Indicia 1.1 Summer 2016

Page 1

a journal curating literary arts Volume 1.1 Summer 2016

indicia a journal curating literary arts Volume 1.1 Summer 2016 PDF Collection Š June 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 Editor: Casandra HernĂĄndez Rios Poetry Editors: Jax NTP & Toren Wallace

in this issue: 1 4 6 7 8 9

editors’ introduction The Neon Legend – Taylor Mims Red Rubber-Band Shoelaces – Kelley Gillaspy to fold III – J. M. Baker Lincoln Heights – Alina Nguyen soup song – Janea Wilson Picture Found Under My Underwear – Kenneth Pobo

11 13 14 15 16 19 20

from #DearSister – Sophia Zarders Green Onions – Adam Halwitz Life: Spoiled by Cure – Alexandra Balasa Mud at the Auction – Larry Blazek Boy of Summer – Jess Thoubboron Except What Happens Next – Jenna Cardinale from Relief Map: [8] Bone – Erin M. Bertram

21 23 28 29 30 32 34

First Dusting of Snow – W. Jack Savage Redbird [Properties of Resurrection] – Joseph Hernandez Pulchritudes – James Valvis Fretted Seams – Kelley Gillaspy Girl at Sewing Machine – Kyle William McGinn Enterobius Vermicularis – William Doreski Jane Doe – Alexis Pacheco

35 37 39 40 44 45 46

from October Days – Julian Jackson Bouts – Mitchell Grabois Small War of Matters – Jenna Cardinale Signs of Alcoholism – John Christopher Nelson Marbles – Laura Madeline Wiseman to fold II – J. M. Baker all natural – Janea Wilson 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 fiction, and art – that says “out with the old guard, in with the noobs.”

After our previous experience working on a magazine entirely devoted to reeling in a small network of poets, we wanted to focus on finding emerging writers and artists, not just poets, who successfully capture what we loved about literary arts in the first place. We sought poems, art, short and shorter fiction that hunkered down at the fringes of the experimental and the accessible, with a special emphasis on developing their own sense of play. What we received filled out the vast spectrum of these qualities, and the ones that made the biggest impression on us as vibrant, necessary, and/or bizarre are presented within these pages. Summertime is just on the horizon. Pull up your lawn chair and some off-brand fruit punch, in a girthy glass with those little plastic pink ice cubes shaped like ducks. Don’t forget your trucker hat with the solar-powered fan hanging from the brim. Now open your eyes — these artists have a lot to show you.

AJ Urquidi & Marcus Clayton Executive Editors

For Mark B. Friedlander

The Neon Legend Taylor Mims Jean entered the marble bathroom, the heels of his pointed boots clicking as he made his way to his grandfather chair that sat beside the stand-alone tub whose lion paws clawed at the polished floor. The word l’Amour hung over the bath in neon, the remnants of a sign he had made years ago that read in full La Maison de l’Amour and buzzed bright on the window of the bordello in Reno where he had met Beatrice’s mother. He was commissioned by the whorehouse owner to make the sign a “passionate red.” Upon its delivery, the Neon Legend overheard a woman speaking mangled French, paid for a night with her, and married her four months later. When she left with the Neon Legend, she stole the l’Amour from the window and brought it to their new home in California for her, her husband, and the child in her womb. He set his book and coffee down on the side table and smiled at his daughter, who was submerged in the floating elastic bubbles below the illuminated sign. Only Beatrice’s neck and head were above the water, steaming in the scent of jasmine soap he had imported from France. The smell calmed him in the evening, like warm milk before bed. Her head rested on the towel draped over the side of the tub, her dark brown hair was twisted and tied up in a sloppy bun, nonconforming strands sticking to her skin, and Jean admired his daughter who had inherited only the best parts of her mother, her looks and her bloodline. He felt fortunate that Beatrice had not inherited her mother’s personality; instead she was a good girl, intelligent, gentle, risk adverse. “How was school today?” he asked, lowering his leather bound book. He had a library of books covered in the same leather, privately printed and bound in a design of his own and embossed with what, he had deduced, was his late wife’s family crest. Despite what he thought of her mother, Jean wanted Beatrice surrounded by his late wife’s heritage, the French part at least. He had come to think very little of his late 1

wife before her death, but, regardless of her addictions and adulterous tendencies, she spent every evening in their daughter’s spacious bathroom while Beatrice bathed, talking to one another about their day, a tradition Jean continued. “Okay,” Beatrice said. “I was assigned a partner for Ms. Brown’s research project today. Charlie Baker.” “The boy who got suspended last week?” he asked. Beatrice nodded her head above the bubbles, a few sticking to her chin. Jean shook his head, appalled at the thought of his daughter working with such a lowly character. He wanted his daughter to be girdled by greatness unlike he was in his formative years. He had distanced himself from his family of cowboys, whose heritage dated back to the Gold Rush. They migrated to California only to find desperate men, quick to draw. Jean’s great-grandparents bought a plot of barren land that became the only graveyard for three trigger-happy towns and made them, somberly and quietly, the richest folks for miles. Disinclined toward the rugged ways of his family, Jean waited for his inheritance to kick in, became entranced by the French culture, went by Jean instead of John, and studied the French-born technique of neon lighting. As his daughter sat under the glow of his craftsmanship in her bathroom, he promised to handle this for her. “No,” she said quickly. “Please don’t. Charlie and I already started working. I’d have to begin again from scratch.” “But you could do it,” he said, uncrossing his legs and leaning forward, the leather soles of his shoes tapping the floor and echoing. “And it would probably be better.” Beatrice sat up as much as she could in the tub without exposing herself. “But I think I was assigned to 2

Charlie so I could rub off on him, be a good influence. It’s like community service.” Jean grimaced at his daughter’s philanthropy. “I’d just have to miss one lounge time tomorrow,” she said. Jean stared at his daughter as the steam settled at her shoulders. Her mother had preferred coarse men like Charlie Baker. He slanted his head back, remembering his wife settling face down on the surface of the pool and the descent of his heart rate as he dialed the police. His neon sign sizzled red over his daughter. He squinted at its bolts, thinking one looked insecure.


Red Rubber-Band Shoelaces (visit to the mental ward) Kelley Gillaspy Coffee — black, steam rising through the pale thread of fingers. Her plastic hospital bracelet crinkled at the edges. Scars fading at the wrists. A siren blares into the parking lot. But the static mariachi music filters loud over the radio. Girls dance wild like animals first learning they have legs. No joy in their eyes. They huddle in herds — arms wrapped in gauze, legs spindled in fading sunset. I have come to watch her smile — uncertain between words. Proud of her first sips of coffee in weeks. Happy Birthday she says as I pass through the fifteen foot iron gates. Presses a beaded bracelet 4

into my palm. A U bead in the middle. Standing for what? Unspoken? All the words crammed into the crevices of our mouths like the blue pills in crumpled paper cups. Let me begin: this isn’t where I wanted to find you. Barred tiger pacing its cage. But sometimes I feel like the deer — hunted and seduced. Open your mouth and show me your teeth.


to fold III J. M. Baker hoard heart gleen braids of glass mettle shying call or blew as scar let beading glums be leaved in write be held to lip flow word into rows sepalled seered by rime to find a choir for degrees hollow holler unbowed aloud a poor trait in amber hews embers brief mesh age haunt all logic alee to read a fine the wind in fluencies the ways of waves in flecked suns of voice


Lincoln Heights Alina Nguyen

I dig routine & driving on autopilot. In the heart of nothing really, a street named Broadway streams an abundance of Honda headlights. The nicest signage spells out The Airliner in cursive above an underground music venue I’ve never been to. My friend Margaret says she goes there for Low End Theory: experimental hip hop & electronica on Wednesday nights. I like tacos from La Morenita down the street, but the owner sold it to someone who thinks ciabatta bread is Mexican.


soup song Janea Wilson

no fingers to grip, no tongue, no sprig to get stung. a root is not a true press. slick cake grit off teeth, trigger heat. phoebe's bow faints in the east. grass stains a hammock bottom when hawkbits claw the windy coal buds on the lawn. i said "lettuce juice." you said you never heard a more absurd combination of words. we flow idle. the swords stare after the barbecue. does it occur to loping limbic cyborgs to poll what makes a monster? a storm lops, climbs treetops for pots and mocks the wildflowers.


Picture Found Under My Underwear Kenneth Pobo

A Polaroid: Dad in a suit, 36 years old in black and white. Early spring. My parents lived in the same house for half a century. I cling to TV-ish remarks like “60 is the new 50,� show my dad, 90, the picture. We talk about 1963. Before Kennedy died. Astronauts, Telstar, and Mayberry. How much seemed possible. And hidden.



from #DearSister 2015. Mixed media installation, performance.

Sophia Zarders



Green Onions Adam Halwitz

We misheard How do you feel about green onions As How do you feel without green onions. Answer, Mostly all right, but sometimes lonely For the presence of green onions — and at those times I go out to the garden and kiss the tops of their heads right off. Between my two front teeth, that’s what! I’m not lonely for long in this shack in the woods!


Life: Spoiled by Cure Alexandra Balasa

Mechaleg gears: rusted, mobility impeded by fifty percent. Call RoboCure on mindview, place new order. Remove shinplates, insert new gears. Repeat mantra: posthuman, not posthumous. System malfunction: homeostasis disrupted, abnormal positive feedback loop. Buy HomeoStabilizers, send complaint for insufficient warranty. Install stabilizers, recycle old parts. Repeat mantra: garnished, not tarnished. Available: Smartware chip upgrade, RoboCure promotion for regular customers. Retract complaint, upgrade mental software. Renew life expectancy calculation, five year increase. Repeat mantra: sustained, not stained. Customer survey: rate satisfaction, respond to RoboCure questionnaire. Cured of all ailments, but satisfaction low. Dopamine regulators faulty, Joychip replacements never arrived. Mantras forgotten.


Mud at the Auction Larry Blazek

The cross-dresser got his antique truck Stuck in the mud at the auction Heels caught in the moist clay


Boy of Summer Jess Thoubboron

I walked into the yard to grab the mail and found a boy passed out in the heat. I made sure no neighbors saw me as I hoisted him up and hurried inside. You know how people talk. I lay him down on the couch and admired how his limp weight sprawled out, an unconscious eighty-pound sack of bones and meat. Twelve or thirteen, the boy had matted corn-straw hair and flushed cheeks, his heart pounding as if someone were knocking for me from inside his ribcage. Unsure of proper child protocol, I nestled an ice pack on his forehead and brushed the wet strands from his eyes. His aquiline face gave the impression of guarded intelligence. The swollen mouth was drawn into a half-smile. While I waited for him to wake up, I rearranged his haphazard limbs to fit on the couch more comfortably. His eyes whirled under their lids whenever he was touched. You could only guess at his dreams. I wondered about his panicking parents, if his situation warranted a doctor or an ambulance. My gut told me to wait. It was nice to have someone in the house, someone to whom I could offer a tour of the pond and garden when he awoke. I hoped he would appreciate my kindness and stay for lunch, telling me about his schoolwork, maybe mention what he wanted to be when he grew up. If he liked animals, I could bring him out to the rabbit's nest and then show him the lakefront. It had been so long since I was around a child, or had even been one myself, feeling like the world was perpetually watching out for me. Mailmen and shop-keeps used to stop what they were doing to say hello, total strangers offering to help me when I looked breathless and lost. When I was young, there had been so many people volunteering immediate, comforting deeds, and I thought nothing of them. If only someone could have warned me that growing up meant getting cut off, your support system dwindling until you were 16

completely alone. Right now, this boy was stalled at the crossroads between child and adult, straddling the middle ground of discovery located between dreaming and consciousness. An inbetween state. From here on in, his life would be a process of thinning. All he could do would be remembering his past with care. As he rested, I imagined the moment he would wake up, how I would sit quiet, biting my tongue to let him speak without any interruption, not willing to risk the role of an insensitive adult. If, after listening, I could translate my advice into relatable terms, if our gaps of understanding didn’t feel too wide, I might try to express which perspectives were worth holding onto, or how to prevent his heart from hardening while growing old. In the meantime, the boy looked so helpless, so cared-for and wonderful. I could imagine his parents standing in the doorway of his room at night after tucking him in, unable to comprehend the fragile beauty they had created in him. Still asleep, the boy’s tongue flicked out, wetting his round, plump lips. I needed to kiss him. It wouldn’t hurt anyone. I would be gentle and discreet, endeavoring not to disturb him, wherever he was. Perhaps some cosmic shift would take place, our bodily barriers breaking like the shells of hatching eggs. We could satisfy the desire to leave our bodies and pass through the other person – becoming one. I pressed my mouth against his. His milk-fed breaths emanated through me, his head cradled by my dominant hand. Part of me wished he would wake up so that I would be forced to explain myself. I rose from the couch, dazed. I wandered through the house, stopping in each room as if seeing it for the first time. I thought about how my bed sheets were silkworm-spun, how the rough twill of the futon scratched my arms’ undersides. I read an article in the bathroom within a travel magazine for people who never intended on going anywhere. I realized that I never really looked at the paintings I’d hung up, how they were never able to please or inspire me. It seemed strange that I had this entire house to myself. There was no need for so much space. I gulped down a glass of ice water and marveled at the stillness of the backyard, a manicured open plane. There were no birds, cats, or chipmunks in sight. The grass stood motionless, the whole yard under my control. What I had told myself that I wanted. 17

I remembered the boy in the foyer who didn't belong here. I sucked air through my teeth and returned to the couch where he slept. But the boy and my ice pack were gone.


Except What Happens Next Jenna Cardinale

He insists it was not a ghost throwing around my meaning. I should just. Accept it. String stretches against smooth wood. Some tickle. A pluck. You cannot be a phantom. You still chew gum. And then the quietest! I intend to remember snow. The way all the airs make and manage. Even work. What is the gender of this dancing.


from Relief Map: [8] Bone: to look at with one eye, to sight Erin M. Bertram Once, I stood in a cathedral made almost entirely of bone — clavicles, vertebrae, skulls — some partial, some complete. The bones of the feet, the hands. Eye sockets too big for the eyes. Even the pelvis, those most private of bricks. The small model skull I took home from that trip now rests on the sill below my bathroom mirror. * A woman, an artist, sits across from strangers in a famous museum, day after day, for three months, eight hours per day — simply, though hardly — holding eye contact with them, not moving, & never once speaking. Many of the museum-goers leave after only minutes, the candor of the stripped-down moment too much to bear in front of a crowd.


First Dusting of Snow W. Jack Savage



Redbird [Properties of Resurrection] Joseph Hernandez

When Jessica awoke in the morning, she discovered two things: first, that her bird, Sonrisa, had died overnight, and second, that the myths surrounding birds were lies. There were no flames in the cage. No pile of ashes. Instead, she found the red-and-yellow feathered body on its back, its tiny claws in the air, still curled as if gripping their perch. The body was cold and stiff when she picked it up, and when she held it up to her face and looked into its tiny eyes, they reflected no light. Her mother was in the kitchen cooking when Jessica went to tell her. As she chopped something green, Jessica held the body up to her mother’s face. “Sonrisa died,” she said. Her mother gasped, spilling some bits of green from the counter onto the floor. “Get that out of here!” she shouted, pointing with the knife. “Bringing death into my kitchen, what’s wrong with you?” Then, eyes closed and knife still in hand, she did the sign of the cross. “But what do I do, Ma? Where do I put her while I wait for her to catch fire?” Her mother kept her eyes closed and said nothing. “Ma, I’m waiting for her to come back. Like a phoenix.” When her mother didn’t answer her, she backed out of the kitchen and went to her room, where she dug a bright orange shoebox out of her closet. She put the bird inside and placed the box on her dresser, beside the wax crucifix her mother had installed a year before to protect her from the bad dreams that sometimes troubled her. 23

“Hopefully there isn’t too much fire when you come back,” Jessica said. “I like my room the way it is now.” Jessica had learned of the phoenix and its properties of resurrection last year, when she was assigned to do a report on Greek mythology. Unimpressed with the pantheon of gods, she decided to focus her report on the mystical creatures that inhabited these legends. Among these creatures was a bird that, each time it died, would be reborn by bursting into flames and re-ascending out of its own ashes. Jessica couldn’t tell which of these properties amused her more: the show of fire, the endless cycle of life, or the fact that the bird was regenerated from its own remains, but she knew then that she had developed a newfound admiration for birds. The day after the death, there was still no re-Sonrisa, so she made a list of all the most well-known resurrections she could think of in hopes of discerning a pattern: •

Jesus Christ.

Lazarus, who was awakened by Jesus Christ.

Some kid from Sunday school who said his heart had stopped and he’d gone to heaven, where he

met Jesus Christ, who allegedly sent him back to Earth because he behaved. She sat there for a moment, unable to think up any resurrections that had nothing to do with Jesus Christ, then went to her dresser to place the wax crucifix on top of the shoebox. She attempted to do the sign of the cross, remembering that her mother often did this in troubling or surprising situations, but she couldn’t remember the order that her finger was supposed to follow (was it up, down, left, right, or up, down, right, left?), or even which finger to use. She thought the middle finger would be the wrong one, since no miracle of re-life could be achieved by flipping the bird at the Holy Spirit. But the pointer finger 24

and pinky felt awkward to use, and she couldn’t even lift the third finger on its own. Finally, she settled on using the thumb and, for good measure in case she had messed up, put her forehead against the lid of the box and focused on three memories of Sonrisa. I. She had received Sonrisa as a birthday present three years ago, when her father (before he left) traded a wooden chess set he had carved and painted himself for the bird. The person who gave Sonrisa to her father had told him that this was a special bird, a songbird from the jungles of Central America whose voice could bring peace to those who heard it. Sonrisa never sang, though, and her parents’ fighting had never ceased. II. She taught Sonrisa to land on her finger by baiting the bird with a piece of bread. Jessica would leave the bird’s cage open and walk to the other side of the room where she would wave the cheese in the air and make chirping noises. In this way she learned to whistle, discovering that birds reacted better to this sound. III. Once, Jessica let Sonrisa fly around the house to stretch her wings. Jessica’s mother had left a window open. When Sonrisa flew out, Jessica screamed and climbed through the window after her. As Sonrisa ascended higher into the sky, Jessica was terrified she’d fly into the sun. She began whistling shakily and the bird came down, landing on her finger and making no noise. Reliving these memories would create positive energy, Jessica hoped. She thought that this was quite like praying, though she never prayed much; her mother, who prayed every night, had never taught her how. On the one-year anniversary of the day her father had left them, Jessica was wounded. She found a drop of bright red in her shorts that reminded her of the spot on Jupiter. 25

“Ma,” she said when she came home from school. “I’m bleeding. My tummy hurts, and there’s blood. I don’t remember getting hurt.” Her mother’s eyebrows tightened, then relaxed. “Let me see, hija.” She walked Jessica to the bathroom, where she began opening and peering into all of the cupboards. “What are you looking for, Ma? Am I okay?” “Yes, hija,” her mother didn’t turn to look at her, but continued her search. “You’re a little bit early, but you’ll be okay.” “Is this happening because Papá is gone?” Her mother froze, her hand reaching for something Jessica couldn’t see in the cabinet under the sink. “He left a year ago. A year ago today,” Jessica said. “This is going to start happening to you more now,” her mother said, pointing to Jessica’s shorts. “It can’t be helped. You’ll just have to endure it each month, like all girls.” “Do you think this will go away if Papá ever comes back?” Her mother didn’t answer in words. Instead, she kneeled below the sink, pulled out a purple box with big white letters, placed it in Jessica’s hands, and left the room. * Still no fire had come by the third day. In reviewing her list, Jessica remembered that it had taken three whole days for Jesus Christ to return. Four for Lazarus (and thirty seconds, apparently, for the boy at Sunday school). She looked again at the box on her dresser. “Are you a Jesus bird or a Lazarus bird?” she asked it. She took the box outside, thinking that it might need more space. She left it out overnight and in the morning she went to check on it, hoping to see the redbird, as good as new, flying down from the sun and 26

onto her finger. But the bird was not there, and the box was empty. This gave her hope. It had to mean that Sonrisa had burned into ash and had risen, but after an hour of searching the backyard, she saw nothing that would signify her bird had resurrected, no glowing feathers, no sunspots on the grass. She went back into the house, frowning, her shoulders heavy with the virtue of patience. * In the evening when her mother came home from work, she asked Jessica what was wrong. “Sonrisa still hasn’t come back,” she said, “and now I can’t find her.” “You lost her?” her mother asked, hanging her coat by the door. “I told you already, Ma, she died a few days ago. But she’s supposed to come back.” Her mother stared at her. “What are you saying?” she asked. “You’re talking crazy. What’s wrong with you?” She walked over and placed her hand on Jessica’s forehead. Then she closed her eyes and started to say a prayer. “Stop praying,” Jessica said. “That won’t do anything.” Then she went to her room and closed the door behind her. As the days went on, Jessica continued to look for Sonrisa in fire and in light, squinting to the sun in hopes of seeing the outline of wings, squatting before the blue fire of the stove when her mother rummaged in the fridge for ingredients. She even began to whistle constantly, creating a high-pitched language of return that went unanswered. She took the crucifix and placed it in the empty shoebox. She left the box on her dresser slightly ajar. But there was no second coming of the bird. Sonrisa was not a phoenix. Days later, she buried the box in the backyard, hoping she’d eventually forget it existed. 27

Pulchritudes James Valvis

At an early age, I began collecting injustices inside myself like extra organs I would live off if my stomach grew empty or my heart failed in its hopeless pursuit of hope. I also collected every slight, scars I carried on the interior of my skin. At night I turned myself inside out and studied them. Each grudge became a sludge I used for blood, so thick veins burst like frozen pipes. I bled everywhere, bestial yet also beautiful. I swallowed poison and sweat perfume. I grew fat on failure and still flowered. I don't know how I managed this alchemy, changing hurts into healing, or how anyone could dream this possible. Perhaps it was the time I misread Walt Whitman, imagining he said, I am large; I contain pulchritudes.


Fretted Seams For J Kelley Gillaspy

lampshades decorated with promises fractured into canyons — dark as dilated pupils in a theater without a movie and this isn’t the plot you wanted when you dreamed an aquarium too thick for gelatinous bodies — ocean floors dragged dry and haven’t you seen the moon follow you home like a one-eyed headlight stalking your footsteps, your gait loose and fluid, a walk meant for catching up to others, strangers, and embracing their arms like comrades and you formulate questions — thick, globule words that clog throats and what if there are no answers, only the tantalizing ability to create, but learn to sew — our fabric fraying at the seams, loose threads hanging from the light. 29

Girl at Sewing Machine Kyle William McGinn

The hard swoop of fingertips, plump yet nimble, caressing a wad of fabric through that jumping needle. The up and down of progress. Stitches — marigold in low window haze — the parts that fray with time. It’s too early in the century for the scales of her fingers to crack fissure beneath the weight of such a fine point. 30

The idea is to let to let to let

the machine

do the work. work the ends that become seams, become the thing all together.


Enterobius Vermicularis William Doreski

Assigned by the cosmos to poke holes in the human ego, pinworms track us through Paris at night, along Fifth Avenue in glare of Christmas dÊcor, up and down the hill-streets of San Francisco. They plot to ridicule the staid and dignified with itching only saints could ignore. The days rattle past like antique autos. No more whiskey in the evening, midnight snacks of chicken wings, bibles crashing to the floor as sleep overtakes the penitent. The pinworms plant their tiny eggs wherever it’s inconvenient and smile microscopic smiles on fulfilling their fated purpose. No more speeches to the mobs, no more trafficking in heroin, no more modeling lingerie.


Only the itch remains, the evil, indelible itch that proclaims its status in living color. The ego deflates with a hiss of apology. A new kinesics evolves to assess the order imposed by rafts of pinworms skating through the populace, imposing tiny miseries. Even in sleep we can read the holograph of pinworms exactly as intended, language the body learned to construe long before the body and mind agreed to dislike each other.


Jane Doe Alexis Pacheco

You buried me beneath a dogwood tree, I still hear the crack of your fist in the soft creak of its limbs.


from October Days Julian Jackson



Bouts Mitchell Grabois

1. In the island church, in a niche where a religious statue would normally stand, is a golden ship with black sails. Outside the church, a dreadlocked alcoholic is ranting to himself. Elsewhere in the Caribbean, my son and his wife are sailing their ramshackle boat. They mend the sails as they go. Their Shih T’zu is staying at my house. My neighbor is shoveling snow off my walk. He lost his job so now he shovels snow for everyone. The Madonna holds a knitting needle. I hope she doesn’t accidentally poke me in the eye. The pastor makes small talk, then asks for a donation. A black woman walks away from this church, the Cathedral of the Virgin of Guadeloupe, the virgin whom I have followed from Sicily to Mexico and into the Caribbean. The black woman’s back is muscular. It says to the virgin: I don’t need you. I don’t need help from anyone. I would like to wrestle her in an amateur match, winner take all.


2. The actors who play Batman and Superman get in a fight over who will ride the pygmy elephant at the Cinco de Mayo carnival. This is out of sight of all the little Mexican-American children who stand by the side of the road waiting, eating churros. It starts as a fistfight but devolves to ground fighting. The actors who play these superheroes are not trained fighters. They roll around in the dust, clumsy and ineffective. Finally Batman pins Superman, then dusts off his costume and goes off to ride the elephant, while Superman sits on the ground rubbing injured parts of his face and body. A rat crawls up on his shoulder and whispers suicidal thoughts in his ear, which he tries to ignore, but he hates playing Superman, hates having to avoid bars for fear some patron will challenge him to a fight or arm-wrestling match. He is actually pretty weak, and wants to be playing Hamlet.


Small War of Matters Jenna Cardinale

Could this word mean bridge. How valuable. The clatter of weapons gathered. Hard tools. Bells ringing in all our languages. Echoing like generations. How beautiful your great-grandmother was when she was young. Our oldest sound isn’t a whisper.


Signs of Alcoholism John Christopher Nelson


The light and the dark are incongruous yet inseparable.


The mornings that follow the nights — when the moment that shuffles between conscious and unconscious never exists — discover a waking form composed of rotten citrus, an aroma that showers and brushed teeth cannot cleanse and will not erase. a. Ketoacidosis is a condition experienced by type 1 diabetics, in which high concentrations of ketone bodies affect the blood’s pH level, causing symptoms up to and including death. A fruity smell on the breath of the individual or emitting from their pores is among the symptoms that herald the imminent extinguishing of life.


“Who wants an orange whip? Orange whip? Orange whip? Three orange whips.”


On the backside of the passenger seat is a pocket intended for objects including, but not limited to: Thomas Guide (if prior to 2007); ice-scraper; used and/or fresh napkins; compact discs; leftover snacks; tampons (if there is already too much clutter in the glove box). Often, nearly always, there is an empty can or two stashed in yours. a. Here’s the _______ I bought us. b. Look, I don’t _____ want to ____, so what are we talking about? c. ____ ____, hold your breath. Let me know if you want me to stop. 40

d. I ____ _______ ___ _____ wish _ ____ ____. e. What if tonight we ________ ___ ____ ___ ___ _ _____________ ____ ____ _____? 5.

Bowel movements are regular, often unexpected, rarely solid.


You’ve spent 21,772,800 seconds staring at a wall, at some object, a book, mostly a phone, usually a laptop or television. a. inaction, also: apathy, indolence, inertia, nonintervention


You’ve moved back with your parents, as an adult, more than once. a. You’ve lived with relatives other than your parents. I. You’ve done this with multiple relatives.


The darkness did not comprehend it.


Intercourse is not a priority. It’s not an interest. Nor performing or receiving oral, nor looking at pornography. Masturbation is committed efficiently as routine and becomes as emotionless as consuming food or water for survival.


“I’ve never kissed you when your mouth didn’t taste like beer.”


11. There are truths that ought to be excluded in the beginning of a relationship. It’s difficult but profitable to leave out details that make you appear less desirable. I grew up with a shotgun under my parents’ bed. Three Christmases ago, my parents couldn’t afford a gift, so I drove from San Diego to West Hollywood with the shotgun and a few boxes of shells. This was during a period when drinking escalated to habit that lacked charm. Entire mornings and afternoons, long nights doing nothing else, moments in which I might have otherwise actively taken part. Falling asleep too early, waking up not knowing the time, the sun still out but grieving away. One night, I left the front door to my apartment unlocked and passed out with the shotgun loaded, the firing pin pulled back. This was after I broke the flimsy blade of a hacksaw trying to saw off the butt of the shotgun, a series of badly aimed furrows gashing all sides of it, none of them making it through, each surrounded by more shallow cuts from where the blade slipped out of place and slid along the stock for a single stroke at this angle, another at that. _____ let herself in and discovered me unconscious, the shotgun on the floor. “What [was] are [I] you doing? What if someone else, someone off the street had wandered in?” I didn’t know. I wondered instead, had I invited _____ over? Why was she here? I didn’t remember, but I knew there was beer in the fridge. As she lectured, I stood, brushed my thighs, and walked into the kitchen for a fresh one. It has been two years since we last spoke, and it will be many more years [every year I or she or we are alive] that we do not speak. The last time I invited her over, she asked, “Why? Why [did I] do you even want [her] me there, what [was] is the point?” I told her, “Because I want to be in love instead of drunk.” But that was never true. That would always be a lie. 42


The amount of drinks contained in a single evening is noncount. There exists an obvious and crippling inability to remain aware of “how many.�


Yawns, crumples, grovemumbles.


Marbles Laura Madeline Wiseman

As a kid I kept a black cat named Marbles. She chased marbles on the floor, down the hall, and into the spaces only cats know — beneath couch skirts, behind dressers, in the drain to the sewer — places where piles of furry mice and dust kittens grow. Stalking the fence line of bushes, the porches between our apartment, and the alleys that opened to a desert of oil pumps rocking between tumble weed, she never visited the towheaded kids next door or their mom, the skinny, twitchy lady who fingered rocks — blue ones, white ones, small shark teeth. Here, she said, they heal. I didn’t need healing rocks. I had a ball bearing rusted like a planet. I had a rose quartz I found under a tree mewling with catbirds. I had a zillion rocks in the yard. But I was itchy with sunburn. I was bored. I was twelve. She gave me a yellow one and one the color of the sea we never saw. We saw the pool with cement that seared our feet. We saw Buena Vista, walking into the beautiful view, dove in, and came up mad for air. Hold onto them when you need relief. Give this one to your mom, the lady said, handing me a round one striped like a tabby. I said, Okay, walked out her back door, calling out the name of my cat.


to fold II J. M. Baker

gust in the sheen from limn to limb to letter the leafshape glossed at see fair fires undress address in deed sense seed pared with care in sighted request shuns house and wise or a pair of dice tossed so in a scent where's yore shed skin like a shroud sowed a patter near to ear lost deep in green for rest upon press a piece rung come pass in aster unfurled a shrinking whirled


all natural after maxine kumin Janea Wilson

cradled lamb in the lap, crowned, as it were, with a cap of herbs instead of thorns, springs forth once a beast of tender caste, bony bleats razed fields of grass, to ask, "is this my land?" ouroboros devoid of rest, steel chutes and rubber belts adjust, thrust rack and hock amongst the chain. the lamb summoned. one. another, another, another. nay. grain trough dusted grates blaze. rich and rare.


contributors J. M. Baker is a poet from New York currently in the MFA program at UC San Diego. His work has appeared in The Antioch Review, The Brooklyn Review, and Epiphany, among other places. In addition to writing, he has developed and run an ongoing series of poetry workshops for underprivileged kids, with projects occurring in Soweto, Brooklyn, and Mumbai to date. He is finishing up his first full collection of poems. Alexandra Balasa is completing her Master's in Creative Writing at Edinburgh-Napier University. She writes speculative fiction with a psychological edge, and gravitates towards themes of identity and morality. Her writing has appeared in The Spectatorial, Beyond Science Fiction Magazine, the Lorelei Signal, and the Danforth Review. Erin M. Bertram is the author of twelve chapbooks, with recent work appearing in So to Speak, Leveler, and Uprooted: An Anthology on Gender and Illness. The recipient of two Academy of American Poets Prizes, she’s a PhD student and Chancellor’s Fellow in Creative Writing at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where her manuscript “It Is Not a Lonely World” won the Women’s & Gender Studies Department’s 2016 Karen Dunning Scholarly Paper/Creative Activity Award. Larry Blazek: “I was born in Northern Indiana, but I moved to the southern part because the climate is more suited to cycling and the land is cheap. I have been publishing the magazine-format collage Opossum Holler Tarot since 1983. I could use some submissions. I have been published in the Heron Tree, Nueclear Impact, Radvocate, Kalyna Press, and Wild Ass among many others.” Larry Blazek 5094 N. Co. Rd. 750 E Orleans, IN 47452 Jenna Cardinale writes poems. Some of them appear in Verse Daily, Pine Hills Review, Across the Margin, Luna Luna Magazine, and the HIV Here + Now Project. She lives in Brooklyn, NY, where she co-curates the mostly-monthly poetry series Readings in Color.

William Doreski lives in Peterborough, New Hampshire, and teaches at Keene State College. His most recent book of poetry is The Suburbs of Atlantis (2013). He has published three critical studies, including Robert Lowell’s Shifting Colors. His essays, poetry, fiction, and reviews have appeared in many journals. Kelley Gillaspy graduated from California State University, Long Beach with her MFA. She currently is a PhD student working on her dissertation at University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Her poetry has been published in RipRap and Fermata. Mitchell Grabois has had over a thousand of his poems and fictions appear in literary magazines in the U.S. and abroad. He has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, The Best of the Net, and Queen’s Ferry Press’s Best Small Fictions for work published in 2011 through 2015. His novel, Two-Headed Dog, based on his work as a clinical psychologist in a state hospital, is available for Kindle and Nook, or as a print edition. To see more of his work, google Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois. He lives in Denver. Adam Halwitz wants to get better at making stained glass lampshades and chocolate babkas and poems. An anthology he developed, Leave This Song Behind, is either in print now or about to be; he has edited for its parent magazine, Teen Ink, for about eight years. He lives in Medford, Massachusetts. Joseph Hernandez is a graduate of CSULB's MFA Program in Fiction. He currently resides in Riverside County, where he teaches college writing classes. His work sometimes merges the appearance of mythological creatures with cultural and linguistic divides. Formerly an American photojournalist for the Times News of Hendersonville, North Carolina, Julian Jackson’s recent photography has centered on Southeastern Asian subject matter from Angkor Wat to the northern gardens of Thailand to the Great Wall of China. He specializes in street photography, with a flair for putting locals at ease when capturing their dynamic images. Julian currently lives in the northern Chinese city of Shenyang, Liaoning, where he is often found tooling about the city with his camera. Kyle William McGinn is a poet. His work has appeared in Outrageous Fortune, Typehouse, and Poetry City, USA. McGinn earned a B.S. in Creative Writing from the University of Wisconsin - River Falls and in 2012 he placed as a semifinalist for the Norman Mailer College Poetry Award. He published his first chapbook of poetry, Pennies, with Red Bird Chapbooks in 2014. He lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

Taylor Mims is a valley girl who received her MFA in Creative Writing and an editor for lipstickparty magazine. She is incredible at consuming Guinness, okay at bowling, and terrible at writing bios. John Christopher Nelson was raised between a San Diego ranch and the central Nevada high desert. At UCLA, he earned his BA in American Literature and was executive editor of the undergraduate literary journal, Westwind. He is a graduate of the Stonecoast MFA in Creative Writing, where he served as editorin-chief of Stonecoast Review. His work has appeared in Stone House: A Literary Anthology, Paper Tape Magazine, and Westwind, and is forthcoming in Chiron Review. Alina Nguyen is a poetry, comic book, and tattoo enthusiast from Los Angeles, CA. She is also a poetry candidate in the MFA program at California State University, Long Beach. Alexis Pacheco resides in Arkansas and attended the University of Arkansas at Monticello. She obtained a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. Her writing, both poetry and nonfiction, has been published in various literary works. She hopes to one day enrich the minds of college students as an instructor and teach the importance of the craft of writing. Kenneth Pobo had two books out in 2015: Bend of Quiet from Blue Light Press and Booking Rooms in the Kuiper Belt from Urban Farmhouse Press. He teaches creative writing and English at Widener University. He gardens and is happy that a new Monkees album is coming out. W. Jack Savage is a retired broadcaster and educator. He is the author of seven books including Imagination: The Art of W. Jack Savage ( To date, more than fifty of Jack’s short stories and over eight hundred of his paintings and drawings have been published worldwide. Jack and his wife Kathy live in Monrovia, California. Jess Thoubboron writes and makes films in New York City. She makes art in the hopes that someone somewhere will feel a little less alone in the world. James Valvis has placed poems or prose in Ploughshares, Rattle, Baltimore Review, Off the Coast, Arts & Letters, Southern Indiana Review, Atlanta Review, Tampa Review, Tar River Poetry, Midwest Quarterly, River Styx, The Sun, and

many others. His poetry was featured in Verse Daily. His fiction was chosen for Sundress Best of the Net. His work has also been a finalist for the Asimov's Readers' Award. A former U.S. Army soldier, he lives near Seattle. Janea Wilson is an LA native residing in the South Bay. She served as editor-in-chief of Riprap Journal 38, the literary arts journal of CSULB. She's also the founding editor of lipstickparty magazine, an online magazine emphasizing inclusivity and diversity. Her writing appears or is forthcoming in The Oklahoma Review, Canyon Voices, Puerto del Sol Black Voices, and Santa Ana River Review, among others. Her passions include Flannery O'Connor, iced coffee, and intersectional feminism. Laura Madeline Wiseman’s recent books are An Apparently Impossible Adventure (BlazeVOX [books], 2016) and Leaves of Absence: An Illustrated Guide to Common Garden Affection (Red Dashboard, 2016). Her collaborative book Intimates and Fools is an Honor Book for the 2015 Nebraska Book Award. She teaches at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Sophia Zarders is an illustrator, comic artist, and activist from Long Beach, California. She’s getting their BFA in Illustration at Cal State University, Long Beach, where she often creates political pieces in the stairwell. They are currently working on a graphic novel called Jesus Freak and she often draws/paints social activists. Sometimes their art is described as “subversive” but she thinks that’s a bit too strong of a word. Sophia’s work is available on many social media outlets, but mostly here: (562) 253 5928

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