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DIRTFLASK number three

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Morgue “A” — Fourth Ward School-House After the Johnstown Flood


The Aquarium


My First Haircut, 1966 October, 1962: The Cuban Missile Crisis as Experienced at 1022 22nd Avenue, Fort Lauderdale, FLA.


Karma Sutra Trading Cards for the Legally Paranoid





Mid-Summer Masquerade

The Trellis

7 8 10 11 12 13 14 15

The Beautiful Bum



Santa Monica Saltwater



The Buyer



Cold Dirty Hands


I Must Do Something

bios & backmatter

20 21 22 23


Michele Harris

Morgue “A” — Fourth Ward School-House After the Johnstown Flood

185. Von Alt, Henry. Collar-button and spoon. 146. Unknown. Said to have been Mary Hamilton or Miss Mollie Richards, but afterward found to be wrong. 20. Unknown. Hulbert House porter. Supposed to be William Henry. Colored. Valuables. 1. Hamilton, Miss Laura (Mary). Was to have been married on the next Tuesday. Body delivered to her brother. 41. Unknown. Burnt. Sex unknown. 18. Burns, John. Brakeman Cambria Iron Co. Left eye gone. Buried at “prospect,” June 9. 74. Unknown. Female. Thirty years. Dark luxuriant hair. 86. Unknown. Male. Weight about 170. Height about 5’ 9’’. Head burned off. Dark lace shoes. Revolver and knife. 206. Larimer, James. Purse with one cent. Two keys. Two knives.


193. Brown, Miss Emily. Of Woodvale. Removed. Ring given to her sister. Little girl baby in her arms when found. 136. Shumaker, John S. Son of James. Walter, Jennie and Edith also drowned. 144.

(See No. 53.)

176. Thomas, E.M. All but hips and lower limbs burned away. Bunch of keys with tag marked E.M. Thomas. Gun screwdriver. Pocketbook and buckeye. 240. Female. Large. Full face, full lips, small nose, light hair, pregnant. Key and one cent. 135. Deihl, Miss Carrie. Shippensburg, PA. Claimed by Wm. H. Ocker, of Philadelphia, to whom she was engaged to be married, and re moved by him to be buried. 21. Prosser, Fanny. Daughter of Charles Prosser, of Cresson. Earrings. Silver ring on middle finger of left hand. Can’t get it off.


The Aquarium Michele Harris Before she died, the albino whiskered catfish emptied her body of eggs. Stuck to the glass like pimples. Hundreds of them, milky white, speckling the tank, the water barely cooler than blood. She’d grown spores in her belly that cysted over then burst. The mother gone, the cherry barbs and neon tetras prodded each egg until it broke. The tank was pockmarked with torn open blisters. The week earlier a tigerfin guppy shot tiny white fish after fish out of her. In minutes thirty writhed in the breeding tank like maggots. When the guppy was empty, she followed their tiny eyes and shut fins and swallowed each one whole. When another baby disappeared inside her, the others didn’t dart off. Know the love when she buried her young inside her. Know it was love when they let her.


My First Haircut, 1966 Paul David Adkins

My father didn’t want even a four year old mistaken for a hippie. When my Shirley Temple curls started resembling Abbey Hoffman’s, he carted me to the barber. I returned shorn to the skull. I laughed. I looked like all the boys. My mother did not speak for a day. When she did, she clipped her words:

No. Not now. Never. My dad and I played catch in the back. Inside, dishes smashed on terrazzo.


October, 1962: The Cuban Missile Crisis as Experienced at 1022 22nd Avenue, Fort Lauderdale, FLA. Paul David Adkins My mother was heavy with me and concerns we would collapse like the ash from her Salem if the missiles . . . At the end of her second trimester the nurse handed her a pamphlet on giving birth at home. She ordered her,

Read this. Pass it to your husband. Hospitals will be full.

My Reservist father could not fit into his old uniform, was forced to buy a set of double X fatigues from Eagle Army-Navy, returned from assembling, disassembling his Garand to read by lamplight in the quiet house about cervical dilation, timing contractions with a wristwatch. There was nothing about boiling water like you’d see with Fred and Ricky on the latest I Love Lucy,


but bloody photos instead of a man gripping scissors to snip the cord, then clearing the baby’s airway with a turkey baster. After he polished his boots and slipped into bed, he moored his wife with the thick cables of his arms while I swirled between them like steam rising from the silos in Nebraska, my red head positioning itself to press and pressure the breach.


Karma Sutra

Matthew Burnside

eat more teeth always talk to strangers haunt yrself daily wolf by night + leather jacket armor samurai lover crucify pretenders with their own nails floss with power lines, suck yr tongue swim thru dirtiest of water fiddle dicks start smoking now, be Bogart eat only red meat beat up a phone booth swami of swoon drink wolf spit bile milkshake callous yr lucky stars walk like no gravity don’t call yr mother razorblades for breakfast steal more books in yr palms holy bombs listen yr music as loud as possible say fuck more kamikaze bloom gasoline thru a swirly straw die several times before yr death


Trading Cards for the Legally Paranoid Matthew Burnside

most notably a collector of soft hands backward fanatic burnt totem PROPHECY, a dime store paperback the petroleum hair gel employed in this compound to paste these war bonds muses a curious ensemble, poses a driftwood affront to the seraphim cause a minor sacrilege, an allergy of limbic panic, as rotmouth is to bloodshot, we say YES to canny wombs for keen futures sound wounds for bee suture & other such gambits of the dust TRUST IN SOD: a mastodon brunt of lucid pageantry will be the blunt fulcrum point, the point at which light tempers the page tampers to purge the immovable palace of pensive/pen sieve the soluble ballasts of witch FUCKING & though there is not nearly enough fur in this cocktail to warrant a revolution of my tonguebuds I shall salute your scepters peck the birds back with filthseed & hunt this myopathy of the soul down with stolen dreammachete In the end we will comb outer space for inner breach with a carnal clap, derive at the edge to ask the Great Machine the emollient word will be “Door�


Fallout Jeffrey S. Callico I fell out of a tree and broke my arm and went to the doctor and they fixed it and I went back home the same day and ate some lunch then watched some TV I mean I ate lunch while I watched TV and when the show was over and the lunch was over too I looked outside at the tree I fell out of and the tree was still blowing in the wind.


News Jeffrey S. Callico

Tom didn’t walk anywhere, he ran, and when he ran he ran very fast, even if it was a few feet, like from the kitchen table to the coffee maker or the stove or the fridge or the phone or his girlfriend who was wringing her hands because her father just died.


Mid-Summer Masquerade Duncan Campbell Wine-drunk in the immaculate cut grass, I am suspicious of those dark and wild oaks leaning over the palisade. Bright tents behind me speckle the courtyard like low clouds. The humidity has everyone in summer dresses and linen shirts as they dance closely and paired-off. Every so often someone leaves the group, pulling their partner by the hand into an unknown, secluded corner. The instruments play themselves, happily and with insectile precision. In the adjacent dusk-lit garden several of my friends are firing rifles at fireflies, ridiculous targets. Within the broad, vine-covered manor shadowy figures move: all the female classmates who in school reminded me, dutifully, that I had misplaced my admirable toddler cuteness. None of us have had our children yet, or our children have somehow been taken back into our bodies in a way that causes us to smile. They want to take me upstairs where numerous dark closets await that human comfort, but the service agents hear this over their earpieces and protect me from my lust with their arms around my arms. Outside, the fireworks have been prepped to launch from the hands of the rooftop statuary, and everyone is taking off their shoes. And laughter, and slow dance, and summer thunder rumbling distant as the firework-smog conceals me from view.


The Trellis Duncan Campbell The doctors hadn’t yet eaten the lumps they found in your mother’s breasts or taken all of her answers away from you. Taraxacums not rosaceae were climbing the young trellis in the yard and the moon was at your window knocking. I was all-jealous and threw stones at that paned moon, hacked the weeds and tried myself on the trellis. You found me like that, and let me in. How many others at your window, at window anywhere, clocklike dandelion parasols stowed on their collars and the moon between their knuckles? Your sister crazy was asleep on pills and you whispered

don’t dance the floorboards oh please oh won’t you?

And outside the damp grass-crickets all said la dee la dah dee dah.


The Beautiful Bum Mia Avramut

“Why don’t ya roll me a cigarette, young buck, and a bandage, just this one time for banter. I no skinflint so maybe I’ll tell ya how it all was that almost happened, gushing rites we scrubbed in the ol’ times,” a beautiful bum said, and spat bowing low. * Come midsummer on the wavy peninsula, only one Cocytus washed the wounds of Adonis, all those zigzagging edges torn by a tusk made of pale incurvate Moon canines and exposed fingertips. His florid wounds and mouth in vain arched up to kiss, the air hung strained with sounds and meteors that year. “What if we bled each time we kissed,” he often asked Cocytus. His veins said what if Above, on the housetop, fiery females squatted, sowed germinating greens  in quick Adonis gardens, fennel and lettuce, wheat and barley, lightning-fast germinating green Adonis gardens,and bleated, ululated, built puppet men with many faces, stuffed them with short grass, then let them loose in streams, chanting such shameless lulling strophes, say

_Beast of vermillion boar comes over her and mounts her. In the years to come she would bear it sons, in the winters to come she would forget._

The climax dirge beat ripe breasts just for dead gods who could once see and charge. Green herds of fleshy seedlings sprang up soon, and withered as they opened brazen limbs to willing wailing women who quivered in procession for early passing of their unseen vegetation god, and by all that’s illogical and true also for cunning Moonhorn boar who pierced him. By harvest time, Adonis of the great desire became the edge of a deep ulcer well: ever receding eyelid of a pain that waxed and never waned.


* “How ‘bout you grant me ‘nother smoke, jus’ this one time,  jus’ one time for ol’ sorrow and for chasm, promise won’t get all sylvan with ya -- ha! Didn’t see ya female y’rself, hap-logies if I horned in, meant no offense, now don’t get weepy under that deep scarf, you can make up for it, pay for potation, sit ‘ere look at me, tell me a much, much slower story. Where ya headed?”   “To fade,” I said. “So love me in clay, or in stone, as you might, only if our time allows, all the way to the rooster calls and weathercock gyres. I’m superstitious, so I’ll cover all that wounded myth with sound dirt until skin sprouts in nests. “It’s jus’ that every time my wounds healed, I’s alone,” said the beautiful beggar, and caressed my neck with patient callused palms, and winked with his good dripping eye. “Silly, silly lil’ chimera, ‘tis your female fault, after all.” Then flicked those dry grasses that oozed from his seams.


Santa Monica Saltwater William Haas Blue graffiti scarred the palm tree. I leaned against it as I waited for Helen to slip into her swimsuit. Her sister was married the night before on a yacht in Newport Bay. After the red-faced captain had tied himself together long enough not to slur the wedding vows, Helen pleaded with me not ruin the reception. Two Heinekens and I stopped, proud of my restraint. Back then my days piled in a heap, like aluminum cans waiting to be recycled. FBI was on me before I could escape. As he shuffled up, footsweeps scratching sand into concrete, it took me a moment to notice the t-shirt: FBI: FEMALE BODY INSPECTOR. First, I saw the limp, the gullied skin, the head banking into the turn. In another setting I might have been nervous. But under the Santa Monica sun—shared with young parents, jacked rollerbladers, and bronzed weightlifters—I felt at ease. I turned slowly, wanting neither to acknowledge nor to snub him. The wrong reaction, I feared, could lead to conflict. His breathing was labored as he reached beneath the stretched collar to remove a medallion. He held the aluminum inches from my nose, guided his scaly fingertip along the inscription: SOBRIETY: ONE DAY AT A TIME. He looked into my eyes, holding the gaze until I had no choice but to look back. Oily strands of hair the color of sludge fell over a pink eyelid fused shut. His head favored that side, tilting toward the injured eye as if weighted by the memory of violence. His voice burbled from murmur into clarity. “Got kicked out of rehab,” he said. “Jesse got a call on his cell phone. I had a cell phone. Everyone had cell phones. You ain’t allowed cell phones in rehab, so Jesse went into the kitchen and took out a knife about this long, put it on the table, and told me, ‘Pick your weapon.’ What’s I supposed to do? I went for the knife. They kicked me out, those motherfuckers.” “You’ve got a right to defend yourself,” I said. Fear obligated me to agree with this damaged man. Whether to prove me wrong or to show he had reformed, he pointed to a black bracelet. He waited for me to read it: STOP VIOLENCE NOW. I stared, maybe a second too long, not at the bracelet but at the pink, marbled scars rippling from wrist to elbow. An illegible blue tattoo swam in the skin’s glassy waves.


“I’ve got a B.A. in sociology. See those power lines over there?” I was watching the ocean’s waves roll in layers. All that saltwater made me crave a beer. I looked past the pizza stands and surf shops, away from the condos with Pacific views, and settled on the power lines slicing the sky. “Top one’s electricity. Below, it’s cable. I know cause I strung them up.” By this time Helen had left the restroom. When she saw me talking to FBI, her eyelids narrowed. She stepped behind me, having once remarked that drunks, wretches, and freaks congregated to me like deer to a salt lick. “May I pay your girlfriend a compliment?” He craned his neck to see her. “Sure,” I said, becoming more edgy by the moment. “I mean, you’d have to ask her.” “Be still mah beatin heart.” FBI clasped scaly fingers over the sobriety medallion and looked only at Helen. His t-shirt didn’t lie. “My son’s in prison. I got a daughter in Florida, but she ain’t as beautiful as you. I got a goal. You know what it is?” She didn’t. “Gonna bust my son outta the pen and take him to Florida to meet his sister. Kill me a boatload a guards while I’m at it.” “We have to get to the beach,” Helen said, grabbing my elbow and stepping toward the ocean. “Can you help me out?” he asked. I pictured FBI shoveling silt from a salt marsh grave, smearing seawater into his wounds. “I need just thirty-seven cents. I’m trying to get a beer.” I glanced at the sobriety medallion. “We strive for progress, not perfection,” he said. I emptied my pocket of change, jingled it in my palm. I hadn’t yet learned to stack my own days into neat and tiny towers. I counted seventy-six cents into his hand, one coin at a time.


The Buyer Charles Heiner

You wish you could order online like you watch porn online, a fat white man

and pint-sized Filipina driving the FedEx van right to your door. But you can’t. You must negotiate. They’ll rape you on the price if you don’t watch yourself. You kiss your wife and kids goodbye and fly to Manila. You work for a clothing company. You talk to factory owners about colors and prices. You go to the hotel, clean up, and take a taxi to the bars. You mingle with the locals. You order one to your room.

On the way to the hotel, she scoots up beside you in the back of the taxi and says

your big ears make you look like a mouse. She plays with them all night, flicking and pinching. You let her, because the soft, high staccato of her laughter reminds you of when you were that age, before you married, the choices you had. You pay and send her away in the morning. You eat some chocolates from the mini bar, letting the little silver wrappers fall to the carpet. The window of your room won’t open. Your ears still ache when you get to the meeting. Her clothes looked expensive. So do the factory owner’s, and you’re embarrassed to have come here for fifty thousand pairs of department store slacks. They’ll slap them together from cheap mungo fabric. There’s a stain on your collar. You go home, hold your daughter, feel her nose press through your shirt. She coughs into your chest. You almost drop her.


Cold Dirty Hands Adam Stoves There’s this thing I do. I adore opening accounts with such vagueness. What could it be that I do? Ponder the options. What a waste of seconds but I’ll leave it in. I should have been more direct and opened with I shit in coat pockets, but that declaration is too abrupt. I’ll keep this brief. You’re no sleuth. I shit in coat pockets. For this very reason, I wouldn’t recommend using public coat racks. They are evacuation buffets for my tail end. Watch out, you’ve been warned. I frequent restaurants with coat rack to restroom relations strategically placed; entirely for me I am certain. I borrow a garment, maybe your jacket, and take it away. I am above thievery so please halt your judgment. I will return it in seven or eight minutes, enhanced. Mine is an intricate process, but those glitches are best left to me. Your only concern should be to check your coat pockets for a fresh and attractive mystery, one your chilly and well-fed hands will be eager to find and irked that they solved.


I Must Do Something Ricky Garni ee cummings composed on the typewriter. Some editions reproduce the typewriter typeset. Others include the sound of the birds outside, the wind catching a curtain. Wait. Is that someone weeping? I stop typing.


THANK YOU FOR READING we had a good time and we hope that you did as well maybe this magazine even made you feel something that you don’t usually feel and if it did don’t be scared it is absolutely okay to feel whatever it is that you feel whenever it is that you feel and we hope that maybe you can keep on feeling this is not to say that you are necessarily justified in what you feel, just that you ought not be blamed for reacting to stimuli. please address all queries to or visit



Michele Harris was awarded the Paul G. Zolbrod prize and, more recently, the David A. Kennedy prize in the field of poetry. Her work has appeared in Anderbo, The Prose-Poem Project, Eclectica, Escarp, Stirring, Anatomy & Etymology, Columbia College Literary Review, Turbulence, and elsewhere. Currently, she works at MIT and holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Massachusetts Boston, where she teaches for the OLLI program.

P.D. Adkins grew up in South Florida and lives in New York. Matthew Burnside dedicates all his poems to Steve Buscemi, the muse-monk of the universe. Jeffrey S. Callico hails from Atlanta but one day wants to live in Maine. Until then he plans on driving around town looking for a place to park. His publication credits include FRiGG Magazine, The Prose-Poem Project, Gloom Cupboard, A-Minor Magazine, The Legendary, Apocrypha and Abstractions, and most recently Literary Orphans. He is currently the editor of Negative Suck. Duncan Campbell is a recent graduate of the MFA program in writing at the University of New Hampshire, where he was the recipient of the 2012 Dick Shea Memorial Award. His poems have appeared in elimae, Halfway Down the Stairs, Off the Coast, Sun’s Skeleton, and elsewhere.


A Romanian- born writer and brain researcher, Mia Avramut has worked in laboratories and autopsy rooms. She published scientific articles, book chapters and essays. On this side of the Atlantic, her literary work appeared or is forthcoming in ‘The Prose-Poem Project’, ‘Conclave: a Journal of Character’, ‘Connotation Press’ and ‘A-Minor’.” William Haas lives in Portland, Oregon. His work appears in River Teeth, Fiddleblack, Dark Mountain, and elsewhere. He blogs occasionally at Charles Heiner has an MFA in Creative Writing from McNeese State University. His stories have appeared in The Laurel Review, Fiction Weekly, and Cheek Teeth, and been shortlisted for the Faulkner-Wisdom Creative Writing Competition. He lives in Charlottesville, Virginia. You can find out more about Adam Stoves at Ricky Garni is a graphic designer and the author of THE ETERNAL JOURNALS OF CRISPY FLOTILLA, O-POLANSKI and the forthcoming THE BUTTERSCOTCH BOOK (2012). He rides a white bicycle covered in piano keys.


Profile for Kennedy Nadler

Dirtflask Three  

The third issue of Dirtflask, a literary magazine.

Dirtflask Three  

The third issue of Dirtflask, a literary magazine.

Profile for dirtflask