7/31/14

Meghan Milsted

electric pink

i could make sparks with
my own body, in the dark
rubbing my legs together under
the winter blankets,

i turned on the lights.

the second time:
i fumbled for the switch
and stumbled back to you,
laying on top of a pile of dirty laundry.
i made small flames with my palms,
wishing you were less than setting suns.

later as i watch you
peel carrots and crack eggs
systematically placing them in the trash,
like if snowcaps were isotopes,
i wish that you were thinking about me.
but you are an eerie glow
and i am finally happening.


Meghan Milsted lives in Buffalo, NY by way of Gaithersburg, Maryland.

7/30/14

Jess Dutschmann

A New Miracle

A new miracle is that there are dogs everywhere.
In every sunny corner of the Earth a bear shaped
pawprint has pressed, a muddy back has rolled
a divot into a lawn. In Japan a woman washes
her dog who is a good boy and deals with it.
In America a woman watches HGTV and there
is a large yellow dog in the background.
The dog runs in circles. We are not supposed
to watch her, but we do, because
she is more entertaining, or maybe just better.
How do you quantify better?
In Japan there is a monument to a good dog.
In Alaska, in America, there are monuments to good dogs.

Did you know a statue of a dog is 99% more likely to resemble a good creature
than a statue of a human? Did you know when I call

you pet it’s because I want to know that
I think better of you than to call you wife?

This is man’s crowning achievement. These dogs
everywhere, roaming in packs across everything.


Jess Dutschmann is the maker of two little books of poetry, Calamity and Titanic, so far. Jess has been well published online and in print, and won “Best of the Net” from Sundress Publications in 2011. Jess lives in Jersey City, next to a little food place that in the morning smells like bacon and at night smells like beer. For more: jessdutschmann.tumblr.com.

7/29/14

Roshan Abraham

The Bear That Will One Day Eat You

The bear that will one day eat you takes you out for coffee. The bear that will one day eat you takes a look at your resume. The bear that will one day eat you gives you advice about girls. The bear that will one day eat you goes to your school play. The bear that will one day eat you makes you laugh when you are sad. The bear that will one day eat you teaches you to play pool. The bear that will one day eat you consoles you when your grandparent dies. The bear that will one day eat you pushes you to be a better person. The bear that will one day eat you just sits and listens for hours. The bear that will one day eat you loses touch. On the phone, in letters, over the years: “Listen, i know we don’t talk as much these days. We live far away and we have our own lives now. But i will always be there for you, and i will always eventually eat you.”

Roshan Abraham lives in New York. He can be found at kidontology.tumblr.com and on twitter: @yanatone

7/28/14

Amanda Killian

I Tilt On Woman Like Windmills

Everyone regards you as the king of understatement.
The problem is this consistency is constantly a snot
running down your walls, and you’re speaking
from a refrigerator. As a comment on the vagina
you’re put it in formaldehyde. I can’t ejected enough
come­here for you to take a stand, with my hand in mine.
The madness of first maternal impressions – An organ
of echoes, sludge, and a future mountain range of eggs.
His, his, his. My finger held by a small fat fist.

Amanda Killian lives in Brooklyn, NY.

7/25/14

Grant Maierhofer

from Erasure III

1.


X thinks frequently of writing little things about men watching the women they’re required to clean the rooms of in mental institutions, but nothing ever comes of it. X hurts feelings quite a lot. This is something he’s adept at, so to speak. He doesn’t like to watch sporting events and so he does not do this unless they are on where he happens to be doing something that he likes at least a bit more. Do you understand what he’s saying.

Today he’ll meet somebody, just before it becomes tonight he’ll meet somebody. He’ll send himself email copies of the sonnets he’s written and something will result. Just what it is remains to be seen.

X has never purported to be a good person. At least he doesn’t think this is the case. X would not desire to purport this to you, or to anybody. X hopes this makes sense. He’s not necessarily evil or amoral, but X does not have a prominent moral compass and he thinks a lot of it comes from his middle class upbringing. X hopes this is OK.

“You should get a cat.” Someone will say this to X at some point in his life not knowing that he already owns a cat and loves him very much. They will detect a sadness in X that they’ve decided is directly related to the paucity of felines in his life and they will thus suggest that X should get a cat. He’ll walk away from them and the whole friendship fully aware that he’s going home to pet his cat and watch Repo Man.

Repo Man is a film that makes X feel good. Paris, Texas is a film that makes X feel good while feeling bad. Harry Dean Stanton figures prominently in both of these films. Harry Dean Stanton could potentially provide X with all possible human emotion in just these two films if he decided the hermetic life was for him and gave it all up.

He’s not quite ready to do this—give it all up, that is—but it’s coming sooner than he realizes.

He’ll become employed someplace that makes him tolerate his existence. He’ll become married and suddenly the world won’t seem quite so dark. He’ll do these things and in fifteen years realize he’s made a great mistake and find himself back where he was this moment while writing this because X never wanted such a job and such a wife and such a family and such a life and he’ll come back to this place where he currently is—seated there, writing sonnets about memory—and he’ll finish what he started.

No he won’t.
2.

Often he preferred to work in the dead of night, around eleven, until four or so in the morning, at those points where there’s a stretch of darkness so apparent that nobody—but the freaks—dare stay awake. He’d listened to The Doors mostly while writing Vitruvius, and other melodic music like Debussy and Faure to calm the nerves when things became quite hasty. After work he liked to really deflate, so he’d either go upstairs, fixing himself a gigantic plate of food, bringing it down to watch hours of boring TV to completely zone out; or masturbate, then take a nice long shower muttering virile nothings to the darkness of the bathroom; or finally, when things were perfect he would walk outside, barefoot, often only wearing underwear—his father’s neighborhood was very stuffy, and rich, and nobody save for X would be out at this time—and he’d lie down in the middle of the pavement with ‘End of the Night’ or ‘The End’ howling away on headphones, then standing at odd intervals to dance violent on the empty road, and at those moments—not every night it happened, but some—it would rain the coldest rain he’d felt since he was a young boy and his family took a trip out east to a place in the woods where the rain never stopped, and X would be at peace, staring into steaming midnight, lost at that apex where nothing but belief and love exist, and death is an empty threat.

That was the initial draft, editing, however, was a sour possessive thing that never let go of your throat until you cast her lifeless into the sea. You have to understand certain things about X’s psyche before this last claim can hope to take real effect. When he writes, at best he’s like an abstract painter—perhaps Jackson Pollock—where the only possible thing he can convey is that odd interpretation he sees somewhere buried in the confines of his skull, and writing that first draft is much like splattering a gallon of red paint across a canvas and dictating its actions with a drunken euphoria until it seems complete. Editing, however, is like staring at said painting with every painter in history who ever picked up a brush then staring at him. And the goal of this editing is not to make the work more like theirs, but to do quite the opposite and push it as far into originality as he possibly can before X tears his hair out and smashes his face against the glass table. That’s how it is for him, anyway. X knows of the naturally literary types and their easy revisions; he’s heard of the fellows that send off their manuscripts in one go—Kerouac, for instance, another whose writing X ignores—and frankly cannot believe them. The first fools, he figures. The students early to class. X simply lost interest.

As he wrote—or rather, mumbled through nearly-dried cement—X often thought of things like that, aggravating notions that could push him that much farther through the work. For indignation, he felt, is the only true quality any real writer should hope to possess if he’s to succeed. Hemingway noted that a bullshit detector—a built-in, shock proof shit detector was his wording in X’s mind—is more desirable than anything else, but then haven’t we heard the tales of Hemingway’s coming-of-age as a young scribe? Didn’t he seemingly fall into fame with his Three Stories and Ten Poems? And after that did he ever have to worry about sending out a veritable fleet of submission letters, only to be rejected? No, likely not. Hemingway did not have to endure the things contemporary shit-peddlers have to endure (and wasn’t that collection his father used to own of Hem’s entitled The Enduring?). Even Mailer, even DeLillo, even David Foster Wallace did not have to endure the monotony of sending out hundreds of submissions only to receive that many kindly-worded rejections. X fondly acquired histories like David Markson and his fifty-plus submissions of Wittgenstein’s Mistress, as armor for these moments. These publishers will not break your heart with hammers, they’ll break it with thousands of little pricks from all directions, and slowly you’ll begin to fade, and fade, and if you cannot fight your way out of this misery, you’ll wind up locked away in madness and obscurity. Unwilling to accept it, X also began assembling lists of authors he despised, of lucky little art school brats that he would soon eviscerate, and with every submission letter rejected gained more and more fuel. And with every miserable page of that manuscript turned over became yet more and more alive, and with furious hatred and indignation now at its peak X felt ready to explode in that tiny space in Chicago and let the world feel the blood of his measly existence, and that night, as X turned over the fifteenth page of a good day’s work done and done, he felt affirmed not only as a young, and angry human being, but as a writer. For X, quite aggressively he felt, needed to be a writer more than anyone he knew needed anything, and to this day has not met a soul whose eyes seem brighter with the anxious hope of turning that one success into enough to sit and write more, and more, thus having made it into the existence by which he feels so unrelentingly called. Perhaps it’s only voices. He never remains sure for long.




Grant Maierhofer is the author of The Persistence of Crows (Tiny TOE Press), and Ode to a Vincent Gallo Nightingale (Black Coffee Press). His work has appeared in Gesture, Brawler Lit, Volume One Brooklyn, and elsewhere. He lives in doubt.

7/24/14

Jos Charles

Poem With a Double Entendre In It


i’m dying, jos, my dick tells me in line
buying mascara at target

i’m dying tonight in someone’s arms
all fucking night into my ear on my goddamn iphone

i’m dying easily slowly in your deadening
winter sleep my dick whispers

her and i are pretty close you could
say, twin sisters fussing over blankets

at the beach. one reaches to the other
and touches her hair. it’s going

to be alright she says and the waves
spray fresh salt water on their faces.

i was born two weeks early and the doctor
declared me a boy because my dick

was already dying and his dick was dying
too. i mean men are in love with death

because it’s ABSTRACT ENUFF to convince
them they matter. it’s ABSTRACT ENUFF

like penguins in red shoes singing we don’t have it
so good. i’m not jealous i’m just

trying to explain my life, my dick says.
i try to listen but i forget sometimes

and with the cool air i don’t know, jos, this world
of ours, she says, it just gets so fucking hard

Jos Charles is a southern-California writer and founding-editor at THEM—a trans* literary journal. Their poetry publications include Denver Quarterly, BLOOM, Radioactive Moat, the YOLO pages, and Metazen. They also have writing featured on Huffington Post, Bitch Magazine, The Fanzine, and variously online.

7/23/14

MG Martin

my dear face

the days become desperate
the trees grow lungs
& breathe their own air
to empty themselves of song
they are desperate for the time
before animal when earth
was only full of air
basically i love you difficult
like trying to kill
a velociraptor in the snow
like owning a piece of sky & pulling
thunder from the trunk of your body
far out in the ocean is a boat
with an anchor too short to succeed
you are the warm heat on the face of child
far out in the future is a dying me
with only one regret to have lived like smoke
inside of your closed fist
inside of a glass shoe filled with sunlight
inside of the other side of sunlight
the inside parts of my veins are the temperature
& color of anticipation of exploded deer
i am thinking tree & searching for your mouth
i am thinking snow & bleeding your sap
there is no complex solution
to remove splinters from your lungs
open your chest with me touch the inside
use this rope to attach the face
of a deer to the face
of my face use this rope to climb
all over me like i am cliff in ruins



M.G. Martin is the author of One For None (Ink.) His work has appeared or is forthcoming from iO, Greying Ghost Press, Leveler, Hobart, and ZYZZYVA, among others. M.G. lives in Seoul, Korea with the poet: Tess Patalano, and the dog: Ihu. He recently channeled Sun Ra and make word/sounds called: Lanquidity. Find him: here and here.

7/22/14

Chelsea Werner-Jatzke

Animal Control

The raccoon (P. lotor), also known as the common raccoon, mates for life.

It doesn’t have to be dramatic. These two in the parking lot, preserved by the frigid air, had any number of lovers before each other. Had been in the getting-to-know-each-other-in-bed stages of getting to know each other. They hadn’t had a proper fight even. They were keeping it casual, no expectation of dying together.

Social and argumentative, it is not uncommon for the raccoon, specifically the North American raccoon, to fight to the death in turf wars.

But these two, too round, too fresh, have no scratches, bites, or blood. They are not flattened, not distressed. They are not under any tires or close enough to, or to each other, to assume some sort of romance or vehicular slaughter.

Raccoons can also be spelled racoons, but gemination is more appropriate for an intransitive mating for life.

Neither forbidden nor forever—just two raccoons without expectations when they met at the edge of this parking lot two months ago. Last month, when the boar sliced his thumb open on a wine glass over dinner and the sow made sure he got home safe, they passed under the motion detector light in the parking lot. The injured boar limped and the sow stood ground in the illuminated lot, growling at the two humans smoking by the building, yards away. This was a sliver of sharing something besides the poison currently in their blood. That next morning, like any morning, each raccoon found breakfast on their own.

Signs of weakness, in all manner of vermin, are dangerous—in the city, in the forest, in the home.

Yesterday they feasted on fettuccine carbonara and the poison that killed them and the boar pointed out that, based on their urban lifestyle, they had, at most, one more year, given their life expectancy. “Oh?” The sow calculated her response, “then if this ended now and we both live another year, we will have spent 5% of our lives together.” “And if we die tomorrow, we’ve spent nearly 10%.” “I’ve been thinking I’d like to have a kit,” the sow slipped in, “no expectations.”

The northern raccoon is not picky. There is no latch they cannot unlatch, no patch of urban unrest they cannot make a den.

The gravel in their fur now is just gravel, despite the number of times they groomed these same rocks from each other’s coats after a romp in what leftovers the city has to give. The leftovers are just leftovers—dirty and delicious. The dirt between their toes; the dirt. The raccoons; unidentifiable from all other raccoons. This is their eulogy.

The service is a surprise party; this group gathered here smoking in the parking lot. The hope was to take care of the rats. A big haul, these lovers are large and no one is willing to determine if they are fifteen pounds or less, much less double bag them and throw them away. They look to be 25 pounds, 40. Urbanized raccoons can reach up to 60 pounds, two combined at 120. One woman says, I’m 120 and an older man nods, an authority, apparently.

The original coonskin cap consisted of the entire raccoon including its head and tail. An art all but lost and a fashion accessory all but unnecessary in the city.

No one wants a new hat so the building manager calls the city. The city dispatches animal control and they arrive with industrial gloves, coveralls, and galoshes. They carry spears the length of any arm that might have wrapped around a shoulder and celebrated in solidarity at this double murder, this fight to the death between man and procyon lotor. The city spears the raccoons into the boxes they will burn in.

Raccoons don’t mate for life. I made that up to make you think this story is about someone else.


Chelsea Werner-Jatzke is a writer from NYC living in Seattle. She received her MFA from Goddard College, was a 2013 Jack Straw Writer, is a 2014 EDGE Artist Trust Graduate, and a Ragdale Foundation Resident. She is co-founder of Till, an annual writing retreat at Smoke Farm and Lit.mustest, a bi-annual reading at The Richard Hugo House. She teaches at Seattle Central Community College and is, or will be, published in Pif, Psychopomp, City Arts, Beecher’s Magazine, Tupelo Quarterly, Pacifica Literary Review, Extract(s), Keep This Bag Away From Children, The Conium Review, and ListenParty.com. 

7/18/14

Sally J. Johnson

Even

I drive a car the size of a blue whale’s heart. My own,
as big as the gear shifter but feels different: is the space
a single, knotted eye takes up on an oak floor. A fig
in a large hand. An ant. A wastepaper basket below a desk.

I never wanted to be your two-dimensional love
screen. Not your sticky star ceiling all puttied up.
I wanted to be the sky, the real one, wringing out
diamonds in Saturn’s atmosphere. Wanted to be
a lava lake inside you. Instead I spit the seeds
of our watermelon love. Lost every single one
of your feathers in a desert state. I was sorry
about that. Ask my shower curtain how much I cried.

At least I remember how your lips felt: full and full of blood.
Not some pair of bony darts. Not some knuckles over backbone.
Even my mother still loves you. Even my dog. Even you have to admit
that it hurts to look at a scar no matter how long since it healed.


Sally J. Johnson received her MFA from UNC at Wilmington where she served as Managing Editor for Ecotone. Her poetry and nonfiction can be read or is forthcoming from the Collagist, Bodega, the Pinch, Weave, Treehouse, and elsewhere.

7/17/14

Matthew Fogarty

Legend of Link and Z

Zelda had a scam she'd run sometimes where she'd have Link push her into traffic, out in front of a moving car. This wasn't something she could do on her own -- she needed Link for that last loose force she couldn't control, wouldn't have to will. If they timed it right, the driver would slam on his brakes just a little too late and she'd hit the hood and sometimes she'd roll up onto the windshield and be flung off when the car stopped. She'd be wearing a fake belly under her dress and she'd cry and tell the driver she was pregnant and she couldn't feel the baby. Link would run in like the concerned father, his green tunic all sweat-soaked and shaking. And together they'd con the driver into handing over whatever he had in his pocket. Sometimes cab fare to get to the hospital or to get home. Sometimes, if it was a fancy car and if Link could sell it, they'd get the driver thinking they were going to call one of those slip-and-fall guys from the TV and he better pay up before it becomes a whole thing.

It was never very much money and there were only so many times they could get away with it in any one city. So they moved around a lot, hitchhiking wherever trucks would take them. New York and Philadelphia and DC. Winters, they'd try to get to the coast and get south because Zelda liked the sun and the ocean, liked to sit out on the beach while Link would busk. Sword tricks on the boardwalks for whatever bits of change he could get people to drop. Sometimes he'd play his ocarina.

For a while Zelda had a thing where she wanted to be an actress and so Link bought them bus tickets for as far west as they could afford, which wasn't far, and they hitched the rest of the way. Except LA wasn't how the movies made it look and Zelda got bored fast. "I just don't feel like playing their game anymore," she said one morning after another failed audition. They were sitting under the pier eating funnel cakes Link had bought with money he'd lifted out of a wallet some surfer left on the beach, lazy waves lapping up over their feet. "Z: It's warm all year here. We can stay here and be comfortable."

She didn't smile, didn't even look at him. "There's something more for us. Just not here." This was a thing Zelda would say a lot, that there was something better beyond wherever they were. Like there was some castle she could see in the distance that she thought she and Link could reach, somewhere they belonged. But the castle kept moving, shifting, and however hard or fast they moved toward it, it never came closer, always stood just over the horizon, just out of focus.

They spent the rest of that Spring headed back east and, by Link's compass, north. He didn't tell her but he'd read about Detroit and was inching them there. A city of abandoned buildings where anyone could make a home out of nothing. Sometimes when he'd get sad that's all he could imagine they'd ever have: nothing. Other times, usually late at night or when they hadn't eaten in a few days and were feeling lightheaded, Zelda would lay down next to him, lay her head on his chest, grab his hand: those times, it seemed they had all they'd ever need.

Zelda's scam didn't work well in Detroit. There weren't many fancy cars not worn over with rust and whenever they'd try to run it, most of the time the driver'd just shrug his shoulders, get back into his car, and drive off. Sometimes the driver would offer to take her to the hospital or to his home, to his family. His wife was a nurse, maybe, or maybe he had some extra food or could put Link and Zelda up for a night, just to make sure their fake baby was okay.

But Link had found them a place to sleep, a house at the edge of the city, its insides carved out, its outsides still standing just fine. They spread out their packs and made a bed. Zelda hung a painting she'd made as a kid. And they took in the wild dog they found one morning digging through the weeds out back. Link figured there wasn't any trash for him to eat, that there has to be something worth something and then something left over before there could even be trash. They fed him when they could. And when it started to get cold and ice started freezing up through the floorboards, they'd spend nights pulled into each other with the dog between them or on top of them or at their feet.

There was that night it snowed like it'd never stop.

And it was sometime after that first snow that Zelda flinched. They were downtown at the corner of Woodward and Gratiot and Link put his hands on the small of her back and went to push her forward like always except this time she pressed back against him. He didn't get the idea at first and tried again, pushed her harder so she couldn't resist and she stumbled headlong into the path of a Buick that hit a patch of ice and came in heavier than she was used to, heavier than she was expecting.

They spent that night in the hospital with the guy from the Buick. His wife came down later and brought them soup and sandwiches and rolls. Link held some back, put a roll in the pocket of his tunic to take to the dog if the dog was still there whenever it was they got home. Zelda went in for surgery around ten and Link found a quiet spot in the hallway to wait, stood there all night staring at the wall, memorizing the map posted on it, the rooms and paths of the hospital, all the different ways in and out.

Born and raised in the square-mile suburbs of Detroit, Matthew Fogarty currently lives and writes in Columbia, where he is fiction editor of Yemassee. He also edits Cartagena, a literary journal. His fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in such journals as Passages North, PANK, 14 Hills, Smokelong Quarterly, and Midwestern Gothic. He can be found at http://www.matthewfogarty.com.

7/16/14

Stephanie Goehring

Self-portrait as "Stephanie Has Died of Dysentery"

I take my lover's prescriptions
home for Christmas
and hole-up solo in a hostel
with beach-scene murals
in every bathroom just begging
for a poorly drawn tsunami.
Shame I'm not equipped
with a dick, but I don't dwell.
Instead I scrawl "MERRY
ME" on the beach scene
in the bathroom closest to me
using permanent marker
they can paint over.
And they will.
In my room I boomerang
between the traffic in my mouth
and the empty freeway
I've never seen.
I think back to trying to walk
carefully across a series of massive roots
pushing up from the ground
where there was no tree.
I turn on the television
so someone can hear me.
Everything happens accidentally.
I'm chucking empty bottles
against concrete, writing a letter
to the woman I love
on my favorite jeans,
saying how happy I am
that I brought her with me.
I text my lover "I'm not sorry."
Resting my head against the beach
I see someone has inked, after me,
"CARPE DIEM! SEIZE
THE DAY!" in the breeze,
but they're wrong. They're always wrong.
That phrase actually means
"Pluck the day," like a flower.
To tell someone to seize
in Latin, you have to say "rape"
(rhymes with "cop pay")
but everyone has forgotten.
In big black marker
where the sun used to be
alone, I write "IT'S RAPE
DIEM DUMBASS,"
and go back to my room
where there's a pawn shop
on the TV and someone
has been crying into my beer.

Stephanie Goehring is co-author, with Jeff Griffin, of the chapbook I Miss You Very Much (Slim Princess Holdings, 2011/13) and author of the chapbook This Room Has a Ghost (dancing girl press, 2010). Find her online here.

7/15/14

Laura Marie Marciano

popular faces

I am getting really tired

of all these popular girls

and their popular moms

who are on drugs and

we aren't even young

anymore and no one is

popular or not popular

but you say ok but

what about the mean

teachers in the lunch room

who gossip about young boys

and each other

Uh I just wish no one

would say

“she is too fat for long nails”

like to want to be pretty

you must already be pretty

I feel like the cloud before it thunders

I feel like the child who has to pee

yes I am holding something in

how did you know?

I am just wanting to be a popular and pretty girl my whole life

I have never stopped wanting

that phew it feels good

to have told you

I can throw out this sparkly

lunchbox now because it was

just a ruse and tricks are for

ugly people aren't they

“yes you would know”

you say

“you are so ugly

your face looks like

that banana peel

in the garbage”

sorry but I thought

what more could

I want than to look

like a banana peel

in the garbage because

how beautiful and

how close to nature

must that be

Laura Marie Marciano feels connected to Dora the Explorer. She too is always waiting for the answer in silence. She teaches people to write for a living and curates Gemstone Readings in NYC. She lives on the internet.

7/14/14

JoAnna Novak

Fast-growing local manufacturers hiring ASAP

Should I be a machinist is just one of the things I wonder, carpet and outlets and soda cups and red straws and the same quilted frantic flower sac-y totes sitting in the places where the students will sit when they return. Once again I am a field of swivel chairs and gray tables and notebook fringe. Blacked-out computer monitors stare me down. Screens scare me sometimes: I hide my phone in the closet, which means I rummage through pants to check it twenty times a day. My closet has shelves. My phone has a pulse. If I put it between my legs, will it make me alive with benefits and a 401K? Will it watch me enroll? I’m talking my phone. Calculate my loans? Will it suck my cells? Insulin is insulting my dresses. I swear I really do need new pants. Another semester ending with none of these fits. Nothing to wear! My phone fits my fist while I run for the jobs—Dunkin’ needs a clerk, Greenfied Cap & Dye. I see myself soldering, soot on my cheeks, sweat rivulets like cheap, pretty, shiny earrings (they stay in my closet). I’m thinking Flashdance. I’m thinking SnapChat. I’m thinking Sugar Snaps and that cunnilingus frog. Creep. Bury the toy in your cereal: I could do that. Back-up in the drive-thru: try me. My brother and I were in double digits (age and weight) when we tried to bike through Burger King. Pranks like these are ways for white kids to learn disappointment. Fry-less, we were turned away. One of us went inside and someone kept eyes on the bikes. That or the MFA. My degree is my prize. I have a friend who has three years now applied for a second-MFA—cake on cake. I think he’s calling it quits. He’s laking at a cabin, he crafting in the woods with his unsuitable wife. I can be a suitable wife when I’m well-paid and not on sugar. I can wear leather pants. Royal pants, seafoam silk, claret pants. I wear my parent-pants when I think of my failed friend: do the right thing, I want to say, leave her, as though I know what that means, as though a right thing comes off a factory line still warm from the machine. I mean do the right thing so I can wear the pants. Room service girl: I would do that for the skirt.

JoAnna Novak is the Pushcart-Prize-nominated author of Laps (Another New Calligraphy, 2014), a limited-edition art book of short stories, and Something Real (dancing girl press, 2011), a prose chapbook. With Thomas Cook and Tyler Flynn Dorholt, she publishes Tammy. A finalist for Sarabande's 2014 Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction, she lives in Massachusetts, where she is working on a memoir.

7/11/14

Colleen Louise Barry

EVERYWHERE IN THE DESERT IS THE HEART OF THE DESERT

driving through West Texas the sky
unfucked me all over this
sort of thing
small dramas play out
tarantulas move slow
as if recently spun
hairs move
with rare breezes
across sand
my blood surges I think
it smells like piñon now
we are rolling
cigarettes at the table top
mesas get smoked by women
I have known projected
violently hugely from gods eye
you can really feel the truth
of that here: god only has one eye
rusted in the socket
the desert is proof
god is not a man
what’s a dick anyway
but something you stick inside me
what is the desert but a palate
for a broader wilderness
the horizon is the length of the world
and then it is longer
I measure everything
against it so our bodies I think
are straight
actually lean crooked
its enough to bathe in
the endlessness
to plow through it
with a swimmer’s dumb grace
the desert and I have
no surprises

we have empty space

my epiphany is an acceptance
I plan on loving more
one day
although hopefully longer
its just that’s how
it is usually said
I’m a woman like a desert
in the masculine noon
a black buzzard flies
overhead he is almost to god
blocking out the sun


Colleen Louise Barry's chapbook of poems and drawings is Sunburn / Freezer Burn (smoking glue gun 2014). She is an English Instructor at UMass Amherst and the Managing Editor of Slope Editions. Find more of her and links to her published work at www.colleenlouisebarry.com.

7/10/14

Jane Liddle

The Victim

The victim sat at home feeling sorry for himself because it was Friday and he had no plans for that night except sitting at home feeling sorry for himself. He was in a particularly bad mood because he was charged an extra fifty cents for his sandwich but he didn’t notice until he was organizing his receipts when he got home. These injustices always happened to him. Why, just yesterday a lady cut him in line and when he called her out some guy came to her defense. They were probably fucking right now. The victim logged on to his computer so he could read articles by entitled assholes and tell them they were idiots in the comment sections. When he logged on he noticed that he had an email from the pretty dentist receptionist saying that she was overseas and her wallet was stolen and she needed money. The victim’s heart beat irregular when he read the email. The pretty dental receptionist trusted him out of all the other patients. He acted quickly in wiring the money to the account she provided. Once she got the money though she didn’t even thank him! He decided to call the dentist’s office to give her boss a piece of his mind and tell him what an ungrateful employee he had. When he called the office the pretty dental receptionist answered the phone. The victim gave her an earful and there was some confusion on her part regarding what the hell he was talking about. The victim realized he was part of a scam. Shame turned his face red. He got into his car and sped to the mall where the dentist office was located. When he arrived at the mall he went on a shooting rampage that one hears so much about in the news. He was killed during the rampage. The pretty dentist receptionist was able to shed some light on his state of mind to the police and to the news.


Jane Liddle grew up in Newburgh, New York, and now lives in Brooklyn. Her stories have appeared in Vol. 1 Brooklyn, Two Serious Ladies, Cactus Heart, Specter magazine, and elsewhere. "The Victim" is part of a flash series about murder. You can find her on Twitter @janeriddle or at liddlejane.tumblr.com.

7/9/14

Emily Kendal Frey

I CAN SEE THE LIGHT INSIDE THE LIGHT

B says all longing is spiritual longing

And I believe him. I look

At his face, its carved

Boat of father,

Bridge over water.

I use the sharpest

Scissors to trim hair. Can you

Stay with me, see where

This ends? You don’t have to

Like it, you may even

Chew the hate-chalk.

You might believe this

To be a torn flower,

Shit brown,

An animal urge to kill or maul

Might rise up and then your own

Father or mother or person

You loved, smeared

Along a line. And now what.

We don’t know why

The cord thickens

To a root and in the morning

We can’t move.

I loved

A person and

They left. I carry

The bag of lemons.

I long for what’s

Not yet. When I sleep the gods

Come in and arrange

My hair. My mom is not

There and neither is my dad.

I wake and make myself

A woman, barely.

I know there’s

More for me to give

Up. If I couldn’t

See you, you would

Still be there.


Emily Kendal Frey lives in Portland, Oregon. She is the author of several chapbooks and chapbook collaborations, including FRANCES, AIRPORT, BAGUETTE, and THE NEW PLANET. THE GRIEF PERFORMANCE, her first full-length collection, won the Norman Farber First Book Award from The Poetry Society of America in 2012. Her second collection, SORROW ARROW, is available now from Octopus Books.

7/8/14

Caroline Cabrera

You asked for my statement / I wrote you a recipe

In the old days

there were so many ways

a child could die

so many ways to look

a farmer in the face

and see dust

cracking his face skin

in the end Marmee

comes but Beth

still dies

the simplest girl

always sits lame

in a bed

waiting to be

remembered fondly

while the other

children wander

leather-booted

in an orchard

trying a fallen apple

here or there

or feeding apples

to horses

saying its not

the sweetest

of apples

leaving the barn

doors open while

the cider ferments

a cider that tastes

like horse dander

with acetone body

a blood sausage finish

a cider we taste

together

and when I say

it tastes like horses

you reach for it

say I love horses


Caroline Cabrera is the author of Flood Bloom (H_NGM_N BKS, 2013) and the chapbook, Dear Sensitive Beard (dancing girl press, 2012). Her second full-length collection is forthcoming from H_NGM_N BKS in the winter.

7/7/14

Jeremy Bauer

Adult Lord

Fun fact: the origin of the word “lord” is “loaf-keeper.” Picture that. One man with a loaf of bread gloating to all those sans-sandwiches, toast, croutons. The word “lord” isn’t used very often anymore, though it offers a superior way to describe personal rulings. Mostly, we hear “Dear Lord,” “Drug Lord,” and “Vice Lord.” Those are pretty accurate. But we are in need of a proliferation of lords. For instance, we are all Night Lords, Light Lords. Everyone has known ME Lords and Shit Lords, Skeez, Booty, and Dong Lords. There is an increasing number of Hoard Lords, Numb Lords, and Lone Lords. Sometimes it’s good to personify problems. Then you can meet that problem in your dark alley and Justice/Shiv/Bludgeon Lord that problem away. Or embrace your lordship to its richest. Be as the empty beer can that embraces the sea, the one-room apartment tenant that doesn’t need cable to feel love.

In my in-laws’ town, there used to be a computer repair shop called “COMPU-MAGE.” I never went, but it was my favorite figment to conjure. It’s gone now. I guess the mage was defeated, probably by some 84-bit dragon, or Windows Vista the lich king, or maybe they just changed the name when finally someone summoned the arch demon GROW-UP, one of the most evil and also not evil of demons.

Part of my therapy is I have things I need to tell you. When within three feet of me, a black tunnel erupts from my face. This tunnel looks to be only three feet in length, but the closer one gets to the end, the longer it extends, till we’re stuck in an awkward chronal loop, a party of never meeting, never deleting the spaces between my word and yours.

There was country line dancing in the living room. There were wood-paneled walls and a wood-paneled television. There was playing Duck Hunt while Mom cut my hair a bowl cut. Together with my lengthening face, my head would look like a young acorn.

The lawn has a high fade, the soil a tarantula problem. Chrome fangs drip little grills from the window. You never told me if you like the gerbil-fur coat I made you. It took 64 gerbils. My favorite part of it is how you can see how every gerbil contributed. And that the zipper goes straight down the middle of a strip of pelts, offering the possibility that all the gerbils were also wearing gerbil fur coats. Just like yours.


Jeremy Bauer is a Hoosier $PACELord living in Texas with his wife of the Dang Nebulae. He is the author of the chapbook The Jackalope Wars (Stoked Press, 2010), and his work has appeared in NOÖ Journal, PANK, Spooky Boyfriend, and UP, among others. He blogs at http://jeremybbauer.wordpress.com/.

7/4/14

Joshua Ware

11 February 2014

A wasteland is a wasteland
no matter how chromatic your palette
Poison shoots through the phenomenon
of your letters. A soundtrack pounds
from my bedroom: a rhythmic acknowledgment
that I’m headed straight toward Hell
Snow covers Cleveland’s landscape
Urban decay is inescapable, even in the white
washed patches of February
So many fucking potholes punctuate
the streets around my apartment
The advance of technology forgot
most cities lining the Great Lakes
Color foregrounds most of my dreams
which have become lucid and electric
with Ambien. A full-grown thickness
arrives while I’m sleeping. This is not a euphemism
but a realization that I am walking
through a forest, its leafy canopy
blocking out the sun, except for the small
slivers of light cast against the trunk of a big
ash tree, similar to the one Niedecker
chopped down in her front yard in 1959
One foot on one branch, another foot
on another branch. $90 today
will get you very little in the way
of landscaping or tree removal services
To create a bloody desert, a filmmaker
commissioned a set-designer to paint
each individual grain of sand the color red
It took him well over 67 years to complete
the task. By the time the set-designer finished
the filmmaker had long since died
In early experiments with green, I spoke
into my hand, recording every breath
in archival fervor. I called this an aesthetic break
through, but everyone else heard nothing
but the pulsing of air through the softest trees

Joshua Ware is the author of Homage to Homage to Homage to Creeley (Furniture Press Books, 2011) and several chapbooks, most recently Imaginary Portraits (Greying Ghost Press); How We Remake the World (Slope Editions), co-written with Trey Moody; and SDVIG (alice blue books), co-written with Natasha Kessler.

7/3/14

Lucian Mattison

A Plea to Congress Concerning the Gowanus Canal

A robot plumbs Gowanus, as none of us
are foul enough to immerse ourselves;
I don’t believe any person is. It takes generations
to muddy the body, a whole congress, aging,
turning blind eyes. About Red Hook I walk
the bank of this manmade kill
with a friend who tells me gonorrhea
filters through its oysters, the water is 90%
guns. Hurricane winds and rain stir
up sandy kettles of venereal taint, lap it
onto brownstone steps, rap front doors.
Tenement blocks hope not to be flooded out.
Our country would rather brew, keep our rot
below the surface, after all, it’s mostly layered
tonnage of oil, coal tar, industrial deposits. It’s tough
to point out a single fish. Legislation
is impotent. I urge you congressmen, if there is hope
for our gonorrheal canal, it must be a laborious dredge,
every inch exposed, buffed of generations
of oversight, hazardous waste, aimless talk.
The flood is too close to weather more of this.


Lucian Mattison is currently in the second year of his MFA at Old Dominion University. If you are ever in Norfolk and wish to play him in backgammon, email him at Lucian.c.mattison@gmail.com.

7/2/14

Damien Miles-Paulson

May 1st in Mae Sot


1
This used to be a Ukrainian
Restaurant, but now it
Serves Russian food
The waiters are wearing balaclavas
And showing me pictures of naked girlfriends

2
Hubie Brown is the color commentator
He loves pronouns
Loses himself in them
“You say:
We’ve got a player here,
who will give
us twenty, twenty five points a game but
I’ve got to make sacrifices on the defensive end so that
he can give
you a chance to win for
them, but
we all know that
he just committed
my fifth foul, it is the fourth quarter, and
I say to myself,
we’ve got to keep
him in the game, otherwise,
you’ve got no chance to pull
them out the whole
I’ve dug.”

3
Wash them
Hands, it helps to ease the
Dissonance
And think of all histories hand washers
Who washed like they hated their
Flesh
But it never came off
So they flayed others
Because they hated their flesh
Or thought so


4
Everybody tells me that he drugs his little brother
To make him easier to carry all day
But I’ve never seen it so I’m not so sure
It is sunny and hotish
They are by the canal
Once a river, again, I’m not sure
It never moves except when it rains
It looks the color of gorilla urine, the canal water
And the boys don’t seemed drugged as they
Try to catch
Frogs? Fish?
To eat, I think, or to pass the time
I’ve never seen the younger one walk before but now he is
Throwing garbage at garbage
I hope they have stomachs
Like dogs if they’re going to eat
The fish or the frogs from that still tropical water

5
Her boss, who she’s known since they were 12
Told her he’d give her a raise if she published a story
In penthouse forum before next year
She wrote an erotic bibliography
Her boss’ wife left him so after he decided
Not to kill himself, which took a while
Maybe until the Seahawks won
He bought a convertible European car
An airplane
And started to date young professionals in the city
He seemed happy the last time they met
But she couldn’t help think of that trip she took with his family, to Hawaii
When they were 13 or 14
And over a game of chess in Hilo
His dad clocked him, a half-hearted cupped slap
On the neck
Or when he almost went to prison for twenty years
And she realized that she could never take him seriously again
Because he had wanted to kill himself
For love.

6
A bulletproof journalist,
A pizza delivery man in unsavory neighborhood,
A book open to the midmost, blade piercing the cleft
A husband carries his wife from the street scene of the accident
she cannot walk, she wails and I can think of nothing until I return to the scene,
they are gone, so I keep the 1000 baht,
Air-conditioned hotel room blocks from our former house,
here I’ve been glued, too mute to raise my voice
The mirage, the mirage, the rotten mirage floats in his hands
he holds his daughter,
the dim pool he stares into,
I stare into, all too long,
who is fairest, grunted,
but I cannot sleep without the mirage’s whispers,
Eyes plucked out in sleep, the blind traveler, on ox cart across Russia,
my mind inhabits this world and that one too,
it isn’t all divorced,
I’ve been across borders
And I won’t hide it, so have so many, a constant stream of people across borders without papers,
Have you?
The fat pizza man reporter for the BBC,
he’s been shot at to bring us content,
fresh, dynamic content,
Like a gladiator,
So that you’re informed,
Never entertained?
Even just a little?
The book is there, and I don’t know why, something about abductions,
But what does it matter to you?
Why does it matter if those girls were kidnapped?
Did they matter to you before tragedy interceded in their lives?
Or Donald fucking Clippers?
You should thank him for once again making it easy for you
to take a stand against racism,
I remember in the sixth or fifth grade when the US Military,
under order of George Bush Senior,
invaded Iraq and we wanted to march through our small town of about five hundred with signs, chanting, hell no we won’t go,
To fight a war for Texaco…
Is your indignation any different,
any less naïve and ineffectual,
As if the only important thing is to have an opinion,
freedom of speech, yeah,
Things like that…



There are zero (0) people named Damien Miles-Paulson in the US. Nonetheless, his work has appeared or is forthcoming in theNewerYork, Alice Blue Review and Marco Polo Arts Mag, etc.

7/1/14

Gale Marie Thompson

Elegy with a Hangover and X-Files

This morning is fucked, tasked. Neither
a moving performance nor stream of split
images pushed to ease this vector.
I put my hands behind my head
like she used to do. I wait to be radioed
through the horrible bird static.
Scully’s cancer is finally in remission,
so now they’re telling me it’s time
to pull back the black moss, to start again
inside this bruise. To cup some early red
hope beyond the flailing. I am just
a cold body thriving underneath.
I guess the brain grieves in two halves,
each one built like an almond,
or a skinned knee. Left, and I only wear
hats beginning with the letter t
(tam, toboggan). Right, and I can’t seem
to draw a goddamn cardinal for the life of me.
I am affixed to no other hub. This arriving
and arriving at the same solution.
Some way past the molecular.
I cut an apple in half and continue cutting
for years. I calculate what it would take
to buy a lifetime supply of Yardley’s
English lavender soap. Chris says that outside
the rosemary is crowding out the mint. I tell him that the kale keeps dying
and then re-growing out of that death,
taller and taller each time, so that
one day it will be as tall as me, assuming
I will still be my tallness.
A film decays like having a favorite film decays.
When I watch The Longest Day now I push away
enemy vectors, wrapped up in nonstop gunfire
and John Wayne’s tall ankles quietly breaking.
I want to touch that function. I want to feel
like I could be reached. Like even now
there’s a maze of flowering azaleas to crawl
beneath. Like if I wanted to I could dress in red,
cut my hair like a boy, name two cats
Cricket and Little Brother and move into
a kind of calm. Outside now birds are calling
each other family and falling asleep.
Maybe one is a cardinal.


Gale Marie Thompson is the author of Soldier On (Tupelo Press), and the chapbooks If You’re a Bear, I’m a Bear (H_NGM_N) and Expeditions to the Polar Seas (Sixth Finch). Her work can or will be seen in places like Sixth Finch, Columbia Poetry Review, They Will Sew the Blue Sail, Better, Guernica, TYPO, Volt, and the Colorado Review. She is the founding editor of Jellyfish Magazine, and she lives, writes, and teaches in Athens, GA.