advice,
such as to use the speaker phone
and fix myself a drink.
I once won a vacation
from a random fax
and I am still on it
and refinanced my house.
I like salsa
and there are a lot of different kinds
including some that don’t contain plants
and I like taffy
and everyone brings me taffy
but I’m just one person
and there’s no reason to be alarmed,
I know when I’ve been had,
we grow too late wise
and I’ve been through too much
It’s my freedom, not yours,
and it’s not worth it
for some farm tools 
to put around the kitchen, 
what is this a farm 
or a shipyard  
with a heavy emphasis on farm animals 
but a slight infusion of zoo animals 
and some animals that I don’t think are at the zoo 
like cats.  Imagine how hard it would be 
to keep cats at the zoo.  It seems impossible. 
I’m sure they would get out.  My cat would get out, 
because you cannot stop my cat, you can only hope 
to contain it with something other than a zoo, like 
an old school bus.


Robert Lopez

The girl was hit with a shovel every day growing up. How it worked was they'd take turns. First the mother would hit her over the head with the flat shovel, then the father would smack her in the face with the curved one. They timed it to coincide with the beat of whatever pop song was playing on the radio. The mother and father both had a great sense of rhythm and it is believed this is why the girl grew up to be the musician she is today. Enthusiastic concert-goers are known to throw toy shovels on stage whenever she is well enough to perform. At the end of every show she collects all the toy shovels and brings them home where she displays them in a trophy case. When she was a child, though, each of her parents' shovels lasted only for a couple of months before they had to be replaced. The parents would send the girl to the hardware store herself and the clerks there always knew which shovel, curved or flat, was needed before she even asked.

Robert Lopez is the author of two novels, Part of the World and Kamby Bolongo Mean River and a collection of short fiction, Asunder. He has taught at The New School, Pratt Institute, Columbia University, Pine Manor College's Solstice Low-Res MFA Program and was a 2010 Fellow in Fiction from the New York Foundation for the Arts.


Nik Korpon

List #2

Ten-penny needle.
Fourteen-gauge fishing line.
Skin that stretches like rose-colored silk.
A metal skull, thunking against my kitchen table.
Her other cheek.
Articulated joints that moan and creak.
The one in her wrist that catches and almost tears through.
A small styrofoam cooler filled with dry ice and organs.
Two fists of incense sticks.
Fringed edges of her gangly legs, sheared away by a jersey wall.

A soldering iron with a twist of smoke.
A clutch of red, yellow and green wire.
Six fuses of varying colors.
A pink and white stargazer lily, dried and spritzed with lacquer, left over from her mother’s.
Two cases of paper towels.
Rolls of masking tape, a complementary cream to her skin.
Eight bulbs from an old thread of our Christmas lights.
Half a bat of fiberglass-free insulation, also left over from her mother’s.
A case of WD-40.
Two-hundred twenty volts to help her stand.

A wobbling gait that could be from her soccer injuries.
A shuffled step that could be from too much studying.
A crookedly-held elbow that could be from her grandmother.
A splash of freckles that could be sprayed oil or too much sun.
A cool whisper that could be pneumatics.
A slight wink that could be seizing.
A ______ ___ _____ that could be her mother’s.
A hole in the face that could be recognition.
A slash in the skin that could be a smile.
A thin, brittle hope that it could work this time.

Nik Korpon is the author of Stay God, Old Ghosts and By the Nails of the Warpriest (August 2011). His stories have appeared in Crime Factory, Do Some Damage, Cherry Bleeds, 3:AM and more. He reviews books for The Nervous Breakdown and Spinetingler Magazine. He lives in Baltimore. More nonsense at


Maureen Thorson


I suffer adorable terror.

Pinkybone rattling in a plastic cup,
pink with extruded flowers.
May your enterprises be profitable.

Rappers launching doves from their tracksuit sleeves
know the bravado of the body, its fragility.
Sudden blossom; sudden rendering.

Let me speak to you in my small voice.
The one with the pleated skirt.
I am an affront.

When the whirlwind comes,
you’ll feel it in the little home
of your body. Something to reap,

something to lift you up.
Nothing up my sleeves but my arms,
dove-like, insensible:

This armature of breakable bones.

Maureen Thorson lives in Washington, DC, where she co-curates the In Your Ear reading series at the DC Arts Center. Her first book, Applies to Oranges, is available from Ugly Duckling Presse.


Mark Wallace

from Nowhere To Be
for Dan Gutstein

“In three or four years you can dump
the load onto the next sucker,” said the toad
waiting in line for his turn at the pinnacle,
“The life of the mind is always a trade-off...”

Then he handed out instructions.
So I know why you write to say you can’t take it,
why people babble as if they’re afraid
that some goon looms behind them flexing to strike.

“Let’s debate inertia,” the toad went on,
“And how to move slower faster; that’s a joke
we learned in the lizard pool.” And then, not kidding,
he showed his teeth—the teeth of a toad!

So I get why you’re hiding out in the desert
where toads only sell homes or loiter in strip malls.

Mark Wallace is the author and editor of more than fifteen books and chapbooks of poetry, fiction, and essays. Most recently he has published a novel, The Quarry and The Lot, and a book of poems, Felonies of Illusion.


Lily Hoang


She’d always wanted girls, two of them twins twinning and twisting, she always imagined they’d be the same, look the same, speak in their special twin language. Instead, she got boys, two of them, not twins in the least, different as planets from separate galaxies: more like one was a burnt out moon full of dust and death, the other like a pale planet one its way out. Determined, she calls them Shelley and Sheldon. Determined, she puts them in the same clothes. They are a riot of a bunch, if two could ever be called a bunch. And she bunches their hair into horse’s tails: she calls them unicorns, their little penises had to have some use.

She’s only six, our little mother.

They are five and nine, our little boys.

They punch her and leave a rainbow on her arms and legs.

They nurse empty mouthed.

They’re hungry, constantly, and our little mother can do nothing.

So she gives them peanut butter candy and watches them run wild. And they are a wild bunch, if two could ever be called a bunch. And she bunches their hair with barrettes and bows: she calls them unicorns, their little penises had to have some use.

They are pretty boys, if not, dumb.

Our little mother, she grows bored and tired, as mothers do, even grown ones, much less little ones.

One day, she determines she will have girls, girls like her without unicorn horns, girls with pretty blonde locks that can be twisted into braids and buns. She gathers their unicorn horns and gives them a haircut. They are an insatiable bunch, these boys, these dirty muddy boys always playing in dirt and grime. She gives them a good scrubbing, until their skin squeaks, and cuts their horns right off their little hairless bodies.

But don’t you know, little mother, that unicorn horns are magic and full of fairy dust? They grow back, even when excised with a butcher knife or scissors, it doesn’t matter. They grow back, twice as strong and bright, almost like twins.

Lily Hoang is the author of the books UNFINISHED, THE EVOLUTIONARY REVOLUTION, CHANGING (recipient of a 2009 PEN Beyond Margins Award), and PARABOLA (winner of the 2006 Chiasmus Press Un-Doing the Novel Contest). She serves as an Associate Editor at Starcherone Books and Editor at Tarpaulin Sky. She blogs over at HTMLGiant and teaches in the MFA program at New Mexico State University.


Lauren Bender

Conversation between human and feline inhabitants.

See that one on the end? I think that’s an Adbusters or something that I’ve had for like ten years but now it just marks ten years. Remember when I used to clean the kitchen and you would

well that one time you jumped from the roof to the top of the air conditioner

Why is this so sad

Because the cat is expressionless. Because the agency is not with the cat. Because the agent is invisible and the cat is oblivious, in terms of being in oblivion, not clueless, in fact he’s very aware. He is making no Biblical reference.

Possibilities for what happens between the top of the stairs and the re-entry into the frame.

Dry cleaning rack

My cat is still alive, his legs make V’s, his head, he has nystagmus or something, it’s really noticeable in the morning when I walk toward him. His name is Otis. I named him Otis when Dad was in the hospital and he had that roommate

In the way that I wanted to be visibly aware I named my cat Otis after the roommate. I could have chosen to not even mention the hospital, after all almost all elevators are made by the company OTIS. I think there’s someone running for county council with the last name Otis.

It is impossible for me to look at Otis and not think of his death. I am sure many people have this problem with pets, but hardly any with children. When he dies I will finally be able to hold him. I have guilt about the violence of need.

Is the cat rising to heaven?

You know what it’s not even sad because of the cat. I can’t believe I would think that. The cat’s body is so funny when his feet swing out. It’s the time of day.

In that way you were accessory—bricked-up fireplace, unused kitchen table. All we ever did was rearrange. When I lofted my bed some of the scrap wood had the name of a dead person on it. I had really dry skin that grossed him out and he misspelled my name in an email. I looked under his bed for death evidence and found vomit. Then later I got a cat and realized that happens a lot, so it could have been from his cat, but either way I’m sure he vomited when he died. Today Chris said that it’s a relief, when someone dies, and she dried her right eye, and I never grieved seeing someone else instead, even after what I’d said

Each part of a cat is a biome. One of my cats suffers from mosaicism.

She doesn’t really suffer, I’m kidding about that part. That cat could be laughing for all we

Lauren Bender lives and works in Baltimore, MD, where she directs the Show&Tell Series and Narrow House (with Justin Sirois and Jamie Gaughran-Perez).


Kirby Johnson

You and Larry

I still remember the look on your face the night you caught me using your toothbrush; it was something like shock followed by disgust. I had been using it for weeks without you knowing and was a little drunk and a little surprised when I turned to see you watching from the kitchen. We had gotten home from a long night at your mother’s and my mouth was stained purple from wine. You were making a grilled cheese sandwich and I was preparing for bed. When it happened you said something like, “Hey is that my toothbrush?” Instead of responding, I pulled down my pants too pee and looked away. I didn’t say anything for the rest of the night. I didn’t want to tell you that I had thrown away my own tooth brush weeks ago. I didn’t want to say that I thought brushing our teeth with the same utensil made me feel closer to you and that sometimes I got excited at the thought of my saliva finding its way from the bristles to the space between your teeth. I liked the idea of always being with you, whether you knew it or not. Plus, it happened so naturally for me, reaching into the cabinet, pulling the red plastic from its shelf once you left for work. The next morning, I watched from bed as you stood in your boxers, and threw the brush away. I later pulled it from the trash and put it in the utility drawer. Our closeness was over. I tried other things like wearing your clothes under my own, then putting them back in the dresser, and licking all of the silverware, but nothing made me feel better. Nothing made me feel as close to you again.

I found Larry on the side of the road late one August. It was hot and his body was small, small enough hold in my hands but heavy when I picked him up and his weight fell dead. When I put him in my glove compartment to take home, his body burned my fingers.

It took weeks before he was comfortable with me. If I was rough with him, if I yelled or moved too fast, he would hide inside his body, taking in his arms, his legs, his head. He wouldn’t share meals or let me clean the creases under his arms, near the base of the shell. Cuddling was even more difficult, and it took close to a month before he enjoyed a bath. I’d sit for hours in a shallow pool of water as he tried to claw his way up the tub, away from me. I kept trying though. I knew he would learn to love me, to accept how close we could be. Once he stopped snapping and trying to run away, we shared the same bed. I liked to feel him walk around the covers at night. He would brush up against my legs, my back, and eventually nestle in a nape of my body. In the morning, I’d pretend not to know where he was and call his name before finding him wrapped in the sheets, ready for breakfast.

By the fall we were spending a lot of time outside. I loved to lay in the grass with him. I would take him to the park and teach him how to dance by scrubbing his butt with an old toothbrush. It was good to have a partner, and, in his own ways, he treated me well, too. I would come home from work, and he’d crawl on my back, giving me a massage with his short, sturdy feet. The massages didn’t feel like much but he knew where to climb; he knew where to press his knobby toes. He needed me, and I would always be there for him. More importantly, he would always be there for me and I made sure he couldn’t leave.

Kirby Johnson lives in Houston, TX.


J. A. Tyler

[ the second house /// rebuilt ]

The bear when he came back, came back to defend himself. He brought with him his paws because they are always with him, and a club he had only to raise up. The bear wanted to look down my sleeves. He was looking for aces. I told the bear that I didn’t have any sleeves, my naked body opened up to sun on the front porch.

In these woods, I rebuilt this second house just to lead him in.

There are no tricks here I said to the bear, who looked like the first bear but who was the second, the first bear’s brother. There is no magic in my hands I told him. But he looked on my nudity longingly and stern. I felt ill-prepared.

I’m not sure bear, what we are both looking for.

In these woods, there are more lost questions than found answers.

This second house was built on the side of a valley, over a mountain range, where a glacier was always coming towards us, both the bear and myself wanting only to move on. The glacier was not melting but walking, its legs icing down a slope, making of our valley a longer valley, where I rebuilt this second house.

I don’t want to believe you the bear said to me after a wait where the glacier moved into our mouths. That is different from disbelief I said, your not wanting to believe. But the bear kept his paws up, the baton steady, tempted to sever my head from its body.

Go ahead, maul me I told the bear, only because my deer-brother had already admitted my death. What more can be done? I asked him, though I was only really questioning my existence.

Dear brother I wanted to say, doesn’t a moving glacier mean anything anymore?

This second bear was on the porch and I was in a death-dream. This second house rebuilt so that I could ask him in, his paws still raised to the air, a jar of jam resting on a shelf. Bread? I asked, and the bear nodded. Lemonade? I asked, and we set about our waiting.

I built this second house on top of the ashes of its second house-brother, the house that I had already built here, the house that had housed the first bear who had loved my card tricks so much that he invited his bear-brothers to see my sleight of hand, the same bears who I barricaded in that second house and burned down to the haunted ground of these lost woods.

When we burned, those bears and their first-bear brother, my first-self, that second house in this valley, with its glacier, that is a day I can recall with clarity. The rest is all loops and manufactured moments, tumbling.

I built this second house out of lost woods, used their ghostly bark and tree-innards to build skyward. I built a roof to cover my head, walls to hold us in, gutters for the rain and a chimney for snow. And I was careful about the porch, made perfectly fit for two deer-brother hooves and two bear paws, both to stand one beside the other, when we would come to question our civility.

I see you brought a stick with you I said, and the bear wielded it with precision. That is nice I told him, weary already of the jam and the bread and the lemonade.

And the bear didn’t speak because he was in lost woods, in my second house rebuilt, the impossibility of telling a real world of living from our pretend-shell of glaciers and waiting.

In these woods, where we want for so much but only offer More jam?

I felt like the bear wanted to say something, wanted to speak, but instead he just sat at the table I had built, in this second house, dejected. This is why I burn down the houses I build. They are all, at some point, filled with sorrow.

In these woods, I am lost.

In these woods, there is a bear seated at my table, and he is feasting without opening his bear-mouth.

I had a deer-brother and he had deer-hooves. There was not a bear in his way when the glaciers rode down, when the valley began to sink. In my path is both glacier and bear, so I took time reconstructing this second house, building it back up in the shape of a perfect fire, so that the bear and I would have comfort in our waiting and reassurance that when, as we did, we set fire to our own skins, holding bear-hand in brother-hand, the ashes would be all that was left.

In these woods, we both know that magic is pretend.

In these woods, the river will dowse our flames, even as it winds away from us.

J. A. Tyler lives in Colorado. He has written several books, including In Love with a Ghost which is forthcoming from Cow Heavy Books in 2011. For more information, check out Mud Luscious Press.


Jamie Gaughran-Perez

Hey There Tiger Retract

Did I tell you I used to do this for a living?
Yes, Biggie.

Who taught you to revisit your roots?
You did, Biggie.

Who called you silly?
Only you did, Biggie.

This isn’t what I expected.
Yes, Biggie.


Fishbone spines
Certain leaves
Mountain ranges
Rips in the ocean floor
April and May
The color orange
Sext me


In Scottish ghost stories they wail something terrible and your hair turns white.

In Chinese ghost stories they hop and can’t go diagonally.

In Slavic ghost stories they rise at night and you stake them.

In American ghost stories they have hook hands and reflections in bathroom mirrors.

In Japanese ghost stories it is always a girl and she always wins.


Have you ever been buried by the deluge?
Yes, Biggie.

Video of Jamie reading this poem at In Your Ear at DCAC.

Jamie Gaughran-Perez has lived in several states in the US. He is an editor for Narrow House and plays bass guitar in Sweatpants.


Dorothea Lasky

So you think you can move fast

So we all have heard that you think you can
Move really fast
I’ve seen your dance
I am not so sure that I agree
The arms go, yeah, they do
But the people behind you are not so fast
Is that fast moving
What kind of lead mover
Would not ask the others
If they are in sync
The man in the back, while athletic
Is just shuffling
I think the girl in pink is settling
Your headband is pretty, yes
And the red leotard
I’d pair that with a gold and glittering skirt
But what about the other people, lady
You are always moving
You don’t ever look behind you
To see if the others
Are moving, too

Dorothea Lasky is the author of Black Life and AWE, both out from Wave Books. She is also the author of several chapbooks, including Poetry is Not a Project (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2010). She currently lives in New York City.


Callie Collins


Danny is on a boat and he is moving out! Picture all the boats you’ve ever seen. The boat isn’t like any of those boats. The boat is a whaling boat, but it’s too small to be a whaling boat, Danny’s sure. The boat is very, very small but Danny is big, and while it cuts through the water away from the shore, he thinks of a cartoon rhinocerous skating on two turtles tied together. He thinks of a child giving a piggy-back ride, his legs, the child’s legs, joints locking, bones stressed to the point of breaking, and then breaking—snapping, quick sounds like Danny’s teeth chattering in the cold. Danny likes the cold and he smiles when he thinks of skinny bones and snaps his fingers, one-two-three-four.

Danny is a giant ginormous giant man on a boat and he is moving out! There are waves painted on the inside of the sloping sides of the boat edges, all around, and Danny laughs at first. But he realizes while he’s thinking that he could pretty quickly lose track of what is the boat and what is the water outside the boat and what is him. And then he is thinking about the motion, the back and forth of it, and Danny is unspooling right there on the boat. Danny is watching Danny’s thread come out of him in waves and Danny is throwing up over the side of the boat.

Danny is telling this story in terms of what Danny is thinking which is not how he has been taught to tell these stories. Danny rests. Danny finds Danny’s legs underneath him.

There are strong days, Danny thinks, but these are the weaker ones and they move slow.

Callie Collins lives in Texas where she is an Associate Editor at American Short Fiction.


Buck Downs

Soldier's Joy

take the cap off that bottle
                                    and throw it away --
I won't need caps no more

all the fury in my hurting --
all the things I don't know
                        all the living goes so fast
                                    and soon I'll die slow --

                                                hey contrary
                                                            hey yourself
                                                down the middle
                                    & turn the corner
                                                set to cast off
                                    lead up & cross over
                                    & come back home alive,
                                                                        so-called alive --

and the girl I left at camp shelby
she can dance with friendly henry,
                                                sad & sore, sad & sore
                        that grand daughter of dixie
            the world turned inside out
she'll see her young soldier
                                    no more, no more

soldier's joy for a quarter --
all you can drink for a dime --
                        I broke a personal record
                        I did my personal best
                        you know what happened
                                                            to the rest
            I could write it down
            tomorrow tonight
            I can't hold the pen 

Buck Downs is an American poet, publisher, and editor. One of his chapbooks, Another Helping, is available here.


Brian Allen Carr


The only thing I need you to do is everything, but you have to do it perfect. Start by removing my every-other spring. After that I’ll be loose. You should get loose too. We’ll be sprawled together. We can lay out flat. I’ll put catsup on your face. I’ll put peanut butter on your hot dog. I’ll fuck you in the ass. I’ll punch you in the back of the head when I’m finished. You’ll rub your sore scalp and tell me my dick is little. “I might not be able to hit the bottom of the tuna can,” I’ll say, “but I can sure as shit scrape all the sides.” Then we’ll chew different kinds of gum, but swap while there’s still flavor. “I’ll never forget today,” you’ll say. Then I’ll tell you that you’ll never forget anything. Your memories will have memories in them. And those memories will be memory laden. What’s the name of the Russian dolls? The ones you take apart forever. This will be the smallest of the babies inside them. The deepest pea packed beneath you as you sleep. Did you feel it in your dreaming? Will you wake and tell me surely? There’s a mother that will judge you. Or must we try this thing again? Must we try this thing again? Must we try this thing again? Must we try this thing again? Must we try this thing again? Must we try this thing again? Must we try this thing again? Must we try this thing again? Must we try this thing again? Must we try this thing again? Must we try this thing again? Must we try this thing again? Must we try this thing again? Must we try this thing again? Must we try this thing again? Must we try this thing again? Must we try this thing again? Must we try this thing again? Must we try this thing again? Must we try this thing again? Must we try this thing again? Must we try this thing again? Must we try this thing again? Must
we try this thing again? Must we try this thing again? Must we try this thing again? Must we try this thing again? Must we try this thing again? Must we try this thing again? Must we try this thing again? Must we try this thing again? Must we try this thing again? Must we try this thing again? Must we try this thing again? Must we try this thing again? Must we try this thing again? Must we try this thing again? Must we try this thing again? Must we try this thing again? Must we try this thing again? Must we try this thing again? Must we try this thing again? Must we try this thing again? Must we try this thing again? Must
we try this

Brian Allen Carr lives in South Texas. He is the author of Short Bus.


Amelia Gray


You are one man standing barefoot in a grocery store. You regard rows of snack cake cartons stacked like bricks when at that moment your mind begins to go. You knew it in your heart. Your heart is a wall of the same brick repeated. You're standing barefoot because you put your slippers schk-schk into the coffee bulk bin. Rabbit ears.

At home, you call your sister and her voice reminds you of a pancake you dropped on the floor that morning. Because you have no dog, you got on your hands and knees and ate the pancake off the floor. You licked your lips and the floor and you took a nap in your nap spot.

You call your mom and say you don't remember her wearing a lot of denim. Your mom cries because she did wear more denim than you remember. She says, your father worked in denim. Your crib was made of denim. He covered it for your safety. Every problem can be traced to attention or its lack, your mom says. As your mom weeps you watch a video which features a woman facing the camera and talking about yoga, and her nipples straining her costume individually talk in a sea tone of the responsibility of owning animals.

As you watch the video you work your way down each of the numbers in your casual encounters file but receive no response. Hit redial on one number until a bird picks up and tells you to fuck-right-off, fuck-right-off. Your heart is a wall of the same brick repeated.

A man returns your call and asks if you're the guy who wants a visit. Says he knows a guy, knows a lot of guys actually and some women, that everyone knows a thing or two about bricks, and they're all coming over.

You have been surrounded all your life by people concerned for your safety. Construction workers build scaffolding to protect your stupid skull. Drivers stop to allow you to cross in the crosswalk. Every problem in the world can be traced to attention or its lack.

The man arrives at your door wearing some serious denim. You carry a folding chair and follow him down to the alley. He has assembled a crowd. He produces an awl and taps it thk-thk around the circumference of your neck. Checking out, he says. I've had my days and yours aren't my business.

You can't feel it. The man says tells the crowd that it's all a good sign. He angles it expertly in the nape of your neck, your shoulders. He is a magician. You smile for the crowd. Your heart's a wall. Your heart is a wall.

Mom calls and you answer but the man is tapping his awl beside your ear and you can only hear her saying denim denim denim, denim denim. Denim denim. Den-den-denim-denim. Denim. Den-den. Denim-um. Denum. Denumm. Den-den-den-den. Um. Umm. Um-um.

Your collarbone crk-crks and is liberated. The man in denm is whistlin "Home on the Range." Word lip saside. Yu make a momont to fleck on the lean of the nalley, the pn sponch & yr hart it's a wallv th sambrick repeetd, th snik-snik, th sm-brk, rpt-rpt-rpt.

Amelia Gray is the author of AM/PM (Featherproof Books) and Museum of the Weird (FC2). Her first novel, THREATS, is due Winter 2012 from Farrar, Straus and Giroux.