Indicia 1.2 Winter 2016

Page 1

a journal curating literary arts Volume 1.2 Winter 2016

indicia a journal curating literary arts Volume 1.2 Winter 2016 PDF Collection Š December 2016 indicia Cover and layout by AJ Urquidi. All authors and artists retain rights to their individual pieces. This journal must not be reproduced, in part or in whole, without written consent of the contributor, except when cited partially for reviews. Contact to be put in touch with contributors, or for other inquiries.

Executive Editors: Marcus Clayton & AJ Urquidi Fiction Editors: Casandra HernĂĄndez Rios & Ashton Politanoff Poetry Editors: Jax NTP & Toren Wallace

in this issue: 2 3 5

editors’ introduction His Ribs Were Mower Blades and His Legs Were Hoop Snakes – Gabrielle Montesanti Style Matters – Toti O’Brien When Dreams Become Porous – Clif Mason after effects – Jordan Hoxsie

7 13 14 15 16

To the Lady who Left the Note – Karolina Zapal Packing – Kevin Kotur Far Above – Sarah Bigham At Tom’s Funeral – Kirsten Chen Chance of – Susan Cronin

17 19 22 26

Broken Chandelier – Jennifer Lothrigel House for Sculpture – Serena Solin Pare & Simmer – Margaret Spilman Noe Says Fuck It – Jennie Frost

27 29 32 33

Curtain Dance – Jennifer Lothrigel Iron Man – Exodus Brownlow The Third Room – John Moessner Sometime After Midnight When the Family Cat Gets Lost and We Don’t Look Outside for Her – Remi Recchia

35 37 39 41

The Four Horsemen – Alex Stolis Roosevelt – Janelle Greco backlit tip jar – Matthew Schmidt Speaking of Gerbils – Louis Bourgeois

43 45 46 47 48

Waiting for Elsa Mars – Alex Stolis Paper Dolls – Toti O’Brien Then, – Devon Balwit Like Would Make – Matthew Schmeer Bleak Pastoral – Christine Scanlon contributors


editors’ introduction indicia: in-DISHy-yuh n. pl. (1) differentiating marks, characters, or signs, or (2) a biannual literary arts magazine

— featuring poetry, flash and short prose, and art — that says “out with the old guard, in with the noobs.”

For each issue of indicia, we seek poems, art, and short and shorter prose that hunker down at the fringes of the experimental and the accessible, with a special emphasis on developing their own sense of play. What we generally receive fills out the vast spectrum of these qualities, and the ones that make the biggest impression on us as vibrant, necessary, and/or bizarre are presented within these pages. Our first issue arrived during a summer of humanistic optimism and idealism that was quashed as the year rounded itself out. Considering the turn that 2016 took afterward, compounded with the deaths of many of our own cultural figureheads, we saw the despair we felt in 2016 reflected in much of the writing and art we received this time around. Simultaneously, we found many glimmers of possibility and interconnection in these pieces, which reaffirmed our drive to do what we love doing. We hope they will inspire you samesies.

AJ Urquidi & Marcus Clayton Executive Editors

Nothing to be done. — Samuel Beckett

His Ribs Were Mower Blades and His Legs Were Hoop Snakes Gabrielle Montesanti even before he got cancer his body was held together with safety pins & sometimes I could beat him in the backstroke just by following the ceiling tiles & spinning my arms like Revolver on vinyl like the Tasmanian devil that could blur motion the way everything is blurry underwater the diving sticks the pocket change the kid’s turd that popped out during the mom & tot float which made it easy to believe creatures lived in that pool a moray eel a devil ray there could be trillions which I learned is smaller than quadrillions in third period he poked me in the back with his protractor when the chalk dust settled in my hair he didn’t know what came next in the pattern one one two three five eight & I said thirteen before he could speak he never worried about numbers once the cancer got him his girlfriend got dressed up in a long purple dress and went to the hospital instead of going to the dance where healthy boys pushed their dicks between my legs we writhed in a current of light while he & Amanda just sat on a sterile bed watching the green line of his heartbeat until he died sometime during my trip on the green line from Brooklyn to east 89th he died as I climbed to the top of the Guggenheim he died while I blindly drifted out of the Fibonacci spiral


Style Matters Toti O’Brien I was six when Mother decided not to buy a Christmas tree. My siblings and I had been waiting and waiting. When she announced the news we went blue with dismay. Grandpa and Grandma were visiting for the holidays. Grandpa saw sadness on our faces. He took a walk then, and came back with a tall bare branch. Kind of dry, kind of kinky. Resourceful, he produced a book of origami. We spent the afternoon folding flowers — simple shapes, primary colors, yet gorgeous. Grandpa demonstrated how to cut paper in squares, how to sharpen creases with our thumbnails. We could barely read but we memorized his gestures. Then we topped the branch, sparingly, parsimoniously. See? Our tree was original, rare, very special. Agreed. Two months later Mother couldn’t buy carnival costumes. Or rent. We shouldn’t worry, she said — we would put some together by hand. Not sure about what she meant, we trusted her nevertheless. To be a Dutch girl, Mom said, I’d wear a cute apron over regular clothes, plus a harlequin hat made of paper. She convinced me the disguise was perfect. I sported it for years in a row, concealing my longing for the tons of bright satin all other girls wore. Mom was teaching us style — the aura of distinction, the pride of uniqueness. But it sounded suspect and it felt uncomfortable. With a weird, bitter aftertaste — on my tongue still.


When Dreams Become Porous Clif Mason When the window becomes porous, the stone becomes porous and the tree becomes porous, and when the tree become porous, the light comes right through the bark, right through its roots. And when the root tips become tender and porous, light streams into the soil, and the light shines right through the worms and grubs, and gophers and moles, right through snakes and rabbits and the low-frequency dreams of all the sleepers in their houses. When dreams become porous, skulls and spines light up like city blocks at night, and thoughts become porous, and lovers become porous, until there is no longer any edge or boundary,


until skin is porous to skin, and blood is porous to blood, and time itself is porous, and the earthly shell of all things becomes porous with the radiant now — and now — and now.


after effects Jordan Hoxsie

animals dissolve in the microwave sealed with the knowledge that nutrients are crucial in the autopsy ribcages have already burrowed into the dayglow grass i don’t watch it happen i wait for the day to be over on my mattress while animating grains of sand to slip between fingers




To the Lady who Left the Note Karolina Zapal

1. Leashing in female form effortlessly experienced as dressing deco ration and its content body picking up involuntary shit of voluntary dog or revise versa had to have the dog to live 2. Women in blousers studying cats bells to signify birds burn dened with singifying totc and tytsk eaten by catsk “Anybody signify with me, my nose opens up, I get mad enough to kill� (Kerouac) 3. Nature of course at once familiar and far away where two cats die by presumably nice off-alleles years old plead the ninth life in refrain catcall 4. Women children out without apologizing closed-in spirit of moving on their passion lisp expressionless prepared to put air in errands lodged in what terrifies readers people are go d to each other dangers from dog in revision back vision reference


5. Controlling the world??? Where did that come frame home when you come ba ssinet ssings this patriotic affair less words in America than home her outside an energy which is ously hostile past tense came frame history's titty she can't in charge without her beauty beauty she knobs doesn't even exist at knock insouciant human juice expressive lips insisted ness of softness sure so nice science maleficence the death of two dears were reactions to mothdern dayhood let me shove a bullet in your pot for a pet news must be voluntary to live up to new asphyxstation ssinging ssaying catcall beauty bullet cutie neigh b or c





Packing Kevin Kotur

She does not know which things to pack up first. Maybe her collection of handmade mugs. Maybe the pens and papers and pills on her desk. Maybe her books — yes, this seems manageable. She moves each discrete unit from shelf to cardboard box. The incremental progress and the puzzle of fitting so many sizes of book perfectly together make it almost enjoyable. She wonders what all of it would look like if it were still trees. The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics, Bluets, Desert Solitaire — she remembers reading that one to him on the way to Utah, barreling at ninety miles per hour across the barren plain as the fading sun set the sage brush ablaze for as far as the eye could see. Only when she strips the walls of posters and maps and framed photographs does she begin to feel again. The color of the featureless walls is overwhelming — burnt almond, they call it. She remembers when he helped her pick it out at the hardware store. The walls are no longer her room. She did not apply to medical school here, she did not eat her cereal every morning here, she did not muffle her moans with a pillow here. There are no more things in this room. She sweeps away a year of hair, skin, ashes, dirt, nail clippings, hopes, ghosts, impressions, and music. She mops the hardwood floor until the only thing that lingers is the smell of Lysol.


Far Above Sarah Bigham

Sausaged into a bulbous parka of McDonald’s yellow to be spotted in drifts Too cold to snow says a lanky Texan sporting a windbreaker of Facebook blue as we unearth shovels from trunks to reclaim Upstate pavement at -8


At Tom’s Funeral Kirsten Chen

Toward the end, there was a book to slip memories or condolences into. I wrote: In first grade, Tom and I watched JAWS in the basement of your home before going to school. We were “walkers” together. I was scared, always. But Tom, he said, you know, it’s all just a bunch of stage hands behind the camera. There’s nothing to be scared of.


Chance of Susan Cronin

Variable airlessness, a rash of volcanic activity across the plains. Rain of Icarus, spontaneous scorch. Mirages of an ice age yet to come. Ill winds in syndication. What the groundhog wills. Fortunetellers flood the Farmers’ Almanac. Weather on the 1s — all day, all day:


Broken Chandelier Jennifer Lothrigel



House for Sculpture Serena Solin

“Nest, chrysalis, and garment …” — Bachelard I set a story in this skylight’s frame. Winter. Instead of yard forest pricked by deer, twins in blue. I omit enamel the wall’s oozy purple the texture of paper in a boy’s mouth how I paint the attic while mud thrashes block’s dead end how river uproots the verdant triangle called “dog yard” from which deer are said to have emerged. =


At the end of the flying field, a shed. In my first telling there were no inhabitants. But in the corner is a little engine moaning. I can offer it nothing having fled here from the cold beige room where I was held to keep my hands from metal. Things tend to stay where you leave them but they grow. These days the machine breathes without rustle. =


But what of scrap metal and poison ivy. Money and the dead. The crawlspace between room and guest room might hold me in its shade forever. I might bead a string of versions of this place if not for my father calling up the stairs. We leap from the threshold like intruders.


Pare & Simmer Margaret Spilman

She watches the wooden spoon quivering inches away from his judging lips. With a cleansing sigh, practiced in Wednesday night yoga classes, she forces her hands from her hips to under her breasts and presses her impatience against her apron. “Doesn’t taste right,” her father says and smacks his tongue in dramatized disgust. “What does that even mean, Dad?” “It means it doesn’t taste right, what the hell else would it mean?” She wants to be understanding, but understanding has begun to feel like a bridge troll that demands a toll from her sanity at every crossing. She tries to compromise, “More salt? More garlic? What, Dad? You gotta give me something to work with.” Her father scrunches his gray caterpillar eyebrows together, searching the small kitchen for an answer. It’s buried somewhere in the rows of spices lined against the windows or on the scrap of light blue paper taped to the refrigerator, that list of items to purchase marked by her mother’s loping scrawl: tomatoes, kidney beans, red peppers. Sarah can’t bring herself to check them off. “You’re the one with the damn recipe, what did you leave out?” He yells loud enough to make her involuntarily flinch her body downward. Sarah repeats her sister Helen’s words like a mantra under her breath, “Sometimes it’s okay to walk away. You have to take care of you.” Helen, however, is conspicuously absent. No doubt one of Sarah’s nephews will have vomited. Helen will show up late and apologetic and leave early and penitent, dragging her excuses along by their sticky hands. Sarah pictures her sister feeding the boys mountains of Fun Dip, Sour Patch Kids, and Reese’s Cups in the back seat of the black sedan, timing their stomachaches just right. “You know what, it’s fine. It's almost time anyway.” 22

She pulls at the apron knot. There might be enough time to have a cup of coffee, or better yet a cigarette in the backyard. David couldn’t fuss at her about just one cigarette, not today. Her father thrusts a spoon into the simmering chili pot, splashing hot meat and tomato against her exposed arms. “Look at me,” he growls angrily, “No one is going to eat it. No one that ever had your mother’s. This crap ain’t anything close.” The doorbell punctuates his reasoning and increases her urgent need to escape the kitchen. She dusts flour fingerprints from her black dress and pulls some plastic bowls from the upper right side of the cabinet, the same place they’ve been kept for the past forty years. "David, can you get that?” she hollers through her father, who remains between her and everything that needs to be done. The bell rings again and her father’s breath gets sharp and nervous. It's almost sundown. “You want to sit down, Dad?” David pops his head in, "Hey honey, you need anything?" Sensing danger, he takes the heap of plastic bowls from her without another word. “Who is that kid? What is he doing in my house?” His voice is softer, tugs at her ribs and twists them into an ache. “Dad, that’s David, my husband.” She wants to embrace him, but it would bruise them both. Things are too raw. He sniffs the air, “Doesn’t even look right. What the hell is that? “A carrot.” “Shit.”


She watches her father shift his weight against the black countertop, looking for where his anger belongs. He holds up his arthritic hands, unable to close them, unable to grab onto anything firmly. When he lets them fall to his side, all that is left within his grasp is Sarah and the enormous silver pot bubbling behind her. The doorbell keeps ringing out of courtesy, but people have begun just walking into the house. They make their way back to the kitchen, arms full of food and delicately chosen phrases: “You are in our prayers” pumpkin pie, “Your mother was a special spirit” potato salad, “Everyone loved her” deviled eggs. Each dish is passed over her father’s immovable, mostly ignored bulk and into her arms, building a bridge of butter-soaked concern over his potbelly. "Oh! Your mother’s famous chili, how perfect,” coos cousin Daniel. “Doesn’t taste right.” “I’m sure it’s …” soothes an unknown woman from her mother’s book club. “Doesn’t taste right, I told you.” Her father pushes himself off the counter with all the force left in his forgotten limbs. His loose fist is aimed at the tall, shining sides of the bubbling insult. His fingers hook around the left handle, reddening with steam. “Let me help you with that, Dad.” His hands have locked. The pot is his. Her father leads them in a parade of curiosity out of the kitchen and into the living room. The room quiets, all eyes fixed on each of his shuffling footsteps. A phlegmy cough is the only warning before he relaxes his clutch and lets all her work fall onto the worn Persian rug. The pot’s contents rush out all over the floor, followed by the shouts of those caught in the flood. The carpet oozes tomatoes; the onslaught of beans and onions drive the spectators to the corners of the room.


Firmly and proudly her father stares down the other mourners, silencing their pity. Sarah stands in the middle, hands swinging loose at her sides, looking at what’s left of her father in the fading light. His eyes focus on her, recognize her against a sea of possible strangers. He nods slowly, carefully, his voice tender against her silent anger, “Had to be done. It wasn’t right.” She nudges a thick piece of carrot off of her shoe and nods. “No. No, it’s not.”


Noe Says Fuck It Jennie Frost Noe tucks his shirt into his pants because he wants to. He slides down his stair rail, crashes into the wall, picks himself up, runs out the door. He’s been told not to think too much about it, the thing he always thinks too much about, his family thinking he’s gay, his own self thinking he’s gay, his own self thinking he’s not. He’s not one way or the other, he thinks, or even one way. He’s considered his own gender so much that he thinks he doesn’t even have one, thinks it’s better to never have had one than to live without it. He remembers days when he would wake up shelled, trunked, unsure of whether to put on a dress or a tie or both or neither or nothing at all. He does not want to be flat like magazine men, two dimensional. The hair on his legs and the sweat on his eyebrow do not agree with the way his fingers move when he speaks or the types of books he reads in the bath. He’s not sure if he can drink the wine he likes and be the gender he’s likened with. He finds himself ungendered but not unseasoned. His alone is not the same as anyone else’s alone. He is not without something he’s always had, but he exists with a true emptiness as a child would if they never saw the ocean or mountains. He knows it is there, that life exists within its parameters, but he knows he cannot exist with only the knowledge of this. Noe decides he will not die alone with gender.


Curtain Dance Jennifer Lothrigel



Iron Man Exodus Brownlow

In the brightness. In the cold. In the open. There was nothing to hide them. Samuel sat on his knees. His eyes plastered on the pinkish puke swarming around him … the smell of acid, raw meat, beans and apricots was almost enough to make him purge again. But even the sight of his loss, even the smell of it, was better than what was next to him on both sides of his body. To his right was Gregory. Gregory had pica and when Dan asked him what superhero he’d wanted to be, naturally he replied, “Sandman.” The sounds of his mumbling “mmms” and the crunching of rocks between his teeth cracked through the inaudible October air as he dug his spoon eagerly into the earth … eating what he was surely about to become. “See …” Dan said with a slight accent. “You gotta feel it, man.” He grinned from above. Samuel could see his red, ant-bitten blistered tongue sticking out at him in the reflection of the rivered remains of his stomach’s contents. “Did you try to feel it, man?” To Samuel’s left was Jackson. Jackson had been physically the strongest one in their class and when Dan asked him what superhero he’d wanted to be, naturally he replied, “Superman.” No sounds came from Samuel’s left side. No “mmms” or mumbles. There was only a quiet body drowned of sound from cups and cups of Campbell’s soup. The cans collected around his corpse in a kind of burial. “I … couldn’t feel it.” Samuel inhaled slowly. “I guess I didn’t try hard enough.” He looked into Dan’s eyes, hoping that Dan’s transformation was enough to overcome his villainous side.


“Hey, man … I get that. I do. And that’s why I’m here. That’s why I’m the leader.” He walked around, seeming excited by this idea … to say his authority out loud. “You think it’s easy to become a superhero? Think it’s as simple as falling into some toxic waste, or being bit by a fucking spider and that’s it? Bam! You got powers now! Nah, nothing’s never that simple.” “He’s right.” Katrina dropped in front of him, her feet just wide enough to miss his putrid puddle. The pair of cat ears did nothing for her face, which was now tattered and bloody and clawed. “You gotta put up a fight for the things you want,” she rubbed Samuel’s face gently with the back of her hand, purring. “Are you brave enough to take what’s yours?” Samuel nodded, knowing that he had no other choice, and Katrina smiled sweetly at him, grabbing his left arm and stretching it away from him while Gregory, now Sandman after eating his required amount of grit and mud, took the other and stretched it away too. Three of the others kids who had survived the transformation began to circle in around him shouting and screaming into the brightness of the sky — “Iron Man … you are what you eat! Iron Man … you are what you eat! Iron Man! Iron Man! Iron Man!” “Today, we claim our dreams not like the pussies of the earth who buy their dreams with money! Today, we achieve our dreams with our own god-damn wills! With our own fucking ambition!” Dan patted his chest proudly. “I am AntMan!” The superheroes cheered at his display. “You,” Dan pointed to Katrina, “are Catwoman! And you are Sandman! And you are Aquaman! And you are Thor! And you are Storm.” Cheer after cheer. Finger-points and declarations. Dan’s eyes were upon Samuel once again. “And you are Iron Man,” he said with certainty. “And you will not fail again. Aquaman and Thor … please bring me the bucket.” A sound like money. Samuel closed his eyes, feeling his jaws being pushed open and his mouth stretched wide by hands. The insides of his cheeks scraped against his teeth, trying to somehow shut against the inevitable.


Dan held the bucket, which was clear enough to see every little iron trinket inside, above his head and for a moment Samuel was almost touched that Dan had gone through so much trouble. He couldn’t have imagined the time it had taken him to gather everything he saw in the bucket. With his mouth open and his arms stretched out fully on both sides, Dan poured the contents into his mouth. The iron spilled out and down like silver waterfalls, banging and clanging against the back of his throat and the hardness of his teeth. Filling Iron Man. Filling, Feeling. Feeling Iron Man.


The Third Room John Moessner

Not knowing what to do with the extra room we opened the shades and gave it to the sun. The dust whirled around in the warmed air. At first, we left the door open, glancing at the oddity of space, amazed at the feeling of emptiness it gave us. The bare hush of the light’s rays sifting and sighing through the wrinkled glass, compelling us in to speak and dream. But one day the door was shut. Neither of us would admit to closing it. We couldn’t stand how the growing pressure of expectation glared in the sun as a fine film of dust covered the floor, settling at the lowest point.


Sometime After Midnight When the Family Cat Gets Lost and We Don’t Look Outside for Her Remi Recchia

I ate your hair slowly under the plaster flakes of a garage sale mirror, collected like party favors and black balloons. The ends bristled and frayed, scraping my tonsils like shattered headlights, toenails cracked into moonlight on the way down. You made a mirage of yourself, palms hallowed, knees bent. My belly fell and I bought the image, cast on the floor like an empty whale’s spout. Virgin hands knuckling


initials into the ground, dirty heels pretending to be three times bigger — we burned cigarettes inside each other’s mouths, filter ends facing out, neither wanting to take the first drag, admit ignorance, threading all the times you couldn’t see me.


The Four Horsemen Alex Stolis 35


Roosevelt Janelle Greco

Roosevelt touches everything on my desk. Without fail, the stapler becomes a toy and the picture frames are specimens to be studied. He runs a finger over each object to make sure it’s real — that the books contain words, the flowers are not plastic, and my coffee is still a liquid. Everything must be tested. He fidgets when he talks about his career goals. Planning ahead is important at the shelter; it reminds everyone that this is temporary. Roosevelt takes one of my tulips and dissects it like a lab student examining the heart of a frog. The petals, a dusting of pollen, and shards of stem with green, translucent skin are scattered next to my papers. When I ask if I gave him permission to take apart my things he smiles and tells me, “You’re funny.” He leaves behind reminders that he has been here — forgotten earphones, candy wrappers, a cup of half-drunk water. He tells me a story about how his mom once embarrassed him by wearing a sweater with a “big, old cat on it” to his high school. “Old people don’t know what’s hip,” he says. His youth will never run out. He will be vibrant and creative and the decider of hipness forever. Roosevelt falls in love at least five times a da y— once with the girl at the deli, again with the shorty at CVS, and one more time with the fine female at Starbucks. It’s only noon. One of the staff members is playing Frank Sinatra in her office and Roosevelt spins her around. She is 70 and he is 23 and they are both giggling. He falls in love again.


Roosevelt writes stanzas about his various loves. He wants to be a famous rapper, but when he sings the chorus his voice sounds like the cat that lives behind the building. I remind myself that rappers don’t need to sing. He was high when he broke the glass I gave him for completing a workshop on stress management. I ask him about it, and he stirs my pencils like they’re spoons in a coffee cup. He gets annoyed and clicks his tongue, then gently tips over whatever inanimate object is closest — a box of markers, my desk calendar, a small fan. Tiny protests are necessary. When he feels hurt, he lets me know it: “You’ve changed,” he says. “You get a promotion and it all goes to your head.” Roosevelt has a slight lisp, and when he smiles it is wide and bright and shows off the small gap between his front teeth. He is always chewing something when he talks: hunks of oranges, cashews, gum, a turkey sandwich. Between bites he tells me his latest invention is putting fruit in water to infuse it with flavor. He always shares his creations. Some nights he walks me to the train station. He uses elaborate metaphors that are beautiful but don’t always make sense, like describing his journey through rehab as fish swimming upstream with rainbows. He lifts a bony finger into the universe and points out the size of the moon. Perhaps in a previous life he discovered the vaccine for an incurable disease or named a new constellation. We’ll never know. When we reach the green globes of the subway station he waves goodbye and sings some lyrics to a song I don’t know. It’s off key but who cares. When I come in the next day, the phone is off the hook and the “R” key from my keyboard sits loose on the desk, like a wink from far away.


backlit tip jar for Jon Riccio Matthew Schmidt

palace of Chinese food within a neon sign I can’t handle chopsticks red, spoon large napkin bracket on fork red seat across our booth short of toothpicks the entryway propped by chair under the cupola $20 for Mark to make Oro Valley to pick-up his kids, wife waits on the corner blonde-and-jeans dirty jeans is plural unless you’re cut in half


the sparrow’s causeway a flagpole boxed to-go me and this switchblade we’re just friends, Chevy logo on the steering wheel sheathed it ain’t tuna fish, the slumped electrician shouts, he skims The Book of Luke all the world’s mortar and Speedway’s pestle shop grind our communication the stars lecture fickle milk found a marble bored into a bed sheet, we go to the movies in my garage


Speaking of Gerbils Louis Bourgeois

I was barely old enough to speak. I don’t think I even knew my name. The morning was cold and abandoned. The sky was crystal and seemed very large to me. Flocks of red winged blackbirds were filling up the empty fig trees. The iron fence that divided our yard from our neighbors was only a few feet high. They had two cages alongside of the fence, one for rabbits and one with gerbils. I could not climb high enough to reach the lock of the rabbit cage but the gerbil cage was lower and I figured out how to turn back the little wooden latch that kept the door from swinging downward. A green plastic bucket filled with rainwater stood on our side of the fence. I took one of the gerbils and squeezed her tight around the neck and stuck my hand through the thin film of ice in the bucket. The gerbil thrashed about under the water for what seemed a very long time. She did not want to die, but did. When it was over, I opened my small fist, and she floated to the top of the bucket. My hand was extremely cold, but I was having so much fun I didn’t care. I took the gerbils out one by one and sunk them into the cold water. I held them under the water until they stopped breathing. All of them put up a fight and stirred up the water pretty good. When the cage was empty, I placed the wet gerbils in a neat little row a couple of feet long. 1972



Waiting for Elsa Mars Alex Stolis 43


Paper Dolls Toti O’Brien

At my mother’s office where, after school, I was parked for hours, a clerk showed me how to make paper dolls. She drew delicate creatures with a pencil, then she asked: “Are you an accurate person?” Having no idea of what that meant I politely nodded. It happened to be true: with small scissors and deep focus I managed cutting the silhouettes with their folding stands. The clothes hung from the fragile bodies by means of minuscule tabs. I was awed. Mother managed for the same lady — an angel of patience — to give me lessons of English. One or two … then my teacher got married and moved to Poland. She returned to visit, years later, with a Northern-looking kid — pale, almost transparent. I was still there, now filling my time with small jobs to earn some pocket money. Happy to babysit her child I started drawing, cutting, then folding paper. I built him a garage — we pushed in and out little cars, standing by means of minuscule tabs. We enjoyed ourselves and he didn’t want me to leave. Unable to pronounce my name (which is spelled Tais, pronounced Tice) he said “Mice” instead. I liked that a lot. I remember him crying in his mom’s arms, while I went down the noisy elevator. “Mice, Mice! Come back!” Swallowed into the metal cage like a mouse in his hole, I vanished from sight. He returned to Poland, of course.


Then, Devon Balwit

we will not be sexed, will morph the necessary genitalia depending on who is near, mingle, and return to nascency, or may bud asexually, swelling with our own clones, birth likenesses in endless mirroring, or relegate the whole haploid diploid diplomacy to the lab, growing selves in the perfect medium, selected from a catalogue of wants, baby Bachs, Olympians, Genghis Khans, colliding in a kaleidoscope of shifting borders, pidgins, and cryptocurrencies. Then, you and I will be pixelated shades, haunting the future with our old ways of shit, blood, and brute striving, what we thought fine, mere handprints spattered on cave walls, stick figures shaking broken spears. Then, the dream will dream us, in infinite arrays, a fission of generations.


Like Would Make Matthew Schmeer

The at of a was an each but which each was the if? Like long oil, like down water it's now her number, his time. They all were people when your will called a word, and you said many days could write time. How has not made each part, what number made long had there been? From this we have what we all said. From this, we have no more time. Go. Look. Write what you see. Could it in no way, then, be about this, about them? No. Did you will him? Her? Each? All? We go into out.


Bleak Pastoral Christine Scanlon

sometimes patterns

of the day

break apart

in concrete ribbons

unfolding hyper


breaking apart

and I see

the odd shadow

and I see

one population


in superficial colorwash

I hardly recognize

the oddities

and I notice

as patterns

the way I notice

inside notes

the words

the worlds

of hysteria

like the future



contributors Devon Balwit is a poet and educator from Portland, Oregon. She has a chapbook, Forms Most Marvelous, forthcoming with dancing girl press (Summer 2017). Her recent poems have appeared in numerous print/online journals, among them: Oyez, Red Paint Hill, Serving House Journal, The Gambler, Timberline Review, The Journal of Applied Poetics, Vanilla Sex Magazine, Anti-Heroin Chic, The Rising Phoenix Review, Rattle, Rat’s Ass Review, and The Ekphrastic Literary Review. Sarah Bigham teaches, paints, and writes in Maryland where she lives with her kind chemist wife, their three independent cats, and an unwieldy herb garden. Her work appears or is forthcoming in Bacopa, Entropy, Fourth & Sycamore, Pulse: Voices from the Heart of Medicine, Rabbit, The Quotable, and elsewhere. Find her at Louis Bourgeois is the Executive Director of VOX PRESS, a 501(c)3 arts collective located in Oxford, MS. He is also an instructor for the Prison Writes Institute, a liberal arts education program for Mississippi inmates. Exodus Oktavia Brownlow is a 24-year-old black woman living in the depths of Blackhawk, Mississippi, a place where trees suffice as next door neighbors, the roads are paved from dirt, and cell phone service is a skittish visitor. She is currently an MFA in creative writing student at Mississippi University For Women and has had a nonfiction essay published by Luna Luna Magazine and flash fiction pieces published by Valley Voices. Kirsten Chen is an NYC-based poet whose work has appeared in the Artist Catalogue, NYU’s Anamesa, Best American Poetry blog, Pank, Public Pool, Seventh Wave, and more. She currently leads a creative writing workshop at the Ali Forney Center in Harlem and founded the artist collective BTP. Susan Cronin studied at Rutgers University, Sarah Lawrence College, and The New School, where she earned an MFA. Her poetry has appeared in numerous journals, most recently in Quaint, White Stag, Nashville Review, DMQ Review, Gingerbread House, and Josephine Quarterly, and is forthcoming in Whiskey Island and Amethyst Arsenic. 49

Jennie Frost is a Jewish, Appalachian poet from Maryville, TN. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Anomaly, Kudzu, Sink Hollow, Glass Mountain, and Political Punch, an anthology on the politics of identity from Sundress Publications. She is a two-time winner of the Curtis Owens prize and beginning in January, she will serve as the Writer in Residence at the Sundress Academy for the Arts. Janelle Greco resides in Brooklyn but will often escape to the far reaches of Long Island. She spent several years working in men's homeless shelters throughout NYC and now oversees an adult learning program. She has previously been published online in Crab Fat Magazine, I Want You to See This Before I Leave, and Gambling the Aisle, and was also a finalist for the Center for Women Writers Award in Creative Non-Fiction. Jordan Hoxsie is the founder of the independent press Varsity Goth, the Social Media Editor for Reality Beach, and the author of the mini-chapbook cry lightning (Ghost City Press, 2016). Their work has appeared in Uut Poetry, Vagabond City, Bluepepper, and elsewhere. They tweet @jordanhoxsie. Kevin Kotur is currently working toward his MFA in Creative Writing at the University of MissouriKansas City, and he puts food on the table by copyediting, proofreading, and translating at Andrews McMeel Publishing. His work has previously appeared in Windfall, Perfect Distance from the Sun, Global Yodel, and Chariton Review. Jennifer Lothrigel is an artist and poet residing in the San Francisco Bay area. Her work has been published in The Bitter Oleander, Poetry Quarterly, The Haight Ashbury Journal, Cicatrix Publishing, Five Poetry, and elsewhere. Clif Mason’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in many magazines in America and England, including Evergreen Review, Southern Poetry Review, By&By Poetry, The New Guard, and Orbis, and in the chapbook From the Dead Before. His poems have been awarded prizes by Writers’ Journal, SPSM & H, Plainsongs, the Midwest Writers’ Conference, and the Academy of American Poets. His work has also been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.


John Moessner is a poet writing and teaching in Kansas City. His poems have appeared in We Like, We Love and Kawsmouth, and he is currently a poetry candidate in the MFA program at The University of Missouri-Kansas City. Gabrielle Montesanti is a current creative nonfiction MFA student at Washington University in St. Louis. She has a BA in mathematics and studio art from Kalamazoo College in Michigan. Her work can be found in Word Riot, Crab Creek Review, Devil’s Lake, and is forthcoming in Sinister Wisdom. Toti O’Brien was born in Rome and lives in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in Peacock Journal, Sein und Werden, Avis, and Ink in Thirds, among other journals and anthologies. More about her can be found at Remi Recchia is an emerging poet and MFA candidate in Poetry at Bowling Green State University. He has been published in Ground Fresh Thursday Press, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Cutbank Literary Magazine’s All Accounts & Mixture series, The Birds We Piled Loosely, The Blotter, The Laureate, and The Poems That Ate Our Ears, and has two poems forthcoming in Gravel Magazine. Christine Scanlon is a graduate of the New School MFA program and currently teaches writing composition at The City College of New York. Her work is forthcoming or has appeared in Best American Poetry 2005, White Stag, and Flag and Void, among other journals. She lives in Brooklyn where she is the cocurator of the reading series Readings in Color. Matthew W. Schmeer's work has appeared in Cream City Review, Natural Bridge, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Kansas English, The Connecticut River Review, and elsewhere. He is the author of the chapbook Twenty-One Cents and is active in publishing indie press roleplaying game material. He holds an MFA from the University of Missouri at St. Louis and is a Professor of English at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kansas. Matthew Schmidt is working on a PhD in English at the University of Southern Mississippi. His poems have been published or are forthcoming in Hobart, Small Po[r]tions, Word For/Word, and elsewhere.


Serena Solin is currently an MFA candidate in poetry at Washington University. She holds a degree in English & Creative Writing from Columbia University and currently lives in St. Louis. Margaret Spilman was born in West Virginia, raised in Kansas, and bounced around most of the US before settling in the Bay Area. She is currently an MFA candidate at San Francisco State University and was Fiction Editor for Fourteen Hills: The SFSU Review. She was one of six writers chosen to receive the PEN Emerging Voices Fellowship in 2014. Her story “Muscle Memory” won the James Kirkwood Literary Prize and her flash piece “From Here to There” was a Glimmer Train Very Short Fiction Contest honorable mention. She has been published in The Rattling Wall, The New Flash Fiction Review, Transcurrent, and sParkle & bLink. Alex Stolis lives in Minneapolis; he has had poems published in numerous journals. Recent chapbooks include Justice for all, published by Conversation Paperpress (UK) based on the last words of Texas Death Row inmates. Also, Without Dorothy, There is No Going Home from ELJ Publications. Other releases include an e-chapbook, From an iPod found in Canal Park; Duluth, MN, from Right Hand Pointing and The Hum of Geometry from White Knuckle Press. His full length collection Postcards from the Knife Thrower was a finalist for the Moon City Poetry Award. He has been the recipient of five Pushcart Nominations. Karolina Zapal is an MFA candidate at the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics, where she received the Anselm Hollo fellowship. She currently instructs an introductory writing seminar, works at The Birds We Piled Loosely Press, and serves as associate editor of Something on Paper.


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