a journal curating literary arts Volume 3.2 Summer 2019
indicia a journal curating literary arts Volume 3.2 Summer 2019 PDF Collection © September 2019 indicia Layout by AJ Urquidi. Cover art: “Daisy” by Amy Kotthaus. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org to be put in touch with contributors, or for other inquiries.
Executive Editors: Marcus Clayton & AJ Urquidi Fiction Editors: Marissa S. Branson Poetry Editors: Jax NTP & Toren Wallace
in this issue: editors’ introduction 1 2 4 6 7
a nesting poem – Bianca Phipps Putting the Cat on Meds II – JD Hegarty Happy Ending – Anita Haas Doppelganger – Genelle Chaconas Translation – JD Hegarty
9 11 13 14 15
Dissolution of a Macrocosm– Marc S. Cohen Eigenface – Tim Kahl Striptease – Cameron Morse From: (Voyager/Probes) – Michael Rerick The Index – Airia Gneiss
17 19 20 22 23 26
Dialogue of the Sundered Soul – Marc S. Cohen Black Brooklyn – Seneca Basoalto Boxer – Mercedes Lawry Offering – Genelle Chaconas Where’d Ya Go – Christopher S. Bell Stern curator of the ghost museum – Abigail George
29 31 32 33 34
Apotheosis – Marc S. Cohen From: (Voyager/Probes) – Michael Rerick How You Smell – Paul Ilechko (de)materialized – Seneca Basoalto flypaper – Bianca Phipps
39 41 43 44 46
Daisy – Amy Kotthaus Appaloosa – John Sibley Williams Learning About Odds – Daryl Scroggins On the writer sent to a mental asylum in Gatsby – Abigail George Divagations on Religion & Psychosis – Evelynn Black 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. Picture, if you will, your moment of birth. What was it like to no longer be nothing? How can we, as artists, tap into that abyss of longing, sadness, uncanny, and discomfort that accompanies being unborn, once it is too late and we’re far removed from our first sensory experience? This issue is full of writers who have noticed the vanished, the alienated, and the disconnecting phenomena of our confused times, all of which is reminiscent of the swirling cataclysm of absence we inhabit before absorbing sentience. As miscommunication and misinformation run rampant in our reality, and the human species struggles to see eye to eye with its natural environment, these artists have managed to capture the weirdness and the loneliness of living in the world today and confronting our own reflection. It helps to see stories, poems and art that reflects how we feel in such strange times, and we hope you too find comfort in the collective WTF of reading this issue. Kissez and hugz.
AJ Urquidi & Marcus Clayton Executive Editors
We know that a dream can be real, but who ever thought that reality could be a dream? We exist, of course, but how, in what way? As we believe, as fleshand-blood human beings, or are we simply parts of someone's feverish, complicated nightmare? Think about it and then ask yourself, do you live here, in this country, in this world, or do you live instead in the Twilight Zone? — Rod Serling, closing monologue from TZ episode “Shadow Play”
nesting poem (after a Rachel McKibbens prompt) Bianca Phipps I opened the fairy tale and a wolf fell out. I opened the wolf and a girl fell out. I opened the girl and her heart fell out. I opened her heart and a locket fell out. I opened the locket and a wasp fell out. I opened the wasp and a wound fell out. I opened the wound and tears came out. I opened the tears and silence came out. I opened the silence and my tongue fell out. I opened my tongue and my bravery fell out. I opened my bravery and a bird fell out. I opened the bird and a butterfly flew out. I opened the butterfly and a light fell out. I opened the light and the moon fell out. I opened the moon and a mirror fell out. I opened the mirror and a clock fell out. I opened the clock and a memory fell out. I opened the memory and a darkness fell out. I opened the darkness and a cry fell out. I opened the cry and inside was my right breast. I opened my right breast and a tooth fell out. I opened the tooth and a knife fell out. I opened the knife and blood fell out. I opened the blood and the women fell out.
Putting the Cat on Meds II JD Hegarty I brought him to the vet again. She weighed him for his dose. And now I get him Prozac — cut the tablets into fourths. He doesn’t bite me anymore, only licks instead and foams around the mouth when I make him take the pill. There is no more nervous fidgeting, no more drooling on my belly, and around the other cats, he chirps now instead of hisses. He hasn’t shit outside the litter or pissed on any beds, in mornings he eats his food — doesn’t wander after me.
He smiles when I hold him but fears the rattling of pills. I know that this is better but his face shows disbelief when my hands vice his mouth and rub his throat to swallow. His eyes are panic â&#x20AC;&#x201D; terror. I never look away.
Happy Ending Anita Haas
“Any questions?” Douglas dreaded this part. He was presenting his fourth novel, all written after a first book of short stories. He hoped this book launch would be different, that the same thing wouldn’t happen yet again. “Yes?” he pointed to a young woman in a dark coat. There were about thirty people in a room meant for two hundred. The woman shifted “I just wanted to say I loved your story Man Overboard.” “Tha … tha … tha …” Damn it, that stutter again. “Thank you.” Beads of sweat swelled on his forehead and his wire glasses slipped down his nose. He pushed them up but they promptly slid down again. He took them off and squinted at her. “Especially the ending.” “Yes,” echoed two or three voices from other parts of the room. The girl looked around, encouraged. “When he gets saved by that passing ship.” It was happening again. He had heard this before. Every interview, every book launch. What was it about that story? Douglas cleared his throat, “Well, no, actually, he doesn’t get saved.” The girl recoiled, as if he had hit her. “Oh yes he does, Sir.” came a voice from the back of the room.
“He most certainly does.” said a tall man, standing up for emphasis. “I remember perfectly how that story had such a happy ending. Congratulations, Mr. Kramer, on your great ability for describing the anguish and terror of that lone survivor. Commendable! But I distinctly remember the relief when the other boat came along and picked him up.” Douglas sighed. Was it worth it? Should he argue with them, or just let everybody remember the story the way they liked? He had actually checked his copy after the first time this happened. Just to make sure he wasn’t going mad, or that the publishers hadn’t gone and changed the ending on him, to make it more commercial. But no, his original ending was still there, as tragic and heartbreaking as when he had first put it to paper. The ship passes, but does not rescue the man. There were no more questions. Why didn’t anybody ask him about his new novel? People got up and began filing to the exit, their foreheads puckered in frowns. Only a few smiling listeners came forward to have their copies signed. One woman said, “I haven’t read your short story collection, but I am really looking forward to it. I just love stories filled with hope and good vibes!” Outside the bookstore, little groups had formed. Each of them stood around a copy of Douglas’s short story collection, the book open to the last page of Man Overboard. Douglas slipped past them unnoticed. “Well, what do you know!” exclaimed the tall man who had stood up. “I could have sworn the ship picked him up!” “Me too!” the girl in the dark coat chimed in along with a few others. Douglas walked home, hands stuffed in his pockets and shoulders hunched. He had won this round, but it made no difference. He knew that tomorrow they would all greet the new day confident in their collective memory of happy endings.
Doppelganger Genelle Chaconas
You wear her spiked heels, the ones that make men stare, dye your hair her shade, pull fingers through her locks, laughing, borrow her bronzer, rouge, rummage her purse, steal away, nervous, with lipstick and catâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s eyeliner, zip yourself into her sleek black evening dress, ass to plunge neckline, roll black backseam stockings up. Turn to the mirror, terrified. He touches you, calls you her name.
Translation JD Hegarty When are you going to transition? asks a person impertinently. Translation: You believe transition is just one thing, that we all do, and once done, the transition is complete. Forever. This is a process. Your ability to ask me means you know I am in process. When I told my dad, he asked if I wished I’d been born in an estrogen producing body, assigned female at birth. Those aren’t the words he used, but I knew what he meant. I didn’t answer him because that is not the point. Trans is not a gender, but an adjective. Modification from what was presented into what presents itself. Translation: this is a lens, through which I understand myself and I don’t know if I would understand myself
otherwise. Cognitive continuity is important. So too is the retrospective. Translation: I spent too long lost to try to think about the impossible past. I wrote myself into existence. I became too transparent to focus on the failing of my body. I want to look like me, but this is not about appearances. I want to be seen. Translation: I am learning a language I wish Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d always known.
Dissolution of a Macrocosm Marc S. Cohen
Eigenface Tim Kahl The fundamental hinge of the face swings on a few basic door jambs. Open and close about a hundred of them and a person can walk into any building and identify the space — uptown, downtown, residential palace on the exurb fringe. I have been there and so have you. We walk through so many of them with our escort machines which can’t keep a secret. I whisper a name to myself and it sticks in my brain. I’m a citizen of the imagination. But in this new country ahead where the doors open more quickly, I can love you from afar with the software I extend.
In that future facial recognition system where I am responsible for my doppelgĂ¤ngerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s actions. I will wear my borrowed smile, my alternate take of a blink, my extra furrow in the brow. I will hide my narrowed eyes full of serious intent beneath a veil of smirk. I will move my thoughts offshore into an empire of the hidden. Once I am there I will store the ingredients of the face where no one can claim ownership. It will be a land of disputes and temptations. Questions will arise about how I can love you from afar, but the only query that will matter will haunt like the memory of a plague. It shall be asked: what did I reveal?
Striptease Cameron Morse A centipede retracts into the mopboard. I dab it with toilet paper, its furrowed little brow. My boy screams all morning. Snot dribbles over his lips. Already disheveled magnolia blossoms wobble in the wind. One’s crumpled. Another’s creased. Still more fuzzy green calyces have yet to peel back all the way undressing lavender petals, white inner thighs. As the sun rises, shadow slides down the widow’s peak of the house. Earlier I spotted a troop of grackles among the grass, beautiful intruders long departed. Here there will always be house sparrows in the bird houses that float among tendrils in the rafters of the wisteria arbor. There will always be family. An American robin jabs at earthworms. Late morning blossoms catch flame. Theo squints, swinging through shadow and light in the large timber horse saw of the swing set. He holds to his chest the floppy sunhat Lili bought to shade his head. I kick the empty dog food bowl and shout GET SOME!
From: (Voyager/Probes) Michael Rerick
Nuclear crafts extend their antennae and dishes and puncture our solar system’s gravitational wall; the wall, like the magic-user’s wall of force, is measured in strange waves. Our in-“unit” kittens draft a “column” of “transference” around the light switch with “links” to cat tree “height” and “illumination.” The brick “wall” blocks our “horizontal space” at perfect string toy “angles” for paw taps and circular circus pounces. And dark matter bottles tap the universe’s narrative of mass. Our kittens claim then exchange bed, litter box, counter, plant, window ledge, bathroom, and wire toy routines. Late night Advanced Dungeons and Dragons carnivals oppose high technology with character sheets, books, and dice spread over the tabletop.
The Index Airia Gneiss
“Look at your nails.” I straighten my arm and fingers and gaze at the back of my hand. “See?” “What?” I watch her curl her fingers in towards the palm, wrist up. “This is how you can tell.” My way like a girl admiring her manicure — and wedding band. Her way like a man about to steam them with his breath and buff them on his shirt. “That is so dumb,” I say. “I do both.” “I know,” she says, annoyed. The October sun slides under my visor. I squint and squat on the leaves she says she needs to blow away from the fire ring before they spark and burn her trees. Her eyes are angry, but her dusty boots look tame enough to pet. I restrain myself from touching them. She shows me her trees, ones rooted and ones stacked and sorted according to how hot they will burn through the winter. She is a librarian of wood. She shows me one with the prettiest ring pattern. “Cedar or juniper?” I ask. “Why does it matter? Why must you name everything?” So she is not the librarian — I am.
From the dormant sauna she pulls out a pellet gun and asks me if I can shoot. She pulls the barrel down, and it opens on a hinge. She shows me where to load a single pellet and I snap it shut. “I am left eyed,” I say, with false confidence. “So am I,” she says, from years of experience. She walks across the grass to set a can on a stump. She gets away. I wedge the butt into my shoulder, peer through the scope, and curl my index finger over the trigger. The can flies back and lands on its side. “Whoa. That left a big hole.” “It’s not a BB. It can kill a man.” I do not reload. She shows me how to chop kindling. I notice the sun grazes the ridgeline. It reminds me I have to pick up children in fifteen minutes. The drive will take twenty. At her gate she gives me a one-armed hug and averts her face. Her musk reminds me she has not showered since she turned off the water. I think: Every cure can be a poison. I drive away fast. Later with her thumbs she texts that she found her dogs hiding inside the gutted house. “How could I have forgotten their fear of gunshot? See? I could never be a parent.” My index finger finds the keys to respond, fingers that now remind me of all the things I can never be, either. “Sure you could. Sometimes I forget about my kids, too.”
Dialogue of the Sundered Soul Marc S. Cohen 17
Black Brooklyn Seneca Basoalto
Black Brooklyn, youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re melting neon studded wristbands a dimming blacklight fortitude hunting on an instinct of naked neighbors smashing both bodies against wood chipped windows through rain, above a dumpster filled with rotten fruit and bottles of your $4 wine with all the droplets suctioned out by your greed She called you a bad, bad baby still you stayed, even after you watched yourself leave your own body lying dizzy and unnoticed on the cold tile floor in front of the bathroom sink in a puddle of sick that smelled like hemp oil and old macaroni & cheese you didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t know it then, but someday you would divert this disaster one continent at a time and every thought of that place would annotate nostalgia to make you think it was never as bad as it could have been because the city spoiled you rotten and rouge, despite almost dying on the floor to the sounds of neighbors fucking while the person you loved watched t.v.
Boxer Mercedes Lawry
Boxer ran away after he stole the beer and nobody’s seen him in a week. He’s a slick thief, Boxer. He didn’t get caught but his grandma got all up in his shit and he couldn’t take it anymore, so he took off. That’s my version. That beer won’t keep him going. He never had more than $10 in his pocket and he sure doesn’t know any tricks about living in the woods. He must be grazing in the backyards of those rich people who live at that Vista place. They got alarms and dogs so he’ll have to be careful. Julius thinks he’s dead but I don’t. The cops say they’re looking but we know that’s bullshit. We’re disposable. They wanted to know if we had some secret hideout he might be holed up in. “Seriously?” I said to the cop, “Do you think this is Stand By Me?” He really wanted to say “fuck you” but he bit his tongue ’cause Ruthie was filming with her phone. I could see “fuck” edging out of his mouth like a snake and then, boom, the head’s cut off. Ruthie is Boxer’s ex but she still cares, I can tell. I don’t know why. Boxer’s such a weirdo — I mean he’s one of us but he’s a weirdo and Ruthie’s pretty normal. I don’t mess with matters of the heart, though. It’s a minefield. Boxer and I were real close when we were little — blood brothers and all that. Neither of us had brothers. I didn’t think he was weird then — well, he grew into it — his real self, I guess. Weird isn’t bad, it’s just different than most and harder to make your way in the world, which is brutal. My granddad taught me that a long time ago and it turns out he was right. Boxer doesn’t really like beer but sometimes he needs to dull the pain and he hates wine and the hard stuff is like acid in his stomach. And he won’t do drugs. I don’t know how I’d put up with all the craziness without checking out occasionally. Not every day — not getting into debt and having some psycho after you. It’s all about balance. 20
What I like to think is Boxer took off permanently and there’ll be a miracle and he’ll show up on the cover of some magazine — a fucking genius entrepreneur. I know it’s bullshit. I’m not a fool. I’m just saying we need fantasies — like movie plots though the guy who’d play Boxer would have to be better looking. Boxer’s mom is dead and his grandma checks in once in awhile. His dad doesn’t give a shit about anything. If you want to see a man who’s so filled with rage you can smell the stink coming off him, meet Mr. Keller. Boxer ignores him and vice versa. At least Mr. Keller hasn’t kicked him out of the house, not saying that could never happen. Boxer will come back or he won’t. They’ll find his body or they won’t. He’ll live happily ever after or he won’t. I have nothing to do with it. But hell, I’m not gonna forget him.
Offering Genelle Chaconas
The glass, ready, filled with fine dark wine, its cork slides away with a subtle gasp, expensive, a fifty year vintage, kept on a shelf five years, always inopportune for its purpose, gurgling while poured, filled to its shivering brim, a note penned in patient script reads, you deserve it. It answers its promises at the lips. You smile, watch, wait. Nothing covers poison so well.
Where’d Ya Go Christopher S. Bell
The only date we were supposed to have, Bea bailed. I never took it personal, each possibility running through my head numerous times even before our first conversation. She was young enough to be trouble, fresh out of college with remaining aspirations for the entire human race. There was a rare spark in her photos, a stunning wildness that matched her lucrative escapades. She’d seen parts of the world I hadn’t; made impressions on all manners of individual, most of which appeared happy to be in such close vicinity. But above everything else, she replied to my first message; a mediocre comment about some band she regularly listened to on Spotify. Was this what we were all becoming? A means to better advertise some machine-like sense of taste and spontaneity. I’d given up on honest conversation; merely content to communicate with somebody new. Bea was like a friend I’d forgotten in a fever dream. She knew how to be accessible without completely tricking my sense of false hope. I pictured excursions within a twenty-mile radius, wind in our faces as we barreled through brush to great peaks often seen but rarely appreciated. Then I made the mistake of following her on social media. In a relationship for sixteen months with Kevin. Ya know those grungy-ass dudes in college who can barely play guitar? They had nothing on Kevin. From his long, gangly dreads to his patchy facial hair; this boy made the most of his diminished charm. Kevin’s voice was a notch above rasp; his butchering of 90’s grunge staples enough to make anyone contemplate their purpose in this broken-down world. I knew nothing of their story other than the thirteen-second doses she posted in-between shots of her commute to the tattoo parlor and whatever movie they fell asleep to on her laptop screen.
Their situation was far from baffling, like a kind of hangover that lasted into the next year. Bea was clearly looking for some form of escapism, but whether I could offer any legitimate support had yet to be determined. I enjoyed the conversation, picking each response apart before replying in kind, never using an excessive amount of exclamation points, despite her frequency. “Now if there’s one thing in the world that trumps the golden rule, something you should follow no matter what, it’s this: Never Fuck With Another Man’s Livelihood.” Some drill sergeant dressed like my father and Uncle Sam pointed with a disapproving glare as I considered how little I cared. Clearly Kevin wasn’t doing something right, but the fact that he was even a small part of the equation made me second-guess all of my diminished moves. I’d never been the other guy; always the first, the one they ultimately decide to cheat on. That didn’t make me a cheater necessarily, just a piece of shit. “So are you still down for meeting up this afternoon around 1:00?” We’d set a dirt mall on the fault line of our two counties as a destination; just a friendly get-together with few preconceived notions. My text lingered in broken space for a good hour before she replied. “Can I maybe get a raincheck? It’s been a really long day already, if that makes sense?” My motivations to continue any form of communication soon diminished as another string of videos flooded her feed. Kevin digging through boxes in a closet before photographs of knick-knacks on bookshelves, third and fourth place ribbons strung to the loose arms of action figures. Then a selfie of Bea in a teal bikini, lying on an inflatable donut in an aboveground pool with a black border collie smiling in the background. She fell asleep that night to “Christine” on her laptop; a shirtless Kevin snoring into his pillow.
Clearly this was a situation I would never completely comprehend. Being envious of somebody like him was never a great feeling, but one I’d grown accustomed to years earlier at university. Here was a man only a shade younger than myself with fewer motivations, but enough appeal to keep all 936 of Bea’s followers in awe. Who were these strangers on my iPhone screen, and why did I let their love get the best of me? Half a year passed before she stopped posting. I didn’t realize until a month or so later, then felt the need to backtrack, noticing the quick shift in her appearance. Dark lines had formed underneath her ocean blue eyes. She’d gotten skinnier, loose threads hanging on skin as a season passed out from under us. A google search led to an obituary, maybe a hundred words saying very little and almost too much. Young drug addict lets the after-effects of a small town swallow her whole. Everyone I’d ever met from there told me that was a place to get away from, but I stuck around with rattled convictions, waiting impatiently for the next drifting anomaly to make a lasting impression.
Stern curator of the ghost museum (for the Dutch poet Joop Bersee) Abigail George
A kitchen is never dead. It is a living thing. A Jerusalem. There were no waves. No distant shoreline. Only a greenness passing through the climate. Swimmers’ heads cut off from the rest of their bodies in the school swimming pool and I wonder if you still remember me. Skinny legs. Serious face. Nose stuck in a book. Seriously curly hair. Books under my arm. Nabokov. Gillian Slovo. I never promised you a rose garden. Now you pass through me as if you’re passing through a reflection. Take your medication. Make dad breakfast. And then there is this struggle of loving men who prefer the company of other men. You’re things that make me happy and things that make me sad. You’re like a ray of light, my darling, my sweetheart, my love. I
love you until all my insides are raw, until my spirit has withered away into nothingness and nausea. Until the house that I reside in, my ice house, turns winter into summer. The kitchen sink is my mother’s wasteland. It is her politics, her flesh, her prize. She rolls deep in her garden. That’s her bliss. That’s being honest and after the rain she’s Jean Rhys and during the rain she edits me away, censors me, declares me Mrs Rochester. Her hands smell like spaghetti. These same hands that tear me apart. Ripping me apart until I’m raw. Raw! And everything after that tastes metallic. I brush my teeth but it’s as if I’m doing laundry or something. I can’t get the stain out. And there’s a feast of winter in my hair while I think of Harlem and the African Renaissance.
Apotheosis Marc S. Cohen 29
From: (Voyager/Probes) Michael Rerick
Sir Patrick Stewart, Shakespearian captain of the Starship Enterprise, narrates a PBS Voyager documentary (1990) available in low resolution on Youtube. Star Trek: The Next Generation’s (1987–1994) writers support a postmodern humanist knowledge of journey because instead of man one goes “where no one has gone before.” We drive to Drew’s for a writing date (2011). Kristi generates Royalty (1997) word, capture, and transformation lists; Drew toggles personal history, soap opera, and Nancy Drew (1930– ) code; and researchers at the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) array warn me extraterrestrial beings, or strange life, may not have our political, our budgetary concerns (2011). In fiction, SETI hears the first alien torture song (1996). Now, Voyagers launch into areas suspicious with life (2012).
How You Smell Paul Ilechko
The world could easily be made of wire one said everything would then be twodimensional the dimensions being length and depth because width would not exist You smell of mouth other said why do I taste you your missing fingers your elaborate attempts at invisibility everything arcing into completion you smell of empty People would be like stick figures one said but able to move through a kind of space and to interact with other figures You smell of brain other said I sense the leakage one day soon there will be nothing left you smell of vacuum There is probably a mathematics describes a world made of wire one with sets of algorithms and formulas work correctly for a wire world space a wire world topology.
that said that for
(de)materialized Seneca Basoalto If a woman wants to vanish she can Abolish the fetish of skin, to skin, to skin Contact dematerialize a softened puff That sterilizes her lips, fingernails spreading fig & apple 47 pages of advertisements in Vogue 3 articles about how to make a man happy Men are never happy Women are never happy Every piece of clothing is black, the coffee is black, the Leather is black, the hair is black, the models aren’t allowed to be “Too black,” tattoos all in black, epiphanies in black and subject to change. There must be a goldmine down there between our thighs several men have been jailed for connecting their hands to their eyes … & responding with resentment when we can’t help but reciprocate with contempt The last time I tried to love someone, the ice cream truck Grew fists my heart grew weaker nothing & no one Came to warn me about being monopolized by trust, and Hope, the vanity of holding hands not waking up alone No one warned me that being in love meant being a void. 33
flypaper Bianca Phipps in between the stairs of the belmont stop to my front door hang a community of summer spiders, grinning at my fear i skitter underneath nervous blood flapping my wings faster as i fly through the gaps in their webs i know it’s silly to be afraid of something that can only hurt me if i am foolish enough to get caught still, i don’t breathe until i am inside skin crawling with phantom legs. as a child, our creaking home sat on the edge of a southern forest my bedroom windows peeking out onto the porch, a lighthouse calling all that crawled in the underbrush to come and nest inside. in the warmth, i left the door open, the scent of my sleep sweat singing across the wood, an invitation i didn’t know i handed out. i woke to find i’d been invaded the second story security scattered and crawling crawling along the walls the floor the bed nothing mine anymore except my scream wide mouth eyes shut and my parents swore it was all a dream
i knew they were wrong and that they must be right: if i had not dreamed it, it would become another shedskindust to sweep under the rug and i â&#x20AC;&#x201D; dutiful daughter despite the damage let it slink out of the room: this shadow i could never name again. until i was older by a fistful of months and a few familial fractures living in an auntâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s house in texas, hung with selfish & stingy not enough room for all our growing bodies. i left the door open like a memory yearning for fresh air the hall light illuminating like the moon a warm, dirty glow singing across the wooden slats through the crack to the foot of my bed there is an animalistic part of us that thrives off instinct some feral ghost trapped in the sinew and cartilage following the light to find a bone to suck dry following the light to find a feast and some of our ghosts are the feast the bloody wreckage left behind tucked into the bed unable to move trapped by instinct petrified by memory
everything glows in amber: i remember no sharp teeth i remember no dirt under my nails i remember the soft lullaby of smothering (i am a river of nervous blood) i remember a thing that has no name (what is the etymology of nightmare & does it smell like this?) the feeling of hands like bugs like fingers like crawling like a touch can steal your breath in all the wrong ways and i did not scream. i remembered that much. when they came, the room would be empty and my body would be hollow and they’d shake their heads and say a dream a dream with hands like eyes like a boy with my blood and yet none of it like a bug sucks blood and knows nothing else like i left the door open, so. i slept on top of the covers, so. haven’t i had this dream before, so. a dream can’t hurt you if you’re still, so. i closed my eyes. waited for everything to end. felt my skin crawl away with him that good ghost dribbling out of his hungry hands.
these old dreams stick to my skin every summer. melts into one swampy puddle, slicks through my fingers. i mix up the bugs with the boy until they are one: thorax against my thigh. antennae over my stomach. his mouth opens to whisper heâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s sorry and a thousand slugs fall out.
Daisy Amy Kotthaus
Appaloosa John Sibley Williams Nothing spooks the horses into flight like inertia. Not lightning, barn fire. Not the whips we take to their sides to drive them forward. Thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s always room for a bit more suffering, right? But something profound happens, mid-field, multi-colored living field, when the fences hold & the light steadies. Calm, unusable day leaves nothing for night to undo. Like my brother so utterly broken by our unbroken world, carving escape tunnels into his veins, breaking into our house to steal what he already owns. Like my ten-year-old body burrowing beneath a fence six inches from the gate.
Like my mother, staring out the kitchen window all day, cleaning the last crumbs of her dreams from our plates. Like the horses, seduced closer to our open palms with carrots & promises: that someday we will wild them again, beat & break themâ&#x20AC;Ś anything.
Learning About Odds Daryl Scroggins
We are sitting there in the kitchen eating our beans and cabbage and cornbread and I say Daddy, Bingo’s not been eating the food I put out for him, and Daddy says How long has this been going on? And I say I guess about a week now. Well, is he sick? Daddy asks. Is he whining or barking at nothing? And I say I don’t know, and he says Why don’t you know? And I say I have not seen him in a long time. And Daddy says Damn, son, what do you think is more likely, that he’s out there somewhere free from the need to eat, or he’s dead in a ditch? I say I don’t like to think about the last one so I keep putting food in his bowl. Daddy says That’s like saying you play with your willie because you want to get married someday, and Mama says Fenton — no. Then we hear some scratching out on the front porch and I run out and it’s Bingo, real skinny, burrs all over him, and he’s wearing a muzzle. Daddy jumps up and says That had to been put on him by that chicken shit chicken farmer always sure everything is after his chickens, and he grabs up his shotgun and a box of shells and Mama says Fenton — no, but he’s off down the dirt track at a good clip. The next day Mama is getting supper on the table for the two of us, three plates, and she says There sure has been a lot of cars and trucks backfiring around here lately, and I can’t help it, I bust out crying right there at the table. Bingo edges over closer to me like he’s worried about the sounds coming from me. But I know he’s just got his eye on the wing and drumstick on my plate.
On the writer sent to a mental asylum in Gatsby (for the Dutch poet Joop Bersee) Abigail George
Lungs struggle. My lungs are struggling against this Bastille, feeling small, the girl, the girl, the girl, this avalanche in my soul, this single woman’s anguish. Comrade anguish does not let up. She mocks my proper English. I want someone to take care of me. I couldn’t place you at first. Foe, foe, foe or Robinson Crusoe. Coldness is this desolate thing like plastic chairs in a waiting room. Champagne supernova I want to explore you. But broken people can’t fix broken people. That’s a figment of your imagination. Our souls are clothed in sleep now. Moonlight on our skin. We’re living different lives now. Different cities but there’s still an obedience there, a love that can fit into a museum like the straight fate of the stars. I know the challenges of finding love on a long walk in a nature reserve on a Wednesday afternoon. You were a kind man. The glare
of light here is something flesh, something bone just flowing out of the sea like driftwood. It is dividing the haunting. Dividing the trees into forest and border of forest. I’m ashamed. I’m ashamed of my sexuality, am I girl or boy, man or woman, tragedy or dramatic artist (I’m trying to understand the speck of living with it). My identity, the men and women that I’ve loved. Trust me. I’ve been left. And, so, love and friendship I write about them in my poems. Dirt and grace and worship and praise. I’m a bird pecked to death by other birds. A bird who lives under a cold sky casting a net for freedom. I want to be a miracle. I want to be a miracle. I’m afraid I’m failing miserably at it. I think of the bones of glaciers and how I can hear them from far away deep inside of me. Their frozen waterfall, their icy-mirth in my fist. I close my eyes and dream of glaciers, delicate Jonah in the whale.
Divagations on Religion & Psychosis Evelynn Black
she has to correspond / she canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t close / this catechism swapt / within the impossible / mechanism of the sky garret of okeanos / life, not this vibrant plasm split back centuries old as this is a catechism of possibility / our conversation just a blink / in the mind of root chaos / root how old is the invisible good / sometimes I think god is a kind of personal tragedy / something which it ought to be possible to get over / instead of being this one / who runs out counting Judas Judas Judas / entering in the split chasm of life, chastised / saying how a whole life passes in only one season / blink / do you know who I am these days / I canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t say / hardly know why myself who I am said to be or may be or am at all / in this great uncertainty / spun under the ground we ourselves find ourselves in & in & in & / going in search of some final reason why the sun / spice / spittle / caught in a litany of electrical reasons trying to make sense of misery they used to say he was deluded by god, if he found himself in some kind of great evil, some kind of mistake / life had to be made to make sense / that things could be random was unacceptable so the gods served as a point of blame where he himself could not be thus / she had to carry pinches of everything where she went over and over and over / severing as fast as / in order to find / why is this the sole matter that we find ourselves in / do you know how I am these days / where is she who types lines / who redeems life from itself / but why is it life needs redeeming / oak / everything is oak / blackened partitions / the edges of spun gold cloud cashed evening in a terrible spice of itself / counting one to one to one / & in resplendent arbor we ourselves are holy 46
holy holy holy holy holy / spitting iridescence from gad the mouth of confession what compost / cursed note of bibliography / imposture of sight of asp / the latch of the cellar undone as she out of the basement comes at washing her hands of drugs of life & gasping spat Judas himself hanging from the beams of her mind / he killed himself in a hotel room / entropy itself making appearance always / she runs drugs through her lungs veins nose ash terrified that she might be like Judas / guilty / betrayer / blood for the field / gone of the / of the / of pity / carrying gospel truths through the attic station / holy the church of split atoms / church of spittle / church of the bomb & the bomb hovering a star / church of mindfulness / of text / of cigarettes & weed & xanax & cheap beer / she at last priestess of being ill at home in her own mind, she worships at the altar of the blue holes she has in her brain 5% they said / of the grey matter / gone / over the course of her life god told me once I could foresee the future the path i was supposed to be on / that deja vu meant i was on the path he had set out for me / & I believed it for so long / these are nothing / if not incorrect records / spiteful area of herself & how awful the sunshine in this weather / scrapped life of a saint / anchorite / goddess you / me / he / she / all of us a plinth for sin there is no sin deliver her from sin & the concept of sin tell me how beautiful the sun was / as sleep binds us / in our eros / with pills to stop the mind an open o / to tell me / how beautiful I still might be
contributors Seneca Basoalto boasts a background in the backstage music/movie scene — where she’s adapted her unusual experiences to fuel what many call a literary head-trip. Seneca’s audacious temperament and bisexuality can be seen influencing the attitude and magnetism of her diverse range of work. Her writing has been published in England, Scotland, Australia, and the USA with appearances in collections published through NAILED Magazine, Terror House Magazine, Utterance Journal, Words Dance, and Glasgow Review of Books. Christopher S. Bell has been releasing literary work since 2008. His sound projects include Emmett and Mary, Technological Epidemic, C. Scott and the Beltones, and Fine Wives. Christopher’s work has recently been published in Heavy Feather Review, Hobart, Maudlin House, New Pop Lit, Queen’s Mob Teahouse, and Entropy, among others. Evelynn Black is a trans writer living in Seattle. She received her MFA from Cornell University. Her work appears in Empty Mirror, Lammergeier Magazine, The Seattle Review, and other publications. Genelle Chaconas is non-binary, queer, an abuse survivor, has mood disorders, and feels proud. They earned a BA in Creative Writing from CSUS (2009), and an MFA in Writing & Poetics from Naropa University (2015). Their chapbooks include Fallout, Saints, and Dirty Pictures (little m press, 2011) and Yet Wave (the Lune, 2017). Their first novel, Plague City, won the Kenneth Patchen Award in 2019 and is a forthcoming publication from the Journal of Experimental Fiction. Marc S. Cohen is an artist, writer, and musician born in the United States and residing in Toronto, Canada. His artwork involves existentially topical themes like alienation, dislocation, and the construction of selfhood in a shifting semantic landscape.
Abigail George is a Pushcart Prize (“Wash Away My Sins”) and Best of the Net (“Secrets”) nominated South African blogger (Goodreads), essayist (Modern Diplomacy, Ovi Magazine: Finland’s English Online Magazine), filmmaker, playwright, anthologised poet, chapbook, grant, novella, and short story writer (African Writer, Bluepepper, Hackwriters.com), poetry editor at African Writer, editor at Mwanaka Media and Publishing, and the writer of eight books. She studied film at the Newtown Film and Television School in Johannesburg. Airia Gneiss fancies herself a song to some and a rock to others. Sometimes the ones who want only her voice feel her weight, and those whose weight she holds hear her sigh. She lives by Lake Superior, where she teaches people when they want to learn and grows things when they can be grown. These times, she finds, are terribly brief. This is her first publication. Anita Haas is a differently-abled, Canadian writer and teacher based in Madrid, Spain. She has published books on film, two novelettes, a short story collection, and articles, poems, and fiction in both English and Spanish. Some publications her work has appeared in include Falling Star Magazine, Poetry Quarterly, Tulane Magazine, Literary Brushstrokes, and Adelaide Magazine. She spends her free time enjoying tapas and flamenco with her writer husband and two cats. JD Hegarty is a poet, a podcaster, and a Scorpio living in Saint Paul, Minnesota, with two loud grey cats. They have an MFA from Hamline University. JD’s work can be found in Chronotope, White Stag, Crab Orchard Review, and Mortar Magazine. Their first chapbook, On Passing, was published by Red Bird Chapbooks in 2017. They can be reached at jdhegarty.com Paul Ilechko is the author of the chapbooks Bartok in Winter (Flutter Press, 2018) and Graph of Life (Finishing Line Press, 2018). His work has appeared in a variety of journals, including Manhattanville Review, West Trade Review, Yes Poetry, Night Music Journal, and Rock & Sling. He lives with his partner in Lambertville, New Jersey.
Tim Kahl [http://www.timkahl.com] is the author of Possessing Yourself (CW Books, 2009), The Century of Travel (CW Books, 2012), The String of Islands (Dink, 2015), and Omnishambles (Bald Trickster, 2019). His work has been published in many journals in the US. He is also editor of Clade Song [http://www.cladesong.com]. He is the vice president and events coordinator of The Sacramento Poetry Center. He plays flutes, guitars, ukuleles, charangos, and cavaquinhos. He currently teaches at California State University, Sacramento, where he sings lieder while walking on campus between classes. Amy Kotthaus is a writer and photographer, working primarily in black and white. Her work has been published in Storm Cellar, Banshee, Drunk Monkeys, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, and others. She currently splits her time between Maine and Boston. Mercedes Lawry has published short fiction in several journals, including Gravel, Cleaver, Garbanzo, and Blotterature, and was a semi-finalist in The Best Small Fictions 2016. She’s published poetry in journals such as Poetry, Nimrod, and Prairie Schooner and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize four times. She’s published three poetry chapbooks as well as stories and poems for children. She lives in Seattle. Cameron Morse lives with his wife Lili and son Theodore in Blue Springs, Missouri. His first collection, Fall Risk, won Glass Lyre Press’s 2018 Best Book Award. His subsequent collections are Father Me Again (Spartan Press, 2018), Coming Home with Cancer (Blue Lyra Press, 2019), and Terminal Destination (Spartan Press, 2019). For more information, check out his Facebook page or website. Bianca Phipps (she/her) is a queer Latinx poet and teaching artist based in Chicago. Her work can be found in Blue River Review, Persephone’s Daughters, Heavy Feather Review, and Button Poetry. She can be found on Twitter @biancabeee. Michael Rerick lives, teaches, and washes dishes in Portland, Oregon. Work recently appears or is forthcoming at Clade Song, COAST|noCOAST, Graviton, Mannequin Haus, Parentheses, Porridge, The Wire’s Dream, and Waccomaw. He is also the author of In Ways Impossible to Fold, morefrom, The Kingdom of Blizzards, The Switch Yards, and X-Ray. 51
Daryl Scroggins has taught creative writing and literature at The University of Texas at Dallas, The University of North Texas, and the Writerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Garret, in Dallas. He now lives in Marfa, Texas. He is the author of Winter Investments, a collection of stories (Trilobite Press), and This Is Not the Way We Came In, a collection of flash fiction and a flash novel (Ravenna Press). John Sibley Williams is the author of As One Fire Consumes Another (Orison Poetry Prize, 2019), Skin Memory (Backwaters Prize, University of Nebraska Press, 2019), Summon (JuxtaProse Chapbook Prize, 2019), Disinheritance, and Controlled Hallucinations. A nineteen-time Pushcart nominee, John is the winner of numerous awards, including the Wabash Prize for Poetry, Philip Booth Award, and Laux/Millar Prize. He serves as editor of The Inflectionist Review and works as a poetry editor and literary agent.