Lera Auerbach


Alan Devayne! We're an ecosystem

& we believe the second track will be erased

it will either be erased or acquitted

it will either be acquitted or erased,

an expense mutton of demureness.

Phase; cut thin into the foam

of horses, the utopia of anger, namely

to erase/acquit the magnetism,

Jakarta in the name of Devayne, Alan.

You become one with the driblets

the endless acquisition or erasure in Jakarta

the unlimited erasure or acquisition in the name of Devayne, Alan

here, serenity and light-controlled,

here, light-controlled and in serenity,

here where you are insightful to the eye, to the height of Devayne, Alan.

Translation courtesy of Google Felix Ter.
For information on Lera Auerbach, see


Kristen Gleason

from C. 1980

Plain Åmund doll
In icing space

Clean reflects
A vested babe

Beseeched to eat
Soft polar bread


Åmund doll whacks
Full-up avenue

Silver stand
Of elven head

Perched high
He’s eating news


Spot Åmund doll
Atop our ridge

Run signal beam
To signal run

I saw him cross –
He sank just once


Åmund doll, in a frost,
Pressing kitten’s paw

Shy printer’s shop
Long flaming felt

This side, the sea
His sea on top


Donned Åmund doll
One head of leaf

Melt around
This swell disguise

A simple float for
Ancient herds


Slide, Åmund doll
Slide tight and green

Snap photos of
Illegal themes

Swim-time for girls
They come on knees


Love Åmund doll
With endless clicks

Pastried air and
Legs onscreen

Some time soon
He’ll lie with babe

Kristen Gleason lives in Tromsø, Norway. Her work has appeared in Caketrain, elimae, and Columbia: A Journal of Literature and Art.


Betsy Wheeler

Renaissance in April

Just me painting miniature furniture with a two-haired brush.

Just the outer rims of a tabby cat’s right eye darkened as if by charcoal.

Just the left cheek of the stewardess’s khakied backside.

Just the turning of the cuckoo’s clockworks.

Just the false, plasticky brown of that lit-student’s glasses.

Just the tiny feeling of fear that hides behind a bullhorn of rage.

Just the idea of matrimony.

Just the audacity of denim ball caps with suede brims.

Just the tip of that orange dildo.

Just a nip. Just one.

Just maybe try it.

Just maybe try, for once, a little tenderness.

Just to get through it all, try holding a warm bulb of compassion all the way through the terrible night.

Just for me, try everything.

Just for you, I’ll everything.

Just pause in this one moment, heavy-lidded and old, your crown feather slightly displaced—below us flows the slow glide of the ocean’s bestiary through dark weeds that rock steady, steady, steady.

Betsy Wheeler is the author of the chapbook Start Here (Small Anchor Press) and her poems can be found in such places as notnostrums, Bat City Review, Forklift OH, MiPoesias and Octopus. Her full-length poetry collection Loud Dreaming in a Quiet Room is forthcoming from the National Poetry Review Press. She is the editor of Pilot Books ( and lives in Western Massachusetts.


Susan Scarlata


You have it made. All circle and triangle and thick soles on your shoes. But where is your arm that’s not that one? That is so not a banana in your pocket, your bike seat erect as a set. A kite between clouds. But this is your dream, so no matter how wet. When you are not sleeping what all gets caught in your chain? There are windows and doorways behind you; the same way there is a glimpse of your hard working skin. Your head rests on your shoulder though it might startle and bobble at any time. There is a child kneeling in a big hat, another within a quilted suit. This is all behind you at this point. Your chain is loose, the antithesis of your chin locking in to breastbone. Bent clavicle, collar made of bone. Your entire spine is supported, comported. Your sleep is open because of the washed stone behind you, and all the compartments your body can become.


Is that an oasis beyond your bench, or some other drought? Your clothes are more cloth than hem, more wrapped than cinched. Seamless. You have really let go, or you are a child with the ability to go most limp, to let all tenses fall freely. Your hand hanging over is effortless chic. Each time I look you shift from hip sleep to belly. It is the lens’ angle, but also your distance above the sand and how irises can meld shapes together. You’re androgynous too with cloth around your head you could be either, other. Your hand is poised as if to dance with long-reaching fingers. Proving class by finger length seems hard at this point, but yours could point at anything you like without offending. The kingdom you long for, for instance, gesture toward it with your thumbnail.

Susan Scarlata’s essays, poetry and reviews have appeared in Conduit, The Denver Quarterly, Fence, and elsewhere. She received an MFA from, and taught at, Brown University. She is the author of the chapbooks It Might Turn Out We Are Real (Horse Less Press) and Lit Instant (Parcel Press).


Elizabeth Willis


The impression of type
in a face, in a hurry
a word in a book
surveys the upper plain
for a breach in the dirt

Her image falls away
like a mother from a child
the exhausted fuel
that circles at a distance

My mother would be
that ground control
that cell, and I
her missile, her alien
adrift, elliptical
a caution, consumed
of stone and ice
aluminum and foam
on a mission, on a dime
strangely Chaldean
a ring in the sand

Elizabeth Willis's most recent book, Address, is just out from Wesleyan University Press. Other works of poetry include Meteoric Flowers (2006), Turneresque (2003), The Human Abstract (1995), Second Law (1993), and the Belladonna chapbook All the Paintings of Giorgione (2006).


Krammer Abrahams

i asked my dad if i could be his dad because i know that sometimes dads wish their father weren’t their dads
i am tired of only being capable of becoming a rich white male. my life goal is to become the only planet where human beings of a rich white male status live and then when i accomplish this i will give every person of a lower socioeconomic class the ability to pee on me and all the rich white male status living on my body planet. eventually someone will build pee machines to orbit this globe of rich white male status and every day will become a pee holiday full of poor people pissing on rich male people.
dad was invented by a box of cereal called  reverend cocoa crunch pop crumble milk tit
even though the rape age is said to have dawned on october 4th, 1957, at the release of a russian sputnik into the free orbits around earth, rich white males and their metaphorical ponies have long spouted a creepy giddiness whose only goal is to probe whatever fresh spatial depths is considered the new meat of the solar system.
when dads turn twenty-five they stand in the dark and do grownup things like say the words mortgage equity over and over until they get an erection
our deep fucking of the fertile wounds in search of unearthed treasures in the name of exploration have numbed the gravitational chains set in place to bind us to this finite and plentiful world. these initial feeble attempts to search beyond the moon for the infinity solution have in part fucked our eat systems into believing in the idea that we are not fat until we eat our siblings.
my father caught me watching the movie sex in the city 2 and asked me what i was doing, but i was embarrassed to admit the truth so i told him i had shit myself and then i went in the bathroom and threw up in my underwear making what i had said only a partial lie.
somewhere i can feel someone taping their iphone to their dick and sticking it into every indigenous wombs’ heart pulse. it is not surprising that people praise new planetary discoveries even though the earth rich white males responsible for these discoveries are incapable of doing anything except releasing their astronomies into what they see as blank, uneducated, foreign spaces. to put this in as simple terms as possible, let me summarize the entire history of the american heterosexual white male:
[there is a white male object who is me. i am a heart shape carved into a school desk. someone named ‘dad’ carved this heart shape into the desk. inside the heart shape my father carved the words ‘me’. this is how i was born. i am a heart shape carved around the word ‘me’. this carving and the word ‘me’ represent a father’s love for his child, but more importantly, it is also a symbol of a father’s love for himself. the heart shape remained carved into this wooden desk for thousands of years, but this carving did not remain the only chimney on the prairie. soon, other carvings joined the heart shape of me. one of the carvings simply said,
$everyone is a fava bean!$
another carving said,
$i love fava beans!$
the prairies grew into towns. the towns grew into cities. the cities grew into suburbs. soon, everyone in the entire history of american white males was able to get a mortgage as long as they could show proof that they had once carved something mildly offensive into a wooden desk. there was a blossoming of interest in higher education. the mildly offensive carvings lead to discussion on whether freedom of speech was worth the bubbling of the american real estate market, but these discussions were ignored as more and more american families blindly carved their way to a variety of high-interest, long-term loans that netted them multiple properties that they would be incapable of ever repaying.]
it was in these years of excess that the CEO got fat, stupid, careless, and bankrupt. i was ready to carve the obituaries for the CEO and the rape age into the dead heart shape of the iphone taped to my assistant manager’s dick, but then a magical thing happened. a beanstalk the shape of the federal government bailed out every CEO in such excess that CEOs were allowed to continue stuffing their ponies full of piles of junk loans and life in the normal path of the upper class grew distant from the other class levels as the rape age continued to expand thanks to the american financial collapse.
the last time i thought i was chinese was the winter after the city stopped mailing my father lanterns, but a few weeks before the internet was invented. we ate bread seeds and moth crumbs. my father told me i had been conceived after a circus egg hatched and the elephant inside shit on my brother until he got pneumonia and died. 
yesterday, i sent out a memo to all my ringtones. in the memo i did not use quotation marks. i replaced all the quotation marks with money symbols because if you don’t tell people you are constantly thinking about money then they will never freely feed all their dollar bills to your pony. in the memo to all my dingtones i said,
[$the mountain hole i observed last night had trouble falling asleep because its lamp would not stop beeping and the sweat of its forehead was increasingly becoming a sign of plastic which had been chemically altering my dehydrated happiness.$]
i accidentally emailed this memo to all my coworkers as well as my ringtones. one of my coworkers did not like my attitude toward my ‘tones. he said,
[$in 1964 i met a christmas party inside of the house of a passionate galaxy. the christmas party was probably the saddest person i had ever met in the entire universe. the christmas party spent most of the evening drinking and standing awkwardly next to a house plant. the christmas party’s soft belly was a disappointment. i stared at this soft belly for most of the evening. near midnight people were throwing their empty wine glasses at the chandelier. i felt myself begin to blackout. i found a large bowl of salad. i began to scoop large handfuls of the salad into my face. a smell of an omelet began to grow in my ears. my legs got weak. i could feel myself stumbling towards the soft belly. i climbed inside. everything grew dark. in the morning i woke up to the sound of a frying pan sizzling my tomato. i opened my eyes and felt the soft belly of the christmas party rubbing itself into my face.$]
my father said he was going to buy me a pink giraffe but instead he only gave me clean shirts every morning and bowls of healthy food every night for dinner
the more i listen to my coworkers the more i become my own coworker. two days after yesterday, i went to the company brunch because we got an email last month that said,
[$come to the company brunch and meet the CEO$]
but the CEO cancelled at the last minute and sent his surrogate instead which was a wine cooler that had a week’s worth of facial hair sprouting off its armpits. the next day our boss invented a few thousand new terms that all meant
[$fiscal responsibility$]
and told us to memorize them. we were told we would be
 [$monetarily punished$]
if we failed to act in a manner that the company deemed profitable. that night when i went home i accidentally turned into a pony and sent an email to all my coworkers telling them to call me:
[$the functionality of a monotone$]
when i got to work the next day my parking space had been upgraded and someone left a new golf club in my cubicle.
when i was two my father tried to teach me to read by giving me a book called where the red fern grows but when i tried to eat it i accidentally pooped all over the television screen
this other CEO i knew pretended he did not know me so i walked up to him and pressed him in the iphone. he began to squeal so i gave him a pony ring. one of the other CEO’s friends began reading my blog and said, “your ponies are my guilty pleasure.” this other CEO drank an entire river and shit out a brick building that was the shape of the arm of an armless plague. the other CEO’s friend began to poke the other CEO in his phantom limb. the inspection of the missing plague arms was not something i wanted to get involved with. the only thing that gave me trouble was that the paint on my attorney had begun to peel onto my real estate agent. the other CEO was having a conversation with the other CEO’s friend and blah blah blah and then a negotiation said,
[$the condo finances make me weary of the fat mortgages. we are approaching a city that is a little bit larger than an oval parking space. in this city i will eat chinese food from a south korean sleep bucket. i'm the type of person that people call chief when they forget my name. the shingles on my condo are tired of the lack of finances. when you hate your job you eventually get over hating your job. if you are in your mid-fifties it is possible that your condo will be less of a condo spot and more of an oval parking spot.$]
and then i was invited to a cookout even though the man cooking the meat was using a shovel to move the trail flesh into his embarrassed hole. many of the CEOs said,
[$oh my gee that’s crazy oh my gee$]
the man with the shovel went to whole foods and bought a tree to cover his embarrassment. he dug a hole in the aisle where the crackers are sold and put his dad’s knee in the hole. our father’s were not pleased. lawsuits were filed against us by our own future decisions to father other people. one attorney handed me a lawsuit that read,
[$you have three minutes to figure out where ninety percentage of your thoughts will be in five to ten years.$]
when the man with the shovel got back from whole foods he was holding a box of old files. he said he was going to grill them. i asked what kind of sauce he was going put on them. he said,
[$i marinade all my barbecue meats with inappropriate bathroom humor$]
i did not know what this meant so i asked him if inappropriate bathroom humor was a code for him admitting he liked to shit on meat before he ate it. the man with the grill shovel said,
[$i am a partial chief. the hot pink pony near my neighbor’s above ground swimming pool is eating the leftover meat off my neighbor’s pile of dress shirts waiting to go to the dry cleaners. i am waiting for someone’s conversation to pause so i can say what i usually say to people who like to make elaborate itineraries for their meetings. after i speak into this pause no one will want to continue the conversation because my pause voice usually only talks about the year i spent eating kraft macaroni and cheese out of dead ponies.$]
the last time my father was jealous was when i made a spreadsheet of all my nipples and i skewed the data to make it look like i had fourteen billion nipples
people sometimes buy flowers for their holes. people sometimes people buy dogs so that they won’t feel so lonely when they take pictures of themselves. people sometimes have children so they can pretend to be a young potato chip again. if my child does not get into the right flower pot then it’s possible that i will regret the soil i traded to birth my children. people sometime buy soil and paint the walls of the soil the color of a sad eggshell because people who own soil are tired of using their beef to make flowers when no one really cares about flowers. sometimes the only thing people care about are their ponies. sometimes my mother will buy herself flowers and on the note she writes to herself it will say,
[$my pony bought a balloon today. i decided to bring the balloon to the doctor. in the waiting room i looked at pictures of boys. none of the boys had ponies. when it was my turn to talk to the doctor i showed him the balloon. he asked what was wrong. i told him my pony’s balloon doesn’t want to be a balloon. the doctor gave me a pill the size of an inflated latex condom and told me to swallow it.$]
i asked my father for some money and he gave me a handful of baloney meat
my first doctor said he was disappointed i wasn’t a better looking CEO. he said he did not feel like watching me make a child with someone not in my marriage coordinates. i asked him if he liked to play outside his marriage coordinates. my first doctor nodded. he took out his iphone and showed me a video of two ponies. he said,
[$a couple of weeks ago my marriage counselor gave me permission to expand my marriage coordinates.$]
if my father is in the other room typing i sometimes like to pretend the sound of him tapping the keyboard is really the sound of him becoming un-housebroken. i like to refer to these thoughts as my ‘urine time’
when i walk down the street i like to look at people and imagine them looking at me. i am not too into the idea of people not looking at me. i want people to look at me and blame themselves for all the bad things i have ever done.
once, a marriage couple had a son. for his birthday the son asked for a pony. the married couple could not afford to buy their son a pony. instead, the married couple bought their son a puppet. it was the shape of the purple blob from mcdonalds. the son put the puppet on his hand. the purple blob from mcdonalds said,
[$my name is minka and i wish i was a grossly overweight male with small whiskers tucked into my big lips, but instead i am a very attractive pony who sometimes has sex with famous people.$]
a week ago my father left the caps lock on and i didn’t notice until after i looked at a few websites
a soft little thing prayed and said,
[$please make sure my metaphysical insight includes a paragraph about the circle that sprouts my chi.$]
the soft little thing liked to pray before it went to the bathroom and made pee in the toilet. after the soft little thing peed it went to bed. i watched the CEO of a corporation touch the soft little thing while it was sleeping. when the soft little thing was fourteen it gained forty pounds and said,
[$ass fucking$]
into a microphone during a talent show. someone’s father laughed because he was the personal assistant to the CEO who was responsible for the marketing of the soft little thing. the personal assistant had to check the pee levels in all the soft little things every night.
my father told me to stop pretending i am a black woman
it makes me really sick to write this sequel, but the movie studio who produced this film told me i was contractually obligated to write the sequel. i  am sorry that i put so little time into this sequel and that all i care about is your money. someone should give me more money so that i will care less about money. i spent only twelve minutes writing this story. there is no plot. nothing i wrote is funny. half the words i used aren’t even my words. i am not even a real person. the sequel isn’t even about CEOs. after i wrote the first CEOs all my friends became CEOs so now i hang out on their boats every weekend. i feel really dirty. i don’t even like my friends, but i also don’t mind CEOs. last weekend i dry-humped a BMW. it felt okay. maybe next week i will snort so much cocaine that my face turns into a pair of large sunglasses. when i wrote the first CEOs i was a child. i was living proof of the recklessness of an individual freedom. i thought i was a media jesus. i was a piece of the boat i was trying to sink. i was on this boat for two months. it was in the middle of my red lawn. my father spray paints our lawn red every summer. the boat sunk a few days after the fourth of july. almost two-hundred people died. before the boat sunk we were listening to a rap song called,
[$i have abandoned the idea that my self-worth is dictated by a banking industry numbered definition.$]
the chorus of the song goes,
[$ding ding boom. ding dong boom. i’m a ding dong boom.$]

despite all his failings as a parent, my father and i have a healthy relationship. every thursday we go to the movies and pee all over the theater seats
a little shoestring made of leather came untied so i asked a bird if it could fix it, but the bird was made of milk and called its friend the stump and the two of them speculated on whether or not i would be able to tie my own shoe. the stump and the milk feather sold shares of their speculation. most of the financial analysts were convinced i had lost a lot of my basic human functionalities since i begun dating some foreign tennis player named minky. she likes to sweat on grass, but not in my bedroom. we’ve never had sex because she likes to save all her sex juice for the tennis court. i have begun to go cross-eyed. i am beginning to worry that if i don’t have a sexual encounter soon i will grow a second dick. this second dick will not treat my first dick very nicely. a third dick might develop. it will be very hard to feed all my dicks. i am worried that my original dick won’t eat enough and fall off.
for his birthday my father asked for an iphone. i gave him a piece of soap with the word ‘iphone’ written on it. he bought a special iphone case for it and complains daily about his lack of reception.
there was a yawn the shape of a diet pepsi in the refrigerator of the break room where i have been doing a lot of ignorant shit lately. one of my coworkers bought a new iphone and he asked me if i liked the environment. i told him i thought the environment was okay. he said,
[$my iphone has an application that uses my geographical position to tell me where the nearest trashcan is.$]
later, i heard someone in the break room yell,
[$help, i am three billion millimeters from my geographical position.$]
i am curious how many fathers have pictures of their dicks on their smart phones
the man next to me is made of two different men. his father was both a turtle and a masochistic slushy. in the office today i punched someone in the iphone. four or five CEOs ate lunch together. i watched them ask their assistant to sew a piece of toast to an old federal lending regulation. the piece of toast said,
[$my mother bought me my first pair of glasses at k-mart.$]
after work, i noticed the sky turned into a twenty-six ordinary black men. when i looked at my dick i saw it had turned into a pony. the male prostitute who liked to eat my stale cheese crackers turned into a soft robin and the fabric of his hemline was nothing but pony saliva.
when i get emails from my father it feels like i am being forced to swallow six thousand exclamation points
earlier, when i was in a bed, the sheets said,
[$i am so angry that my former superiors were worried i would grow up to be a tent.$]
later, i am on my knees, on the floor of the bedroom. there is a hole in my pony. i move through this hole. my pony has birthed me. i am an entire continent. my continent is filled with machine guns. i use this ammunition to talk to the medical supplies of south korea. the place i  thought was south korea was really the inside of a dead mitsubishi television. it told me to walk my pony back to the hole i crawled out of. when i return to where i was i realize that my pony has died and turned into a frozen lake. i go in the bathroom because i own a lot of band-aids and i keep them all in the bathroom. when my chin starts to bleed i look at myself in the famous spot. i can feel myself begin to act very diplomatic about the bad smells feasting on the misinformation i will deliver tomorrow at the business meeting tomorrow. if the business meeting goes well i will drink entire bottle of room-temperature olive oil tomorrow night. if the meeting goes poorly i will turn into a moth and fall in love with a blue pill.
my father killed a mouse last night and left it outside my bedroom door
out of everyone who has ever lived in my sex neighborhood i still enjoy the young spit of my laos plaything. in third grade i met a girl named craig who said her least favorite phrase was,
[$ripe cantaloupe.$]
she wore skin in the shape of a gray pair of afghan tights. her boyfriend was named glen. he was forty-eight. before glen began dating craig he dated an orange grove tree.
every time my father listens to rap music a thousand black children turn white
i am tired of people fucking armies of people that look like themselves. if i was a famous comedian people would be upset at me because i wouldn’t tell the joke that i had been paid to tell. if i was a famous comedian people would want me to get fat. when famous comedians get fat they are afraid to move because they don’t want people to laugh at them for being fat. lunch is the only time of day that makes me feel like a chief. i carry piles of potential shit in a brown paper bag. when the important people are done with the conference room i eat the leftover lettuce from the underside of their unused iphone applications. i was going to hang out with this girl named jill in her room, but then she had to go to the icu because her head had turned into jesus and her father wanted it removed. when i saw her again her face was nothing but a brown stripe. she no longer had a nose. i was afraid she was going to invite me over to her room, but she didn’t have a mouth. when she gave me a note it was nothing but a brown stain because she didn’t have eyes so she couldn’t see what she had drawn. i looked at the brown stain for a long time until it started to look like a pony.
people who drink coffee are sometimes afraid to tell my father to turn down the volume of his earphones when he is listening to recordings of himself yell
somewhere in america a CEO had a dream about his own dick. in the dream the CEO salted a portion of his body and that portion of his body turned into a ship. when the CEO got on the ship it turned into his mother’s boob. the CEO realized his mother was sucking on the parts of his body that he had salted. when CEOs in america have dreams they wake up sweaty.
when the sun is really hot i like to slap my dad on the inside of his ear with a q-tip
and then this one pile of old iced meat looked like a nylon spandex micro-mesh bra bodysuit that i once saw the wife of a CEO wear when i six and every time i think about the words $nylon$ $spandex$ $micro-mesh$ $bra$ $bodysuit$ i turn into a female pony.
i found some of my dad’s facial hair next to a bag of tuna flavored barbecue chips that an old woman was eating from
when a CEO’s motor turns to jelly they feed their jelly to the cream boys you sometimes see out of the corner of your eye when you read cosmopolitan magazine. the last time i read cosmopolitan the cream boys made sure i understood that they were masturbating in the corner of my vision. the CEO’s new motor is made out of salmon skin and baloney teeth.
the last time i got a zit my father touched my head and told me i was his handsome meat
the purple blob from mcdonalds said,
[$i am the black president. when i was an igloo my beverages were always cold. earth is a lava kite. lazy people eat from me. my first daddy was a mommy named minkie. on my third birthday grandpa sue told me not to buy hot dogs from the guy who masturbated behind dumpsters. i am an icy babe.$]
yesterday, when i went to mcdonalds and asked for the purple blob sandwich they told me that it didn’t exist and gave me an option of eating from two kinds of pies. there was the old wooden one covered in applesauce and there is the first class express business luxury model. the mcdonalds employee who served me said,
[$it’s too bad you weren’t wearing a turtleneck and on your way to the beach because then i would have poked you in your third pony hole.$]
last night i watched a man wearing a clever t-shirt remove his t-shirt. he was wearing a turquoise scarf under the clever t-shirt. the shape of the moon deflated a little after the man removed his clever t-shirt. he will most likely turn into an uneven cheese wheel at a holiday party where someone’s coffee breath shows up drunk and eats the santa claus trout from the chest of an idling piece of wood covered in applesauce.
my father used to make me brush my teeth in the swimming pool
you should buy the same light brown loafers as me and then we should go to karaoke and sing a song about the last time you tried to sing a song about the black president. a few days later i thought,
and bought the same light brown loafers as you. afterwards we were going to try to find a few nylon spandex micro-mesh bra bodysuits, but i ended up sitting on a picnic table for the rest of the day, eating from a plate of cucumbers. a few blocks away i heard a dance party beat up three soft lecture series on the financial crisis. one of speakers in the three soft lecture series on the financial crisis could be heard crying. he kept saying,
[$i don’t know what’s wrong. i come from a very ambitious family.$]
for halloween one year i wanted to dress up like the mobil gas mascot of the flying pony, but my father told me i couldn’t be a unicorn even though i didn’t want to be a unicorn and he made me dress up like steven tyler and only one person gave me a piece of candy because my father got the holidays mixed up and it was really thanksgiving so the only piece of candy i ate that year was a shitty tootsie roll
i am sitting in an office waiting for the logs to finish analyzing my web stats. if three billion people visit the website i made for my pony then i will make my pony the CEO of my global enterprise and i will be promoted to the status of orphan trombone. when it was time to eat lunch the logs weren’t done yet so i got pissed and sat at my desk for the rest of the day drinking warm milk from a stale plastic bottle while i touched the hair i had cut off my friend’s head the night before which he had glued to my own head because i have been worried lately that exposure to the sun is nothing except a chemo therapy session and if i am sick then i will try not to be sick in a way that makes my head bald.
my dad is a leaf nipple
the recent status of my pony’s inability to use a shovel is that there are many economic incentives available to me that would make it seem highly beneficial that i teach my pony how to use a shovel. when i try to teach my pony how to hold a shovel the shovel gets very dirty and i have to wash it in the bathtub. i wash the shovel with hair shampoo. my shovel does not have a dry scalp. when i finish washing my shovel i draw on its face with a pink highlighter. my pony calls my shovel mr. pink lemonade.
sometimes my father will take out his piece of soap that he thinks is an iphone and he will say, i am nothing without my smart phone
as the rich man deposited money into my pony i looked at his feet and noticed he was not wearing light brown loafers. his feet were barefoot. i asked him where his shoes were. he grinned and said,
[$i am a bad man. you should not let me touch your pony.$]
i began to worry that when the logs finished analyzing my web stats, the figures would assume that i was a hazardous material that should not be stored in my household. a little while later the secretary said she was going to order some pizza. at the lunch conference one person told another person to talk, but the person who was supposed to talk had recently grown some new facial hair and was holding a small silver paperclip. he was using the small paperclip as a symbol for his ability to still ‘hold it together’ even though his face had a new kind of hairy growth that seemed to symbolized that his shit was spilling everywhere. halfway through the lunch conference the new facial growth dropped the paperclip.
i think my dad is still 47% of the underdeveloped baby toy he was when he was in high school
the cold place where i store my food broke. i climbed into the broken food room and cried until i couldn’t breathe. the cold place was broken so it got warm. i tried to eat all of the food in the broken place, but the asparagus went bad before i could put it in my mouth. when my pony was still a tadpole i asked my dad for more food. he gave me too much food. i put the extra food he gave me in the backyard. the food pile in the backyard grew. by the time i was in high school the food pile had almost grown all the way to china. a broken panda lived on the top of the food pile. the panda was broken because in place of its head was a small microwave. recently, i’ve been looking for a job because when i don’t have a job i get thirsty and when i get thirsty all i want to do is write rap songs about clerical bullshit based on the notion that there is a financial void within the lack of hair on a buzzard’s forehead. writing rap songs is okay for most people, but it is destructive to my ego because when i write rap songs i only care about becoming a global icon, but no one has ever become a global icon from writing rap songs about the accounting black hole that stems from our monotonous experience of waiting next to dead animals until the partially dead wing of a vulture feasts on the material of our rap songs. and yes, the deer that i ran over on the way home from burger king last night is a metaphor for my belief in my lyrical ability. for those of you who are still interested i made a whole album where i all i yell is,
[$what is the significance of having original friends if they all wear plaid shirts to fill their financial voids?$]
my dad said brb and then he went to a barbeque and when he returned he gave me a grilled zucchini, but i felt uncomfortable because just before i ate it my father said, “sucking green charcoal dicks.”
so then i began to worry about money so i shit on a piece of paper and mailed it to someone i know who sort of liked the smell of my brown stains and they said,
and the next thing i knew i was the CEO for a healthcare unit that believed in the principals of golf, trout, and puppies. every saturday i would smear my golf clubs on the calm areas of a congressman and when our golf clubs were no longer shiny we would go sit beneath the antique lampshades that were a product of herds of spanish chi-chi’s our grand members had accidentally scalped even though they had been aiming at the product of the last prairie-fed buffaloes left in america. when our skin was finished toasting under the incandescent lamp scalps of the land we noosed from the immigrants we now pay to mow our lawns we decided to sit in a sauna and take out our fishing poles so we could compare the size of the trout hanging off the end of these fishing poles. eventually someone got their fishing lines crossed with someone else’s fishing line and we had to snip their excess from the base of their annual financial losses. around dinner time a few of us would gather and watch our poor decisions pollute the rivers where we had spent the last twenty years dumping our chi-chi waste. sometimes we’d be a little drunk at this point and our CEO laughs would get out of control and we couldn’t help but become giddy at the prospect of who would get cancer from these poor decisions. when it’s time for our quarterly financial reports to be release we often celebrate by buying our families new puppies and selling the old puppies we bought three months earlier to a waste management company that specializes in swine feed. our children usually tear up when we take away the old new dogs, but when we explain to them about how they’ll be going to a place where they’ll eat dog ice cream all day and get to chew on kitten poop under palm trees filled with air fresheners the shape of wet dog sexuality our children usually nod and hug the new-new dogs until they begin to pee on their chests. of course, once, there was a CEO who only believed in the principals of golf and trout, but not new-new dogs and we had to tell him about the moral benefits of feeding our old new dogs to our pork chop industry. the oldest, whitest, richest CEO said it best when he said,
[$we no longer live in a society with space for old new products unless those old new products are white, rich, and the chief of a multi-national banking system that provides multiple options for the financial collapse of the entire global pork chop.$]
dad said he was tired of the monotony of the holiday season so we ate a christmas tree for thanksgiving
at the end of the age of worshipping our own gaze of everything we did not know, i realized the fundamental transformation that would set upon me if i actually became the CEO all of us eventually turn into. in short, as i’ve gotten older i’ve learned to pray to my own stupidity and accept my immoral judgment of money piles. this revolution of ethics and the planting of ships into my harbor of understanding have resulted in the inevitability of psychological costs that i had no choice but to pass onto the flea biscuits that continue to whine of the persistence of class in american culture. to be honest, i have no clue what i am. once, i felt more confident in my ability to speak nonsense. i used to not get anxious with my inability to come to terms with either where or who i am. now, it has become clear that i am of a circular nature and my nonsense is not helping me grow to an actual truth, but is only a wheel with no beginning or end. when the beards of dawn do not lighten to a grey, but only grow a darker shade of brown then i have no choice but to believe my heart has swallowed my ability to see and that i am left to blindly follow the selfish pulse of my own being’s continued existence.
dad is a good dad because he bought all thirty thousand of my rap demos

recently, a guy i know was talking about this girl he said he was sleeping with and he took out a picture of her, but there was a hole cut in her face so i couldn’t see what she looked like. in an attempt to free ourselves from our constraints we did not look to abolish these constraints, but instead redirected them to new spaces that we decided need to be owned. i once tried to be a black woman, but it did not work. yesterday, my father dropped his soap into the toilet and he yelled,
[$iphones have done nothing but restrict our leisurely progress as a society.$]
when i was born people had already been alive for at least a century. the guy who said he was sleeping with a girl sighed when he realized i had figured out he was in fact fucking a photograph of a purple blob named tina. when he dropped his soap in the toilet he said,
[$on the fourth of july a guest named ‘the thomas celebration’ drank so much that he began to think his name was ‘human failure number money symbol’. the after party turned into an after fuck. everyone was moping around, not talking, sucking on twenty-twos, ignoring the stains on their ponies, whispering to the huggies, and pooping out their baby boo-boos. yes, everyone was bored, silent, sucking on pistols, ignoring their cum stains, talking to their butts, and shitting from the wounds of their childhood.$]
my father began to tear up and asked why i only talked shit about him in my stories and never talked shit about mom so for the last section i changed all the dad parts to mom parts
last night a tuba named mom bought a motorcycle. it was 1973. she went to a school dance with someone named suzanne. at the school dance suzanne said she wanted to address some general issues she had with the presentation of my dad. mom was concerned with suzanne’s method of describing and manipulating the way her husband looked in her own brain. mom called me halfway through the dance to have me pick her up. i was negative ten years old. me and my friends were hanging out at taco bell. one of my friends got sick so we asked a bottle of cough syrup for advice. judgment was needed. the bottle of cough syrup was less efficient than we thought it would be. i got upset at the bottle of cough syrup. i said,
[$clarity should be your principal objective. everything you do should be directed toward achieving clarity. no one will care about you if you are a burden to understand. be precise. convey your messages efficiently. do not be longer than you should be. if the clarity of your structure is pure then the length of your pony shouldn’t have to neigh.$]
the bottle of cough syrup told me to fuck my rage down and build a pleasure cave where my calmness could sleep. a displeasure sprout grew from the spot in my ear where i heard the bottle of cough syrup telling me what to do. this sprout grew leafs that enveloped my calm spots and i felt my rage begin to fuck this pleasure cave. i wanted to be a soft pigeon, but when i opened my mouth all that floated out were brown cactuses. the bottle of cough syrup was not interested in my decision to rage my own calm dwellings. he seemed disappointed in my ability to be human. the source of my irritation grew. i was a fountain of bad men. a glacier of melancholy grew on the cough syrup’s label. some of the innocence in his tubes mildewed and all he could do is mouth his thoughts. he spoke of a glory that was not quite a feeling my temper was capable of feeling. i was never going to be a good person. the cough syrup did not seem to understand this. i squinted at some chest hair growing from a lagoon as the cough syrup said,
[$been living in admiration of the human race since the day i met a jewel of a species named roger. i was living in the mesquite region of a bulldozed earth grove when roger found me and pointed at a grub owl squinting at us from the cavity of a palm tree. roger taught me how to eat grilled quail from the butthole of a jackrabbit. in our free time we looked at pictures of african thorn bushes and herds of giraffes wearing business suits and professional eyeglasses while sitting in tiny cubicles. these giraffe photographs were created in an attempt to alter the viewers previous allegiance to objects of sentiment.$]
after listening to the bottle of cough syrup i realized i no longer wanted to be a poor, single, white male. i wanted to become the first black married CEO to walk on the moon. i called nasa. the line was busy. i hung up and decided that the part of me that didn’t want to be poor, single, male, and white could be filled with a living object the shape of a puppy. i called nasa again. a woman answered. i asked her for a puppy. she told me she would mail me one. after i hung up the phone i remembered i was still negative ten years old and my friend was sick. an ambulance arrived. i put my friend in the ambulance. my mother showed up on her motorcycle. she told me she was going to ride to the ancient tunnels of babylon. i climbed onto the back of the motorcycle and asked how her date went with suzanne. she said,
[$halfway through our first grind session i realized that i was on a date with the financial crisis. suzanne is another name for the global economy being a fucked rage of calm tunnels collapsing under the weight of people grinding out their bad decisions to snort taco bell rather than prepare a grilled quail in the butthole of someone named roger.$]
a few hours later my mother and i were on the side of a bridge looking at our chi-chi’s. i looked at my mother look at her chi-chi. she seemed worried that her chi-chi would not be capable of accomplishing anything in the next ten years. i told her it was okay if her chi-chi became a high ranking CEO and i became the product of her electromagnetic theory inside the low-income structures of her desire to have grind sessions with people who believe in their ability to fuck their way to the top even though human sexuality is nothing but a weak radiation of high frequencies that no one can see because the more we sex our chi-chi’s the smaller our photons get. my mother pretended to appreciate my words even though she lacked the digital self-esteem to believe in her ability to be anything more than a medium-sized cog in the underdeveloped school system that she will contribute her semen to when it comes time for her to give up on her childhood so she can create small children of her own. i began to understand the consequence of my mother becoming digital. i did not want her to become a bit rate in the informational age. as a piece of human flesh i estimated that she was worth between three or four million dollars. as a pile of bits she was worth less than a dollar. before we left the bridge my mother asked if i wanted a pet cd-rom for christmas. i said,
my mother seemed happy. she threw her motorcycle off the bridge. we had a long discussion about whether or not i should be breastfed when i was eventually born. i told her i wanted to be breastfed on the static of a television. she asked when i wanted to lose my virginity. i thought of a camel. my mother said,
[$i’m starting to feel uncomfortable. it does not feel proper to talk to a negative being about his sexual preferences if those preferences don’t involve a quail inside the calm of a bunny asshole. if i demand you care for your limbs within the realms of a social norm then i am endangering your sexual preferences. i don’t want to be the type of mother that defines every option of your life and then forces you into an option-less void of being that is unable to grasp a hold of your self-image because the microsexuality that you feel has been mis-defined by my need to define all sexualities and then you are forced to exist in the uncomfortable space of fucking with the act of fucking in an attempt to subvert the tension i’ve subjected you to in the negative conscious space before you were born.$]
my mother and i didn’t say anything else to each other. a few hours passed. we didn’t even say goodbye. i would not see her for another decade. when i got home there was a package from nasa in the mailbox. i opened the package, but was disappointed to find that my new puppy was nothing, but a dead trout.

The first CEOs was written inside Krammer Abrahams's fever womb and published in No Colony 3 to positive critical acclaim but poor box office results. The sequel was filmed on a budget of twelve very soft yellow men. Krammer Abrahams is writing the third CEO. It will be published as a laser disc by penguin. 


Emily Pettit


I do what I was going to do anyways.
I do it all day. A neat and foreign spider.
I don’t have any trees though. I don’t
have any trees though. There’s this idea
about feeling good every day. Someone says,
You’ve got to be pleased and satisfied.
Some birds have rhythm. Someone found
a 35,000 year old flute. Music I cannot make.
Drugs I cannot make. When fear is not a set
shape, I do what I was going to do.
I do it all day. There are efforts though,
to stop the errors of thinking and doing.
Hidden in the angles are ideas I have
about gravity following different rules.
I think what are the action opportunities?
Like get dedicated. Here is an inventory
of operating systems. Insight. Insects.
Assembling all pieces of anything you can
find. And it is easy to say things. It is harder
to mean things. Build a pyramid. Have no
idea why.

Emily Pettit is the author of two chapbooks How (Octopus Books) and What Happened to Limbo (Pilot Books). She is an editor for notnostrums and Factory Hollow Press. Her first full-length book, GOAT IN THE SNOW is forthcoming from Birds LLC.


M.G. Martin

exhalation mausoleum

i am building a portable mausoleum to mourn every one of your exhalations. i will carry it on my back & follow you to every place. when you stop at every place i will use the telescope that i have built to look inside of you. the telescope is able to look into the insides of your ovaries, to the place where your breath comes from. but before i use the telescope, i will collect your exhalations at every place. at every place children will ask me what is in the mausoleum strapped to my back. i will let the children climb inside of the mausoleum. when they get out they will say that it is dark & empty inside, but that it smells like the place they were born from. the children will ask me what that even means at every place. i am building an abstract language out of your exhalations. the language is called something but i haven’t figured this part out yet. the language does look like children though & it is spoken at every place. you have been to all of them & behind you is a man with a mausoleum strapped to his back at every place.

M.G. Martin is the author of One For None (Ink., 2010.) His work has appeared or is forthcoming in PANK, Mud Luscious, >kill author & ZYZZYVA, among others. M.G. lives is Brooklyn with a lady poet & a lady dog. Find him at & @themgmartin.


Claire Becker

I Feel Like Seeing the Moon

Back to bed,
tell others,
can’t find it.

My eye breaks free
and stares straight up
for nothing.

That the ceiling were nothing.
My eye can’t
stand on it.

I feel like seeing
the moon, like seeing
the fingernail-of-a moon.

Chewed off, left
for the man to clean,
went the smallest

part of me
to the heavens
with the gold leaf.

It’s over
murals on buildings,
stomachs on bicycles,

their tacos and ice.
I’ve got it
in fingertips

that walk a triangle
from eye to here
to brain,

in my warmed-over
mental state, in same.

Claire Becker lives in San Francisco and teaches visually impaired high school students in Oakland. She is the author of the full-length book Where We Think It Should Go from Octopus Books and several chapbooks. This is the first poem she has finished in a year.


Sueyeun Juliette Lee

film is just a trick of light

early movie machines and the shadows that are their image.
a machine for sleeping, a machine for making noise.
a stuttering device of light, this was
a generous machine. a machine for baby.
early image machines and airplanes cast of many
black men in curved array.

a stage machine, a many machine. machine in maybe.
movie maybes, making more babies. a generous sheen.

a digitalizing gun. a rifle. how it’s done these days.
a long range digitalizing. know them, they are,
know them. enemy.

light breaks, cuts across a semi-private swath
we see them seeing and the instant is done
instinctually we fear them in the dark

an ethnic distillation, this morass between I and sea,
between longevity and this way, between precision,
a chill descent. o.

as a native poetics, as a form of concrete, as a spatial.
a no way light. surrounded.
tell this pretty, this bowie. along all our sides, an electric activity

((tell the temperature inside a clover

a trance or such and such moment
its language, a theoretical tick

Sueyeun Juliette Lee currently lives in Pittsburgh, where she edits Corollary Press (, a chapbook series devoted to multi-ethnic innovative writing. Her books include That Gorgeous Feeling (Coconut Press) and Underground National (Factory School). She writes reviews for the Constant Critic and is a contributing editor to EOAGH.


Sueyeun Juliette Lee


[I've been working—very slowly!—for the past several years on a story/novella that extends my interest in exploring Kim Jong-Il as a personage, the projection of an identity. In previous work, I was happy to explore this textually, by examining Kim as a sign set loose in the world. Lately, I've been more inclined to see how narrative structures can capture the emptiness of experience and of personality. I think that there's more room for humor in narrative structures, too, which I wanted to take advantage of.

The project's working title is the rather cryptic RACFSV, a film project that takes over KJI's life. It stands for "revolutionary ardor and creativity with a faith in sure victory," which is his motto.

These excerpts are from the first chapter, titled "The Man and His City." In this world, like YHWH, his name is never allowed to be written in full.]

  • Therefore, he regards it as an infinitely valuable life and greatest pleasure to love the people with boundless warmth and serve them with devotion. Today all the officials of this country regard the slogan “We Serve the People!” as their rule to action. The slogan was put forward by the leader according to his noble view of the people and life. His original political mode of Songun is a product of his warmest love for the people. Because he could not permit the people to be enslaved by the imperialists, he took the thorny path of the Songun politics. Sometimes he skipped meals and took catnaps in his field car while making long continual inspection trips to the Korean People’s Army units along rugged paths. Under his indefatigable revolutionary leadership of Songun the sovereignty of North Korea and its socialism have been defended. All the Koreans say that without him, there would be no country and socialism which is their life and soul. They reverentially call him “our General” and “father General” and remain true to his politics.


KJI flicked his digital video recorder on. The red light stared with a comforting familiarity, almost hypnotic in his dusky, shade-drawn den. He was in his jammies. He took a long breath, meditatively chewed his lip. He contemplated a patient, modulated delivery, visualizing the humanity of his furrowed brow, his boyish jowls.

"It is with absolute courage we must proceed,” he murmured, pausing to strike a match. “The world will not understand what it is about to receive. Our most endearing and potent abilities, our striking capacities, our wise and generous tendencies...”

He could hear the whistles and calls from the main square, preparations for mass demonstrations of support. The phantom jugglers in their plumed jumpsuits, the ghostly cavalcade of old war machines wrapped in neon lights, cardboard martinets directing lines of gauzy, double jointed, holographic teens.

A blue flare launched high up into the sky. Through the film of his drapes, he watched it ascend then explode. A branching tumult of fibrous, delicate petals, glorious swans, teeming plasticene children holding out their hands now reflected in the oily sheen of his prescription, photochromic glasses.

Later, he rubbed his cold feet together beneath the sheets.


KJI marched stolidly back and forth, hands crossed behind his back as though in deep contemplation. He glanced surreptitiously at the mirror at the far end of the room, trying to catch himself as a distant viewer might. He furrowed his brow a bit more, tucked his chin in closer to his chest.

Making white clouds of upset indolence, the miniature space between perception and interiority started to hum a little song. Hold me closer tiny dancer / Count the headlights on the highway... He loved that song, Elton’s noble plinking of the keys.

His duplicates stood attentively, patiently—a little fearfully—in a row, their arms firmly pressed to their softly rounded sides. He practiced his stride a few more times before them. There were many decisions to make today, as there were every day. Even heaven allows the sun some repose, but there was none for him, bright star of his nation. He sighed. Pausing, he examined a copy of his face closely. The complexion was blotchier than it should be. It would need a chemical peel, having developed an unsightly age spot alongside the nose.

The vidscreen lit up on his desk. With a firm step, he tread the hologram pedal on the floor, dispelling his duplicates’ lineup. “Number Four. Everyone else is fine,” he growled hurriedly as he settled himself into his chair. “Yes, Generalissimo,” a tinny voice replied from the ambient speakers in the walls.

The headlines on his projector troubled him greatly. Apparently, Jennifer Aniston was seen publicly with that silly Scotsman again. Sex and the City 12 still wasn’t greenlighted, and it was just announced that Sony’s Cannes-a-Palooza was taking place in Norway this year, not Tahiti as he had hoped. It would be harder for his agents to record and stream the screenings.

He sat back in his seat, struck a match, listened to the crisp sound of the cigarette catch flame. His eyes ached. Sucking down the sharp smoke, he closed his eyes, and let his head sink backwards into the leather’s plush embrace.

Lay me down in sheets of linen / you had a busy day today.

Sueyeun Juliette Lee currently lives in Pittsburgh, where she edits Corollary Press (, a chapbook series devoted to multi-ethnic innovative writing. Her books include That Gorgeous Feeling (Coconut Press) and Underground National (Factory School). She writes reviews for the Constant Critic and is a contributing editor to EOAGH.


Heather Christle


The box probably full of live animals
or other animals has gone missing

and with it the sense of crushed sadness
to which we’d so lovingly tended

and now we have what on our hands—
not nothing but not the sky either

and time seems nearly correct
but that is its mischievous nature.

What is it that we are attached to—
stamps, ferns, nettles?

To have lost as we have so greatly
and to discover we still hold abundance—

how does this and anything happen?
We’ve seen the stars blown out

not returning and yet we have
also seen whole fleets in jars.


We can’t be other than we are
and we are hungry for some fruit

and we are holding up a tangerine
in these our terrorized hands

Oh look how everything is perfect
How we will drown in this unbelievable milk

Heather Christle is the author of The Difficult Farm (Octopus Books, 2009) and The Trees The Trees (Octopus Books 2011). From July 1-14 you can call her at (413) 570-3077 to have her read you a poem from The Trees The Trees. More information is at


Farnoosh Fathi


So this breezy mystery bruise is also earth’s! She reads on; the yellow gulls arc
and link at her breast; winter cracks the whites of her eyes, strange shapes egress!
Too easy to forget, and in no less than human fashion, grief leaks its combination.
But she cries, "not for what I did not understand but that it was meant for me
alone." Here he thinks of the sparrow on heels of lead, the black spill of elevators
and ice. She wipes and weeps to her taste, but how fast, too fast, things rise! The
meadows they made only once, over which chance angles light a clover. "That
thicket horsetail rain which I polished as a child stands up to me now." His eyes
do not bulge and yet, are large. He tests himself, a man who stands in the rain of
bone marrow, in the rain of bone, in the rain. And the rain stands on end like
him; it falls in tatters for her joy; on a horse too inhaled by the distance peppered
with pure mills, in a letter now too far to be sent in haste.

Farnoosh Fathi is from California and currently lives and works in Carmel Valley. Her poems, translations, interviews and collaborations can be found through the web.


Farnoosh Fathi


Like a totem of birds, every last one
distinct, built with nearly identical

Hair blew into my mouth when I laughed:
an angle where briefly the gold
mimesis of inedible worms
was hid.

A rifle of Aristophanes,
a butt of Rilke,
the mane of Rintrah,
all kept under the drum pillow,
the bluff grass
while dribbling clouds

"This mirror deprives the face
of love, of one’s own"—

The earliness of the bird
that told me, in my red-faced
dynamism, a categorical

New mobilities, suit up in armor of birds—
stand and test:

"The shield of the heart is the heart"—

Beak—open and close,
open and close,
I count two points of an ungorgeable star—

Farnoosh Fathi is from California and currently lives and works in Carmel Valley. Her poems, translations, interviews and collaborations can be found through the web.


Farnoosh Fathi

The Youngest Two Hear Cicadas

Tennessee: We are here, between trees,
with the tempo of a rosary being strung
in a queue of escalating beads—

Carolina: It’s not quite the count in
the countinghouse of my chest
but the heart does make an awful attempt

T: and a circle wherever it may be
there was music coming on

C: which though machinery-like
moves not in cogs, and never
springs, but waves through

T: like wired applause for antic backstage
buds on the pre-comeuppance buzz; but it

C: but only after the chorus has pulsed

T: it drops off with sudden decision, like fountain
water gone dross

C: or it reaches the furthest point
the branch turns from us, and is for some arc
fully quiet…

T: until the roulette snaps its jaw and the choir’s
circuit opens to one

C: like a pigeon unhinged, its wings
in sudden white-rumped ascent

T: unopposed by iridescence

C: unopposed by iridescence

Farnoosh Fathi is from California and currently lives and works in Carmel Valley. Her poems, translations, interviews and collaborations can be found through the web.


Kate Hill Cantrill

The Hills in Pittsburgh Are So Steep They Sometimes Turn To Stairs

Cousin Dave had a snake and Kirsty loved the snake. I can’t remember what sort of snake but I know it was a boy snake and when I shut my eyes and look for it in my head, I see a python, thick as thighs. It was really his friend Downtown’s snake, but he kept it in Cousin Dave’s room and Kirsty was always in there, petting and stroking the big snake. Cousin Dave was called Cousin Dave because he was Markus’s cousin, and we all knew Markus first. Downtown got his name from drinking liquid acid. I can’t tell you how his name and the acid connect; I just know that they do.

Kirsty liked to watch the snake get fed, but I was always telling him, Cousin, don’t let me see the mice you feed that snake; I do not want to see them ever. He called me a prude and I informed him that it made no sense and he just said, Yuh-huh it does. Cousin Dave was sweet like that and jumpy, too, so I usually cleared my throat before walking into his room and asking for some weed or looking for Kirsty. We smoked quite a lot of weed back then; the living room had zero windows, so it was sort of necessary. I drew a window with markers on the wall once, but it wasn’t the same. Everyone liked it, though—Cousin Dave, Downtown, Markus, Kirsty, Nikita, Joel, and Money Cris all said it was a great window; and when we had parties with the punks and the white skinz and the black skinz and that one gay, half-black, half-Jewish skin, everyone made comments about the window. I hung yellow curtains on it and everything. We threw great parties.

Did you know that beer brings out roaches? Well it does. Did you know that drinking a half bottle of liquid peroxide will not kill you or make you pass out, but will probably turn your poo green and too soft to hold in? Truth. Ask Money Cris who crashed with us until he was officially moved in rent-free, and who was prone to moments of such high drama that he made discoveries like that all of the time. Go ahead and ask him. He’s the guy wanting to crash on your sofa who steals your cigarettes and who totes a spider web on his elbow.

Cousin Dave was not real partial to Money Cris. As I said, Cousin Dave was jumpy and Money Cris had a way of storming into situations. Money Cris didn’t like the snake, either, or at least he didn’t like how much hush-hush time Kirsty spent with the snake in Cousin Dave’s room. There was some tension there, all right. Kirsty just said, Shh, and everyone was supposed to look away and keep quiet I guess. When Money Cris got angry, I got scared and said, I hate that snake, and Kirsty said, Don't blame the snake. Shh.

Which was when I made the executive decision to let Kirsty hit rock bottom before I would help her get her shit together. The problem is rock bottom is not always where it seems to be. Sometimes rock bottom might look like a girl with big, quiet eyes who is starting to bulge in the middle, who smokes cigarette after cigarette and holds a restraining order against the supposed baby’s daddy, Money Cris; but sometimes, that is just the false bottom, like the false summit on a mountain, only the mountain is turned upside down and shoved in the ass of earth.

Sometimes the true rock bottom appears late, late at night, so late that it is almost morning, and the girl with the bulging stomach finds some sort of true solace on the floor of the bathroom, shh—her stomach filled with so much chaos, that chaos cracks the egg open and spills it red onto the tiled floor. Sometimes true rock bottom appears in the form of a thick snake curled up in the tub to keep the girl company as she goes and loses everything. And sometimes true rock bottom is only discovered because Cousin Dave really truly loved that snake and wondered where he had slithered off to, and wondered if he was frightened, or sad, or hungry, or just feeling like there is no point left to life—feeling like there is nothing to strive for but down, down, down.

Kate Hill Cantrill’s writing has appeared most recently in Mississippi Review, Quick Fiction, Cake Train, Matchbook, Sleepingfish, The Believer, Wigleaf, and others. She attended the University of Pittsburgh once and lived with a bunch of people, including a boa snake. For the most part, they are all friends again. She curates a reading series for both Bric Arts Media Brooklyn and for Rabbit Hole Studios in Dumbo. She can be reached at Or, for the reading series,