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Crack the Spine Issue Sixteen


Crack The Spine Issue Sixteen March 19, 2012 Edited by Kerri Farrell Foley Collection copyright 2012 by Crack the Spine


Contents Kenneth P. Gurney…………………………………………...Inheritance James Mirarchi………………………….......…………….…………..Suite Ski Caitlin Hoffman……………………..…..………………….…….….Ache Neil Ellman…….…………………….…....………..A Statue in the Park The Alchemist’s Apprentice Abigail Morris……...….…...A Poet Should Not Use Outdated Lingo? Fall James Pouilliard….………………...……………...……………..Provider Chris Lane..………………………..…………......The Penniless Paupers Darwin’s Monopoly Paradox


Inheritance By Kenneth P. Gurney

Inheritance You have pierced your body into a pair of faded blue jeans and pieced out your affection into breadcrumbs scattered over a trail of one night stands all the way from wherever your are back to here. You once called the highway that big, fat, black ribbon of regret, but it echoes more of your footsteps than the floorboards of this house grown old— this house that once knew so well your knees and your palm prints. The peach orchard wind blows its blossoms under the porch swing and twirls them in that nook where your teddy bear once slept out all night. I think of you more often than you wish. I think of you so often I dusted off my wings that lay in the attic for all the years I knew your mother.

Kenneth P. Gurney lives in Albuquerque, NM, USA with his beloved Dianne. He edits the anthology Adobe Walls which contains the poetry of New Mexico. His latest book is This is not Black & White.


Suite By James Mirarchi

Unit is cubed Into colors of spectrum Each room A different hue Together Encompassing a human experience

Living room is painted jungle green Acts a performance of lush prosperity Its subtext beneath: a history of sloth and complacence

Dining room is painted lilac Acts a performance of sweet strength Its subtext beneath: a history of alcohol and domestic pettiness

Kitchen is painted canary yellow Acts a performance of blinding optimism Its subtext beneath: a history of blood and supermarket slaughter

Bathroom is painted peach Acts a performance of soothing languor Its subtext beneath: a history of bulimia and overdoses


Parents’ bedroom is painted crimson Acts a performance of pure passion Its subtext beneath: a history of boredom and sexual estrangement

Child’s bedroom is painted white (DOESN’T ACT) Completely neutral In its innocence Its only discord When child strikes sour note On multi-colored bars of xylophone Symbolic of A human spectrum


Ski By James Mirarchi

At dusk: Blood-sun tablets Dissolve in lake Transmuting it into glowing open wound

Pretty water-skier Slices through The purple foam and mercurochrome Her knife-like board Breaking apart Catfish islands Into shards of shimmering meat

Near dark lake Is grassy shore Like strip of bandage Fresh with green mold And crawling with Male bikers Like leather-clad ants


Swilling beer They ogle water-skier While cupping their balls in hand

Head held high Enclosed in an armor of apathy Water-skier Teases the boors on shore With her drenched assets

With sinister poise She skims lightly but powerfully Scattering neon gangs of fireflies And continuously nailing fish With her ski While the panting bikers Curse her manly haughtiness And shoot tears of cum Like weeping girls

James Mirarchi grew up in Queens, New York. In addition to his poetry collections, "Venison" and "Dervish," he has written and directed short films, which have played at festivals. James has also penned a feature script - a dark comedy titled "Proxy.�


Ache By Caitlin Hoffman

I sort the pills, and the headaches don’t get any better. I pull my tears from my face like loose threads on my sweater. The splash of water and red slips off my cheeks and makes knots on the carpet. Within my skull, an animal bleeds. Come hither death, please. I smash my head into the wall. Lucidity in all its cruelty is determined to remain. Could I at least have a coma? Anything to numb me and scrub my skull inside out. Another two pills, angry and red, glaring at me as I swallow them down with no water to follow. My stomach aches from all the Ibuprofen under my skin, all the other pain killers and muscle relaxants that should be taking their toll but aren’t. Might I be a walking pill bottle? Will my ears be dispensaries? Could be blood be collected and served as cocktails to hopeless OTC addicts? She called again, just this morning. I said I’d call her back but haven’t yet. These headaches are just too much to handle. I can’t fight these off and fight off the rest of the world at the same time. There are too many battles in my brain. I smash the mirror, don’t even blink as splinters fly and rip the air, spitting venom at me. The blood hardly bruises me. It is no new thing. My skin weighs ten pounds more than it should. I’m a walking shadow stabbed by headlights. My husband will ask me about the mirror when he gets home. I have to clean it up so he doesn’t worry. I must pick the pieces out of my skin. I just can’t. It hurts too much to try, to think, to swear, to burst with bubbles of tears every fifteen seconds. The pain is taking over. It is no longer something that happens to me, but something that I am. I am the ache. My husband will cry when he sees how much blood has come out of my veins. He will cry at my throbbing temples and oscillating lips. He will insist that I go to the doctor for another MRI scan. I will not concede.


I don’t want to hear what the doctor has to say. Something hits me at night when I should be sleeping. It dances down my spine and jerks me apart. I scream silently, so as not to wake anyone up -I don’t want to bother them with the splattering of my brain. After all, aren’t we all in pain? For each soul, the peril manifests differently. Some have suicides and tragedy; I have earthcrushing migraines.

Caitlin is a ball of neuroses morphed into human form. She has written three novels which she hopes to see in the bargain bin before she ditches this mortal plain. If you're so inclined you can find some of her stories in Used Gravitrons, Trembles, Arcane Magazine, and others. You can also follow her depravity @CHWrite on Twitter.


A Statue in the Park By Neil Ellman

1 The statue starts to move the corner of an eye a finger next and then the arm and lips before it speaks.

2 Where children played and parents strolled In the shadow of its words even the birds have flown.


3 We carve an idol out of stone and fear and name it God.


The Alchemist’s Apprentice By Neil Ellman

He was young at least as young as the boys who came before a fine boy skin as soft and white as the down on a sheep eager to work with the master eager to please when the sun went down the master mixing a bit of this and that earth, air, fire and water his elements into a cannikin the boy unafraid of what would become of him his soul


turned from flesh to gold by alchemy and appetite changing him to a man he never was.

Neil Ellman lives and writes in New Jersey. His poetry appears in numerous international print and online journals: Alba, Anastomoo, Bolts of Silk, Broken Wine, Calliope Nerve, The Camel Saloon, Clutching at Straws, Counterexample Poetics, Dead Snakes, ditch, Indigo Rising, Otoliths and vox poetica, among many others. His eighth chapbook, Convergence and Conversion, is forthcoming from the Knives, Forks and Spoons Press.


A Poet Should Not Use Outdated Lingo? By Abigail Morris

Shall I be verboten to proffer poetics to the less well lettered?

Be it with knotty nomenclature peppered or with antiquated parlance plagued,

why should I be limited to locutions of this modern age? Are you too torpid for Google?

Have you not wit To better educate your tongue, or is the cost of a moment too great? And,


trenchant though these lines may be, are they not well enough contrived

to best assess your acumen when you’ve happened in to a jolly good sneering?


Fall By Abigail Morris

Our silvered tongues will trail decaying paths cleaving to accommodate the rise

and fall

as we shatter where once we swayed our ruin

an echo of strength

in misted mores of

handsome death

and human ashes with its chaotic melodies lilting will labour licentiously while we revel as beasts

in the new necropolis

and the relics fall to dust.

Abigail Morris is an English Major approaching her senior year at Elizabeth City State University, a graduate of the College of the Albemarle in North Carolina, and an admitted logophile with a rapacious appetite for linguistic opulence.


Provider By James Pouilliard On their second date, he took her to a museum. She thought the paintings were interesting enough, most of them, but she didn’t have his inclination to stare. She thought he looked a little foolish doing that—as if he saw something that she could not. When she was already thinking of marriage, he mentioned art school. It came as a shock. She hadn’t realized he could be that impractical—even the way he stared at paintings hadn’t tipped her off to that. She suggested dental technology after a girlfriend who dated a dental technician suggested it to her. At a pivotal moment, the last when he could have been anything, he did what she wanted. He knew she was thinking of their future. Perhaps, as she complained, he was only thinking of himself. He learned his craft and mastered its biggest challenge—building a crown that offered excellent function and perfectly matched the real teeth beside it. The artistry of it was pleasurable; it was the business he hated—especially after she convinced him to open his own laboratory. They had a son by then and a second child on the way. The dentists who were his clients wanted everything perfect and wanted it yesterday. They griped about his prices but charged their patients ten times more for a crown than he charged them. (They believed the letters after their names entitled them to that.) At the end of a day, the last thing he wanted to hear was her suggestion that he raise his rates. Like every husband up and down his block of neat houses and well-kept lawns, he got out of bed with a sense of duty. He steered his children clear of big trouble, paid the bills and never daydreamed of a life without his wife—a small vacation, perhaps, but not a whole life. His one regret was that he never honored the creative impulse that leaned on him like a lover.


He didn’t talk about it. He kept it in a box on a high shelf in a locked mental closet. But every now and then, awake in the middle of the night, he took the box down and opened it and stared—like a drunk at the last liquor on earth. And then he put it back away. It was his secret—that, and how he chose the name for their last baby. His wife named the others—Peter, Susan, Jean—for no one in particular. But when Georgia was born—with dark eyes that stared into his and told him she knew everything about him—he named her after an artist. A few months before she was born, alone in Manhattan for a dental laboratory convention, he wandered the city streets at night and, just by chance, found himself in front of an enormous flower under a spotlight in a gallery window. Georgia.

James Pouilliard is a writer in Litchfield County, Connecticut. His most recent fiction has appeared, or is forthcoming, in Boston Literary Magazine, The Delmarva Review and scissors and spackle.


The Penniless Paupers By Chris Lane

The Penniless paupers’ Orgies rage, In the vaults of the Bank Of America Tellers document, From upon high While CEOs peddle Sex-tapes, street side The penniless paupers Finish up neat Dressing orderly Burnished, head to feet Wiping sullen frowns Paranoid projections, down They move to the street A cold and unique exodus Filling the veins Ejaculated and void With naught to spend Than time


Paradox By Chris Lane

To the plot of paradox I am native A parcel amid The Rebel’s Acceptance The Skilled’s Ineptness The Beauty’s Obscenity Selected survive To expire Escape, Coops, Captivity The world I gait is naught But roughly rather Such notions I often lose Yet seldom gather


Darwin’s Monopoly By Chris Lane

The sun is setting Passing shadows grow Toss aside The pressing crown Of proverbial nobility Evolution has cast upon Each and every A momentary article Ardent to edicts Of the only game Ever played

I love moonlit walks on the beach, but never go on them. I consider it an exercise in self restraint, and this seems to be a good idea. I'm a 6' white male, dark brown hair which I am currently growing out by way of deep concentrated thought. Born August 3rd, 1988 into a military family, that moved 13 times in my 18 year stint. I currently rock-climb and write to maintain a healthy level of insanity. I own a car, don't use it, prefer my velocipede. I enjoy my coffee black, my life simple, and silence. Currently I make a hefty living performing monotonous tasks for the palates of strangers. If you're an adventurer at heart, and love the rain, there is a strong possibility that we might get along.


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Crack the Spine - Issue 16  

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