The B'K Volume 11, Issue 2

Page 1



bitchin’ kitsch

Vol. 11 Issue 2

The Bitchin’ Kitsch (2010-present) or The B’K is a quarterly compzine edited and published by The Talbot-Heindl Experience, LLC in Denver, CO. The B’K is an outlet for people who may not be accepted or considered by more traditional publications. The B’K aims to have a diverse publication from a diverse set of voices and promises inclusivity, diversity, and respectful discourse. Issues are published in January, April, July, and October.


Editor-in-Chief and Design: Chris Talbot-Heindl Editor: Dana Talbot-Heindl


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About the Cover

Digital painting titled “Climate Change Denial” by Anselmo J. Alliegro.

Table of Contents Art

Anselmo J. Alliegro Sasheera Mehrani Gounden Keith Moul Mark Myavec Emily Rose Schanowski Olivier Schopfer Dana Talbot-Heindl


DC Diamondopolous Zach Murphy Rhema Sayers

cover 23 9, 27, 43 52 17 13, 35 45

6-8, 28-31 48-49 24-26

Non-Fiction Alyssa Cokinis Chris Talbot-Heindl


H.E. Grahame Clara B Jones B.A. McRae Josh Medsker Zach Murphy KG Newman Alex Andy Phuong Richard Salembier John Sweet Dr. Mel Waldman Peter Waldor

10-11 18-19, 50-51

15, 44 4-5 47 32-34 21 22, 39 12, 38 20, 46 37 16, 36 40-42 14


Bluebirds by:

Clara B. Jones CW: Drug use for ”Samo”—Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988, drug overdose)


Romance is a trope like a bot— human antibodies in lymph nodes driving cell size or DDX21 infecting chromatin. mRNA is the right tool for the job, but he shot up in Prospect Park while you were birdwatching near the tunnel sheltering tourists from the rain. Bluebirds are as rare as Inga flowers in Brooklyn though you spotted two on a bench beneath a maple along the sidewalk on the way to the cantina where you bought tortillas and Tapatio® in case he dropped by at dusk. You like to wear your black hat with a shirt the color of red macaws—shoes green as Cecropia leaves on your feet reminding you of his shirt burned while he was using—like genes transcribing proteins or renal cells unspooling. Bluebirds are a type of thrush breeding in March, and you are the most stylish man living in the projects.


Soy will make you happy for life if bots cure your suffering, and the gap between your teeth makes it easy to strain carrots out of your soup. You ate snake tacos in Mexico while the stock market was crashing, and your arms were scored with track marks, but you made a good omelet. You shared your fruit with spider monkeys when they followed you to Cañas, and Trumpism was the new black though your cat disappeared in June, and bankers refused to invest in your art. For full coverage, you chose the Chinese plan. You shopped a startup before walking away since you never kept up with the competition but failed at whatever you tried when transferring drugs from Cali to SoHo though your gigabit connection was wired to cities overrun by rabbits and Phragmytes. You accepted their support, but everything that happened was beyond repair.


1945 by:

DC Diamondopolous

widower, had moved into ourpiece neighborhood. I was kneading At the time this was published, we weredough when I looked up andof watched the child glide her (racist sled down unaware the problematic pieces anda snowbank and slam into a tree. I ran across the street. “Are you hurt?” transphobic) that the author was publishing

elsewhere. After of these pieces, we She scowled. “Mind your ownlearning beeswax.”

decided to remove this author from our issues.

I ignored her sass and asked if she would like a nice piece of hot and shook her head. Teresa repeated the stunt and sailed free all the “Can my pop have one too?” The next year the stock market crashed, and we plunged into the Depression. I’d see Teresa walk home from school, alone, shoulders slumped, eyes downcast. We all wore threadbare clothes, but her charity hand-meOne day, I invited her to see Shirley Temple in Bright Eyes. Coming out of the theatre, she reached for my hand, such sweetness in her grasp. From then on I became her cheerleader, my pompoms the crocheted scarves and sweaters I made for her. From the end of the Depression to another War, changes occurred every minute—and right here, in Farmingdale, New York. In the winter of ‘42, Teresa got a job at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. I’d be at my window at six o’clock making dinner as she arrived home in a car full of girls. She ran with newfound joy up the steps to the front door, turn, wave to her friends and then to me. Her smile brought riches not even Rockefeller could buy. porch. “Oh Aunt Lena, I never knew working with my hands could everything the men did. But our paychecks are nothing compared to what they earned.” “Well, of course not. Men have families to care for.” My comment hung

in the air like a barrage balloon.

we could vote. Women smoked. Teresa wore overalls at work—so much had changed. submarines, welding.” She put down her fork.

At the time this piece was published, we were unaware of the problematic pieces (racist and transphobic) thatMy theboss author publishing “They’re cramped quarters. rubs was up against me. When I told elsewhere. of weld, theseknowing pieces, I’d weget electrical him to stop, he put meAfter out inlearning the rain to shocks.” decided to remove this author from our issues. “What’s wrong, dear?”

“Can’t you go to his boss?” She shook her head. “It’s always the girls’ fault.”

for it. If I went to work, Roy would raise Cain, though he did let me sell war bonds. came to an end. Her new boss, a decent man, depended on her. She worked twelve-hour days, seven days a week and took care of her ailing father. expressed concern for her coming home alone in the dark. She laughed. “With the boys gone, we girls can walk anywhere day or night and feel safe. Even Central Park.” Her breezy comment gave me chills. I saw thunderclouds on the horizon. “Oh Aunt Lena.” She put her arm around my shoulder. “Of course, I do.

her. surrender.”


“Aunt Lena, Uncle Roy!” We all had tears in our eyes as I opened the door. “I’m going to Times Square, then on to the shipyard. Can you look in on Pop?”

At theback time piece We washeard published, we thousands were Roy and I went tothis the radio. about the of unaware of the problematic pieces (racist and transphobic) that the author was publishing cheering—if only our beloved FDR hadoflived to see it. we elsewhere. After learning these pieces, decided to remove this author from our issues.

That night we grew anxious as the hours passed and no word from Teresa. with worry about our girl. Then from my kitchen window I saw her come out the front door. She wore slacks and a blouse and marched down the walkway to the car. Rigid—with dark smudges beneath her eyes.

A girl in the car said, “With the boys coming home, we got canned.” “Of course. They’ll need their jobs back.” Teresa glared at me. “My boss told me to get married and have babies.” “What did you expect?” Teresa opened the car door. “I expected more from my country.” Back then I didn’t understand the full impact of the war and what its Now with Roy gone and Teresa out west, I think about those days and the car full of girls who worked at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. I know now what I saw was the future.

This piece has previously been published by CRUX Magazine.

Blast away from the Bore by:

Keith Moul 9

Nanjing Night Ride by:

Alyssa Cokinis

I don’t remember exactly what night it was. It could have been after an IS rehearsal—IS as in International Spice, my friend Violet Chai’s theatre company based in Nanjing. Not Islamic State, though I do still wonder what the Chinese government thought when they did occasional surveillance of our “IS theatre” WeChat group. Or maybe it was after we saw a kunqu opera performance near Chaotian Palace; our other Chinese friend Ivy was always kind enough to organize getting tickets for us foreigners because we were all illiterate in Chinese. Regardless, one night in April or May 2018, as Nanjing’s temperature warmed and the trees bloomed from pink to green, my dear friend and coworker Napsugar suggested we take a bike ride. Normally on school nights I often declined such invitations because I had such early days compared to the other drama teachers at our company, but that day “I’ll go” slipped so easily past my lips. We mounted our share bikes—hers the orange MoBike and mine the white/blue HelloBike as usual. We often pretended we were in different bike gangs whenever we cycled around the city, counting the number of other bike riders with our colors as we weaved through the absolutely chaotic traffic of e-bikes and people spitting and walking. Nanjing at night is weirdly quiet. The crazy traffic slows down, so you don’t have the urge to swear at the other drivers for cutting you off or making you nearly crash (or actually crash), though many can’t understand you anyways. At night people both recede into their homes or take nightly strolls with their lovers, grabbing to-go food from street food vendors. Nap and I flew down the streets, made random turns, enjoyed the feeling of our legs pumping and the motion of creating our own wind in what always felt like a different world no matter how many days I woke up in it. I was following Nap. I hate to admit it, but I think I’m always more of a follower rather than a leader. It gives me a lot of stupid anguish, but I have to accept this truth about myself. Maybe my moving to China in the first place was me trying to prove myself wrong in addition to typical post-graduation millennial anxiety. To this day, I don’t know if I ever did prove myself wrong. But Nap is bold, brave, and decisive. We turned down an alleyway and

quickly saw this was not your typical city alley. I blinked, transfixed and thought back to memories of my Chinese New Year trip to India, specifically seeing the slums of Delhi, but this was Chinese slum housing: crowded, narrow, dirty, and quiet. Filled with debris like torn rags and broken appliances and even an unworking Minnie Mouse vending machine. In India and now here, in Nanjing, I was again struck by my insane privilege in this world. The money I made in China and my apartment building in Nanjing full of foreign teachers or bourgeois Chinese people who probably have a ayi*, my life in the States I left behind willingly, the color of my skin, and even my passport’s country origin. I realized why I didn’t like to be in slum neighborhoods, and it’s not because it’s “dirty”: because I have never known it, I led a sheltered life, and for me to breeze through here on a share bike and take it in is both important and invasive. To so desperately want to know, want to belong, is almost a form of victimizing myself. How dare I not know people live like this. How dare I live the life I live when people live like this. It makes it about myself. And it’s not about me. It can never be about me in these moments. Writing about it, writing about the baby I saw snuggled in the arm of its father by an open window where mosquitos buzzed, writing about the couple I see putting a bed together in the center of their hole-in-thewall eatery where countless customers slurped noodles and picked up vegetables from morning until night, writing about this does not change it, does not enlighten you or me, does not even truly encompass the experience. “This is the part of Nanjing we don’t see,” Nap said. “Yeah.” And that was all I could say.

* ayi (阿姨 ), literally meaning “aunt,” is used to politely address a woman who is one’s housekeeper/domestic help, as well as a middleaged woman in China or one’s mother’s sister.


Hustle and Bustle by:

Alex Andy Phuong Hustle and bustle Living in Los Angeles Is not La La Land Previously published at DSTL Arts and by the Art Block Zine - Editorial Board.

Algarve, Southern Portugal by:

Olivier Schopfer


I Love How by:

Peter Waldor your friend used the word “demarcation” in casual conversation first time in the history of the word and then she told us how to identify currants and make currant pancakes in the wilderness and though you were friends for decades and talked about everything under the sun you were rapt

Star II by:

H.E. Grahame

Above the sleepy city, the inky heavens were cloudless and infinite. As a wintery breeze kissed their cheeks beneath the vast, star-freckled sky. His words and movements were intoxicated with too much excitement and gin bouncing from foot to foot, arms swinging wildly, dancing in the silvery moonlight. He faltered just slightly as he looked at her over his shoulder and grinned, spilling stars into the night. scattering constellations across dark canvas. Her brief time with him had taught her the angles of his nose and freckled patterns peppering his cheeks, his sleepy face at 4 a.m. and how his eyes crinkle when he laughs. She watched as he effortlessly reassembled her broken pieces, and understood, sowing hope into her life. promising their forevers in sparkling bright paints. Their twinkling city and whispered breeze orchestrated a simple melody matching his sloppy waltz, composing a love song, of sentimental verse but never so mundane as romance and desire. They knew their symphony was unique and celebrated, breathing stardust into the air. Above the sleepy city, their childlike laughter was timeless and infinite As a wintery song changed their lives beneath the vast, star-speckled sky.


A Psalm of Change—or by:

Julie Vitto A perception of atmosphere too burdened to hold its own precipitates against an instinct to evaporate before beginning alone—again—or regenerates the innervated muscle memory, where tension hides and seeks invertebrates that bend in backward ouroboros to the will of freed particulates that fill empty vessels ’til one sinks under the weight—or accommodates, redistributing the space that a wealth of loss delineates in near sight restored and rear views adjusted—and so anticipates the autumn of spring, seeking signs of earth as it undulates and swings in time to a structural shift that gestates, then alights from the stars and slips out of orbit—or terminates for want of contact with burning sand and the veil of smoke.

Ziggy Starduck by:

Emily Rose Schanowski



Chris Talbot-Heindl

The Harm of the Deadname Guessing Game

Chrissplains Nonbinary Advocacy to Cisgender People:


Wrap by:

Richard Salembier Brooding antisocial please leave me alone I’ve become a golden goose and everyone wants an egg the floor is littered with my plucked feathers it’s a mess and I’m not sure how to clean it up.

Before My Very Brown Eyes by:

Zach Murphy

When I was growing up, I never heard anyone say “Wow, look at those pretty brown eyes.” They aren’t the color of a vibrant sky or a vivid field of grass, and they aren’t one of the colors that show up in a bright rainbow. They aren’t the color of the eyes of Hollywood stars that are usually on the front cover of magazines. But then I realized... My brown eyes are the color of the earthy, Hawaiian soil of my birth land — the soil that yields vegetation and nourishment and life and wonder. My brown eyes are the colors of the tropical tree roots and the branches that provide shelter and habitats to many magnificent creatures. My brown eyes are the color of the delicious chocolate that makes your taste buds smile, and the highly-coveted coffee beans that make the world go ‘round. Now, I love my very brown eyes.


Monday/Wednesday/Friday and Every Other Weekend by:

KG Newman

Half the week you live a very full life. The other half you pretend not to care, swallow your anger, swim in hop water. Your attempts to be a better role model result in changing how you speak, still swearing but cutting out um and I think. You somehow now believe you’ll be fine even after Wonderboy splits and a string of trysts turns into a gunshot wound. You front that this is what a proper co-parenting plan looks like, although it’s less a plan and more a treaty. At the very least there’s a dog and a half-furnished house and a lot of classic baseball movies. For The Love Of The Game. Eight Men Out, another one coming.

Husky by:

Sasheera Mehrani Gounden


A Wonderful Life by:

Rhema Sayers

CW: suicidal ideation mentioned

Alex Filmore hunched forward over the steering wheel, squinting, windshield wipers flapping past his straining eyes. The sleet and the fading light and the tears that he couldn’t stop made driving a struggle. He tried to concentrate, but the image of Cathy’s face kept intruding. Her eyes had been hard, lips drawn back in a snarl. He had gotten home late as usual. He’d called about 7PM to tell her he’d be late and she’d hung up on him. why couldn’t she understand how important his work was to him? Maybe because he never talked to her about it, a small corner of his brain commented. She’d been sitting on the couch, staring at the blank screen of the television. “Get out!” Her voice was harsh, cold, the words barked out like a drill sergeant’s. “Cathy, please. I’m really tired. Let’s talk tomorrow when...” “No! Now. Go away. You don’t live here anymore. You never did. You’re always at work or out of town. Now go!” “Please! Don’t be this way.” he’d said as he started to hang up his sodden parka. She pushed her face within an inch of his. Spittle flew on his face as she shouted. “I told you what would happen. I’ve told you over and over. You just don’t give a damn about me.” Her voice rose. “It was Jimmy’s birthday today!” He flinched. Dear God, how had he forgotten that? She grasped him by his shoulder and spun him back toward the door, throwing his parka after him. Shocked, he had pushed her away, glimpsing his son’s wide-eyed face

over her shoulder. The boy was crying. “For God’s sake, Cathy!” he’d spluttered, as she continued shoving him toward the door. “At least let me get some clothes, say good-bye to Jimmy...” “Why? You’ve barely ever said hello to him. You don’t know him. You don’t know anything about him! Don’t you get it? We don’t want you anymore.” He felt a surge of anger and resentment. “Who do you want? Are you seeing someone? Is that why you want me out?” She slapped him, her face contorted, then shoved him through the door back into the storm. “I don’t even like you anymore. Go away.” “Please! Where will I go? What will...” The door slammed in his face. Standing in the freezing rain, he stared at the dark brown door, his mind as frozen as the icicles hanging from the gutters. It wasn’t until he began shivering uncontrollably that the door came back into focus. Stumbling to the car, he wondered vaguely what to do. He stood with his hand on the door handle, thinking. He knew she was unhappy. She had made that abundantly clear. They had talked about a marriage counselor. He was supposed to make an appointment, but he forgot. Now she didn’t want to try any more. But why had he accused her of adultery? That was so stupid. He didn’t believe that for a minute. Stupid! He was so fucking stupid. His throat clogged and his stomach roiled. He vomited into the street. Now he was driving around aimlessly. He didn’t know where he was and he didn’t care. The scene with Cathy kept replaying itself in his mind. The defroster was fighting a losing battle with the fog on the inside of the windshield. The sleet was turning to snow. He remembered a scene from that old Christmas movie. The protagonist had contemplated suicide on a night like this one. He had turned off the wipers and let the snow cover the windshield while he was driving. No. That would be totally wrong. He might hurt... Something moved in the street in front of him. He slammed on the brakes and the car skidded, hitting something with a thump and coming to a halt with one tire up on the curb. “No! No. Please, God! No!” He screamed as he burst from the car into the storm. The rain dripped down his back under his coat. A big, dark gray dog lay in the slush in front of the car, struggling to get up. He felt


a surge of relief that it wasn’t a person at the same time as his stomach knotted in pain. He loved dogs. Cathy didn’t. The animal whined when it saw him. Kneeling, Alex tried to examine it. The dog wouldn’t let him touch its right front leg. It was probably broken, he thought. God! It was freezing out here. His hair was plastered to his scalp, his suit soaked under his coat. Probably he should just get back in the car and go. Go where? He had no idea. He no longer had a home. There were plenty of hotels. He could find one for the night. He had a few friends at work. He thought about that. Yeah, there were a lot of other cops who would understand. Finding a place to stay wouldn’t be hard. He gently rubbed the dog’s head. He was thoroughly wet and shivering. No collar. They were two of a kind. He looked up into the driving sleet and his lips twitched. There was no way he could ever drive off and leave a dog lying in the street. He pulled a couple of blankets out of the back of the car. He laid one on the passenger seat, then got the dog up on three legs. He lifted him up and covered him with the blanket, rubbing him to dry him. “Come on, boy. You need me and I think I might need you.” Despite obvious pain, the tail wagged. He looked up at the sky again before getting in the car. For the first time in hours Alex smiled. “I think I’ll name you Clarence.” Now at least he knew where to go. He had to find an emergency veterinary clinic.

Ladder to the Highest by:

Keith Moul


The Haunting of Piedras Blancas by:

DC Diamondopolous

CW: Suicide

At the time this piece was published, we were unaware of the problematic pieces (racist and transphobic) that the author was publishing elsewhere. After learning of these pieces, we entwined in decided her marble of lavender and green arms. to wash remove this author from our issues. It’s dawn. The sunlight’s red varnish stretches across the Santa Lucia Backlit in pink stands the Piedras Blancas Lighthouse. The damp never seeps into my gossamer bones. My long silk robe opens, my breasts exposed to the witless wind. It hisses, jeers, but I am The gulls perch in conference on the white rock. Beyond is the blue empty sky, the vast sea without sails, no horizon. Blue. Come, Jemjasee. Am I to roam this rugged coastline for eternity, this journey without distance? I feel doomed, my struggle invisible. You must come, Jemjasee. Save me from my weariness. when they see me then fall back to sleep.

shop, the bell and tower. Tourists gasp when I appear. “The website didn’t say anything about a magic show,” someone says. “It’s like Disneyland!” cries a child. Their zeal echoes around the cylindrical walls. I nod, playing along with the charade. It’s not always like this. Some days, people are thick with fear. veils the coast, I’m a phantom. Most days, they don’t see me at all.

“Ah, that’s my wench.” I recognize the guide’s garbled, liquored voice,

On the step, I look into his weather-beaten face. His sunken eyes leer. Damn foolish scoundrel. Turning, gliding over the wrought-iron stairs to the deck, I let my robe

At the time this piece was published, we were unaware of the problematic pieces (racist and transphobic) that the author was publishing elsewhere. After learning of these pieces, we decided remove thisguide, author from our Everyone has gone, to except for the who looks upissues. at me and says,

“You elusive lass, I relish the day I grab your long red hair and make you mine.” He’ll never get the chance. those who live along the coast and the tourists driving by. I glide outside to the widow’s walk. From the empty skies to the ocean’s bed, nothing rises or descends. Jemjasee, if you love me, come. Not long past, her ship rose out of the sea, and beams of lights pranced mirage shimmied into form. A shape malleable to Jemjasee’s thoughts,

Jemjasee was too good for me, too advanced. Not only did I fall in love the stench of violence that infused my planet. If exposed too long, her breath ceased. I had to go with her, or not. But how could I journey outside of my own world? Fear ransacked my been taught—crammed it down my cranium, and just to be sure, set a lid, a square hat with a tassel on top, to keep it all in. homeland.


knickknacks, holding friendships in picture frames, I pondered all I would lose. The future—too elusive, too great a change, my past—something I clung to. I can’t leave. Jemjasee held me, the feeling of sadness so great no words would comfort. My heart was shrouded in sorrow. She walked the waters as her ship ascended from the sea.

At the time this piece was published, we were

The vesselunaware hovered above waves, a silver triangle. Sleek, of thethe problematic pieces (racist and like

transphobic) that the author was publishing elsewhere. After learning of these pieces, we decided to remove this author from our issues.

And so it began, the tears of regret and self-loathing. I missed the woman who was so full of love, that she knew nothing of its opposite. One day, while my mind slipped down around my ankles, I sat in my where the wind whispered, Go ahead. Do it.

hoop large enough for my head, but small enough for my neck. From the I climbed on the seat, put the noose over my neck, and kicked out the chair.

my body but never my Self!

I saw her. In my rapture I wailed, Jemjasee! before your planet strikes back for the harm done to it.

seized her stalks of short black hair. Jemjasee looked through me even as my mouth covered hers, my Nothing, not my cries or kisses could rouse her.

At the time this piece was published, we were Sobbing, Iunaware screamed,ofCan’t you see me—don’t you knowand I’m here! the problematic pieces (racist transphobic) that the author was publishing Then she saw me and backed away. I saw the horror there in her golden elsewhere. After learning of these pieces, we eyes. Her shock pierced my translucent heart. decided to remove this author from our issues. Please forgive me.

Her kind never sheds tears. Jemjasee had told me that on her island in the universe, there were no reasons to cry, but looking into her perfect lavender and green marble colored face, I saw a tear on the threshold of falling. I was ashamed.

because I hadn’t the daring to journey past my sphere.

Previously published by World of Myth.


A Year in the Tenderloin by:

Josh Medsker I.

Who was that? Starbucks. I replace the receiver with my good arm wincing at movement I sigh tell Colin I’m going out job hunting dig gravel out of my scalp with my good arm instinctively shift past where my bike was by the door.


Crammed into a sleeping bag with P. Her hand on my chest luxuriating in her funk She got fired from Borders for it Dave is snoring across the room Kelly is moaning in the closet with the newlyweds on the bed and both cats climbing over my face Dreams of articles running through my head

but coddling shoppers looking for “that one blue book” they don’t know the author of waits for no man.


Lying in bed with A. smiling, wiped out— June morning fog in the window. Did you get the Jello interview? Yeah. Thanks for the number. I really like your memoir you should be proud Helping make a scene from nothing. I smile thank you. We kiss. Do you really think the paper will publish it? Absolutely. Ugh. I should go I have an early shift at Pearl.


God, this blue is two hundred dollars? I hang the oils and acrylics and dig more gravel from my scalp. Abe is playing Tom Waits again. the folky guitar demos. Again. Kenai girl with the Extra Tufs and Carhartts waves to us and hands us daily tills.


Neither of them has an apartment lead; money is fading. I browse Expressionist anthologies on my lunch see Pucca and Rebeka in the adhesive aisle! We talk Alaska and West Oakland (Richie just bailed for AK!) but Oakland prices me out too. Eric’s email says his couch in Turnagain is free, so at day’s end, I take one last walk around the Embarcadero.

Steps Toward Heaven by:

Olivier Schopfer


And Then the Devil Came to Pasture by:

Julie Vitto

And then the devil came to pasture, bearing the archangel’s name, all bluewhitered in his long, flowing chains. When a lamb asked what brought him so far out of his way, he replied, “A hateful love of the long downturn game.” Confused yet sensing a shared need to be freed, the lamb offered the whereabouts of a brass ring of keys. It was hung on a nail in the master’s home just over the hill, behind an old wall of stone. Agreeing to go with the animal then, the devil called himself its carrier friend. Knowing not to trust but still willing to try, the lamb led the devil to the scene of the crime. The place, it was dark—the master had gone. “What luck! Perfect timing,” sang the lamb in a song. And then the sun shone so bright as it set, revealing the devil’s true silhouette. His wingspan grew wide, his shoulders were strong. The lamb was impressed, but not for too long. The devil approached the small creature with care, fondling its neck and then holding it there. Without making more than a gasping sound, the lamb lost its sight and was thrown to the ground. The devil retreated for a cigarette break and thought about what kind of meal he would make. Then, lifting the slaughtered lamb from the mud, he noticed its mouth bore a trickle of blood. With one finger he touched it, repulsed by its face, yet surprised at how good slaughtered lamb’s blood could taste. With the other he closed the thing’s still-open eyes and reached for a mallet meant to tenderize meat that is tough but with time will relax and beat it for fun before grabbing an axe. The rest of this tale doesn’t get any cleaner; in fact, it gets dirtier, uglier, meaner. But that shouldn’t stop one from being a fool. The most precious of freedoms is instinctual.

leonora/remedios by:

John Sweet and the death of god unnoticed on these glorious, sundrenched afternoons, and the truth of love the distance between us, which is measured in years measured in the lifespans of children butchered in their sleep by soldiers and of course we all deny this fuck the truth and fuck the helpless and fuck the pain they’re forced to endure walls and weapons are the answer dogs and wolves dig a shallow grave at the far edge of any barren field and learn to call it home kill your leaders burn their empty ideologies to the ground everything here is yours for the taking


Museum by:

Alex Andy Phuong Physical buildings And artistic architecture Holding remnants from the past. Museums hold artifacts Yet artistic expression, Hope And creativity Pave the way for the future. This present moment in time Is the greatest gift of all Because it is, thankfully, not the last This poem was previously printed in the anthology from Oxfordshire publisher Enliven Press.

Immediate Action Required by:

KG Newman It’s 100 seconds to midnight with nuclear arms re-normalized and climate change addressed by fine speeches, while on the home front I feel the coldness of these wars with a divorce that’s close to final. Perhaps I should petition the Bulletin for our own metaphor backed by scientific scrutiny, because a clock seems too delicate. Maybe it can be a snake that hatches in our kitchen, until it grows and strangles us both over breakfast — perhaps bulging eyes would be adequate to help us see what we can’t. But she is not interested in discussing vulnerabilities and I am not open to acting on them. I read the warning letter to her, and she remains unconcerned about possible apocalypses big and small. What we can agree on is we worry most about the kids. And how will they focus, she asks behind an exfoliating mask, with year-long scorching summers and a distracted dad? Always off searching for something in the dry brush likely to catch fire before midnight arrives.


The Infinity of Snow by:

Dr. Mel Waldman The Infinity of snow the vastness of nowhere there in the nothingness the blackness of & the desolate dream flowing in inner space falling far plummeting to a harrowing place where the storm devours hope in the swirl of the oval abyss the scent of the River Styx & the bestial vastness the un-blessing of nothingness

engulfs one being alone drifting/dissolving in the deep snow & I am nameless in the snow no one knows or remembers me a pariah in the black sea of oblivion no identity bestowed on me in the phantom snow & heavy footsteps there in the furious nowhere vanish suddenly in the rushing death of the ravishing snow & now a canopy of un-reality falling, falling, ceaselessly, mercilessly is the infinity of snow behind & beyond above & below


that covers all & buries me in the black sea of nowhere here in the snow tomb waiting for a beautiful metamorphosis the blossoming & the opalescence of the sun the fury & the fire of the real me Awakening

Meal Secure by:

Keith Moul


One Moment by:

H.E. Grahame One smile to start rapport. One laugh. One grin. across tables of dim dinner discourse A pizza and coke. Bowling and songs. Within moments we were on a soulmate-crash-course. One note to start a song. One chant. One cheer. Across a mob of grand guitar glimmer Drumbeats and bass. Passion and dance. Unclear when we became more than migrant shimmer. One shift to start a dance. One skip. One stride. Across splashes of star-speckled skyline Hillsides and gin. Waltzing and words. Inside knowing always that our lives would entwine From one moment. One love. One breath. One friend. To one million moments without an end

Untitled WIP by:

Dana Talbot-Heindl


Abstract Fractions by:

Richard Salembier Numerator the postulate above sky attic alpha head top over first the sum of subtraction the difference of addition to live is to suffer life has a purpose it’s the stroke of midnight Denominator the corollary below earth basement omega toe bottom under last the product of division the quotient of multiplication to survive is to find meaning in suffering suffering and dying has a purpose the world’s still turning

Two Tickets Please by:

B.A. McRae

You are precisely profoundly the quality of humanity I’ve been searching for. You’re the venturous page in a book that’d be torn and adored, you’re an uproar that couldn’t be ignored; let’s climb ashore your frontal lobe and create our own memory bookstore. If you aren’t the single greatest human being ever than the human race is a world I will never understand. You’re something much too grand, inspiration for the marching band; if you’d like me to briefly expand: yours is the only hand I want in mine, you are my heart’s homeland. I can hear your braincells call; “All aboard, no time to stall!” I’ll take the train with you. In fact, there’s nothing else in this world right now I’d rather do than see what makes you, you; and the whole ride through I’ll have the most perfect view. I wonder what one will find, With two tickets inside your lovely mind.

Previously published in B.A. McRae’s 3rd poetry book, “Nevertheless.”


Double Shift by:

Zach Murphy

Heavy eyelids don’t adhere to will after you’ve just worked a double shift. Zamir was having that problem on a particularly snowy night, so he pulled over to the side of a lonely road and threw the car into Park. Holiday season was a drag. Zamir worked the frontlines during the massive influx of rabid shoppers pushing and shoving each other like football players diving for a fumbled ball, except the fumbled ball was an item that they could probably order online for the same cost and less hassle. And then there were the customers who were extremely rude to him at the cash register. They’d snap their fingers, roll their eyes, and talk condescendingly to him as if he didn’t understand English. Assholes transcend all language barriers, anyway. As the snow continued to fall, Zamir drifted off into a deep sleep, only to be awakened by an aggressive knock on his window. He shook from a combination of his nerves and the freezing cold while frantically gathering himself, as he’d been lost in the kind of slumber that you wake up from and you can’t tell if it’s been a couple of minutes or a couple of hours. Zamir cracked open the window with hesitation. The blowing flakes greeted his skin like a breathtaking slap to the face. A deep and raspy voice cut through the white, windy noise. “You need some help?” the person asked. Zamir rubbed his eyes and mumbled, “I’m not drunk. I’m just tired.” The person came into focus. It was a man with a puffy winter coat. His dark beard was speckled with snow and gray hairs. Zamir was somehow more relieved that it was a random stranger and not a police officer. “This ain’t no way to spend Christmas Eve,” the man said. “This is no way to spend any evening, but here I am,” Zamir answered. “Tell me about it,” the man said. “I’ve been taking care of these roads non-stop for as long as I can remember. I’m DeWayne, by the way.”

Zamir glanced at the rearview mirror. Behind him was a big truck with a plow attached to the front. “I’m Zamir,” he said. DeWayne peered ahead of Zamir’s car. “You’re stuck,” he said. “I know,” Zamir replied. “I’ve been searching for a new job for the past two years and I’m having zero success. Even my degree doesn’t make a difference.” “No,” DeWayne said. “I mean your car is stuck.” Zamir shifted the car into Drive and tried to advance forward, but the wheels spun in place. “Oh shit,” he uttered. “I’ll be right back,” DeWayne said as he trudged back to his truck and grabbed a pair of shovels. DeWayne and Zamir shoveled the snow away from the car, hoisting the heavy white stuff around like a pair of mighty worker ants moving mounds of dirt. “Try it now,” DeWayne said. Zamir hopped back into his car. He shifted it into Drive and gave it some gas. The tires trounced over the snow. “Thank you!” he graciously yelled, holding a thumbs-up out the window. “Have a great night!” DeWayne shouted back. During the long ride back to his apartment, Zamir thought about DeWayne, and how the man was some sort of guardian angel. A guardian angel who reeked of cigarettes and under-appreciated duty. Zamir was looking forward to eating leftover Thai food at home with his cats Mookie and Sudoku. He needed to fuel up and get some rest, because for the next double shift he’d have to deal with Returns.



Chris Talbot-Heindl

Refusing to Affirm Pronouns is Like...

Chrissplains Nonbinary Advocacy to Cisgender People:


The Promise by:

Mark Myavec

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