Literature & Arts
Literature & Arts Edition 67 Volume 1
Copyright 2015 Brushfire and the individual contributors. All rights reserved by the respective artists. Original work is used with the express permission of the artists. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher. Brushfire would like to thank the judging panel for their time and participation as well as the volunteers and staff for their undying dedication. The opinions expressed in this publication and its associated website and social medias are not necessarily those of the University of Nevada, Reno or of the student body. Front cover by Austin Pratt Front, “Red Flag” Back cover by Matthew Karr Back, “Move” Book Layout by Brushfire Team Printed by A. Carlisle Brushfire Staff Editor-in-Chief: Leona Novio Literary Director: Dylan Smith Art Diector: Nathaniel Benjamin Zine Editor:Clarisa Depari Assitant Editor: Estefania Cervantes
Published by the Associated Students of the University of Nevada, Reno
Thoughts while observing the age of philaphobic philanthropists: “We are windowless wonders with panes of frosted glass set against each of our walls. Hoping, one day, those hard exteriors will crumble in the wake of viewing ourselves.” Leona Novio EIC, Brushfire
Table of Contents Artwork
ii Eleanor Bennet Static 1 Erin Wohletz Abyss 6 Nathaniel Benjamin Out Of My Thoughts 13 Katie Ogburn We All Go Back To Nature 20 Zoe Durant Many Faces 33 Erin Wohletz Wormhole 34 Erin Wohletz Dysphoria 36 Zoe Durant Ambient Figure 40 Leona Novio For Those Willing 49 Austin Pratt Lilac Chaser 50 Austin Pratt Common Fate 53 Edwin Johnson Ocean Storm 56 Nathaniel Benjamin Given To Grief 61 Zoe Durant Bukaki 67 Edwin Johnson Artist On River 71 Leona Novio The Beholder 74 Zac Haley Big Horn Skull 81 Erin Wohletz Ringworm 83 Matthew Karr Modest Proposal 86 Erin Wohletz Swarm
9 Connor McCoy Birth of Venus 12 Shelby McAuliffe Untitled 24 Clarisa Depari 4:55 PM Cadeca, After Hours 27 Clarisa Depari La Habana, Cuba 32 Emmanuel Perez Broadway 57 Shelby McAuliffe Sunrise 70 Courtney Ackerman Untitled
Poetry 2 3 5 7 11 14
Vestige Images Strangers Gin-Soaked Melody Three Months, Long Awaited Me, Two November (and my jacket it thinner than it should be) 19 Matthew Karr Five Minutes Wasted Alone in a Coffee Shop 22 Edgar Garcia Blackbirds in Spring 23 Jonathan Vivet The Old House on North Virginia 25 Nathanael Mellum Daffodils 28 Ally Messer Emma 29 Nicholas Ruggieri Just Before Surgery 30 Nathaniel Benjamin Fly On The Floor 31 Matthew Karr Bad Plumbing 35 Ally Messer Lust after me 51 Edgar Garcia Something Like Wine 54 Tiffany Javier 10,000 Leages Under the Psyche 54 Ardonna Cardines Trapped 55 Daniel Putney Pioneers 59 Steve Elegant This Has Just Begun 60 Matthew Karr That Wearisome Morning 62 David Tilley Windwitch 63 Michael Blane Oh No 69 Tiffany Javier Why I Leave The Blinds Open At Night 69 Tiffany Javier Interstice 72 Ally Messer Blackheads 73 Sam Isaiah Guilty 77 David Thyne Do I Exis?t 79 Daniel Putney Menagerie 85 Steve Elegant Respite For Night
Prose * These visual aspects have been added to the Brushfire by the current staff to provide a visual compliment/ asthetic to given literary pieces and all rights to these works are protected and held by the student press.
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Steve Elegant Sam Isaiah Dylan Smith Kelsey Penrose Nikki Raffail David Tilley
Austin Wright Kelsey Penrose M.D. Gale
Hara-Kiri Fortune Dragon Chaser Painted Air
Vestige Images by Steve Elegant
I remember yesterday. Locked within a beat of my heart, Burning its love in my heart strings. I saw tomorrow. A starving vestige of a life of love, The tired monument to a truth Which lies in dust. I lost today. The present. A tense that to me has never made sense. In this moment, where I find myself in. Against ideas like regimes, Oppose my darkness with dreams that create me. Sedate my beliefs, passing hope to streets filled with monstrous deceits that erase me. In the back of my mind search out what I define as a soul. Though itâ€™s not a Heaven I seek to lay bereft of the reek of my flesh. A burnt out chemistry set with a scent of regret, and a taste that was lent from a sense of morality. But I lack ideals. No graceful appeals at our halfhearted deals for a reason to die alone.
Abyss by Erin Wohletz
Strangers By Sam Isaiah
Under blue moons on a backyard blanket were brews of new movements and sounds of old seasons; a meeting place for the misfits who met overseas, a collection of colors that could speak to a colorblind soul of solace, of summer, and the stars that sent light to the lawn. At sixty degrees and a quarter past seven the strangers set fire to photos and all the old poems they wrote to stay warm in the wind that carried the smoke from the coal to the cool smooth skin of six strangers. They found warmth in the embers of photos forgotten and poems that never found purpose. And as the smoke from the fire pit scurried in between branches that bent above blankets that fashioned the softness of grass, the backyard behavior of strangers with beer in demeanor of diamonds not yet discovered, or taken or loved by a man who has seen her, she laughed away the lukewarm lullaby that took her away from tonight. The moon found the red on her fingers and sent stars to her mason jar heart.
Dome by Nate Eng
The girl in the black and white headband had a voice like a summer vacation. She says springtime sent her away to escape the sadness that stole her in Paris. A man that might have meant more to the world if heâ€™d lived just a little bit longer taught her to dance to beat of her heart to a violin song in France. But her voice only sounds like the summer in tune with the violin song. Now that heâ€™s gone, she speaks in the soft sound of autumn. She drinks from the bottle cabernet sauvignon to beat of the violin song. The boy in the bright blue button down shirt saw his mom in the shape of a sunhat. He modeled the motions of his motherâ€™s mistakes and walked in ways of misdirection. His addiction, confliction to the touch and mind of his momma, the aroma of her memory sought out in the scent of a cigarette. He posed like the girls on broadway posters pretending to be like the model his momma once dreamed she would be with a smile only sadness could sing. Faded but far from washed out were the strangers that met overseas. Stories and six packs of Heineken hymns gave them purpose and promise and poetry. And this backyard bunch went from blankets to bedrooms with bottles and boisterous noise and became the misfits searching for solace in the sounds of a newfound season.
Gin-Soaked Melody By Dylan Smith
I live in a room of gin-soaked melodies, deep inside the black ink ribbons of last year’s typewritten poems. Held captive and chained to bedposts and a ceiling fan in a hexagonal room, windowless, with empty bookshelves, and the ceiling leaks accumulated grime. I named my captor Sub-troubadourean Drink-sick Blues, the way its avant-sharde night chimes compliment the bongo beats, the way its skeleton keys can be heard over the hard rain. The room smells like coffee and beard trim, keeping out light, keeping time with Dali Clocks hungover countertops, delivering rhythmic tick tocks of throbbing thunder to my head. I still have memories of light, memories of good books and cold beers by misty summer rivers, of young girls flowering on seats of experimental cycles, of hammocks under shaded bridges and cigarettes on backyard couches.
But I have Stockholm Symptoms, light doesn’t stimulate me anymore. Without windows, I can be left alone for a while, left alone with the rain dog trumpets, alone with plagiarized poems and my unchained melancholy. Left alone to chain smoke and flirt with the purple phosphines that paint helical patterns on the walls of my mind’s swollen eye.
Out Of My Thoughts by Nathaniel Benjamin
Smelly, stagnant rooms; The fan hasn’t worked in a week. Whiskey soaked carpets, cigarette burns on the coffee table. 107 degrees and climbing. Can’t go outside. Can’t think. Nothing to do but sprawl across kitchen tiles and sweat; greyish sink water from half rusted pipes is the closest we get to heaven as it sizzles on our skin.
Three Months, Long Awaited By Kelsey Penrose
I always tan red in the summer. Not crisp like a lobster or burn like hot metal, But rather bake like the clay my toes pull up from the river. I pray for summer in the dead of winter, Nine long months of frost and blue fingers. But when it comes, I remember: Hot muggy studios, Slick scalps beneath ball caps and sun hats, Panting dogs in lawn chairs, porch sticky from dripping popsicles.
The air smells like fire— Brown smoke curls over the mountains, settles on the valley floor. Choked; tasting ash on our tongues with each breath. Evening swims in the river, dried sweat slipping away with the current: snakes shedding skin. Contained brush fire on the shore, Roasted hot dogs on green branches charred and dripping. Lazy, drunk and burnt, I am already wishing for Fall.
Scalding sand at the lake’s hidden beach Cheap beer anchored in the water, held down by rocks. A few escape, bob away; We salute those tiny tin sailors that fell overboard, too far out of reach to save. Our blood boils in the high desert sun, With nightfall, citizens turn loose on the town, Mad dogs with broken chains round their necks. 7
Birth Of Venus By Connor McCoy
By Nikki Raffail Ride me like the tidal wave that crashes through your veins. I am the moonlit clouds of your sleepless nights. I shine sunlight when you pull the shades closed. Chase me like lost dreams you gave up on six years ago. I am the feeling of nostalgia for a past you never had And I am the first thoughts of lust you hid from God. When my neck meets your shoulder, I melt like the last time you touched yourself and tasted the nectar of forbidden fruit. Together, we combined to one in the middle of a Sunday lost in smoke and recast upon eyelids in clouds of dreams. Feel me as strongly as the fist that clenches your heart. I am the unravelling of fingers. I feel the fist around my heart, too.
Opposite: Untitled by Shelby McAuliffe
November (and my jacket is thinner than it should be) By David Tilley
another brittle blown-leaf cadence as a cold wind pushes through newly-bare branches until wood and sky and I sit surrounded by what summer was.
We All Go Back To Nature by Katie Ogburn
Hara-kiri Fortune By Austin Wright
Emerick’s thoughts had been filled with ticks in recent weeks. Tick, tick, tick... Omnipotent, omnipresent misery from the hands of the god with the round, fat face, reminding him of every passing moment he would never get back - reminding him of all the time still ahead to lose. People had given him advice. He’d tried the yoga, the college, the pills, the talking, the listening, DIY self-help, and all of that stuff that makes time mean something, anything. Even the elevator had a clock. Repetitious jazz music drowned out his thoughts. Background noise, that’s all that yoga and college was, something to keep him busy while he waited. He ate Chinese before this. His favorite meal, and his favorite part was always the fortune cookie. He kept them, had a whole collection of fortunes in his wallet. Today’s fortune cookie told him, “Waiting is for the fortunate, patience is a virtue of the wealthy.” Waiting for what? What were the fortunate waiting for? Waiting to die? Would he know before death arrived? Would it let him know, when it was time? Would it come like a fortune out of a cookie? Fortunes never seemed to go along with anything that was going on in his life, they were completely random. Little jokes in the face of thousands of years of culture. They were like an obtuse note in a chorus of the mundane. Ambiguous. The elevator dinged and the doors opened. Time is never gentle. It’s not soft like a potter’s hands. It doesn’t mold shapes gently. He wished he could write that down and send it in to the fortune cookie people. It is a mindless, tyrannical force weighing down on the wrinkles, destroying both mankind and his civilization, eroding the cement and exposing the underlying warped and rusted rebar. Time was an invention; created to wipe the slates clean. After we are all dead, there will still be a clock somewhere. Keeping the time. Marking the rate of decay. For Emerick, this force had been recently introduced to him in full. Now he was on the edge of the General Motors Building, contemplating the emptiness of the air below and how easy it had been to get up there. All this time, it had always been just an elevator ride away. A short wire 15
fence was between him and the edge into nothing; it might as well have been the end of a flat world. Easy enough to step over, and he did. He thought of another fortune, “Land is always on the mind of a flying bird.” He felt numb. Heart pounding, senses heightened. Gripping the thin wire behind him. Feeling the grittiness of the gravel below his feet. How blue the sky was, not at all sad, but appropriate. He was above the smog. Looking down on the streets and cars, everything seemed to be tinted with a grey film. It reminded him of everything. Life, its cloudy moments of work, love, boredom, confusion, and the never-ending placidity in between. Being above it reminded him of being old. Being caught up in the fog was a young man’s game, but Emerick didn’t feel young. Because there comes an age. An age where life settles like sedentary dust. Placidity. Everything clears. He knew that. He knew it more than anything. A sort of blue clarity at a projection of zero: where the trajectory comes to a gradual rest. That almost sounded like a cryptic fortune. There is no getting things moving again. It’s inertia. “Once stopped, an object is harder to move.” Another fortune. Emerick knew this to be true. Emerick was getting closer. Emerick hated this. Why wait? Why bother with the background noise? Thirty-three, this would be Emerick’s year. His protest to the rest. His little joke. Thirty-three was the tipping point. He remembered a little haiku he had made out of fortunes and taped to his fridge: “Rivers need the springs It never pays to kick a skunk Patience is sweet fruit”. He had heard somewhere that almost all jumpers feel regret immediately after the initial leap, but how could anybody truly know that? Who was there to ask? Had those that survived really wanted to die? Not enough. That’s probably why they survived. He’d done his research: watched the goldengate bridge jumpers, seen the aftermath photos, listened to the interviews with survivors. He knew enough. The air around was so thin. He heard the noisy rhythms of a busy world traveling up from beneath the smog: buzzing of traffic, taxi horns, crowds on their way to cafes, and a sub- 16
way’s distant rumble. Somewhere, a voice asked, “What will you do now?” Always that question. His answer, “I don’t know, maybe I’ll eat some Chinese on lunch.” That was the pinnacle of excitement for as long as he could remember. Mu-Shu happiness. Maybe this ledge had represented all his life. He had always been staring into a greasy, smoggy oblivion. Slow death by MSG. What would ending it mean? Death would probably hurt, but pain, like anything else, was just an emotion; just firing chemicals, the same as heat, laughter, eating, sex. He pricked himself with a needle once to see how much it would hurt. It all has a threshold. For a moment, he caught the flicker of something in the sky. His eyes strained. Silvery flare, something glimmering. A plane maybe. He remembered all the times he’d been in a plane. All the places he’d traveled. “Hope comes like a glimmer, go somewhere new today.” Everywhere he went was the same. Because the baggage he wanted to get rid of wasn’t the kind you pack. “You can’t get rid of a soul. Meditate, be wise, and move on”- but it will always be there. That’s how that fortune should have ended. Wherever we go, we bring the all the places we’ve been with us. He paused, quieted his mind, tried to hear the sound of the jet stream, and then there was silence. Was the universe about to speak to him? “A very attractive person has a message for you,” last thursdays fortune. If there was any force, deity, attractive person, or otherwise, now was as good a time as any to speak up. The elevator behind him let out another sharp DING! Startled. Someone else coming up. Turning to look, he felt the gravel slip away. Stomach drop. He felt the wire graze his finger tip as he reached for it. How could he have not reached it? He was falling now. He felt robbed. Had he slipped or jumped? Did he feel regret? Too late. Too soon, always too soon, but not necessarily unforeseen. Emerick might have seen it. He recollected the flashing days. I guess that really happens to dying people. Moments were passing through his mind faster than all the shiny windows flying by. All his time still meant nothing. Married, divorced, grad-school, his job, and the classroom full of students that would be waiting for the professor that would never show. They’d laugh when they heard were flying with him. Little Chinese birds, falling like little
pieces of wise pigeon poop. Time could only be measured in seconds. He must be nearing the end. Flashes of his life seemed to be coming to a close. Somewhere, he thought he heard a baby cry, but then there was silence. Silence as painful as the silence that had led him here. Silence as thick as the blackness before birth. Maybe he caught a glimpse on the way down. An answer in the glare and reflection of the skyscraper glass. Golden windows flew by like morse code. Was it the universal force trying to finally communicate something? Was it laughing? Cruel and laughing. He closed his eyes. Time was never soft, and neither was the concrete below. That was a relief somehow. “The man on top of the mountain didn’t fall there.” Time never stops. Emerick knew that. It builds. Like a snowball rolling downhill, the further time goes on the more inertia it gathers. From the moment time started, it was fated to never stop. This fall had started at birth, but time seemed to pause now. “The wise lie still and listen.” Terminal velocity felt so still, like a deep sleep. This was it. No more seconds, no more hours - just nothing. Fantastic, wonderful nothing. Only a moment of pain. Any second now. Somewhere, someone found a fortune blowing on the sidewalk. It read, “A letter of great importance will reach you any day now.” The lucky numbers were: 5,6,3,2,9.
Five Minutes Wasted Alone in a Coffeeshop By Matthew Karr
What skyscrapers are you haunting. Impulsive consumer of abstract, private lives, Sitting in deserted cafes with an air Of thoughttrain graveyrads, forgotten Conversations floating like smoke In a theater, (giving substance to image). The tables have revolted and refuse To give such strong legs to this thought, (I have not done anything), And the coffee spills out its curved cage, (I have not done anything), And the papers take like wings to circle just outside depth of focus— (have not a thing)— So these fetters fit Not unlike a face: We can never(,) know(,) this(,) certainly Shifting through stresses with manic Gleam of meaning-change, Trains plotting their past in smoke, Catching light, visible from— Here, come close to me now, here, So close our eyes blur, And we can scarcely see the point.
Opposite: Many Faces by Zoe Durant
Blackbirds in Spring By Edgar Garcia
From Rosy Dawn to Lilac Twilight, I hear the Blackbirds chirping. Singing to the world, to me, Blissful tunes of the Free! Free Free Free Till
from chaining labour, from chaining feet, to munch on worms sunset dawns sleep.
-Why, They tease me! Whilst I mold to seat, They taunt my conformity And mock my grief! -No, They donâ€™t sing to me, They laugh at this misery! Watching us scribble away our lives Like limbless creatures Wiggling viciously in the dirt. Waiting for a shuffle of hope, Singing in elation, As they feast on our flesh.
New York City by Lucia Segura
The Old Hose On North Virginia By Jonathan Vivet
There isn’t a tool in a toolbox to fix what isn’t broken. A creased soul is all it is. Faded and crumbling, dry-wall flakes away and beams forget what once was their place. Don’t blame the old housemates or the landlord or the age. Some things just bend and need to be replaced.
Opposite by Clarisa Depari Below: Cadeca, After Hours Above: 4:55 PM
By Nathanael Mellum
“Let’s go to the fields.” “And what’s there to do there?” “Something. We’ll find something. Sure of it.” “Sure.” The two boys walked towards the fields. Down a grassy hill, crossing sidewalks, and following a dirt road up into the hills. The road was normally washed out during the spring rains and had just dried up a month ago. It was summer and cool and they both carried sticks they’d found. They looked for whatever it is young boys look for in the freedom of summer. They walked around the edge of the field and they both saw it was very yellow –fighting and creating as they circled it. The day drew on and neither of them noticed. “I need to go to dinner you know.” One of them said; the boy who had suggested they go there. “Fine. I’ll see you soon.” “Yes. By the creek. Tomorrow.” The boy ran off and the other sat in the grass, gazing across the field at the valley in the middle of which the sun would soon set. He knew he must leave soon as well, or else someone might come calling for him and he didn’t want that. But for a moment he sat with his stick next to him in the grass and trees behind and flowers in front. They were medium aged pines behind him and the flowers in front were very yellow with the sun on them. He was conscientious and young and strong. The peak of a solstice was not lost on him. As he gazed momentarily, tired and teachable, he heard the breeze and forest with other things. And then the young boy’s attention was stolen from him. Stolen by something foreign and fitting. He quickly recognized it as music and jumped to his feet and squinted and held his breathe. His stick lay on the ground where he left it and he strained in the twilight to hear over the rustle of the fields. It was not just music but singing and not just singing but song full of melody and charm. It came from the fields but he couldn’t see from where. He peered as he stood on a rock to
see over and across the tall flowers. The receding light hurt his eyes and he wondered harder than before from where such sounds might come. Without notice or need of warning, a form stood up from among the flowers and began walking towards the tree line. Towards where he stood and towards town. They were silhouetted and he couldn’t make them out. He put his hand up to block the sun. It’s hard to say who was startled more, but she recovered faster. She had seen him at about 20 feet and only halted a moment before continuing past him, still singing softly. He turned to watch her walk into the trees. He left his stick when he went home. ------------“And how it was such a beginning,” muttered the old man to himself. He set the notebook and pen next to him on the slatted bench. The wood was new and smooth as he ran his hand over the backrest and gazed out over the flowers. The old man was old and he felt old. He knew he had naught to give to the world anymore but words, and he did give those, as he sat between the tree line and the yellow flowers, he did. “I hadn’t seen her because she blended in.” He thought. “The daffodils were the same as her hair. And I’d die on the fact that they copied her. They were a product of her.” “I hadn’t even known they were daffodils, hadn’t even thought about it. How damned lucky I was - lucky I am. She told me what they were. She knew.” The old man clenched his fists and brought his arms in close to his chest. The sun was setting and the shadow of the mound next to the bench cast its shadow deeper and deeper, minute after minute. The stone on the top read: “My Flower.” The old man didn’t look at it, but thought how it all happened together, the flowers, and the shadow, the mound, the sun; like clockwork. Inevitable clockwork. He looked out over the fields and the solstice was not lost on him. He listened and heard the breeze. He squinted and saw only daffodils. 26
By Ally Messer Her eyes screamed with a fierce determination and love for a city of strangers surrounded by skyscrapers sprouting like venus flytraps in the summer heat.
La Habana, Cuba by Clarisa Depari
Just Before Surgery By Nicholas Ruggieri
As the anesthetic knocks you out, your surgeon washes his hands and misses a really easy shot into the garbage with his used paper towel.
Fly On The Floor By Nathaniel Benjamin
a fly lives in my room, but it doesn’t fly anymore. just walks on the carpet around the legs of the table where i keep my plants, it wiggles its legs and its body shakes a little. it hops over the electrical cords. yesterday i picked it up, thinking it was dead. i shook it up in my hand. it didn’t move until i dropped it into the cup where i collect all the bugs who die in my room. when it hit the air, it took a short flight and landed on a leaf. now it just crawls around on the floor, debilitated. i hope i didn’t break its wings.
By Matthew Karr
Broadway by Emmanuel Perez
You dip the bowl deep and pour All this accidental vision into the bucket. How can I say “houses” and “people” Like they’re knowable, when even this home Needs a therapist.
The two basins slowly fill themselves, Grey water swirling particulates of past food, And look like eyes, deep and slowly. The eyes bulge with rising wetness And extend to a point near tears.
I was forced to reconsider this temporary analysis In the face of tonight’s eyes. All our drains are clogged in odd places, With an intricate and labyrinthine piping Designed (by Escher, I believe) To back up all the washer water into the sink.
I like my people like I like houses: Disposing properly of sewage.
Wormhole Opposite: Dysphoria by Erin Wohletz
Lust after me By Ally Messer
I hope you dream about the way my skin wraps around my bones or the translucency of my eyelids and the way my veins glow a glaucous blue. I hope you write songs based on the drumbeats of my heartâ€™s palpitations, remember my strained breath as I scale the stairs and how my wheezing reminds you of a woman you saw getting off the bus; my breath pushing and pulling like the hem of her skirt as she hurried through the crowds.
Dragon Chaser By Kelsey Penrose
This story has a happy ending for Chyanne. She meets me at the bottom of the stairs that lead up to her apartment in the old, crumbling building complex. Everything is grey here: the stairs, the brick walls, the torn outdoor carpeting; hell, even the people are grey, with vacant eyes, thinning hair and missing teeth. Three discarded Playskool tricycles litter the walk way and two toddlers clad in diapers and oversized t-shirts play “Navy” in an overturned broken refrigerator. There are no parents in sight, but I overlook these things, overwhelmed with happiness to see my long-lost friend. She throws her arms around my neck and laughs; she smells exactly the same as when we were kids, something I always forget until I see her again. “So this is your place?” I ask as we climb the stairs, saluting to the tiny sailors as we pass. “It is! It’s not much but you know, it’s ours!” “I’m proud of you, Chyanne. You’re still clean right?” “Still clean, girl, I promise. I mean, besides weed. You want to smoke a bowl?” “No, thanks. I’ll take a cigarette if you’ve got one.” “Of course!” We sit on the couch inside her little living room and blow smoke through her open door. 37
The blinds on the window are dusty and bent, the carpet is littered with stains and the only stick of furniture is the one we’re planted on, but I can’t help but grin. The last time I saw Chyanne she was rail thin, stripping underage at some seedy Men’s club in Carson to fuel either her meth or heroin addiction, whichever was worse that week. Her pick scars are still very much engraved across her face and arms, but they’re starting to fade now and I can’t see any fresh ones, and on top of that she’s starting to gain a little weight back. I can hear her girlfriend in the other room watching T.V., but she doesn’t come out; she and I have never been fans of each other, and we keep our unspoken distance. Chyanne and I talk for a while, catching each other up. She’d been in Oregon getting clean; she’d found a guy and lived with him for a couple months, some childhood friend although he’s ten years older than her. He got her pregnant, she had an abortion, and subsequently they did not work out. Then of course, her and Leah had reunited and tried giving Carson another shot, even though Chyanne still has several felony warrants out for her arrest. Drug related, stealing, abandoning court-ordered rehab; that sort of thing. Nothing too serious in her view of the world. Finally, I get to the reason I’ve tracked her down. “Have you seen Michael?” Her face darkens just slightly and her eyes shift to the cigarette between her fingers. “Girl, I told you I’m clean.” “I’m not asking if you’ve been buying from him. I just can’t find him, and his parents haven’t seen him in a few weeks. I’m getting worried.” “Well I mean, I hear things.” “What’d you hear?” “That he’s been hanging around at Tommy’s place, sleeping on his floor and slingin’ to the highschoolers.” “Jesus Christ. Is he still there now?” 38
“No, not for a week or so. Tommy’s all pissed because Michael ran off with ten points and was supposed to bring back at least two hundred that night but he never came back. Nobody’s seen him since.” “Well, who else has he been hanging around with? What about Gabe?” “I don’t know, probably.” “Well, will you help me find out? This is important. His mom thinks he’s dead.” “I don’t think he’s dead.” “Well he sure as hell is good at hide-n-seek then. Come on.” She casts an eye towards the closed bedroom door and Leah beyond it, but a devious glint comes into her eye. “Alright yeah, let’s go.” She doesn’t say goodbye. We get in my car and drive to Mound House, home of Nevada’s few legal brothels and a whole bunch of methed out trailer folk. Chyanne was my first friend in third grade, and we’ve been orbiting each other in some way or another since then. It’s so nice to see her, although she’s far less quick witted than she was as a kid, and a tooth at the corner of her lips has started to rot on one side. She’s clean at least, and that’s what really matters. She transferred her Jack in the Box job down from Eugene, and has been working both there and as a waitress at Denny’s since she’s been back. She glows as she talks about her success and I’m so proud I could cry. She was raised by a single mother who worked graveyard at Walmart to pay the bills, hopping from shitty apartment to shitty apartment, sometimes with a step-father here and there, nothing too permanent. The fact she’d eventually found drugs isn’t surprising. But Michael was--is--different. He was raised by two loving parents in a nice house with a front yard and a dog, went to nice schools and had dinner made for him every night. For his sixteenth birthday he got a cake and a car at his party. He had a college fund. Now he slinks from dealer’s house to dealer’s house, begging for favors and offering to sling, if only for just a 39
40 For Those Willing by Leona Novio
met: the day he died in my car. Chyanne had owed me gas money for some previous “errands” a week or so before, and all she needed, she claimed, was a ride to pick up some money from her “friends”. I knew it was drug related of course, but at that point I still had my faith. This was my friend for Christ’s sake, nothing would go wrong. I trusted her. We had met Gabe and his friend Danny in the Lowe’s parking lot in Carson, and they hopped into the backseat of my car after hugs for Chyanne and hand shakes for me. They were both very clean cut, not what you’d expect when you hear the term “junkie.” She pulled out a little cellophane baggie from her pocket with two black sticky balls each about the size of a No.2 pencil eraser and handed it back to them in exchange for a weatherworn twenty dollar bill. I had expected that to be the end, that they’d hop back out as quickly as they came, but they stuck around and chatted with Chyanne for a minute about some party they’d all been to a few nights before. It was all very normal, very pleasant. I didn’t see the needle or the spoon. I heard the familiar hiss of a lighter, but who doesn’t smoke cigarettes these days? Slowly the hairs stood up on the back of my neck and I checked my rear view mirror by some unnameable instinct, the same instinct that tells you the phone is about to ring a split second before it does, or that your goldfish probably isn’t going to make it through the night. Gabe was that gold fish. His head was leaned against the door window, and he was so, so very pale. The tendons all stuck out on the sides of his neck and his jaw slacked open just enough to let a thin stream of drool slide out through the corner. Danny was still prattling on about something irrelevant, completely unaware that his friend was no longer listening. Blue had crept into his lips and across all the tiny blood vessels in his face that you shouldn’t be able to see through skin, but his had now become translucent. His eyes rolled back into his head and I started to scream.
The House on First Street Looks Greener in Winter by Michelle Lassaline
little taste to get him through the day, the hour, the minute. She directs me to a trailer not too far from the one she grew up in as a teenager, back towards the barren dusty hills that separate Mound House from Carson. The amount of rabbit brush out here always gets to me, and I roll up the windows before the pollen can attack. “The blue one,” she says, and I pull up to the end of the gate. Beside the peeling blue double wide sits a gutted old pile of rust that may have been a car at one point. Slumped next to it are several empty ceramic plant pots and a single, lopsided cactus trying desperately to grow as far from the trailer as possible. A square of chain link fence encases two skinny dogs: a lab and some sort of wiry mutt, both barking their heads off at our arrival. “You stayin here?” she asks, and I nod. When I was younger during the days I would trail after Chyanne and Michael on their drug-fueled hunts, I was naïve enough to think that I would be safe, that “everything was cool” as they had always liked to chant like some solemn invocation to the god of heroin. It took years for me to lose my faith in junkies, and I’ll never be able to rebirth that optimism. I lock the car doors as soon as she’s out, and stare at her back while she swings her legs over the rusting metal gate. She calls sweetly to the dogs, who bark even louder in return, and prances up the gravel driveway, the image of confidence. She’s always been so comfortable in surroundings that would make the faint of heart run screaming back to suburbia, and I envy her for that peculiar bravery. The door opens before her foot even reaches the bottom step, and Gabe steps out, glaring against the sunlight. There’s no smile in his gaunt face, but he gives her a hug, wrapping his arms around her thin frame. He tries to coax her into the trailer, but she stands her ground. The last time I saw Gabe was the first time we’d
“Your friend! He’s dying!” Danny and Chyanne looked at Gabe in alarm, but Danny waved it off. “Don’t worry, this happens all the time.” “What do you mean this happens all the time? What’s wrong with him?!” I saw then that Gabe’s sleeve was rolled up past the crook of his elbow revealing the crisscross patchwork of bruises and black, collapsed veins beneath his skin. Danny was holding the needle at that point, the spoon laid between them on my seat, on my mother’s seat. I watched in horror as he slid it beneath his own skin in the practiced manner of a phlebotomy technician. His head nodded forward on his neck like a broken bobblehead. Gabe made one single gagging noise from deep inside his throat, and then he was silent. I put my hand under his nose, and felt nothing but the coolness radiating from his skin. “He’s not breathing!” Danny groaned as a father would with a troublesome child at the end of a busy day and he shook Gabe’s shoulder after setting down the needle and rolling down his own sleeve, painfully slow. His eyes were glazed, his words slowed almost to a halt. “Gabe. Hey, Gabe.” Gabe didn’t answer. “Gabe!” He slapped him across the face, twice, three times; hard enough that I heard his teeth click together beneath his blue lips. “I’m calling the cops,” I said, panicked. As terrible as it is, my first gut instinct was to simply get out of the car, open the door and let the dead teenager in my back seat slip onto the parking lot pavement, get back behind the wheel and drive away, never looking back. But instead, I pulled out my phone. “No!” Chyanne and Danny screamed in unison, eyes wide with the first notion of fear. The disgust rose in my throat like bile. Before I could punch in those three numbers, Danny whacked Gabe under the chin hard enough to smack his head against the window, and we 43
all heard the rattling, panicked inhalation of a body on autopilot. His eyes lurched forward after a few more breaths, but they were glazed and rolling in every direction. “Jesus, buddy, you gotta quit doing that,” Danny said with a heavy tongue, patting him on the shoulder. “You alright?” “Fine,” Gabe answered with a hoarse cough. He smiled with pale gums and still-blue lips, and a shudder ricocheted up my spine. I dropped them off in Mound House; they shot up again an hour later, and I never went back. .:|:. Now I watch the dead boy leaned up against a wooden porch post, thin skeletal arms crossed over his chest. He is no longer the seemingly clean cut teenager fooling around with recreational drugs I’d met a few years ago. No, the addiction claimed this one, now nothing more than a vessel for the hunger. His head is shaved almost to the scalp, all sharp angles and pale skin, gaunt cheekbones and bruised eyes. Those eyes glance toward the car, and me inside it, but he doesn’t recognize me. To him I’m just another driver like so many others before, trying to squeeze a few bucks out of a fellow addict for the use of gas and wheels. He’s shaking his head, and gestures wildly this way and that, a grim scowl growing steadily across his face as he growls indistinctly about something. Chyanne shrugs and lifts her palms to him, taking a step back from the porch. She turns on her heel and walks back to the car while he shouts something after her, but she doesn’t look back. I unlock her door and she slides in, shaking her head. “Well?” “He was here, yeah, the day after he left Tommy’s. I guess he crashed for a couple nights, but when Gabe woke up he’d split with all the cash in his wallet. Wasn’t much, of course, only about forty bucks, but...” “Does he know where he went?” 44
“No. But now he’s looking for him, too.” “God damnit.” I throw the car into reverse and get out of Mound House as fast as I can, speeding past trailers and brothels until we shoot over the pass to Carson, and I can breathe again. “There’s one more place we can try,” she says. “I heard Ashley’s using again, maybe they’re back together?” “Christ, well that’s just great. Where is she living now?” “With her mom still, just up the road.” I pull onto the unmarked street from the main drag and do my best to avoid the potholes that could shove me into the ditches on either side of the road. A tumbleweed dances past, and I’m reminded again of how much I despise this town. Everything is dead, or crawling towards it. You don’t notice it as a child, when everything is big and loud and wonderful, but as the years go by it all begins to shake and wiggle and crack until the black ugly underbelly is exposed, and you’re slapped with the realization it’s been there all along, breeding and seething everywhere you look. Chyanne hops out of the car and knocks on Ashley’s parents’ door. It opens a crack and an old leathery face appears; she’s no more than about forty, but years of smoking and probably dabbling in meth earlier in life have left her as a shell. Smoke rises between Ashley’s mother and Chyanne, and she takes a long drag ending in a whopper of a cough before speaking. Ashley was only fourteen when she got hooked, one of the baby users that would smoke “H” as they called it (either to make it sound less awful or more fashionable, but probably both) at the smoker’s corner across from school at lunch her freshman year. When Michael was a dealer, she was his slinger, and they were “in love” until he ran out of money and therefore she ran out of an excuse to sleep with him. I’ve always hated her. The door closes, and Chyanne trots back to the car. 45
“So?” “Ashley’s in juvie. She got popped for stealing Blu-Rays from Walmart last week. They haven’t seen Michael in months.” “What do we do now?” “I don’t know, girl. I can’t answer that. Michael’s gonna do what he’s gonna do. I know you want to help him, but you just can’t. You should know that better than anyone.” Finally, I stop. I shut off the ignition and lean my forehead against the steering wheel and let the tears come. My brother, my best friend, gone. I finally accept now that I’ll probably never get him back. He’d been hooked on heroin once before, only for a couple months. I didn’t know him besides the occasional party or nod in the parking lot at school. He was good friends with my boyfriend at the time Thomas, and once Michael was clean and back from rehab, we started hanging out. I would spend my time with him while Thomas was at work, playing with his dog or watching cartoons or driving aimlessly around town to drink slushies and eat burgers that his mom would pay for. When Thomas went away to boot camp for the air force, I clung to Michael and his family. I had a room at his house, I ate dinner with his parents every night, I babysat his nephew. Everything was fine until he cracked his collarbone when we went snowboarding on the first run of the season. The doctor prescribed morphine, because of his high tolerance to pain killers. What a joke. In a few weeks he was back on heroin. He used the pills as an excuse to sneak past drug tests since morphine is an opiate. He lost nearly seventy pounds, his cars, his job, his home. He could come back to his parents at any time, just so long as he was clean. He wouldn’t; couldn’t. His hunger was so great he would rather waste away to a dirty shriveled husk in some moldy gutter rather than give up the one thing that was killing him, the one thing he loved more than his own life. His mother used to brag about his science 46
awards and his perfect report card. Now she calls me asking if he’s still alive. He’s been an addict for nearly four years now. I let myself cry for awhile, in defeat more than sadness, until Chyanne rubs my back and coos something soothing: meaningless words with a tone to make me feel like everything’s not falling apart. She lights a cigarette and passes it over; I laugh and wipe my face, pushing my skull back against the head rest. “Sorry,” I say, wiping my nose on my sweatshirt sleeve. “Girl, you’ve seen me a lot worse.” “Very true.” I drive her back to her apartment and hug her goodbye. “Thanks for helping me today.” “Anytime.” “I’m proud of you, Chy.” “Thanks, girl.” “I love you.” “I love you, too.” “Say hi to Leah for me, I guess.” “I will.” She sighs and glances back towards her apartment. The refrigerator sailors are gone, but their empty ship remains. It’s getting dark, the sun still barely reaching over the western mountains, and the grey renters have retreated back to their living cubicles. I know this isn’t what she imagined her life to be, but it’s better than it was a year ago. Far, far better. She lights another cigarette and hops out of the car. I see the silhouette of Leah in the doorway, waiting anxiously for Chyanne to return, arms crossed over her bony frame. Chy climbs the stairs slowly, keeping her head focused anywhere but on that door. It shuts behind her, and she’s gone. .:|:.
posters plastered to telephone poles and bulletin boards, to see my brother smiling up from the back of milk boxes. The last anyone has heard from him was a post on Facebook on January 12th . It read: I’m a thief a liar and a worthless junkie At first, I took this as a sign that he was getting better. Then I worried it was a suicide note. I told myself a year ago that I couldn’t help him anymore. After undergoing a half-hour berating about him by the cops for the dozenth time, I told him that I loved him, and that I would be here for him when he needed me, but I couldn’t watch him kill himself anymore. So far, he I guess he hasn’t needed me. I used to go to Narcotics Anonymous meetings with Chyanne and Michael, to make sure that he was actually going; she didn’t have a choice, if she missed one, she was back in jail. They had all types of catchy slogans and quotes they would drawl out across the room from the Book, but my favorite will always be the simplest: “The secret to long term recovery: Don’t use, don’t die.” Chyanne got clean. I think of her whenever I worry that Michael is dead in some ditch on the side of a road in Dayton being pissed on by stray dogs with a needle stuck in his arm. Every junkie is a person; they have a name and a family and a story. They learned to ride a bike and believed in Santa and celebrated birthday parties and baked cookies. It’s just that the person is buried deep down inside under their addiction. Chyanne crawled out from beneath her piles and piles of countless addictions.
Maybe Michael will follow one day.
I miss Michael. No one has seen him in weeks, and I half expect to start seeing his face on lost 47
Lilac Chaser Opposite: Common Fate by Austin Pratt
Something Like Wine By Edgar Garcia
Attempts Momentary Separation Between Mind and Body An emancipation Of Intertwined and Inseparable Starry Lovers Sworn in Blood But Lips stained Red Show Sins Dead and Bled Burden’d Temples Purged and Bathed With Sweat and Tears
Open Arms And Empty Hearts All But Rest and Wait Like Faithful Entities For Sins to Root Their Fertile Grounds So Where shadows meet their Creator Earth’s Elation Springs Tiny Feet Eagerly Dancing Or Eternal Separation Between Mind and Body Succeeds
10,000 Leagues Under the Psyche By Tiffany Javier
As your cold shoulders freeze over my warmest memories Titanic feelings skim the surface of my subconscious Steering the wheel inside my head In an attempt to dodge the inevitable But it does not take an iceberg of a thought For my mind to capsize I would much rather drown in the idea of you Than tread in your absence
By Ardonna Cardines i wish i had never drowned in those sepia oceans behind your black rimmed frames and grime stained lenses. because maybe then, 2am’s and 2pm’s would not feel like an infinite abyss. because maybe then, these stupid creatures called missing you’s and wanting you’s would not drag me deeper.
Opposite: Ocean Storm by Edwin Johnson
By Daniel Putney
Given to Grief by Nathaniel Benjamin
We have killed on this gravelly path, dust obscuring our sins; marigolds breathe the memories of blood, sweat, and tears, carbon locked into glucose molecules, death buried within; the ghosts burn white in the sky, flickering, a message of godlessness to permeate our bones, a tale embedded in the cosmos, asteroids carrying the rumors of the dead; lies revised line the soil that gives life to our beautiful facade, truth sequestered in the silent existence of our expert witnesses, shouting but never heard; sweet nothings fill the atmosphere tainted with our past, non-communicable to the eyes of the pure
Sunrise by Shelby McAuliffe
This Has Just Begun By Steve Elegant
I think that I saw myself on that corner. The man I was when I gave away my control. The man who taught me the meaning of scratching the top of the bottom of the barrel. That Mohawk, those patches, my beliefs painted on that cracking black leather jacket covering the holes in my pride that are abscessing on my flesh. My pride in my chipped teeth, and my slavery. Ashamed to ask any other soul for a hand they have not offered. Fighting to make this whole world sane through my own slipping mental state. Escapes that cost close to nothing that eat away at that which I know no longer holds meaning, me. I know that tonight I would forage through your discarded memories for a morsel of a truth I might remember. In a box in Los Angeles still holds all those precious things that I’ll hold onto. I was there once. I can still feel the summer’s heat stained onto my skin. I still see me there on that corner. The stains of so many battles fought with so little regard for the pain I may endure with scars so far below the surface. My face a place where hate made lines that bare that my truth. I bore you my soul on my everything, and even I rejected me. And where I hid was another atrocity of self, and somewhere that was only just short of hell. I will sleep tonight on borrowed floor space. I will dream of the life of war I will walk through. Where flashing red and blue could mean a death sentence, or at minimum three days off their streets now swept clean. I still see him. Still fighting, still dying on that corner. I will miss him someday, but, for now, I will wish him well, and hate him, for his freedom.
That Wearisome Morning By Matthew Karr
So many roads have led to the same town, gutters lined with discontent and emptied up boxes already thought out of. The scrapbook streets welcome, attach themselves— the snapshots framed by L-shaped hands; from dead-end roundabouts they coalesce paper trails, fragile map of invisible streets, a sense of direction, distance. Every morning streaking the sidewalk with soaked-through shoes— the rain comes before dawn, leaves with yesterday’s footprints— the epiphany addict wakes to light, where the manifestos have flattened into daydreams, again, he walks, collects his scattered secrets, himself, ink running from the pockets, (stained with failure of our most basic tools, like glue is always a changeable decision), and the way out of town a journey drier by degrees until it seems that the water never came at all, and the desert an exercise the persistence of our needs.
Windwitch By David Tilley
I don’t know if I’ve been here long enough. I don’t know if my roots have grown deep enough to keep me on the ground. I taste dust in my teeth and I’m not sure that I can stand upright much longer. I always thought that one strong wind would be enough to blow me over, knock me out of here with all the other brittle things and I’d keep blowing for a while, but they’ve been getting stronger. I’ve seen telephone lines tangled around tree-branches and muck-water lap against the bottoms of bridges I’ve seen cottonwoods bend until broken splayed open across sidewalks. I’ve seen windwitches holding circle against chain-link fences in a deep dust-haze, stacked deep enough I couldn’t count them. I thought that I might be them uprooted but stuck fast against the wire insubstantial but still crushed beneath the weight of all the shifting rolling trash I am an accumulation of dry, thorny pieces that aren’t growing anymore. They haven’t been for a while, nowbut I don’t think this wind is blowing hard enough. 61
Bukaki by Zoe Durant
By Michael Blane What once was heavy is still heavy. See the thick hair through the twelve dollar stockings. See the sunrise through the blinds of her childhood room. But not breasts through the black lace. Not feminity, except with eyes closed. I may as well have been screaming “validation!” In sick desperate mimicry of a person I read about once who wore A long dress and beard. Yeah, the whole world’s a stage And I’m playing sincerity But smiling off cue.
el by Austin Rud n Mod d Ur ba
Artist On River by Edwin Johnson
Why I Leave the Blinds Open at Night By Tiffany Javier
Somewhere along the sunrise I saw Mountains turn into hills Oscillating between atmospheres of ozone And I swore god was doing trigonometry As I watched the rays sandpaper The edges of tomorrow into a sine Deep in Parisâ€™ oldest church Descartes is smiling His lips squared into a parabola As his perfect idea of a deity Finally intersects the physical plane Every morning a mathematical genesis Mere seconds away from revelation I stared until my pupils proved the weaker spheres Against my solar companion Reminded of why her creator must have Rested on the seventh day
Interstice By Tiffany Javier
I want to feel like you are just a fold away As if we took a map of the world And put our locations together with a simple crease A paper tsunami to cover the desert between us And end the drought of contact But there would still be a gap An empty space just like your side of my bed Where the scent of your hair sleeps on the sheets And the imprint of your body blindsides me of your absence Everyone tells me to sight in hind But maybe I have already fallen through the crack After taking that leap of faith to you It makes me wonder why we could not meet halfway Where the mountain range kisses the road that leads me to you 69
Untitled by Courtney Ackerman
Blackheads By Ally Messer
We were hormone-ripened swine. Gorged with liquid euphoria, we stared through our convulsions at a long exposure skyline, our index fingers throbbing for something other.
The Beholder by Leona Novio
By Sam Isaiah I plead guilty as charged to chasing a moment instead of a future, to writing a poem instead of a memoir, to meaning everything I didn’t say, so if I wasn’t aware then take me back and break me better, because people like us shut down. It’s not about words when the pen doesn’t fit in my fingers. It’s about knowing the pen doesn’t fit and fucking doing something about it. Do your dork thing and smile in the line of fire. Speak. Sing. Plead guilty as charged to dirty thoughts and two day socks and wine because it’s sweeter, to running from the sirens just to feel between my fingers, to falling for the other man ‘cause the sex was more your style. Lie. Leave. Plead guilty as charged and PICS move IN on. PLACE HERE TO SAVE LINKS TO FILE There are sweeter sins than Zinfandel FLEXIBLE TO MOVE AROUND and higher crimes than indica. RIGHT:UNTITLED There is promise for the passionate.
LEFT: BIG HORN SKULL BY ZAC HALEY
Big Horn Skull by Zac Haley
Painted Air By M.D. Gale
Jon walked into a room full of motion. He stood at the door for a moment as he gazed almost surprised at the art created in the midst of what might have appeared to be chaos to any other man. There was a swirl of paintbrushes in 30 shades simultaneously filling in the sketches drawn on the walls and over the ceiling. Not a drop was wasted as the paint itself was full of life, filling what the brushes could not touch. Jennifer was sitting on the floor in the center of the room dipping paintbrushes in paint and then letting them lift from her hand into the air to paint the walls. Her back was to the door and Jon realized she hadn’t seen him, so he stayed with the wallpaper and watched her create the silent masterpiece. She looked up at the mural as it was being painted and then everything stopped. For a moment it was as if time itself had frozen as the paint stopped seeping and the brushes ceased to slide gracefully through the air. He could see Jennifer focusing on one area on the wall as the paint lifted from the wall in shapes of partially dried gum and liquid, meshing together softly as they traveled from the walls into the center of the room. “You’re improving.” The paintbrush in between Jennifer and the dancing painting that reflected in her eye exploded silently into a thousand shards and the paintbrushes hovering in the air began to fall as she turned her head to look at Jon. Within half a moment, she quickly looked back and the brushes collected mid fall into a basket that rose to catch them as the floating murals smashed softly back into the wall to create a crude mosaic of paint.
“Sorry-” Jennifer looked at him a bit embarrassed. “I got distracted.” She bit her lip and looked at the floor and Jon walked into the room, gazing at the walls. “This is nice.” “No it’s not.” Jennifer’s voice echoed behind him and Jon turned on his heel to face her and realized she was still on the floor. He sat down in front of her. “How can you say that? Look what you just did.” She smiled for a moment and looked back skeptically. He tilted his head in amused curiosity. “It’s not nice. It isn’t… beautiful. I’m not much of an artist.” She smiled for a moment and looked back at him as the smile fell from her lips, but stayed in her eyes. “… That’s not the best you can do. Show me what you are really trying to make. You don’t need thirty paintbrushes to do it.” The smile turned into a serious look as he spoke sternly. “You’re right. I don’t need a paintbrush.” She grinned as she turned from him and eight tubes of acrylic paint lifted up and the containers collapsed as the paint slithered through the air and moved across the wall. A sunset over water began to form across the wall and ceiling. A moon appeared in the paint and tiny reflections of stars shimmered into the art. She isn’t even moving. She is just imagining it.
Do I Exis?t By Joey Thyne sitting on the beach alone waiting for the sunrise irritable because i know i have to work in the morning listening to the salt water encounter the sand attempting to discern where the scattered stars end and where the reflection begins questioning if its better to be smart or to be happy because im not sure if im either anymore wondering when my mind will begin to decieve me and how or if i will be able to tell
thinking how everyday people are born and how everyday people die and most people dont cry and nothing changes contemplating how one day i was born and one day i will die and most people wont cry and nothing will change realizing i will never be someone else and i will never live sometime else imploring if no one sees me or hears me or thinks about me do i exis?t
Menagerie By Daniel Putney
We are known by our prescription labels, six digits generated into a web of infinities Numbers are exchanged with bloody pens and calloused hands, an icebreaker for the sociopathic Doctors serve as wingmen to our palaver, prattle borne in latex and scalpels Belligerent words are spoken in litanies, memorized, showcasing neuroses in kinesics O death! We chant together like cult members praying for the apocalypse Who knew group therapy was a caricature of lost souls?
We are the animals living in a microcosmic dystopia, obscured by PhDs and pious passerby Our go-to pick-up line is â€œPsychoanalyze me,â€? a mating call for the effaced; forgotten Tongues are tangled in death wishes and dreams of glistening morgues Ravenous for love denied to us outside Hippocratic walls Our wilderness exists in white-washed hospital lobbies, a congregation of the damned This is our asylum
A tryst of pill poppers and schizoid vagrants paralyzed in collapsible chairs
Ringworm by Erin Wohletz 33
Modest Proposal by Matthew Karr
Respite for Night By Steve Elegant
I stop on starlit nightstands cautiously pirouetting precariously close to the edge of a concept I cannot conceive of. Where the reflection of my madness hits the precipice on repeat. You are a habit. Youâ€™re the spike in my veins, the tap in my brain when the sun hits my pain. You erase me. Make me wonder what might happen if I took my mask off, even if I am just by myself. What reflection in the mirror might stare back, and wave. A paradigm where my malignant nature might be something to be purged. Like the ideas I disregard are simply waiting to be birthed. How human nature is more than just biochemistry waiting to explode. How you look at me when I choose to disrobe. How you matter, in more than just words. How I choose to observe your every last detail. So kill me slowly, passionately, with your gun to my heart even now as I finally understand that it is beating.
Searching For the Sound by Nate Eng
Swarm by Erin Wohletz
Reader, Thank you. For all that you are. Just the way you are. Thank you.
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