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vaaho-vaaho

Website: http://miracleezine.wix.com/miracle-e-zine E-mail: miracle.ezine@yahoo.com Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Miracle.ezine Twitter: https://twitter.com/Miracleezine

Editor-in-chief and designer Poetry Editors

Fiction Editors

Assistant Editors Marketing Manager Cover Art

Guntaj Arora Kieran Rundle Ria Abbott Bruno Cooke Steven Fortune Christie Suyanto Elizabeth Gibson Olga Kolesnikova Jyothsna Phanjia Natasha Pasch Genny Rushton Givens Julie Stanley Aleksandra Harizma

Disclaimer: Matter published in ‘Miracle’ Magazine is the work of individual writers who guarantee it to be their own work. No matter of this magazine should be reproduced without the permission of the editor.

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“Once Poets were

magicians. Poets were strong, stronger than warriors or kings – stronger than old hapless gods. And they will be strong once again.” -Greg Bear 3


EDITORIAL & The Big Miracle Circus

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S

how me your tickets please. Your seat is in the second row from the left corner.

Sit down and enjoy THE BIG MIRACLE CIRCUS. Everything has evolved from the time we started and all these transformations have surely been for the best. The print Issue 7 was a huge success and we have decided to continue with the print as well as digital format! We want the magazine to be available and accessible to everyone, so that our aim to promote literary arts in every sense becomes more vibrant. We have some more good news for you! Submissions for the Second Miracle Poetry Competition our now open and you can find the guidelines on how to submit inside the magazine. There are some exciting prizes to win this time and a separate best under 25 category. So, let us all wear our part pants and become a part of this celebration of poetry! The poetry competition is not the only thing that we are doing this year. We are also going to start with some previous projects again and also work on some new exciting projects including the chapbook contest later this year! So, there is a yearlong miracle party and let us start with the first issue of the year. There are some incredible pieces of writing across the benches and as I always say, Miracle becomes what it is with all its wonderful contributors! I’ll not keep you waiting now. The joker is looking for you. Wear you grin and here goes the circus....

Guntaj Arora

guntajarora@ymail.com twitter:@guntajarora

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The

Miracle Circus Unsuited Lover - 13 Interview with Daljit Nagra- 25 A Writer’s Refugee - 35 The Poetry Place - 49 A Touch Of Love Through Spoken Rhymes- 61 Books In Brief - 75 Interview With Rick Hudson - 95 Writing Workshop - 133 6


Poems By: Steven Fortune, Levi Wagenmaker, Imogen Cassels, Ben Nardolilli, Michael Parker, Grant Tarbard, ALurah Furner, Taylor Stephenson, Pascale Johnson, Rich Murphy, Lyn Lifshin, Dah, Melinda McDaniel, Peter (Ho Chenug) Lee, DE Navarro, Jennifer Workman, Beverly Horlacher, Rex Sexton, Micha FrazerCarroll, Ndaba Sibanda, Alyssa Black, Fern G. Z. Carr, Laura Madeline Wiseman, John Grey, Steve Klepetar, Eugene Goldin, Elizabeth S. Hansen, Marc Jampole, Alex Webb, Audrey Hanye, Nadia Farah Mokdad, Mary E. Delabruere, Clio, Marius Surleac, Christopher Barnes, Lynda Bullerwell, Michael Lee Johnson, Ricky Garni, Nikhil Amarnath, Alyce Wilson, Rowland Begnall, P.C. Vandall,Jacob Erin-Cilberto, JT O’Dochartaigh, Daniella Cugini, Linda Crate, Evelyn Deshan, Cheryl A. Van Beek, Jessica Van De Kemp, Adam T. Bogar, Paul Strohm, Lee Mavin, Clive Gresswell, Nick Plumber, Ezeiyoke Chukwunons,Rich Murphy, Chinedu Ichu, Olga Kolesnikova, Yvonne Green, JB Mulligan and Hannah Scharton

Short Fiction by: Christina L. Rozelle, Peter Baltensperger, Christopher Cassavella, Daniel Kwiatkwoski, David Flynn, Eric Lawson, Ian Sands, Lela Marie De La Garzia, Adam T. Bogar and Ndaba Sibanda

Artworks by: Silvia Carrus, Sally Deskins and Arejay Grimm (RJ Wilcox

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JOKER'S RHAPSODY -Steven Fortune The red flecks of Hoyle froze her vision in the air where he thawed it with his own The visitors shuffle in out and around like cards in a deck Trios are odd Double-dates occur Sometimes a wild card waves through a window augments a group and a conversation But the groups stay small for the most part Pairs are predominant All look different Not enough though to elude the parallel of a uniform identity Pairs shuffle in and out inevitably being split maybe being brought together maybe many times

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Members of a pair are visible together notable alone She was here before many times a visitor many times alone Now she shares a corner with this casual dealer young faithful fair like an upright jack of hearts He turns no apparent tricks merely prodding cards with his fingertips as his palms would treat coins (those compact disciples of chance) But the coins stay the same for the most part He employs a modern deck where the upright and the upside-down bleed into co-existence One jack of hearts A pair of visitors The red flecks of Hoyle froze her vision in the air where he thawed it with his own She looks around and thinks he shuffles people

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DIMINISHING VERSE -Levi Wagenmaker if everything inanimate or somehow alive were continuously shrinking at a greater rate than the continuum of space-time then the latter would be observed to be expanding and given that the universe would at least seem to be expanding at an ever increasing rate a possible explanation might be that matter both dark and ordinary is shrinking ever faster in relation to a shrinking universe compare it to a tube of mustard mayonaise (tomato ketchup if you like) once the cap is off even the gentlest of squeezes results in what may be in turn compared to premature ejaculation stringing all along there are those (supposedly tightly curled up) extra dimensions and perhaps they're somehow exempt from shrinkage or shrinking at a slower rate

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than those of time and space squeezing out their contents into them and in any case for the cosmos to be expanding relative only to what it happens to contain would require it to be contained itself in something very large or rapidly expanding compare the situation to Russian dolls as well as to premature ejaculation and you'll get the idea (or not) agreed that perhaps I'd better see a shrink

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Nocturnalisms -Imogen Cassels I – A Note As I intend to live nocturnally now, I’ve left the sunglasses. I don’t mean to discriminate against the sunshine, but am moving to the duskier side of day. I bought a telescope specially, you see, and organised a pitch black wardrobe, to fit in. I’ve stashed the chocolate and kettle chips, and have taken the lightbulbs out of their sockets as I intend to grow accustomed to the dark. II – A Prayer pianos play nocturnes but I find a lullaby on the keys of a concertina. telescopes will burn black rings into a pattern as sunny spots, and my days will be monochrome. let the dawn/dusks frame the spilled-salt sky. I shall forget how to read, then find the barb and hook of nocturnal alphabets entrancing, a late romance blossomed monochrome. telescopic nebulas for letters, folded concertinaed into yawning new words tasting shapes like salted caramels. if the colours in my eyes do not nocturne into night music in their blinded beauty, then let them at least find new planets in telescopes that nestle like how my concertinas breathe; read monochromatic 12 scales carved across ivory, magical as the ever salt-sweet night I remember.


Out of the Cable Margins -Ben Nardolilli The viewers need to be impressed from the start, Ask the manager of the nativity scene, The planner who placed the star where it had to guide, People wanted a show and they got one, The baby with the animals, swaddled up in hay, It was a viral hit, billions of likes and counting. Yes, a simpler time, less competition for an audience, And the audience simply expected less, However they were coming down from a complex Of Gods for everything under Apollo’s bright run, The major award of a conferred instant halo Certainly helped to get the show into the Sunday slot. Now, it would never fly, let alone walk on water, The elaborate scenes have to be beautifully constructed Or the back-story has to have chaos and cruelty Cute and saintly is not enough to reach a demographic, Nasty and just passing by makes today’s hit, Dropping a star into place and telling it to act human.

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MIRACLE THEME Column

Unsuited Lover --R.G. Summers-Imagine the most loved person you have ever known. Now imagine trying to love her. Jokers are outsiders, when you think about it. Or maybe we’re just independents, the voice of anarchy in a four-party system that governs the world of fifty-two others. In red and black, we dance through the deck as an omen of luck, a blank slate for you to project your own needs onto, if only for a hand. In red and black, we are our own doubles. Mirroring and mocking ourselves, we manage to make any hand more mutable. There are games of such somber importance that we are unwanted within them. There are moments when we are shuffled out and away, back into an empty paper box. After all, what’s the use of someone who has no alliances? Sometimes forgotten altogether, we are tucked into the pages of a book, marking your place in literature you will forget to finish. I’m sure you wonder what the other cards think of us. To you, we are only a symbol, a spare part in an organized and ordered set of characters. Cards come to you with binary identities, suit and value, suit and value. Jokers have no suit, and are valueless in the eyes of systematic understanding. All we have are our colors, and that is a shallow loyalty in the eyes of spade monarchs or diamond royalty. In a card house, a Joker is the first card to be pulled out, to come crashing down and take all the others with her. An emblem of chaos, we are as we are so often christened: wild cards. You do not trust us. You do not distrust us the way you would a knave, and yet you think our impish nature must rob us of any reliability. There are some who play by a different deck. They say the suits are cups and wands, swords and pentacles. In those decks there’s but one Joker and they call her the fool. She has no value. She is the first card in those decks, shuffled by

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uncanny hands that profess to know your future. Maybe they do. If others denounce the tarot readers, that is their prerogative. A Joker like me is in no position to pass judgment. The Joker sees more than she lets on. She would have to. Pantomiming pratfalls and playful antics, the mime doesn’t say much, and so many Jokers will themselves into muteness, hoping to rid themselves of any obligation to somber conduct. If only they do not speak as others speak, perhaps they will finally escape into freedom through a totality of whimsy. It wasn’t that I set out to be a Joker, but I made myself into one. Looking back, I see how easily I could have been some grand face card, superseding numerical value rather than operating outside of it. I could have been staunchly cut into a homey suit…I could have belonged to something, someone. That wasn’t where my choices led me though. Jokers don’t have much to do with the other cards. Too often they are shuffled out, too quirky and confusing for whatever game you design to play. But the Joker sees. Just because I do not speak does not mean I am not listening, observing all the beautifully petty interactions you pass off as love and loathing. I am shuffled in again and again, passing by every card in the deck and seeing their secrets, between the symbols and flashes of red and black. Jokers belong to no suit, no one. Who would I have been to be someone to any of them, when I was busy climbing curtains with the circus and fleeing from every institution that graced my path? Eating fire and plunking at the piano is no place for a Seven of Hearts or a Nine of Diamonds. Spinning stories and telling tales, why of course I was a Joker, no part of the incestuous shuffling between the rest of them! I saw the way they all dibble-dabbled in hands and houses and hearts, only to tear themselves apart, all according to their own needs. I saw how they traded and slipped away from each other in a flurry of flimsy paper, printed as if anything about them could redeem them from the fact that they were inherently all two-faced. No matter which way you turn them, their unsmiling faces come out on top. It was an illusion of control. So many cards, and all of them impishly fickle. The only

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one who was honest about his nature were the Knaves. Queens and Kings were another story. I am not a queen, nor was I ever one. I presume it is much harder to be a queen, clutching flowers with blue-black features drawn starkly, buried in geometric folds of impossible robes. The Queen of Hearts, so often ridiculed or referenced in rhymes and lullabies…she has a tough road to hoe. I would not trade my status as a Joker to be a queen if it meant I had to be a Queen of Hearts. After all, everyone loves a Queen of Hearts, in bold and black colors. My position was a strange one. Imagine that everyone you had ever cared for had fallen in love with one particular person, at one point or another. Then, one day, you woke up long after, and realized that the inevitable had happened. You had fallen in love too. Not in the way they had, not in a way you could act on or speak about or do anything about…in a silent way that meant you could only juggle your heart in front of her, never letting her know it was your heart you were juggling for her amusement. I suppose anyone who had so many hearts come and go, who was whisked in and out of so much love, would be a heavy sort of soul. Still, I can’t help but think that if we Knaves and Jokers and Kings had loved her only a little more, maybe there would have been something constant or steady about her existence. I was a fool to think that love could steady someone. But then, I never professed to be anything but a fool.

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Frailty -Michael Parker frailty, like the thin of night like the near of constant shadows like whispers half held in rounded, complete spheres now disintegrating psalms and I am less than a thread I am a storm of air

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J J J

“Are You Here for the Frogs? Because You Can’t Have Them. They’re All I’ve Got.”

- Christina L. Rozelle

I

t felt colder in the room that day. Lucy knew they were trying to kill her, and freezing her was one of the many ways they tried to do it. But that day, it was different. Along with the usual frigidness came a quaking emptiness that she couldn't quite place. The girl that had come by, supposedly to keep her company, went on and on about this love between two people Lucy had never met before. She was unsure why the girl was telling her such things. It was none of her business and she could hardly relate. She couldn’t remember if she had ever experienced anything like that in her life. All she could remember now was the harsh climate of her home, the ever-present loneliness, and the frogs. The frogs were her friends. If she moved too quickly around the room, she'd startle them, so Lucy was sure to remind all who entered to watch for them. And when they told her the frogs weren’t real, she kept quiet, because she knew they were just trying to trick her. “Gran?” the girl asked. “Are you alright?” She nodded as she rocked in her chair, keeping an eye on Jasper, the mammoth toad who hid behind her trashcan. She remained cautious as the girl continued to talk. She talked about the time the man came home from four long years at the war, and how the woman had knitted him the ugliest winter sweater on the planet, but the man loved her so much he wore it proudly anyway. The girl laughed softly as she opened a photo album in her lap.

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“I don’t know whose this is, do you?” she asked, running her fingers along a lock of hair. “I can’t read the writing beside it.” “How would I?” Lucy asked. The girl’s face tightened with pain, which confused Lucy. Why was this stranger so emotional over things that she knew nothing about? Her eyes wandered to an unfamiliar painting of a young couple, frozen in their laughter, and she wondered what they were laughing about. It made Lucy very sad but she didn’t know why. “Aww . . .” the girl said. She knelt by Lucy’s side and took her cool, wrinkled hand, cupping it inside her young palms. “I always wondered what you two were laughing at,” she said. “Oh, that’s not me,” Lucy said. She tried to see why the girl would mistake the woman in it for her. “Gran,” the girl said, “Yes, it is you. It’s you and your husband, Dale, my Grandpa. That picture was painted on your honeymoon, fifty-seven years ago.” Lucy stared at her, feeling the sudden rage that she felt when she knew someone was trying to trick her. Tears filled her eyes, blurring the face of the girl. She tightened her trembling fists. “No,” she said. “You’re lying to me!” She turned her face away from the horrible picture and her eyes landed on the tiny locket beside her bed. Her chest heaved and swelled as she took it in her hands and opened it. The girl cried softly beside her. Lucy looked from the man in the tiny gold heart to the girl . . . . . . And then, a light turned on somewhere. “Annette?” she asked. The girl cried harder and wrapped her arms around Lucy’s neck. “You’re my . . . my granddaughter . . . .” she whispered. Annette nodded her head and kissed Lucy’s cheek. “You’re back,” she said. “I miss you so much when you go away.” Lucy looked down at the man in the gold heart. She tilted her head slightly to the right, daring to look at the picture

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on the wall again. And then, she knew. Lucy closed the locket up tight inside her palm. How could she forget? Dale was a great man. There was never a day that went by that he didn’t do something for someone else. He was a war hero, a teacher, a giver, a lover . . . . But most of all, he was her best friend for fifty-seven years. "He's gone?" Lucy asked. Annette nodded, tears trailing her cheeks. “Please,” Lucy begged. “Please don’t let me forget my Dale. I don’t want to be without my Dale,” she pleaded, holding her granddaughter as tight as her weak arms could manage. Annette couldn’t help but sob into her grandma’s lap. Because she knew there was nothing she could do. It was only a matter of time. As Lucy squeezed the locket, drenching her granddaughter's shoulder with her tears, she noticed Jasper hop up and shake his head at her. Then, he hopped away, back to his place behind the trash can. “Wait,” Lucy pushed Annette back and held her at arm’s length. “Who are you? Are you here for the frogs? Because you can’t have them. They’re all I’ve got.”

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Gotham Surveillance -Grant Tarbard 'He that dippeth his hand with me into the dish, he shall betray me' (Matthew 26:23) Clawing through the debt of dirt Which some naysayers collar as history, Are the silver dials markedMarked faces, Marked voices, Hurried calls to lovers at the expense of self Riding on high stakes mothers; Home, fridge, purse, a pat on the head Before years of pay phone anniversaries. Elevator buttons illuminate through the fingerprint powder, Birthdays in low candles, in lieu of eyes of reflection And oh that menstrual ache! Each well documented longing flickering the curious bulbs of discontent Which those on the hill named 'nervous system'. Born from the nauseous vibrating of overhead lines, Locked doors, an ear to your voice like John to Peter, A bottle of red by the bedside, bread broken like old lovers, Sturdy, reliable rogue as solid as a confessional, Up the staircase, hiding. Shadows for bunk mates Touchy-feely fists of midnight's hour Just waiting to catch her out In the Dixie Cup string pulsating tone of passion's announcement That only old maids and mad aunts Can shut down the house when full swing departs, Gotham maintains.

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J

Receiver

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Laurah Furner

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Fog clinging like smoke To the inside of a telephone box As I passed I thought I saw ghosts Whispering through the receiver Voices lingering on the brittle air Settling on the collars of coats And nesting in the shells of ears Ghosts curling like cold fingers Calling for the turn of my head I can feel the fog rising already Stopping short for a moment I let the chill enclose around me A kiss of frost catches on my lips Cold fingers clutch colder metal Pull open the pane-rattling door My breath mingles with the ghosts The spectres spin about my head Turning slowly in a sombre waltz Trees reach out like corpse’s hands The sky is a wisp of shifts and wreathes The receiver hangs

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J 7

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Am I good or Old?

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Taylor Stephenson

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am I good or old? I am a liar seeking truth. A hermit traveler freeloading on souls. I need sleep but hate watching my crazy dreams roll by. I am hungry and would eat your heart in order to better understand you and care more than the size of my hand's capability.

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ON A BEACH

By Silvia Carrus 24


Hometown -Pascale Johnson i Misbegotten children fight their way to the surface, their poems Are more desperate than most. Constellations of compensations Last a lifetime in this town, not quite close enough to London to be Called a borough. ii A Heart of Gold lies beneath your gold necklace shaped like A heart, a barrier to keep the beat and stench of life at bay. Your house has not changed much in the 17 years I’ve known you. I can’t tell if you have, I’m not that perceptive. iii The playground in summer- iced lollies, scraped knees, dilapidated roundabouts, fresh grass, ice-cream tarmac, gossiping mothers, frisbees, haribo rings, impromptu weddings, amicable divorces, baseball caps, water fights, playgrounds, summers, freedoms. iv The woods encircle the town, cushion the houses from outer reality like Soft dough in middle class kitchen’s bread makers. You would be forgiven For thinking that time’s arrow flies in a different direction here: not back but Sideways. Well, almost forgiven. Truth is a commodity in short supply.

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Author Interview with

Daljit Nagra

Interviewed by Natasha Pasch 26


W

e welcome and our bring readers an interview by Daljit Nagra: poet, writer, and teacher. Some may know who he is and others will be learning about him below. The answers provided to the questions that were asked to him are thought provoking, and will hopefully help emerging writers. From someone that has been in the writing field for years, Daljit brings an insight into his mind and the world of poetry. Without further ado, here is an interview with Daljit Nagra.

Who or what inspires your writing? Everyday experience and a long term vision. The former is based on being alert to daily events and lighting upon them as material for poetry. The latter is based on seeking to continually find exciting ways of merging East West language, religion and culture.

How does the process of creating a poem start and end for you? Does it come naturally or do you plan what you want to write about? Keats said that poems should come like leaves to a tree of they shouldn’t come at all. I am very much of this mind. I wait for the powerful moment when all cylinders are firing and a poem comes bursting into life. I spend several months and, in some cases, years editing the poem till I feel I have achieved my potential for that poem. With my verse-novels, again I form many ideas in my head before I write them down; again, I don’t force the text but wait for it to form. At the editing stage, I am more likely to try out effects on the page and constantly write rewrite them till the best effect has arrived for a phrase, an image, a line break and so on.

What style of writing would you collectively say you write in? I am not sure what this question means but I like it! I suppose I would answer it by saying I see myself as a highly mixed-up

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poet. I am constantly looking to merge as many registers and fields of language as possible, I am constantly seeking to play with tone so the poem is shifting from humorous to serious and back again, I am constantly trying to appear earnest but sometimes I am really gauging a reader’s response, I write politically left-wing and right-wing poems, and so on. In short, I am all for signalling complexity.

When you were getting into writing still, and you thought your writing was obscure and difficult, can you elaborate more on that? I still feel many of my poems are obscure in that they have a subtext which is loaded with references to East/West traditions but as my reader is mostly from a Western tradition I live in hope they will at least get some of my Western references. These references are important to me as they help to give life and range to my poems. I think as the years have passed, I have become better at knowing how much East/West information a reader can handle, will get and will enjoy. Work shopping poems to get a reader’s feedback has helped me second-guess my audience’s reaction.

What advice would you give other writers on breaking into the publication and writing industry? Read more poetry than you write. Mimic good writers. Learn the English poetry tradition by reading the great poems and by reading essays about the great poets. Seek insightful feedback about your poetry and be prepared to accept negative comments. Be prepared to abandon lines in your poems that feel special to you but no longer serve the poem. Be prepared to rewrite a poem a year after first starting it, eve two years after first starting it! Go to poetry readings, read contemporary poetry magazines. Enjoy poetry!

What do you see is your next endeavour in writing? To produce several verse-novels. I am currently working on a medieval Romeo and Juliet Punjabi story which I have set

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during the Indian Rebellion of 1857. I am attempting to fuse Sufi, Bhakti and German Romanticism into the text. I have no idea if this will work or if my editor, Matthew Hollis, will like it. It is all going swimmingly at present; I am about 10 months into the project.

In what ways has your writing changed since you first started writing? I need to continue managing the balance between humour and seriousness, high/low registers, mood and dialogue. The scope of my writing has become broader. My ideas are becoming more complex. I am better at fusing East/West ideas. My verse is getting better at being generous to my wonderful reader.

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N

o Play Zone

-Rich Murphy “I'm only a man in the world…” – Pirandello The playwright typed casts who were searching for heroes who would draw down the curtain on the cliché that passes for each generation and up on unique era broods. One thousand naked faces came cackling and scheming to recognize that the masks in morning bathrooms own two sides and that Shui Ta never grows into Shen Teh. Alienation from empathy left the audience twiddling thumbs and not pondering roles in society. Calls for action trained spotlights on a director and producer. Government officials could then identify the villains: Denouement folded over any catharsis, a staple through the playbill. With the carcasses at home in schizophrenia few stars learned that there must be a way.

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He Said He Just Sat Down -Lyn Lifshin for a second beer. It was muggy, a night with the windows open. The curtains that had been taken down 11 years ago were heavy with moths. Trains about a foot from the side porch would shake the needle, Roy Orbison would slurp off into the space where things get stuck, like in life, go around in circles. Suddenly he says he heard squeals and bolts, louder than his ex lopping out the screen door leaving me with 3 kids and one never able to start talking so I was home every night. I knew the trains, the D & H, Ohio Special, like a cat that recognizes its owner's car. I could tell which line almost by that. Anyway, I'm thinking this is strange, there's a ruckus, a plunk plunk then a gun bark and everyone's out in the street like it was V day but kids in pajamas, a couple of hookers in the flimsiest shorts. It was like a party, a festival. The car's second car on its side, looked like a man giving birth. It splintered open. Instead of a foal or a colt or a filly, cereal was spilling out, an explosion of white puffs, wheat, rich, corn. The porch glider, my tomatoes are 31 white in the moon with Oatmeal and Farina inches thick. By God, We're like a city under lava


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Alternatives in Glass

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-Peter Baltensperger

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ira Love carried her inflatable glass cage with her wherever she went. She never knew when she had to hide from herself, or from other people, or other people from herself. Nights were easier than days, although black tunnels tended to echo for far too long. It wasn’t so much the echoes she minded as much as what they said, about life and about her. Most of it was too depressing, and always unflattering. She could have ignored the voices, but that would have meant putting up another wall. She always tried to avoid complications. Open countrysides were better than closed-in spaces. There was an ease to landscapes that she couldn’t find in shopping malls, regardless of the shadows, or the colors. Yet she felt an insatiable thirst for possessions she could only begin to satisfy in stores. She owned an eclectic collection of paperweights in every imaginable variety, on display all around her apartment. She had a sizable accumulation of semi-precious stone spheres; a large, inspiring polished moonstone at the center, a glistening deep purple amethyst at the periphery, like the outermost electron in a constantly expanding atom. And books. Shelves and shelves of books, heavy hard-cover volumes of every conceivable kind. Possessions kept her in place, kept her grounded. Without them, she would have been floating all the time. She bumped into a man and realized that he fitted quite comfortably into her cage with her. He had his own inflatable cage in his pocket and offered her a place in it, but she wouldn’t hear of it. She had to be in her own enclosure. He didn’t seem to mind, but he kept fidgeting and fingering his cage in his pocket. She just hoped he wouldn’t open it inside her cage. The result could have been disastrous. She finally

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pulled his hand out of his pocket and took it into hers. It calmed him down. It certainly calmed her down. Her shopping trip turned out to be quite a success: two new paperweights and a golden tiger eye sphere. He wasn’t a distraction at all. He even helped her pick out one of the paperweights, but that was as far as she was willing to let things go. She still wasn’t sure if she might have to hide from him, and she tried to figure out how she would be able to do that with him inside her own cage. It didn’t come to that. He was impressed that she picked the tiger eye sphere from among a whole display in one of the specialty boutiques, and she let him carry it for her for a while, just not for very long. She needed the weight. They went to her apartment, even though he wanted to go to his. He told her he needed his own bed, quite vehemently, more vehemently, she thought, than was necessary. She needed her own bed more than he needed his, and that was that. She knew how to take care of herself, despite the voices and the shadows and the glass. He wasn’t very happy, she could tell from his renewed fidgeting in her cage, but he did go with her. She gloated, briefly, but only inside, so as not to disturb the precarious equilibrium. Getting on the bus with both of them in one cage turned out to be a rather awkward undertaking, but they managed to laugh it off. It was the first time that they laughed. She turned on all the lights in her apartment to banish the shadows, then folded up her glass cage very neatly as she always did and put it on the display shelf by the door. He was fingering his own cage in his pocket again, as if he felt he might need it while he was with her. She hoped he wouldn’t, although she knew exactly how he felt. She took him by the hand, his free hand, not the one in his pocket, and led him down the hall to her bedroom, talking to him soothingly, as if to a frightened child. She would have wanted him to do the same thing for her, had the roles been reversed. They tumbled on the bed and began to grapple with each other like two feral cats during a full moon night. She didn’t feel any need for her cage. She had her paperweights and her spheres to keep her on the bed. He wouldn’t have let go of her, she was sure, if she had started to float. Neither

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would she have let go of him. It started to rain in the middle of their grappling, inside and out. They went to get their inflatable cages and zippered them together to give them enough room, then crawled under them and out of the rain. It took them a while to synchronize their grappling with the drumming of the rain on the roof of their cage and against the windowpane. Everything turned into a confusion for a while, limbs and hands everywhere, and a frantic search for coordination, but they soon managed to learn each other and settled down into a passionate rhythm with a balanced fusion. The rain stopped as soon as they unzipped their cage in the morning and went into the kitchen. Coffee was ready and breakfast was cooking on the stove. He sat down behind her and took her breasts into his hands and she fed both of them, from separate plates. They went to his apartment, for balance and for equality, and it didn’t rain. It gave them all the more room, and more freedom, on his bed. She was surprised that she didn’t miss her possessions and that she didn’t feel as if she were going to float. She knew he made sure the whole time that she didn’t. He did know as much as she. The full moon they had missed the night before shone in through the window by the time they turned off the light and went to sleep, cuddled up into a comfortable ball. The shadows were doing their own things in the corners. They never heard a word the shadows said.

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The Sound Of Bones -Dah Time has dug its lines into my face where an arc of light fires its torch and cuts the lines into dry rivers I shake my head and dust falls into my mouth Tomorrow is only a handful of breath that will cling to my lungs I do not want to mislead or joke with death because like the shadow of an exhale I am not really here Suddenly and all at once I breathe in again and the sound of my bones singing wakes me

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A Writer’s Refugee -Troy Cabida Tweeting, Commenting, Writing, Reblogging: Social Media, a brand new ball game

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here is a general belief that in the process of creating a book, writing is the easy part, making the publication and promotion the difficult part. Some say that’s become a thing of the past. And as one of the biggest social media junkies out there, I agree with this one hundred percent. The year 2013 for writers is a completely different universe than it used to be back in the past, when promoting your book meant getting out of your house more and looking nice for events like networking and book signing. The evolution of technology has given writers more ways to get into the mainstream and get them known. For me, who happens to be one of the most addicted tweeter that I know, the Internet has made me not only a better writer creatively, but also one that has more awareness to the current world of publishing and where to go once I leave my house. Help you connect with others: Blogging has to be the creator of fast communication through the Internet. Invented around the mid-80s, people who had their hands on a computer could easily write whatever was on their minds and publish it with just one click. Nowadays, the Internet has given birth to much, much more forms of communication available all over the world, and that means many opportunities. Making blogs and personal

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websites for your writing can be a way to build a starting fanbase, something that you’ll need early on. I’ve been taught that readers would be more interested in the work of a new writer if they’re familiar with him or her, thus giving their book a sort of pathway to the readers. This can be done through websites like WordPress, Tumblr and even Youtube, where people can upload videos, blog posts and images of them and communicate with people. A heads up to any potential endeavours: Would you believe I have Facebook and its powerful abilities to thank for the fact that I’m writing this column for you right now? Once you’re connected to websites such as Twitter and Facebook, there you can find hundreds of sites and pages that help promote many literary journals, publishing houses and general help on writing. Once followed or liked, you get to see live updates on any available submissions and contests that you can enter to give yourself exposure. I sure am grateful I answered the ad for a wanted columnist as soon as I saw it (which was seriously just posted on my newsfeed when I saw it. Thank you, fate). It can give you the upper hand for some promotion: And if you have a newly published book or won a spot in a literary magazine, social networks also allow you to post it on your website or profile for everyone to see. And now that there’s the tagging feature for you to tag your friends to your post or image, there is a bigger chance for strangers and potential readers to come across you and your work. All of these outlets have helped contemporary writers make it through the world of writing, and if done right, who’s to say you can’t succeed, too? So go forth, enjoy what the world of technology has to offer you and best of luck. One important tip for you, though: don’t let surfing from webpage to webpage dwindle away from your work! - Troy P.S. speaking of promotion, please check out my new poetry book Lost in London out now via Blurb!

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In The Breath Of God -Melinda McDaniel The peppered earth falls from my shoes As the French from her lips. Enlivened soul and prickled skin I am - a cell on a leaf in the breath of God. Golden colors Fill my blood, Warm and ground me. Despite the absence I am surrounded. The profane distance, My Love, Be not in vain. Bloodshot eyes Disallowed to close Until the words be extracted, Woven, and spun: Blankets on Cherokee. Gift and guide, soft black jaguar. Treasure to treasure from treasure Nearing pleasure. Leather and lace over deserts. The high-hat.

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The band just above the gentleman's ear. The corsets, the tears. Cuffs, collars, fears. Obligations. Pained into turn after turn. Exquisite tones and tongues. Parted like paper from pen, And yet we gain. I see your face And my wings cannot, Will not, be denied. We dance like Coins in the pocket Of the One to Whom we are The most precious keepsakes.

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Cat's Eye -Peter (Ho Cheung) Lee And these sockets. These sockets now locked the priceless pair as it came. More jade than sapphire in their marble skin of swirling pasty against the ocean hue. The glow viciously absorbs the night. Needle-shaped gem grows within the twin moonstones. Baffling. Almost start from within when feeding light into their anterior chambers. A reflective coating's woven behind the crystalloid retina. The eyeshine manufactured in-born. (Some tapetum or lucidum and the sort.) And the thin eyelids unfolded for the cheers that never came — something was wrong. Gasps, voices, frowns. The peasant father still. Wrong pupils this one. (And so a wrong one.) Fixation her perpetual minute. Blue and more blue.

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Orchid Pavilion -Peter (Ho Cheung) Lee You never look the same within your slender waxy blazes. My garden, no scent from your eyes but in thoughts I sketched your anther in calligraphy. Mildly cursive this time. The choral voices whispered the dark forest like fear spreading. Waves of sharp black caressed the grained Xuan paper to curve and arc the tune of your love verses. I emptied three cups of plucked theme before sleeping in the crimson petals. Time nurtures the occupied soil. This day the pavilion feels the same in the absence of those inquisitive worms. So much eventless under the silk of mist which obscures your flowery clusters as if a spaceless passage of imagined colours was all that I knew about you, all about that which the breeze bore.

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Joker -DE Navarro Indolent joke-monger mystify with uncanny frivolity beyond the trickiest trickster the prankiest prankster put Loki to shame. Exhale mind-bending punch-lines joggled and thrown like dice out of some vacuous null between the cohesions of unascertained reality. Enthrall your victims with the insanity of your disturbed hilarity; and the hilarity of your disturbed insanity (to the mundane the alluring fragrance of the wanton abandon of recklessness). Cast the mesmerizing spell of dreamy antics with otherworldly underpinnings as you: strike undermine rearrange rollick enervate

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assuage lull them to sleep and play them the fools. Disarmed by spoofs of bizzarity (antithetical upward downward interfaces) they are yours now, assembled. They laugh in nervous mirth at what, they know not what to know, what they don't know. Invite them into the charming act of your tornadic jocularity (the folly of swirling self-destruction) where they will kill themselves in fun going round and round and round for the pure wondrous amusement of a focused special-interest audience— —you.

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Tenants -Christopher Cassavella

H

e rented a room on the third floor of an apartment building across from a park and could see the ducks on the lake in the morning and the bats near the trees late at night. For the three days he had been in his new home making coffee and staring out at the park, which made the impossibly high price worth it, almost. He liked the place, though it did not quite belong to him yet. He'd need to find a color to go over those terrible white walls and then give the place his signature by hanging up his photographs. A photographer, Chester had many photos he could choose from. There were boxes full of black and whites of him in foreign countries. He had a series of trees and another of him standing proud in front of many great bodies of water. A happy life for sure. Where, then, were the woman in these pictures? Perhaps . . . he had snatched an apple for him and his wife from one of those trees or jumped into one of those great oceans and went for a swim with a girlfriend. No, he had no such adventures with women. It had been a very long time since he had had a roommate. On the fourth day of living in his apartment he decided the walls were ready for their new color. He walked to the hardware store and struggled with the sample colors but eventually chose one: a green two shades from black. It was dark and towards the end of the day anyone would think it black, but he thought his photographs would stand out over such a deep shade. He settled on a flat finish and took his two cans and rollers and pans and went to eat dinner at a nearby diner. He would wait until the next morning to begin painting. That fifth day came and he painted the white walls with the green that was nearly black. It took him seven hours and three glasses of red wine to complete his work. The color looked terrific and the job was neat. He waited for the walls to dry and then hung the photos he had decided on the night before while in bed. After the walls were done, and the

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apartment was closer to being his, he ate his dinner and when he finished, threw it in the garbage. He decided to take the recyclables downstairs to the sidewalk as he had been instructed by his landlord. He hummed a merry tune to himself as he walked back upstairs and ceased his humming when he opened the door to his apartment. The walls had been changed back to the previous plain white. The photos were on the floor, their frames shattered. Oh my. He went to the landlord and knocked on her door. What was going on here! There had been an intrusion, he'd say to her. No, that couldn't be. There was a paranormal trickster who delighted itself in ruining apartments for single, ordinary gentleman. No, that wouldn't do either. Maybe he wouldn't bother after all. Maybe he’d wait until he could make something rational out of something irrational and then bother. Was it that he had actually seen what he thought he had seen? Ill-stricken, he walked back upstairs (no humming this time) and opened the door. The walls had changed color again. This time the white had turned to a pale blue. And this really did him no good. He went back downstairs and knocked on the landlord's door. I didn't pay three months rent upfront for this, he'd say. No, maybe he'd say the walls were stubborn. And, of course he mustn't forget to tell her about the shattered frames and how he'd be needing the money for them as well. But again, she did not answer. He walked upstairs, sighing instead of humming. He opened his door and peeked in, afraid of what he'd see next. The first thing he noticed was a grand piano, near the kitchen. It was old and sturdy and the black finish was not afraid to double as a mirror. The floors were clean, empty. Where'd the pictures go off to? Their shattered frames? The sharp shards of glass? All gone!

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Only the morning blue walls and a grand piano were there. It was as though the entire day had lied to him. None of it, you've done none of it. That's it, I'm leaving this building. Before he left for good he'd leave a letter on the landlord’s door, telling her he had it with her vicious scam and with a building that offered its tenants rooms of illusions and trick walls. He wrote up his letter, went downstairs and taped it to her door. Just to satisfy his anger he knocked on the door. No answer. He assumed she ran off and had taken his money and wasted good paint and an even better paint job paint which, as you know, had taken him seven hours and three red wines to finish! And then the room was not so innocent either. It had broken and stolen his photographs and frames and hid the remnants on him. He'd need all his money back. Yessir. Please and thank you and hurry while you're at it. Then Chester slanted his head to the other side, midknock and mid-internal rant and thought about the pale blue walls and how nice they actually looked. Maybe something like the first morning of your very first marriage and waking up next to your brand new wife. Sure! That was what they had looked like, had felt like. And then, of course, there was that snazzy grand piano that had just appeared out of some homeless magician's hat. As far as he could tell it had all eighty-eight keys and played just fine. Personally, he couldn't play; nope, not even the simplest of chords. But he'd learn. He was only thirty-seven and that wasn't even half to eighty! Hell, he had just practically grown into his fingers. He looked down at his digits. Chubby, but maybe they’d be agile enough. And hadn't blue been his favorite color as a boy? It certainly had. It was all becoming so tempting. He took the letter from the door and like a petulant kitty, tip-toed upstairs and peeked inside his apartment once again. Oh my. A woman, maybe in her thirties. Gorgeous. Sitting at the piano, playing that terrific Chopin tune he had loved forever.

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Who had he known who used to try and play the beginning notes of this same piece? Had they ever finally learned it? Dare I? I do dare, I really do. Chester walked in, and introduced himself to the woman. After he intruded and said a tepid hello he thought how terribly rude he must seem to interrupt one midmovement. Hell, it's my apartment. Still, no excuses. He had been rude. The woman stopped her hands, tensed her fingers, and turned towards Chester. Chester regained composure and said, "I'm very sorry to disturb you. You play so beautifully." If only he could say that she was beautiful as well. She blushed pink at the compliment. And Chester, right there in the doorway, wanted the names of anyone who could think terrible things about this woman and not think she was stunning and not want to hold all of her things for her. “I’ve been trying to learn it forever. But thank you. Are you the new tenant?” she said as she rubbed her pregnant belly. Chester looked down at the hill under her dress and thought how uncomfortable that baby must be. Baby? With her gargantuan stomach she could've been hiding a (small) grown man inside there. “I bet the baby loves it when you play.” She laughed. “I make that very joke all the time.” They shared smiles. “Well, yes, I guess I am . . . the new tenant,” said Chester. “I thought so. I'm new myself. I was told someone else was moving in around the same time as I was. I've never had a room all to myself. I've only ever had a roommate." Chester nodded as he bargained with himself about leaving or not. What else might happen if he left and came back to the apartment? Overwrought with a greedy wish list, he excused himself and walked back down to his landlord's

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apartment, though this time he did not knock on her door. He stood there a moment, wondering what might happen next. He waited there until he thought of every possibility. It didn't take long, forty seconds, and he walked back upstairs. He pushed the apartment door open. Inside he saw the same woman, though she wasn't sitting at the piano; she was looking out the window, and the pale blue walls weren't bare but now had picture frames on them. And she was much skinnier. Not pregnant; her stomach was aligned with the rest of her frame. “Hello,” Chester said. She turned to him. She was younger now, that was for certain. Maybe in her early-twenties. Chester’s eyes couldn't help but go straight to her baby (or small man)-free stomach. “Where have you been? I'm really not feeling too great," she said. "I'd thought maybe you'd make me feel better.” “Me? Well, of course I will. How so?” Chester looked at all the frames that hung on his walls as he waited for her response. He noticed that while these walls had picture frames none had any photos in them. "Get me some water,” she said. He did. “Get me a wet towel for my face.” He certainly did. “Now leave me here, alone.” “Really? Why?” “I feel awful. I need rest.” “Oh, sure.” He left the apartment and walked back downstairs. He waited a moment, thought a bit, and walked back upstairs again. In the apartment he noticed the walls were less pale blue—even paler now, almost back to white and had shallow pinks and oranges on the top of the walls spreading to the white ceiling. The piano bench was empty, as was the window. The woman there was just a child now. She sat on the floor. When she saw Chester she stood up. She was so little and she was so pretty and her smile was pure clumsiness with that gap

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between her front teeth. She wore flannel pajamas and earrings. Chester wondered if her fingers could still play that same Chopin piece. “Chester,” she said. “We have to brush our teeth before we go to bed, you always try to skip.” “Of course, we will.” There were even more frames on the walls and this time there were photographs in them. Chester went up to one. There were people in this photo, standing in front of a house under a full autumn tree. These people were family of hers. Chester knew that much. “Chester,” she said again. “Take your toothbrush.” “Sure,” he said. “Give me it.” “I have to leave after we’re done though.” Chester knew if he didn’t, eventually she would. “Where are you going to go?” “To the . . .” He looked out the window and saw a duck on the lake. “I’ll be right back. I'm sorry.” Chester ran back downstairs. He knocked on the landlord's door, yelling again. No answer. He walked back upstairs, reluctantly. His fear was back when it became time to peek in. Eventually, after hoping his legs would forget how to climb, he went up and made himself look into the apartment. He didn’t hum. He saw that the walls had been painted black now. Not a green two shades from black, but black. Everything was gone, taken. The walls were empty of photographs and of frames. The piano was gone, the sitting bench was too. And the girl was missing. Of course she was. The window and its view of the park across the street were all that were left. The duck must have left too. Chester went to the middle of the room and shouted for her to come back. What if he had never left when she was pregnant? Then what?

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POETRY^PLACE

Joker: one card, many sides By Elizabeth Gibson and Steven Fortune

Elizabeth: For me the word “joker” has a wide range of different connotations. The first thing that comes to mind is the Joker from Batman, sinister and frightening. Secondly there’s the idea of “joker” meaning one who jokes; ie, a funny person. Then there is the historical side, of court jesters and their role as entertainers. Finally, for many the Joker in a deck of cards can be seen as a talisman, something lucky. In many card games it gives the holder an advantage. So there is the possible idea of magic; of luck. Steven: I was thinking about the Joker theme and one of the things that came to mind was the role of a Court Jester in the old days when kings ruled over people and countries. In the past, court jesters had freedom of speech, which other members of a court rarely had. Then I was thinking about Shakespeare and how many of his most celebrated and intelligent characters were the jesters (King Lear and Twelfth Night were the two examples that came to mind). There's also Falstaff from the King Henry IV plays who wasn't a "royal" figure per se but played the role in Prince Hal's life before he took the role of Henry V... E: I like your points about jesters in Shakespeare. I have studied Spanish Golden Age Theatre; Spanish plays from the same

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period as Shakespeare by playwrights such as Lope de Vega and Tirso de Molina. Most if not all of these plays have a joker figure, usually someone low in society such as a servant or guard but occasionally someone from the upper classes. These characters are figures of fun, acting foolishly and often lightening sad or serious plays. However, they also have a kind of freedom of speech that the other characters had not and can be very anarchic. Sometimes a joker character will say something that at the time would be deeply shocking and controversial, and it is up to the audience to decide whether the character is saying it because they are stupid or uneducated and don’t know any better, or whether the playwright is speaking through them, criticising his society in the only way he could at the time: through a joker. S: On a personal level, I collect playing cards, and one of the things that always intrigues me is how the Joker is portrayed in every deck. They all have distinctive looks, and some - like the one from the Bicycle decks - have a subtle look to them, while others are quite creepy looking. It's also interesting that the Bicycle Joker is wearing a crown... E: The Joker as a playing card symbol is special to me too, because of memories it evokes. I learnt to play a game called “Magic Cards” one beautiful night in Carcassonne, France. I remember being curled on a blanket on the hotel room floor among the friends with whom I was on this college trip, and from whom I was learning to play. We played round after round and bet mini eggs while the night fell over the beautiful ancient city. The Joker was, like in many games, a significant card as it allowed you to “burn the pack”; ie. start the sequence of cards again. We got very animated and would shriek, “Burn!” at the tops of our voices as we slammed our

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Jokers down. So Jokers have that special significance for me; that they bring me back to that amazing night. S: Perhaps there's also a parallel between Jokers and circus clowns, which often scare young children, rather than make them laugh. E: I personally never found clowns scary, but I can imagine how you could with their weirdly painted faces. It links back with the idea of the Joker from Batman, whose painted face in the films is something sinister. I imagine modern clowns probably evolved from the court jester. I think the evolution kind of stopped there: there’s no real modern incarnation of the clown or joker. There are comedians, and variety performers, but no obvious figure in society that combines humour with skills, like a jester would juggle or do acrobatics. Could it be that in today’s world, our society more tolerant and open and with alleged freedom of speech for most people, the joker as a voice for the oppressed is no longer needed? And in places and societies of the other extreme, where there is no freedom of speech, anybody who speaks out is suppressed, even a joker? Or maybe the fact that some societies are freer allows people to take on a joker role more easily, because you don’t have to be a court jester any more to be anarchist and make your voice heard. Maybe anyone can be a joker – entertain people with whatever skill you have, while at the same time making your voice heard. As a poet, I believe my work should first and foremost be for the reader: if it is not designed to entertain or interest them, they’re not going to read it. Secondarily, I often try to put a message in my poems. The key is to get the balance right: weave your message into the poem as much as possible while

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ensuring that everybody will find your poem readable and accessible to, even those who know nothing about your cause. As for being entertaining, that is not essential but can be beneficial as it may get your poem readers that it otherwise wouldn’t have, and the contrast between humour and a serious theme may increase the poem’s impact on somebody and convert them to a cause more readily than a poem that is a solid page of preaching, begging and arguing. So, if you want a poetry challenge, write a poem that’s anarchic, but full of humour and entertainment. Make your words laugh on the page, make your reader laugh but then think seriously about the message of the words in front of them. Write a poem a joker would be proud of.

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The Lighthouse -Jennifer Workman This is where the lighthouse grew, Resurrecting through gently at the snip of dawn, Quenching our grieving thirst to move on, From a ravishing yet rhythmic storm, That shook the sailors anon, And drowned their little blue hearts, One by one they sunk, Like a single ship of its own, And slowly hit the eternal night, To lie forever amongst the sleeping fish, And Ophelia now out of sight with her violet lips, To do as she wishes, As there is no conscience, When flowers have wilted and crumpled to ice.

The poor young boys now at the mercy, Of a brackish corpse, With a few hundred years of unspent love, Mournful, greedy, revengeful too, Any moment she would let the dark eat at their souls, Or maybe some demonic whale would come sweeping through, And let them be nothing but ghostly memories, like her In the velvet pit of the ocean, But you see, they echo back to the living, Like a sirens song yet with clear warning, Do not be a tragic creation,

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Be nothing of the real thunder bellied tide, Or the gritty, tear sodden sand beneath our feet, Be forever mere children, wanting to live, But not knowing what it is, Be it, be it, be it.

But we cannot put our youth in a jar, And pickle its sweetest times, Slice off the bitterness, the sinister crimes Therefore the lighthouse grows, Out of the moist mounds of our childhood, Haunting us through our lives It’s their in our swollen nightmares, our flighty dreams, More in the place where it stings like a deceased kiss, And when we wake to the seagulls bark, Or to the innocent laughter we once remembered, There it will stand forever, Not wanted but needed, glowing, revived, For here we are awake today, you and I, Fought through, back from the dead, With sailors hearts, And Ophelia’s head.

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Mrs. Claus -Beverly Horlacher This weight deceives like ghosts. Shit-like politics. I sleep, wrapped in cream chiffon pulled taut against my ballooning torso. I wake, gasping at diaphanous hands wringing my neck, stiff, after resting on layers of desert sage micro-hairs and poorly constructed nests in my dream states devoid of recourse. My skin feels foreign— sticky and sad. It possesses the gleam of linoleum and I shout at it until it burns the deep red of the Armenian rugs I lay on in lieu of lifting my iron legs. Useless. Useless to love me with all your pretended might and severe kisses. I will always drift off to another packed theater; another liquor-fueled passion with the next passing moon.

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Flesh And Blood -Rex Sexton A loaf of bread, a crown of thorns, to make ends meet I sell my blood. That “bank” is the only one I can make a deposit in since the recession began “Take it all.” I told the blood lady the last time I was there. “I can’t afford to make anymore. The next time you see me I’ll be in a morgue.” The economic recovery is going slowly, they tell me. Just enough jobs are created each month to keep up with the population growth, almost. The young and the useless get first dibs on the starvation wage gigs that provide no benifits. Old hands like me, doomed at fifty-three, can fade from the scene. We’re just walking dead letters which the Republicans hope will never be delivered to Medicare and Social Security. A decade or so without food or shelter or medical attention should eliminate that budget problem. The place in Jersey where I went to sell my kidney got raided the day I was supposed to get my surgery. I need to find another body parts chop shop, and quick. Blood and guts are all I have left.

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The Man -Daniel Kwiatkwoski

R

ichard strolled by the man’s sidewalk home, slowing down, his mind elsewhere, but he never forgot to drop a dollar bill into the coffee stained Dunkin Donuts cup. The men exchanged a nod, revealing the silent comfort between them. For all but that second, these men existed in two different worlds. The man spent his days entranced in a state of observation and anticipation, mornings consumed sitting outside a 38th street office building, counting on the compassion of strangers, who had more than enough to give. His cup gained weight, mostly from spare change, and the occasional dollar bill from a conscience wary executive. While he told the probing donors that he would use the money to shower, eat, and get back on his feet, it always went to the same place. A clever man, he was always told he belonged in sales. At the point where his cup filled with just enough money to top off his grandfather’s stainless steel flask, his days reached their climax with a trip to the liquor store. Richard, a dedicated man, was a young 35 and found that success in the business world came to him easily. Richard was prompt to work everyday, wearing a neatly pressed suit and never giving anyone the impression that he was struggling. He had flown through the ranks rather quickly, and conventional knowledge was that he would wind up in upper management before he even reached 40. Richard tried to take it one day at a time, brushing off everyone’s jokes that some day he’d be their boss, with a modest response.

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He sat at his desk, cold and silent. His mind raced, thinking only the worst. Every couple of minutes Richard would rub his hand down his neck, slowing down as it passed over the lump that had grown two centimeters in the past month. That morning he visited with an oncologist a friend had recommended, finally succumbing to that fact that there was something wrong with him. Richard had put off the doctor’s appointment as long as possible, hoping it was just a lymph node still enlarged as he was getting over a cold. The cold was months ago and the lymph node only continued to grow. The office functioned as normal around him, while he remained a statue at his desk staring at the phone, waiting for the doctor’s call. The phone rang. A rush of anxiety hit him, all of his fears suddenly raced through his head. He remained motionless as the phone continued to ring. His peers’ gentle gazes turned to stares, as Richard, beaded with sweat, willed his hand away from his side to pick up the phone, “Yes this is Richard, what’s the news doctor?” There was a long pause before Richard spoke again. He slouched in his swivel chair, ran his hand through his hair, and loosened his tie, “and how can we fight this?” Another pause. “Do you think my brother could be a match? Can I come with him later today to get tested?” He began to pack up his things and put on his jacket, “Ok doctor we’ll see you then.” Richard slinked out of the building and saw the unshaven man, dressed in rags adjacent to the shopping cart overflowing with his possessions. Richard stood over the man, “How are you doing Jack, I need a favor.”

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Q

uick Decision

-Micha Frazer-Carroll It was my jumper thread unreeling Your fat heart kneading Aorta-slops clumping like Ridged lips tongued, ready Just to parch again Unreeling spools of hours Strung thin on the frays Our cross-hatched chance was like A skin of rain, flaking away below Grubby clouds Leering in.

Placards

- Ndaba Sibanda Placards! Placards! Placards! Go ye to monster-land, leave my motherland! Sellouts and tea-oldies, time up! Fossils are too fat to fit in with time. Companies have closed down, please close shop! Castrate rapists, criminalize fat-cat activities. Save us from Savage Garbage of any age.

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Bath Time Lullaby

- Micha Frazer-Carroll Gush white, metal-mouths And guard the perimeter Of my baptism bed. Dip a toe, a deep-sea diver Into the reef – life strapped in a tank At his waist. Handle the handle and lock the lock Sink up to my face. This is my game. I am the water That kisses the crumpled ridges in my ears Until it dampens silence’s wheeze in a whisper; Ancient liquid secrets. Then come flatten with the blank ceiling hang. Full of air, we rise and bob. My naked marbled jelly-eyes Look down upon my squalor; curled up toothpaste corpses. The water’s navel shrugs my universe Into a hairy rust-void. Glugged. With a plug to bung it like a thumb, Empty tub. You chock the water’s soapy taste, Unchaste suds still remain. Pop the cork again. And the bubbles circle the holy drain, delirious Tribal dancers. Sunk, and gobbled, Gurgled, down a trainless subway tunnel. And I, I stagnate, Salmon flesh, naked and wet And ready to touch the tiles.

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A touch of love through spoken rhymes jk

Interview With Rachel Piercey

Rachel

Piercey is a successful poet who is based in England. She

completed a Masters in Creative Writing and was the winner of the 2008 Newdigate Prize at The University of Oxford. Through Emma Press (a publishing house), Rachel published a pamphlet of love poems called ‘The Flower and the Plough.’ She is currently an editor for the Cadaverine Online Magazine and also conducts workshops on poetry. “Through my involvement with the Emma Press, I have helped with various poetry workshops and also helped edit a couple of anthologies and a single62 author pamphlet”.


Rachel has been writing poetry for as long as she can remember. She was introduced to the love of literature by her parents who would read stories to her as a child. “My parents read and told lots of stories to me as a child, and I loved reading. Writing was a way of processing all those words and trying to do something similar to the writers I admired.” Her first poem was called ‘The Golden Eagle,’ she even recalls making up a tune to go with it and from that day on there was no stopping this gifted poet from expressing the rhythms of her inner soul and writing many more stanzas. Poetry has always been Rachel’s passion and purpose for writing, although having explored other genres in her writing journey; poetry is and still remains to be her first love. This love is also very much the centre of her poetry. “I have always been interested in love poems, ones exploring all aspects of love. It’s a theme most people can share in, it strikes an immediate chord.” “There is something about poetry as a form that seems just right for expressing how you feel about the world-big emotions and events and small everyday happenings and observations. Poetry is very elastic.” When writing a poem, Rachel will generally use any idea that has ignited the flow and has inspired her, together with feelings and observations. “The urge to write sort of bubbles up through all the other layers of life and then I feel a bit edgy until I’ve got something down on paper.” Her words are carefully thought of including the different rhymes that could possibly go with the poem e.g. internal rhymes, half rhymes and full rhymes. “Having thought about the poem for a while, I sense what rhythm and flow of meaning I want, and what words best express that and chime sonically with each other.” For Rachel, writing a poem can take from one hour to a year depending on the poem. She begins by writing her ideas down either in her notebook or as a draft text message, also considering the shape of the poem. She will start with a line or phrase and will

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go over that for a few weeks. When she is ready to sit down and put it all together, sometimes she will have an almost fully constructed poem. “Sometimes it only takes half an hour or so to write a first draft I am happy with. Much more often, though, I draft and redraft over days and weeks, sometimes even months”. Rachel has written hundreds of poems, though she only feels like a small chunk of these are ready to be sent out into the world. She is currently working on about twenty pieces. Her desire is for her audience find a connection with her poems and see that situation or emotion in a slightly different way. Her favourite piece she ever wrote was for her sister called ‘Bath Time’. “I have written a poem for my sister which I am really proud of, because it’s hard writing about someone you know and trying to do justice to even a small part of your relationship with the. I focused on when we were very young and used to have baths together, using the extended metaphor of a seafaring explorer to present our relationship.” Rachel’s breakthrough came when she joined the poetry society at the university. She would attend the weekly readings with established poets, which in part exposed her to various styles and voices of poetry. Rachel was also involved in the weekly workshops with other poets where they would get together and critique each other’s work. “I loved discussing other people's poems, and looking closely at their work which was good training for looking closely at my own. It's harder to be clear-eyed about your own work though, so it was so useful having a group of people who took poetry seriously, and who knew my work and what I was trying to do.” Rachel then went on to publish her book with a friend by the name of ‘Emma Wright’ who did the illustrations for the book and started her own publishing house called ‘Emma Press.’ “We wanted to create a tactile and visually-appealing poetry book with illustrations, which would appeal to traditional poetry book-buyers and those newer to poetry as well”. Since the launch in 2012, the publishing house has increasingly flourished.

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Poetry is an ocean of treasures and everyone who reads it can find some meaning in it and relate to it in some form or another. As Rachel mentioned in the interview, “Samuel Johnson said that”- “The only end of writing is to enable the readers better to enjoy life, or better to endure it.” “I think this perfectly encapsulates the role of poetry in particular.” Rachel’s poetry brings to this world a touch of love through spoken rhymes where the emotions and feelings dance together and touch your soul.

Symbiosis

The Egyptian plover takes for his lover the Nile crocodile. An unlikely pairing, feathers with scales, finicking wade with splayed legs, but she welcomes him wet-eyed and wide-jawed. He hops within and tenderly plucks leeches from her gums, so light on her tongue that each deft step is barely felt as surviving shifts into caress.

He knows from observation the snap of tessellating maw round prey, and once saw his love rip shreds from a giraffe; when he waded out the river ran red. But they share four-chambered hearts which beat in time and he eats at the table of her smile. Rachel Piercey

Interview by Catherine Schythe

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Police Light -Alyssa Black

she said, siege shed, seek and seal the deal fire fight, run I might, first to find or feel high light, hindsight, heavy-hand appeal drownded, dunder-head, dreaded, golden eel

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Lit hp -Fern G. Z. Carr Thpeaking with a lithp can be threthful: converthational thubthanth ith athumed to be thubthandard, not to be take theriouthly – the perthon treated like a toothleth theven year old; it’th worth than having marbleth in your mouth, it’th an entire game of agateth taking plathe. The thpeaker ith too thelf-consciouth to partithipate in public dithcussionth and ith altho thenthitive to perthonal dithcourth – alwayth apprehenthive of antithipating theeth inethcapable exathperating thituationth where a tharcathtic lithener thportth a thlightly thancimoniouth thmile or thnickerth thnidely. Although it’th impothible to know what it’th like to walk a mile in thomeone elth’th shoeth, I’m certainly sincere when I say I sympathize.

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Intimates and Fools Coupling body art and poetry, Intimates and Fools (Les Femmes Folles Books 2014) intimates the complicating pairing of the female form and cultural notions of beauty while playfully seeking to bare and bear such burdens of their weight. Poetry by Laura Madeline Wiseman, body art and illustrations by Sally Deskins. http://www.amazon.com/dp/0615947492/ref=cm_sw_r_f a_dp_q8t0sb18HA8KBEJ1

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He Was Obsessed with His Chair

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-David FLynn

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e was obsessed with his chair. Larry didn’t own one; he saw it in a catalog. Swedish, caramel leather, blonde wood, and it came with an ottoman. Since Larry worked as a gopher in an insurance office he couldn’t afford the $7,000. It came in a catalog, though. He didn’t ask for the catalog, which was all incredibly expensive shit. But it came. He cut out the picture, but not the description or the price. He used pins to put it on the wall above his sofa. Which came with the studio apartment. Everything was nasty. Moldy, dusty, torn. Everything except that picture. He had $10 in his checking account the last week of the month, every month. That was his goal. Below $10 there was a danger he might bounce a check or a debit card payment, and that was so expensive he would starve the next month. Bank charges. After a year with the picture on the wall, he still had $10 in his checking account, or, to be exact, $10.28. His 40th birthday came and went. Nobody noticed, not even his parents in another state. Not even his brother, who was a rich lawyer. He was forgotten. He cried. On his sofa. He took down the picture and held it close to his chest.

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A few days later his supervisor called him into her office. “Larry, the company has decided to cut expenses. I am afraid you’re being let go.” He cried. The job, gopher, was all he had. He didn’t even try to find another job. His last paycheck would last until the end of the month, then what. He called his parents. His mother answered. She sounded cold. “We’ve got things rough too. Can’t help you. Good-by.” She hung up. So Larry decided to rob somebody. His plan, on his sofa, was to get arrested. Then the prison would have to feed him and give him a place to sleep. That was his plan. A gun was easy. He bought the cheapest one the store had, and a box of bullets. The man behind the glass counter said something about lessons and permits, but he didn’t listen. Larry got off the bus with the loaded gun in his pocket. Winter so he didn’t stand out with his face covered and a cap on his head. He walked in the bank. First thing he did was fire a bullet into the ceiling. Second thing he did was demand money. He went running with a paper bag filled with cash. And when he was back in his apartment, he counted the bills. Lots of hundred dollar bills. The amount came to $10,400. He knew exactly what he wanted. After depositing the money in his account, he called the catalog company. The woman on the phone was nice. With shipping and taxes the total for his chair was $7,983. He paid extra for express. The chair would arrive in three days.

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Larry saw himself on the TV that night. The bank cameras had him clear shooting the bullet into the ceiling. Nobody could see his face though, covered as it was. He hugged the picture of the chair to his chest. A week later there was a knock on the door. He didn’t keep it locked. “Come on in,” he shouted in a friendly voice. He had lived in his chair since its arrival. The box and packing material still littered the floor around it. He slept in the chair, he ate in the chair, he didn’t move from the chair. He never thought he would feel anything like the leather. Police crashed through the door, pistols out. The barrels were pointed at Larry. “You’re under arrest,” one said. “Good. Think they’ll let me take my chair to prison?” Larry smiled, in heaven.

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Dear Whoever -John Grey Dear ____________ you are now poem. You live comfortably on a sheet of white paper between sheets of other white paper. Directly beneath you is a trip to the White Mountains with a black bear snuffling berries and five white-tailed deer in a field. Above you is more anguish at the failure of fathers to voice their love. Maybe ten poems atop that is a work that begins, dear father, which explains how he too is just a poem now, like my confession to the bear and the deer, five poems higher. Sometimes, I look at myself in the mirror and think, I'm nothing but the one who writes these things. Dear me, I say.

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At The Movies

-Steve Klepetar Screen crackles, dim silver light. Red boots click down darkened aisle. Popcorn sprays like whale spume and I'm in love with her crimson nails, earrings diving red sharks to her white neckline. We all watch, at the corral fence Billy laughs and blows a hole in someone's arm. Perfume and popcorn, red heels. Gunshots mingle with trampling horses' hooves. She sashays through projector beams, jack-knifes headlong into the movie, trips Billy in the dirt. At her command the horses grunt and stamp, Red horse woman, who taught the Mescalero how to ride and brought red war into the world. Away she leads young psychopaths through red August Arizona, moonscape mesas into

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bloody sun.


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arraine: Have They Come for Us?

-Eugene Goldin Larraine - as in loving rain when in Paris La-Rain - when you are occupied where can we hide? Gray skies push floral colors aside Men speak loudly Are they doing so in anger? This confusion - is not amusing Pluie and shinny spit-shined boots Have they come for us? Larraine – when I call you never seem to answer Le-Raine – are you taking any visitors today? We are each haunted by those we have run away from Their impressions dance in lightning strikes before our eyes. Larraine – we all need to sleep La-Raine – you are so very damn deep Can’t we just play and dream away the night? And forget the lessons that grip us tight? Larraine – La-Raine – Pluie Speak to me Tell me there will be flowering trees Where life is new Let me know – the God in me Is the same As the God in you.

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booksinbrief By Julie Stanley

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rosh’s”‘Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened”, (Touchstone, October 29, 2013) gained notoriety and internet sensation via her blog upon where her anecdotal humor reached millions. Upon first glance, she appears ridiculous as she recalls experiences she has with her very peculiar dogs. With closer inspection, her insight, strength; fortitude, and articulate genius shine through. From the simplest of life’s curious happenings, the nearly unreal circumstances we find ourselves in along with the hilariously funny takes on the most mundane of circumstances, Brosh was quick to deliver her neurotic and insightful perspective. Incorporating her trademark MS Paint comics, Brosh’s enchanting and laugh-out-loud observations of her life mirror what we have all felt at one point or another. Ruthlessly honest, relative to her struggles with depression will leave you with dagger-through-the-chest sympathy (along with the feeling of shadenfreud). Winner of the Goodreads Choice Award for Best Humor Book of the Year, Hyperbole is the greatest most humorous literary masterpiece of the 21st Century.

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rson Scott Card’s classic sci/fi novel “Ender’s Game” (Tor; Author's Definitive Edition, 1994) was recommended to me years ago and it’s regrettable that I hadn’t read it then. Aside from Heinlein’s classics, Card delivers a book with elaborate detail. Ender’s world depicts

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distinctive futuristic governmental involvement in sanctioned births for both population control and procuring children that exhibit a balanced level of genius and emotional response. The government procures these children for a future militaristic operation against the buggers, an alien race who at one point had warred with Earth. This book not only questions the ethics of military operations, but also enlightens the ease with which a government can manipulate its people through paranoia and misinformation. Ender, the genius chosen for battle school, exhibits a level of empathy that is very nearly unmatched by any other student. So much so that toward the end of the book, the reader is left with a feeling of awe at the resolve of Ender who was forced into adulthood as well as the throes of war. Ender is the equivalent to Job or Charlie Brown married to Murphy’s Law; everything is essentially spoiled for him and initiating his evolution into a pariah. I found his character to be not only admirable in his resolve but also horribly depressive. Despite that this is a sci/fi novel that is geared toward YA readers, adult themes run smoothly through it as well to appeal to a wider audience in a timelessness that can be appreciated throughout each time it is read. The individuals who recommended this book to me mentioned that they too have read it more than once. After reading it myself, I can understand why. Whether or not you are a reader of sci/fi, give this one a chance and I assure that you will not be disappointed.

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pposition within previous reviews left me hesitant to read Charles Bukowski’s parting novel “Pulp”, (Ecco; 1st Ecco Ed edition, May 31, 2002). Written as a spoof of the noir PI genre, Bukowski’s main character, Nick Belane, hired by Lady Death (the grim reaper in stillettos) sets off on a search for the French author, Celine. Despite that Celine was more than likely deceased, Belane finds himself on a chase that runs him into characters through three other PI cases. He

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runs into a married couple with Jerry Springer-like drama, a space alien that terrorizes a mortician, all the while searching for The Red Sparrow. Belane is viewed as a bumbling foulmouthed idiot whose lease on life, much like Bukowski’s failing health, was about to expire. Although the dialogue was quick, the reading fast and sometimes hard to follow, the inner workings and philosophies within this piece appear more introspective and self-deprecating for Bukowski as an author. A good read for those who like to collect his work, but certainly not his greatest achievement.

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nitting together verbose language, Francois Voltaire’s popular and highly controversial 1759 satire, “Candide” (W. W. Norton & Company; 2nd edition, March 17, 1991) is both witty and colorful in its analysis of human behavior. This satire, although intended to mock the politics of that time, introduced various atrocities that are disturbingly somber and horrifyingly realistic. What the characters endure from youthful innocence into adulthood puts a rare feather into the work with a quality that is unmatchable in modern literature. However, the philosophies caused me to pause and contemplate upon his mastery of misdirection and metaphor. This work is not one to be read at a glance with the focus on the aesthetics of the words used, rather; deeper analysis into the core meaning is necessary to fully appreciate the work. The main character, Candide, is a naïve youth who through his travels, repeats his mantra of ‘All is for the best’ despite the horror of the circumstances that befalls him and the cast of characters who follow. Through his eyes, we perceive the reality of the genuine darkness that resides within the world and recognize the hope and kindness that sometimes takes a while to recognize. Every word, symbol, and metaphor has an alternate meaning that touches upon the base values of humanity and empathy. Truly a timeless master, Voltaire’s

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brilliance is incomparable and Candide remains one of my favorite literary masterpieces that I highly recommend. “

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oon to Melt” by Poppy Silver (Lulu Independent Publishing Platform, June 1, 2013) is the prodigious work of the modern Renaissance artist, Poppy Ruth Silver. Lead singer of the band, ‘Orbitally Re-Arranged Monotomic Elements’, promoter, artist, photographer, author, and poet; Miss Silver’s passionate and hypnotic collection will soon have you melting within the pages of her prose. Her unique voice transforms everyday vernacular into haunting emotion and imagery. “Disfigured Presence” gave me goose bumps. I must have read that poem a dozen times and the metaphors maintained that influential effect on me every time. Her words are as delicate and as sharp as her name. The authority of emotion distinct within her tone; the intricacy of images paints an elaborate representation of the inner workings of the soul. Provocative in thought and invoking emotive response, Silver’s breathtaking debut collection has me waiting, rather impatiently, for an encore.

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Speeding Up Our Clocks: Is Technology Progressing Too Fast? -Elizabeth S. Hansen Greying clocks within our hearts, Winding down the time As we step up the exponentially evolving ladder. Will we be saved by the glowing technology held in Job’s heart and mind? His bitter success in advancing us further—we run Faster up and past the ladder, our numbers growing ghostly white. We lose sight of the steps as we climb now this superficial mountain of evolution, Our flickering digits have become dependent on atomic sparks and Nature smites us with her flashing fury. We burst—a flash of robotic fire in our hearts and with no primeval ladder to keep our petrified bodies glowing we can but watch as our true evolutionary path is found in the world’s inner pocket —our Lord and King, savior anointed with a winding crown*.

*winding crown: the part used to wind a pocket watch.

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HE THINKS HE’D RATHER STARVE

-Marc Jampole The sidewalk glows a pink wet gray, snow and sirens all day long, every fearful what-could-go-wrong before my eyes, I do not dare to go. The laces on my shoes could break, and tied too tight in places, feet could ache or twist an ankle landing on my side, shank my wrist, shatter watchband. The car may never turn, a smell of burning, timing late, will I wait all day for Triple A? I might forget to raise the door of my garage, graze the shell, or gore it if I floor it. Will a car that’s turning left take my right-of-way, force my car to splay against a snow incline, or brake on ice bar, spin and scrape a bus, shin a jersey barrier, drape a traffic sign. What about a place to park, will I circle round the lot hopelessly till dark, will the shopping cart tack straight or foxtrot lock-wheeled into endcap snacks and sodas, will I recognize the graceless lies on packaging. What if no one runs the service deli, what if no one’s holding numbers, will I accidentally cut in front of someone else, or will some mutton try to butt in front of me. Will my tone be proper with the butcher, what if I don’t like the bones he proffers, if I run across some guy I never want to see again,

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my former boss, my flaunting ex-wife’s lover. If I should pick the longest checkout line, red-necked sicky hacking loudly next to me behind a fur-lined tart with overflowing cart, will some purblind darter skid and thwack my knee.

Will the checker chatter to her friend, slow things down, would frown or batting eyes entice a roughneck confrontation, will the package price be different from the screen, can’t be mean, what if I can’t find the service desk. Returning home through rain, airheads turning left without a signal, running reds, slide from lane to lane, dash insanely through the stops, crash my driver’s side, how long until the churning jaws of life will rescue me. Maybe I should grab a cab but will he even find my street if he never shows, I’ll wait in feet of snow all day will the nipper try to go a longer way to rip me off, and if he blabbers something hateful, tasteless, racist, will it lead to confrontation, my retaliation: tiny tip, not a peep, two days later, ripped, cerrated, broken windows of my house, duck from stones thrown yoked to paper: fuck you cheap skate, fuck you louse, unleash a pack of dholes to hack apart my living room, attack me in an alley, bash my brain, doomed to bleed to death, position moles to spy on me, report my sins, accused of greed and torts, I confess, assorted pain begins. The sidewalk glows a pink wet gray, snow and sirens all day long, every fearful what-could-go-wrong before my eyes, I do not dare to go.

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“Creator” and “Lies” -Alex Webb i. (In the beginning) Your voice is bubbling up, racing past the crystals and breaking the smooth surface. (Some would say that was your biggest mistake). And oh, how you multiplied different colours and forms and they loved every one. They all tell stories; facts and myths, misleading or knowledge. Controversy dripping off you all as they shot their darts and swung their nets. Forces opposing the nature they embrace. ii. (That of man) 'Creation created by crea..' no, you must be silent let the sceptics shout. Toxic whispers burn you up. Wailing as they burst your tales with their heart-warming (blanket)/(statements) and ignorant wisdoms. They can’t, so you can’t, your words are dust. "Don’t try set yourself up for a fall.” iii. (That of ‘It’) 'Creation created by crea..' gotcha!, you’re mine.

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There’s a cage perfect for you. I’ll keep you, I’m your solemn protector; your ambassador, your servant. Let the non-believers non-believe condemnation suits some. You’re my everything, I won’t let you down. iv. (Crossfire) We looked at them, fighting over your voices. Lost in semantics; the metaphorical and the literal, Protecting. Imprisoning. All they wanted was to bubble up up and up and up…

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Autumn Song -Peter (Ho Cheung) Lee “Some tea for you, John?� Uncle smiles, and watches the movement. Aunt Sau-ling giggles throughout with wives of others in the fleeting evening. Her laughter a narrative between time zones. Banquets are still my current childhood. Poh-Poh. She lives to see much of the future. Noise and nuisance and all. It comes like rain, when the fire-cracker blasting from the green tiles gets trapped in my skull. Wrinkled hands in overlapping circles. Three guests away, I would not recall Aunt Choi-har if not for her nail-painting with henna petals. Her mother had asked this school girl to wait for the red to blossom. And there is the old crystal tune after the viscous shark's fin soup. The elder in ecstasy, and hopes this never ends. Our sheer presence is easily her best gift and triumph. Down the lane somewhere, a young fellow at the round table tickles himself with an arbitrary imagination

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over a weathered man in black suit, for his misty past that shaped him into the being appears in another long-waited jamboree for the next elder. Is he, then, an overseas uncle, a fragment of a child’s recollection, or simply a ghostly gaunt guest?

And I leave with the girl before closure. Another October.

Angry Poetry -Audrey Haney

Never type a poem when you are angry You tend to type without a care. I hit DELETE rather abruptly and it flew right into the air. I have lost an A down the sofa The ENTER went out of the door I lost the F and G in a hurry and my Y has flung into a drawer. It is hard enough with no BACKSPACE no idea what has happened to B I happen to find the @ button it had sloshed into my cup of tea.

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Around The Turkish Tiles -Nadia Farah Mokdad Out of a black iron-wrought clock, the hour hands have jumped and grabbed at what they thought was a child’s paradise, the illusory air turned into a spongy, hostile jungle where toy trains run only at night and the passengers are ghosts of the past. It’s a city on the cliffs of painted seas and skies ruled by a queen with a rocket heart – they call her Mad Michelle, with the spoiled cherry irises. She sleeps with brown stones beneath her mattress. When the jester has finished his act, she paces about the blue Turkish tiles and whisks her whip of broken jellybean hearts. I wish I were a child so my mind would think it easy to hide it all away, in the trunk at the foot of the bed.

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Face Map

Around the Turkish tiles

-Nadia Farah Mokdad

Out of a black iron-wrought clock, the hour hands have jumped and grabbed at what they thought was a child’s paradise, the illusory air turned into a spongy, hostile jungle You tipat ofnight my tongue, where toyrolled trainsoff runthe only and the passengers are couldn’t twist it fast enough to keep you back, ghosts of the Ipast. the sides of it curled up in a tunnel, youcliffs stumbled through like you It’s a city on the of painted seasit and skiesdid in the spongy caves of ancient Greece, ruled by a queen with a rocket heart – where the sea-storm pushed uscherry together. they call her Mad Michelle, with the spoiled irises. She sleeps with brown stones beneath her mattress. An encounter like a drifting tectonic plate, I lost balance of you, When the jester has finishedbecause his act, she paces about the blue Turkish tiles my eardrums – tambourines in an ocean’s backyard, your jumps like vibrations from and whisks her whip of broken jellybean hearts. drum sticks, I wish I were aheavy-headed child so my mind would think it easy an oldinmulatto atat the party hut to hide it all away, the trunk the footby of the fisherman’s bed. thrashed the rhythms of our future on his worn-out tribal drums. When my ethnic earrings dangled I felt you jumping between silver-plated lianas brass beads hanging, old and cracking was I, but you were young and swam against the stream, up my seaweed swamped ear canal, jumped with no parachute to hide treasures in my gaze. I didn’t know underneath which eyelid to look for you first, my left eye quivered, iris of burnt brass, coarse a tear of cocoanut water slithered down, I pressed you flat with my finger a smudge like a glittery ocean I didn’t know if you had set sail on.

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Stand-Up Poet -Mary E. Delabruere Would that humor be poetryelicit a laugh and Walla! Publishers with contracts in hand pouring in the windows, obsequious as new puppies peeing on the floor with delight, dancing on their hind legs to freshly written pearls of verse. If only to make them chortle meant that words would be typeset, permanently pressed on bound white pages! Mounds of rejection letters mean I’m funn-neee – maybe not po-et-ic, but apparently downright amusingwith submissions eliciting sniggers – “HA- she thinks she’s good… HUMPH! She’s NOT so aesthetic. No, she’s NOT POETIC! so she’s NOT to be published Imagine her thinking she could!”

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The Way Back Machine -Eric Lawson “Get out the way, white boy!” I had just enough time to turn my head towards the shouted words and take a cautious step back as a bathtub on wheels went careening past me. I snapped my neck in the direction of the bathtub as it lost balance and made a soft, if graceless, crash landing in a patch of grass down the street. I looked back in the opposite direction just to make sure that this one wasn’t part of a mobile bathtub convey. The coast was clear. I then walked over to the crash site. “You guys all right?” I asked to the first face that looked up at me. “Yeah, we cool,” said the first of three boys that climbed out of the bathtub. They all had bike hats on and weird tinfoil symbols on their chests. They didn’t seem to be hurt. “You were going pretty fast there.” I knew I was coming off as the dorky, concerned adult, so I decided to see if I could help. “Is this a homemade racecar for a school project?” This made the one boy wearing glasses crack up. “Man, you about as dumb as you look, white boy. It’s August. Ain’t no school project.” The second boy, wearing the most neon yellow bike helmet I’d ever seen, laughed at his friend’s joke. “Yeah, man. And this ain’t no racecar. It’s a goddamn bathtub. I mean, duh…” All three boys laughed at this. I soon realized that they were all under ten years old and their parents were nowhere in sight. God only knows how they had been running the contraption up and down the street.

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I was growing weary of the shenanigans. I decided to take a wild guess. “Yeah. Fine. Great. Super. So what the hell is it then, a time machine?” All three boys immediately stopped laughing. “How’d you know that?” Yellow Helmet gaped. “Oh, I think I know a time machine when I see one,” I offered evenly. “I’ve built a few in my time.” “Bullshit, white boy,” Glasses shot back. “You ain’t built nothin’. And besides, we call it a way back machine. It sounds more dope, you feel me?” I nodded for sheer lack of having no idea of what the hell to say. The third boy with the biggest tinfoil trapezoid on his chest stepped towards me. “So how should we fix it then, genius?” I surveyed the damage. “Help me lift it back up.” We set the bathtub back on its flimsy wheels. I kicked the right front wheel so it was straight and wouldn’t veer off to the right again. I turned to face them and took a deep breath. “Okay, here’s what we need: a blender, a flashlight, and a fan. I wait here. You guys go and get what we need. Oh, and a roll of duct tape, a Sharpie, and a screwdriver. Let’s go!” I clapped my hands, and seconds later, they were running down the street. I had enough time to catch my breath. I considered that they might not come back or maybe even tell one of their parents that I screamed at them. But less than five minutes later, they were all back in front of me, items in hand. “This shit better work,” Glasses warned. “My Mama’s gonna draw blood if she wake up from her nap and all her stuff is gone.” I blinked incredulously. “Then let’s get to work.” Ten minutes later, I had the face of the fan removed and had it duct taped to the back of the tub. I taped the blender to the front of the tub and taped the flashlight loosely inside of it. I used the Sharpie and wrote U.S.S. Way Back Machine on the side of the tub.

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“It looks retarded,” offered Yellow Helmet. “What’s that shit for anyway?” I pointed at the fan. “That is for guidance and wind resistance.” I pointed at the blender. “That is a reflector so people and cars can see you coming.” I pointed at the flashlight. “Really? That is so you can see where you’re going. Make sense?” The boys nodded but said nothing. “Okay, climb in, guys. We’re losing light.” I helped them all climb inside. Trapezoid glared up at me from the back of the tub. “Thanks for your help and all. But how is all this garbage gonna make us go back in time?” I heard myself say: “Just watch.” I put my hands on the back of the tub. “All right, boys. Heads down.” I pushed with all my weight and the tub moved forward. Five feet later and I was moving at a pretty good clip. Twenty feet later and I let go. The tub was easily moving at twice the speed as when it whizzed past me earlier. I heard the boys cheering and laughing. Their euphoria lasted maybe a full two minutes before the right front wheel buckled, flew off, and the tub crashed into a nearby tree, spilling all three boys onto the grass. Knowing I had maybe a few minutes for my plan to work, I raced back up my driveway; flung open my front door, pulled open my dresser drawer, changed tee shirts, and raced back down the street. Glasses was the first one to stand and he was walking around in a tight circle in a daze. I ran up to him and waved my hands in his face. “Are you okay?” He looked up at me and said “Did it work?” “Did what work?” I helped Trapezoid to his feet. “You boys should be more careful on your bikes.” Yellow Helmet pulled at my shirt. “Man, we don’t have no bikes. We were in the The Way Back Machine. You know. You helped us make it, fool.”

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I crossed my arms. “I have no idea what you’re talking about, young man. I heard the crash and came running to help. I’ve never seen any of you before. You all seem okay. I suggest you pick up your mess and go home before you worry your parents.” I took out my cell phone, pretended to dial a number, and slowly walked away. Behind me, Trapezoid muttered “Hey, man. Wasn’t that dude wearing a green shirt before?” “Yeah, he was,” Glasses chimed in. “It was like he didn’t know who we were,” Yellow Helmet added. “Do you guys think—?” “It worked! We went back in time!” they all cheered. I strolled up my driveway and smiled to myself. I pulled off my new/old tee shirt and headed for the fridge. I decided that I’d earned some iced tea. Time travel was hard work.

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Arturus -Clio All of them are embryonic", I said. As if that's a word. As if it has an essence of it's own. Where's my cigarrette?, Where's Mary? " I'm timeless, try to suck me dry, shut me up, grab a potion will you,turn up the music I can't breathe. Excellence is my will, and loyalty is a dream, Her way- a truculent surprise. I'm a writer, but not even consisted of grammatory. Metafisica at it's finest. Not even precarious. Never was uncertain of anything except birth. Writing: "There was abuse, black outs (I don't remember), seizures( I thought the white coma was a new coming), asthma attacks, queen bulimia, sun tapestry, a thousand beetles for when I slayed a worm, then one monster caught me in a red glass. Mother Star, at the foot of his bedding. I'm psychotic. Prismatic. Long-Haired. Hyphened and Humanated. Acute. My kind is Arturus. We feel too much. Dead and gone. This life a tale. Just a wishing of a memoir, I'm

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a messenger for the skies , you see " No I don't see" , she said. " As if you have a heart, a lung, a conscience, a soul darling rationale;As if you understand EXACTLY what I'm saying". Bring the flood, my element of disintegration. The papers stretch and spread. Just yesterday I was scared to die, but there's no reason, I've seen the end to a lot of things and yet my love still suffers for us all . "He's not even human", she said. " He knows that". The guests leave and I'm just a chandelier away from the light. Truly, now I see. All is embryonic. And not a care in the worlds.

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Photograph by Rob Healy

Interview with Rick Hudson by Fiction Editor Elizabeth Gibson Rick Hudson writes literary fiction and horror, and sometimes his work combines the two. Elizabeth speaks to him about his writing life, his influences and his plans for the future.

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EG: Hello, Rick! What inspired you to start writing? RH: I fell in love with literature when I was very young. And have read and written as long as I remember. I can't remember not doing so. It has been the great passion of my life and I can't imagine not doing it. I devoured all kinds of things as a child: children's books, classic literature, Marvel Comics, everything. EG: Why did you choose to write literary fiction/horror/both? RH: I first started writing professionally just before I left school. Then my fiction was divided distinctly into two camps: popular horror fiction and quirky experimental literary fiction. I guess my literary fiction was/is somewhere in the realm of Martin Amis, Chuck Palahniuk and William Burroughs. My master-plan was to earn money writing popular fiction for magazines whilst I built up my reputation as a more 'literary' author. I chose horror as a genre to work in because at that time – the mid 1980s – the only magazines accepting fiction and paying a professional rate were the horror magazines. I was pretty much ignored by the UK literary world and focused my attention on America and Europe: places which, as far as I can see, are more meritocratic and open to genuine experimentation rather than following fads and fashions like the UK literary world does. Over time my two writing worlds drifted together and from about 1999 onwards I was writing material that was located in some strange liminal territory between the two, between horror and literature I mean. Now I would place myself between Thomas Ligotti and Chuck Palahniuk, with a bit of Franz Kafka, William Burroughs and Jorge Luis Borges thrown in. EG: How did you get your big break writing-wise? RH: I was originally successful in developing my career for two reasons. Firstly, I loved literature and developed my own unique style through absorbing numerous influences and working hard on my craft. Secondly – and this will sound boring – hard work and tenacity. No one gave me any breaks, no one did me any favours. I succeeded because I worked hard, pressed and pressed and never gave up. I never blamed anyone or anything for the moments when I failed or struggled; all I did was work harder. However, one thing that happened that was of great value to me was having a story published back in 2005 in the Birmingham-based

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magazine Horror Express. From then I developed a great working relationship with its editor, Marc Shemmans. Marc liked and admired my work and had great faith in it, and I liked and admired Marc's Horror Express project. I also admired Marc's grit, determination and aptitude for hard work. We've worked on a number of things together: it was Marc's company that published my novel in 2012, and now that Horror Express has evolved from a magazine into a series of paperback anthologies I've seen my fiction in every one bar one. It's due to this working relationship that I now see my work published alongside fiction by Clive Barker; John Carpenter; Shaun Hutson; Bentley Little; Guy N Smith and other known writers. EG: You've lived most of your life in Manchester; do you feel the city has influenced your work or your style of writing? RH: Hmmmm …. tricky one. It's very difficult to answer this one without lapsing into the whole North/South thing and I find that very infantile. Let me see... yes, it has in that it is one of the world's leading intellectual, cultural and creative cities. It is a hive of innovation on a massive scale – its contribution to science, the arts and culture cannot be overestimated and is often underestimated radically. You can't live here and not soak that stuff up. On the other-hand it has been a limitation to my career, in that in the 1980s the Manchester literary world was very hung up on particular things and perspectives. That's the principal reason I looked to, and found success in, New York, Paris, Berlin, Amsterdam and Helsinki. Also – and I know this is going to sound a bit professionally Northern – when you approach the London-based media/literary industry they do want and expect you to conform to particular stereotypes and write about particular things, and they don't welcome you or your work if that's not the sort of thing you’re doing. BUT, I need to stress, that situation is exasperated by many Manchester/Northern writers who play up to that stuff. To return to your question. Yes and no. Yes, in that there are definite cultural influences. No, in that it has to a point limited my writing career. But then I have probably reacted against those hindrances and been more determined to succeed doing what I want rather than obey orders or conform to expectations. EG: What is your proudest achievement?

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RH: In terms of published work, my novel – Shrapnel – is by far the piece of work I am proudest of. I think I've struck a good balance between engaging in a sophisticated manner with quite serious issues like good and evil, madness, masculinity, identity, sanity and so on, whilst at the same time managed to keep the pace going and the reader interested, amused, disturbed as they go. Nevertheless, lurking in the background right now is my next novel – that I am VERY proud of. I think it's much better than Shrapnel in many ways. But I'm not going to say anything more about it at the moment. EG: Do you have any advice for young writers for getting their work out there and their voices heard? RH: Yes. 1. Read. 2. Write. 3. Accept this harsh truth: NO ONE OWES YOU THEIR TIME. No one has a duty or responsibility to pay your writing any attention whatsoever. Whether you see yourself as a popular writer or a literary writer it is your responsibility to interest readers, not their responsibility to be interested in you. You must win them, you must seduce them, you must make them fall in love with you. They must want more of you, they must crave and desire your work. Your writing style is your tool of seduction - your aptitude with words is how you allure and bewitch your readers. Develop this and they will ache for your work: they will beg you to break their hearts, terrify them, shock them, disturb them and put them through your own particular mill of emotional turmoil. EG: What are your plans and hopes for the future? RH: I'm preparing my next novel for publication and am looking forward to seeing my next novel in print. I'm working on more short stories and a number of novels. One area I would like to develop more is writing for game design. I've done a fair bit in the past and I'm trying to get more work in that field.

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Pajama-ed

-Mary E. Delabruere Patty’s mind saves her pajamas for days when life is laden with thoughts too deep to rise. Shy of attention, nestled in inward flannel, they tightly curl in the knowledge that, like her, there’s no need to dress. Truth seems easier to bear in buttoned down cotton on a Saturday morning with all that’s really needed -a strong cup of cocoa and a foot stool for worry.

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Grass Whisper -Marius Surleac a night with crickets I imagine as they could tear my bones apart with every scratch the leg twirl up the air we breathe in herd for generations that will come the crickets’ sound shall be serene the noise an average will follow in resonance the beat that heart could feel like reaper poles within a circle or a pentagram tattooed on skulls the pile that sits beneath the thread of life smoked pot in nests of butterflies gone wild

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Fleeing

-Christopher Barnes

Fleance, the hippodrome flea, But through his five-spun leash Casting-off a world map No more muckle than a cigar box. A turnstile’s deadlocked. His eye-strained gallery gods go un-merry made Bu tom-tit chariots, Wiry legs flickering itsy-witsy balls. Up at Sotheby’s Ringmaster flogs The matchbox of dashing hollow hand-me-downs.

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Slipping Through the Cracks -Lynda Bullerwell I threw a dollar in the hat but it was so much more than that. There was heart; There was blues slipping through every sidewalk crack, beautiful chords flowing from worn out sneakers and fingers worn to the bone, still strumming to a chorus only old souls can hear.

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Trespassing on a Friday Night -Ian Sands

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n our way home from a restaurant downtown on Friday around 9:30 p.m., my wife and I heard an amped-up acoustic guitar, slicing and moaning and begging us over to the trailer park across the street from our apartments. We weren’t sure we wanted to go through with it, but it was as if we had no choice, like our legs and arms and muscles and nervous system were conspiring to deliver us against any and all objections. We approached a silver retro trailer with blue trim very gingerly, cloaking our movements in the more emphatic guitar phrases. Soon we were walking around the front to the back, where we found a man in a red and black flannel coat with ratty blue jeans and long chestnut brown hair pulled back into a ponytail. He was plucking and shaking out musical notes from a silver bottleneck guitar, and in front of him sat a pair of empty green lawn chairs beside each other on a patch of lawn. We began by merely standing ten feet or so from the man while bobbing our heads but eventually settled into those chairs -- and as we did so, looking for some disapproval from the guitar player who’s backyard we had just entered without invitation. When his song ended, he gave no indication of discomfort, only smiled shyly and launched into “Come On In My Kitchen.” I imagined it a joke he was trying to make as I put my arm around my wife -- finally relaxing some. With that tune finished, he introduced himself as Rich, asked us for requests and chuckled a bit hearing himself utter such a question. Rachel, my wife, said “anything by Patty Griffin.” Rich didn't know how to play her stuff, but he had her on the boom box, and went to get it, disappearing into the trailer for a few

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minutes. When he returned, we all listened to “Heavenly Day,” and one other I didn’t know. Then Rich’s friend Linda came by, and he dragged out a drum set from the other end of his property, and a long dormant bass for Rachel. We all laughed when there was nothing for me but a cowbell. Linda, our singer, got to her first chorus when a very puttogether silver-haired couple wandered in and sat down to listen -- because you can't very well make introductions in the middle of a song. It wasn’t until we had polished off two more full tunes that Rich introduced us to his parents Kathy and Ronald who came every Friday. “They’re the reason why I set out the chairs in the first place.”

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Native I Am, Cocopa - Michael Lee Johnson I am mother proud of the greatest events that fade before me. I dig earthworms and farm dirt from my fingertips and grab native Baja & Southwestern California soil & desert sand wedged between my spaced teeth. My numbers or few or is it only me a useless decay, dentures lost in desert sand? I gain no respect. I once drank a Budweiser beer out of the keg in St. Louis, Missouri just to make sure I was born on north American soil. In my heart digs many memories and 41 relatives left in 1937. I see praise & prayers from native Gods. I am Cocopa of Yuman family and extent into the mouth of many Colorado rivers and mountains. Mist is my memories. I survive on corn, melons, pumpkins and mesquite beansadd a few grass seeds, a hint of red wine, burial roots of history faded on parchment.

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TiMe TuNNeL -Ricky Garni

I like when you tell me you’re a midwife on the lawn where the dogs run away like Egyptian pharaohs.

There are two minutes of sun left to drink the earth. The clocks are counting backwards, slightly.

I would like to be born this time if you can possibly help.

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Sol -Nikhil Amarnath By the fireside in the darkness unyielding The cold flames like tendrils lick’d the night Oh, the seemingly undying Night was called to battle. Around the embers, blackness itself sat wielding The element of Wind, which it called forth to fight A gale from the sea, which made the fire shiver and crackle. But the tongues of burning heat with a fury did return! Larger it grew, as the breeze pushed it onward More did it set ablaze from the original glowing embers The tiny leaves stood no chance, ‘til blackened did they burn The mighty tongues of flame remained undeterr’d As they ate through everything, chewed through blackened timbers The night howled with fury, pale blue gleamed its one eye Ever watching was the Moon in the sky. The night grew enraged Its next weapon was drawn forth to counter the inferno Slowly the waters of the sea rose, they rose high The tide grew larger as the fury of the night aged The wrath of the sea flung onward in a crescendo. But alas! Naught was extinguished by the salty sea The brine swelled back and forth incapable of murder As the fire escaped its slimy jaws and fled forth Consuming more food of its taste inland, tree by tree

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Refusing to back down to the night, never to surrender Provoked, the proud night was forced to swear an oath. To end this savage madness, this blasphemy It called forth its greatest aides and generals The dark rain clouds were brought forth to end the fire Torrential rain and gale were their weaponry Yet still they were in vain to bring fire to its funeral For, from their very ranks, they were betrayed by a power higher. The lightning had struck! the thunder crashed and boomed The traitor had boosted the ranks of the tongues of flame The tops of the trees flashed red and up rose plumes of smoke The night was lit, the forest was perilously doomed Never quenched, the tongues of fire came and came As the trees were reduced to ash like residue of coke. And the fire enjoyed the last laugh, for it had yet to call Its greatest ally, the greatest high power, the foe One mortally oppressed to the night, as they ever engaged In epic battle, but neither ever conclusively did fall But ever so often, it began on the horizon so low The biggest ball of fire, from its fall, enraged Rose again in the morn.

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How to Name a Cat -Alyce Wilson 1. Scientific Method Study footpads hoist the tail measure whiskers compare aspect ratios check math twice resolve numeric code into alphabetical formula. 2. Artistic Method Fill bowl with food coloring place near blank canvas. The image your cat creates will suggest its name. 3. Musical Method Play music for your cat. Name her after the song that makes her purr or yowl. 4. Random Sampling Method Write names on cards. Place them on a bed. The cat will lie down on its name. Margin of error: +/- 2. 5. Shamanistic Method Place your cat on your pillow and dream your cat's name.

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6. Telepathic Method Gaze deep into your cat's eyes and ask its name. Listen.


For Lack of a Wheelbarrow -Alyce Wilson Today, red follows me: rides a lawn mower, cruises a chopper, rolls a bicycle, flicks its taillights. Red sips from broken cups, eats on paper plates. Plants tulip beds with cedar chips, pinwheels with white centers. Red waves an American flag, hangs Christmas lights out of season. Red delivers the mail, directs traffic, puts out fires, makes spaghetti. Red calls my cell phone. It tells me of Herr's snack food and SEPTA buses. It says, "Watch your step." And "Thank you for shopping." Red wears loose shorts and a T-shirt, tucked into itself, topped with a Phillies hat. Red plays jump rope. Builds a brick church and opens the doors. Red sprays its name on a wall, to claim it all. So much depends upon red.

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The Bracelet - Lela Marie De La Garza "Go. Away. " Crystal's voice was very tired, but very definite. "Pete hovered above her, uncertainly. "I thought…maybe…" Crystal shuddered. "Go. Away." The words popped like two whips, and she rolled over on her side. Pete did the only thing he could. He went away. If that's what she wants… he thought resentfully. But he knew it wasn't. Neither of them had considered something like this happening. They'd planned so carefully--how could everything have gone so wrong? Calmly, rationally, Pete and Crystal had discussed the necessity of taking their relationship "to the next level". Neither was ready for marriage, but both felt the need for a deeper commitment. They would not--as did so many of their friends--rush into it, gulping in haste what should be enjoyed at leisure. The consummation of their love would be a beautiful, memorable experience. They spoke openly and honestly of their needs; they decided what, where and when--all in advance. On the Internet, they discovered a rustic lodge in the little town of Camelot. "It's perfect!" they said together. The name charmed them. Pete took a day off from school, and Crystal took half a day off work, and they drove the short distance to Camelot on a Friday afternoon. This would be the perfect weekend, spent in the perfect place, to commemorate the specialness of their union. Not for Pete and Crystal the rash leap into passion's fire, only to retreat, blistered and burned, puzzled that joy didn't last. They would enter it as a temple, honoring They congratulated themselves on their insight and maturity. Pete was nineteen. Crystal was a month short of twenty. There wasn't much traffic, and the drive was easy, and they arrived in Camelot a little earlier than planned. The little cabin they'd rented wasn't quite ready yet. A flaw in the perfection of their plans, but a slight one. Pete and Crystal decided to explore the town. Another disappointment. The consciously and carefully picturesque buildings were stocked, basically, with the same merchandise: "Native" crafts from other countries; tourist-tacky, overpriced souvenirs.

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They were getting a little depressed, and decided food was the answer. It wasn’t. The “Knights’ Inn”, a fast food restaurant trying to look like a medieval hostel, served them leathery hamburgers on stale buns. But it was finally time to go back to the lodge, and their spirits rose. Their room was shabby; its ceiling spotted with mold. The air seemed damp and smelled slightly sour. Yes, charm was rapidly fading, but Pete and Crystal decided they could rise above their surroundings. Their love was stronger than shabbiness. Crystal had bought a new nightgown for this night of dreams come true. It wasn't ruffled or foaming with lace or even ultra-sheer, just simply and beautifully cut, for this beautiful time of new love. Crystal's hair curled over the pillow. Pete bent to kiss her gently, then took her in his arms. Joyously, Crystal returned his embrace. And then-And then-If the afternoon had been a disappointment, the night was a disaster. Taking no chances, Pete had read a book. Crystal had read a book. They had read a third one together. Knowledge, they felt, could only enhance passion and romance. Spontaneity was too risky. Words printed on a page were not adequate preparation for reality. One chapter had mentioned that the first-time experience was often a failure--but Pete and Crystal were certain such failure was impossible for them. So certain were they, that it was shock and tragedy when, by mutual and unspoken consent, both admitted defeat, rolled away from each other, and pretended sleep. After awhile, because they were very young and very tired, the pretense became reality.. He woke before she did, and the sight of Crystal's pretty, sleeping face roused Pete to tenderness. He stroked a curl and tentatively put his lips to hers. That's when Crystal told him, quite decisively, to go away. Pete walked into the little town, trying to decide what to do. Obviously, Crystal didn't want to try any more, and he guessed that was all right

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with him. He could try to be philosophical. If the relationship didn’t work, it didn’t work--and it was good they found it out now. It was early, and the shops were closed--but he saw one they hadn’t noticed yesterday. Its door stood open, and with a shrug--there wasn’t anything else to do--Pete went inside. This shop was different. There was a look, a feel, a smell of genuineness. Pete couldn’t be sure quite what it sold--not tourist trinkets; he realized that--but he wasn’t able to focus on any one thing. There seemed to be tall metal vases and swords and marble sculptures. But when he looked directly at any of them, they seemed to blur and move. A tray on the counter held jewelry, and one piece, a bracelet, suddenly became dazzlingly clear-as if that was the one thing Pete was meant to see. He took a closer look. This was not cheap costume jewelry. The workmanship was exquisite. Filigrees of silver and gold intertwined in mesh as fine as cobweb. Blue stones circled it; dark turquoise maybe-Pete wasn’t that familiar with gems. But he knew they matched Crystal’s eyes. “Eighteen dollars.” Pete looked up. The proprietor was standing in the shadows, not quite visible. He didn’t step forward but reached out and pushed the bracelet off the tray and on to the counter. Pete was already pulling out his billfold. Eighteen dollars! He’d have thought it was worth hundreds… Suddenly Pete was standing on the sidewalk, a box in his hand, the bracelet bought. He shook his head. That was probably the fastest transaction he’d ever made… And he still didn’t know the name of the shop; he’d never once really seen the owner… Pete was already a couple of blocks away when he turned to look back--he might want to come here again--and the shop was gone… Oh it wasn’t gone, of course; the building was small, and there were so many others around--and never mind that now anyway. It was time to go back to the motel and decide--whatever had to be decided now. This bracelet was probably a good-by gift--to Crystal and to love. Crystal lay still, eyes, closed, for a little while after the door closed behind Pete. She knew there was no possibility of further sleep. But she was unwilling, just yet, to face the day--this day that should have been the happiest of her life… But it wasn’t Crystal’s way to put things off for long. She pulled herself up and out of bed, dressed hastily, and began packing. As an afterthought, she packed for Pete too. There was nothing to be gained by staying here--surely Pete would agree with that. The best thing either of them could do was put this whole fiasco behind them. And try--if they could--to get over the shame of a love that hadn’t been strong enough. Angrily, Crystal brushed tears from her face. What use was crying now? If--

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The door opened softly, and Pete stepped inside. Crystal turned to face him, not noticing the box in his hand. They looked at each other for a long time, neither of them wanting to speak first. Then they started at the same time. “Do you--” “”Is this--” “Are we--” “Should I--” Then, of course, they stopped and just looked at each other--again. Pete shrugged and held the bag out. “Here.” Crystal opened it with indifference, a little reluctantly--she didn’t want a gift. Then gasped as she held it to the light. “It’s beautiful! Where did you--! “There was a little shop we didn’t see yesterday. The bracelet seemed to jump out at me. I don’t know why…” Crystal handed it to Pete and extended her arm. Pete had a little trouble with the old fashioned fastening, but finally he had it clasped on her wrist. The tinkle of a bell--something between silver and china--sounded. Pete and Crystal grabbed hands and held tightly as their shabby surroundings disappeared, and they stood in a vast ballroom. Rich, exquisitely colored hangings covered the walls. The floor was polished marble, under a high-arched ceiling that seemed to glisten with stars. Light came from torches flaring in each corner, and candles flickered from elaborate sconces placed around the room. Music started: a gay, lilting tune neither of them recognized. Nor the instrument that played it. The other couples began to dance. Pete and Crystal danced along with them, not surprised that they both knew, somehow, the intricate, measured steps. The women wore billowing silks and satins, embroidered and jeweled. All of them were lovely, but none as beautiful as Crystal. Her glittering gown seemed made of cobwebs and moonbeams, with its flowing sleeves and train looped over one arm. Her high swept hair was laced with pearls. Pete was outfitted in black velvet, gold lined, with ruffles at collar and cuffs. Neither of them would ever have chosen or worn such clothes. But, like the dance steps, these costumes seemed right and natural. They curtsied, bowed, touched hands, turned and crossed. Pete looked at Crystal. I love her, he realized. I thought I did before, but now I know… Crystal looked at Pete. This is eternal, she said to herself. What were we thinking of before, with all our logic and planning…? The dance ended, and so did the vision--if, after all, it was just a vision… Pete and Crystal stood on a worn carpet in a shabby motel room. Faded curtains hung listlessly at slightly smeary windows. There was a faint smell of mold in the air, a few greenish spots on the ceiling. Nothing had changed. Everything had changed.

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Bewildered, they looked around the room…then at each other. Then they laughed. Laughed in pure delight; laughed because they were so much in love. Laughed (most especially) at the young couple who had come here with their carefully thought-out plan for making a dream come true. The dream they’d never thought to dream had come true… So much truer than planning could have made it. They looked around the room, and then they looked at the bed (Crystal had made it up neatly enough, but there were spots on the threadbare coverlet; something rumpled and sleazy about it). Then laughed again, and Pete picked up the suitcases, and Crystal opened the door. They left and never came back. Pete thought once or twice of returning to Camelot just to visit that little shop. But he didn’t. He suspected, somehow, that he wouldn’t be able to find it. Maybe he was right. Little shops appear, and little shops disappear. Sometimes they hold magical gifts…

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oem

-Rowland Bagnall happy as a wave on the sea, Rosso cries blood– ‘which bitch switched switch?’ Inasmuch asIwant to love you, they followed me home and took my telly. Three women. Sixteen feet in total. And should the moon wish to lend a hand, I could use it. but now at least our thoughts at least are ours.

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Elvis has Left the Building -P.C. Vandall I was four days old when my mother left me for Elvis. She flew to Vegas with a beehive hairdo, bell bottom pants and Liz Taylor shades. I saw the photo of her shining in front of the Hilton with Elvis printed boldly on the billboard above. She looked happy-not like a woman who just gave birth. The next time she left was for a new husband who didn't want baggage. I have a picture of myself holding a brown suitcase, crying in front of a bus station with a sign above me with nothing but a hound dog on it.

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No Big Wedding Here -jacob erin-cilberto two poems eloped everyone warned it wouldn't work one was raised with strict rhyme and reason metered parents who disapproved and called their love lesion because the other was free-verse written with reckless abandon raised for theme to be a Beat's dream but a purist's nightmare metaphors fall in love regardless of race, religion or poetic style and sometimes have to be read off into the sunset with a sneer because others look down their noses if the poems aren't traditional verses about roses and pretty trees and clouds and sunshine but this poem's love was none of the above it was about America screwing itself as a nation about love failing about hearts ailing and it had no pretty wrapping and no black ribbon tapping of perfect alliteration

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just blank envy from its peers editing red faces and jeers and "how could you's?" from readers with iambic ire and prejudicial fire mired in their own bias thinking so inside the box they couldn't see the perfect union that could be as you and me became two poems eloped sharing very different verses quite eloquently.

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J Quaking Children -JT O'Dochartaigh Tigers crouch under the bed, Poison snakes coil in the blanket. Shadows of dread wait in the closet! Breezes from an open window Stir cobweb draperies; Monsters of infinite strength lurking On bedposts remain unmoved. Quaking children fear evil Only sun power can dispel Routed in daylight, It waits till nightfall Where, formless, It waits For tiny groping hands Reaching for familiar shapes Find only terrors In darkness draped. Shivering child, says Blackness Whispers, Your mother lies near; will you … go to her? I, will show you the way Only infinite miles of my corridors, Laughs the Dark Come, small one, your trembling tickles me, Such a short way, a little to the left, … A little to the right, a little to the left, And then straight For as long as your heart beats … I only laugh because you tickle me. Child, leave your cave of blankets Where sheet caverns outside your ken Freeze the ends of your tiny toes

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I only want to play with you, Emptiness whispers, I only want to play … FLEE! Says Teddybear, and run for your life! Please, but don’t leave me behind! Swing the cave open and jump from the bed FLEE! Says Teddybear, take your friends if you can Whispers Darkness, if you can … if you can … Right behind you, says Terror, I’ll stay right behind I know a game comes the Whisper We’ll make it a chase! Isn’t it sad though, That even my snakes Slither and crawl faster than you in this race? Don’t look around Child, don’t look around. Is your heart beating faster? Is that sweat on your brow? Oh, did you notice, Little one on the run I’m not laughing now? My shapes all surround you They tear at your clothes You may reach your mother with your friend the bear But Child, whispers Darkness, Have you thought what you’ll do If you find she’s not there?

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Artwork by AreJay Grimm (RJ Wilcox) 123


there will be blood -daniella Cugini Dawn breaks. Fissures darkness with a 10,000,000 degree hydrogen sucker punch. Watches it crack like a shroud shell falling in jigsaws from the pearly egg of foetal skies. CRAAAAACK - only the trained hear it - a tornado of dyes and whorls sear a walkway for whatever lies behind. Fuck you, daylight s a v i n g s. We are the liberation. We spare n o t h i n g. Day drags itself along the gutters 'till it's caught in a drain. An hourglass submerged in water, death clumped in its throat, a sand tumour - hopes spewing out through filigree fingertips. "D e f i n e me. Even in my brittle bones, I coat you." (It's said in majestic wheezes.)

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Night falls. Freak a c c i d e n t? Tumbling into restless amethyst, traffic-cone stalagmites (they never seem to work) with a handprint raised in his wing, an inkless prison stamp. Or p u r p o s e f u l. A spun dial that resonates in the atmosphere. Dimmer switch. Seal it up. Let the fools drown. Black skysea rattles and rolls, a streamed memorial. Outside, a single white feather lands on the boy's windowsill. He thinks it l u c k y.

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At The Movies

-Steve Klepetar Screen crackles, dim silver light. Red boots click down darkened aisle. Popcorn sprays like whale spume and I'm in love with her crimson nails, earrings diving red sharks to her white neckline. We all watch, at the corral fence Billy laughs and blows a hole in someone's arm. Perfume and popcorn, red heels. Gunshots mingle with trampling horses' hooves. She sashays through projector beams, jack-knifes headlong into the movie, trips Billy in the dirt. At her command the horses grunt and stamp, Red horse woman, who taught the Mescalero how to ride and brought red war into the world. Away she leads young psychopaths through red August Arizona, moonscape mesas into

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Ivy's Warning -Linda Crate you must take me for a joker, but it's not my face etched in that deck of cards, but yours i'm not harlequin so keep walking i'll otherwise strangle you with my plants green was always my favorite color, but now it's red as the blood spilled on the carpet; tell me, joker, do you dare dance with the epitome of insane or are you challenging me for that title yourself?

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Three Virgins - Evelyn Deshan

J They say Athena came out of her father's forehead Sprang from the middle, in between his eyes: A caesarean of the mind. That is why Athena, one of the three virgins, Buries her nose in books all day long Just to make her father proud. Artemis was next in line, Second of the three virgins Who asked for this gift when she was three years old Already the wisest of any of the women, Immortal or not. Perhaps even more than Athena, Who asked for her virginity out of fear (Zeus had swallowed her mother whole-That is what sex does to you) Artemis, with her bows and arrows, Was quick. She did not waste any time. To remain innocent forever, To run wild in the forests with the animals, To be with the moon and to learn archery all day long: This is what Artemis wanted, and received. So now she starves in the woods with the wolves Womb empty, seeking nothing Arrows flying out with precision But hitting nothing And nothing And nothing In the moonlight. The third virgin was Hestia. She had no body to give away: Full of smoke and mirrors,

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She is the hearth, the heart, the warmth of the fire, The ephemeral spirit that expels outward towards others From the centre of the soul when you know you are home. She comforts you in your time of need In darkness, when you want your mother But she has been swallowed whole, (as all virgins who don't get gifts eventually are). Hestia surrounds and comforts, Warm like water but dry as her bones, When knowledge won't tell you anything you don't already know, And shooting at the moon makes you crazy. She is not innocent, she is not pure: She is black and dirty with the embers and the ashes. She has had no adventures to speak of, But she is there while others are not. This is the first time Your first time You’ve felt that love Without the pain and shame That rolls in like the waves containing Poseidon while he is in hiding; That colours the morning sky pink From dawn’s rose red fingers. These are the times we repeat What we know, what can take care of us And we remember it, we remember them, The three virgins like a good verse.

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Luck, The Joker

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-Cheryl A. Van Beek

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An elephant’s trunk turned-up a rabbit's foot, faux of course, right next to the shoe of a giant horse hanging ends up on the wall heads up pennies guarding them all. Salt thrown over shoulders showers the floor. Still, it strolled in the door Tail held high, furry black feet sashayed over shiny copper pots of four leaf clovers.

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Memory

-Jessica Van de Kemp "It's not about money; it's about sending a message." ─ The Joker, The Dark Knight (2008) Everything burns. The camouflaged lizard that crawls out from under a rock. One of those twisting things that move when the earth shocks. Things that live. All of our dreams stored in a non-microwaveable dish. It's funny how we see with our words and speak with our hands. Spend all our years struggling for return to innocence. We cut off our own tails to see them regrow.

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garbage -Ádám T. Bogár Greetings. Listen here for a sec, please. The works of Dániel Ferencz displayed here document diverse experiments at their various phases, at different stages of their evolution. It’s like we’ve dropped into his studio of fiction. Of fiction I say, since things here are tidy and orderly, a feat per definitionem unachievable in a studio. Evidently you’ll see a good many things when you take a look around, so I won’t have a chance to talk about it all—although coffee here is strong and delicious. Let’s see the photos then, okay? They‘re smaller and less noticed. I like things that are less noticed and thus often pull a fast one on us. I pull for the San Francisco 49ers. I don’t like similes, however, as they are like: they pop up exactly when they shouldn’t. Those aware of the self-contradiction please notify me. Umbrellas should be used against rain. Garbage must be considered. Garbage must be taken note of. The emerging scientific discipline of 'discard studies' is aimed at just that. I think it’s a marvelous thing to have this. Garbage can be defined as the sum of the externalities of societal and technological systems. Of course, by garbage we usually mean the so-called negative externalities, that is, to put it in an ad hoc pidgin between the technical and the streetish, such external, unintended negative side-effects of our activities we don’t redeem. You go to the shop, pay for your plastic bag, then the shop pays its environmental taxes, thus compensating the world for the potential environmental damage caused by

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customers who throw their plastic bags next to the garbage can. Garbage must be considered, and Dani indeed considers it. He goes, sees, snaps, goes. Externalities remain physically external. Externality, snap, externality, that’s the whole process. There is, however, an essential difference: through its negative it becomes positive: a positive externality. Sorry for that. These are such unintended side-effects that make a positive impact on the surroundings of those affected. You are to me like the neighbor’s beehives to an apple garden: textbook example. Through its photo, or maybe through a painting inspired by it, garbage becomes an objet d’art, which is commonly interpreted as a beneficial effect. Marvelous, isn’t it? And, besides disclosing speechless, immobile and otherwise privative-suffixed yet exciting spaces of our urban environment, Dani also uses photography for its primeval aim. Pure documentation. Garbage must be considered, and Dani indeed considers it. This one is certain, by and large. All the other things I said are of course debatable, dubious even. And it is of course certain that I hereby declare the exhibition entitled “Space and Composition” by Dániel Ferencz open. That’s two. And don’t forget that thing about rain and umbrellas. Thank you.

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Writing Workshop Prompts & ideas By Marie Lightman

Hello everyone. I ran this workshop at the Literary and Philosophical Library in Newcastle as a fundraiser for the beautiful 18th Century building for a group of about 10. The idea is inspired by a child's curiosity and centers around the question why. Also the idea came to me when thinking about the world before Google. How did we know what anything was? Who can answer my questions? Is there one answer to very question or more? What is my ability to answer these questions? All very philosophical but the source being that a story or idea for a poem or film comes sometimes comes from a thought or a question. Therefore the questions within us are maybe our inspiration for our writing.

Questions Prompt. Firstly using a pen and paper, not a computer so as not to get distracted, write as many questions that come in to your head as possible. They can be serious, funny, philosophical or anything, just write without getting too worried about what you are writing. Leave gaps in between each question for answers. Secondly answer as many of the questions as you can from your head not using Google or books. They could be short answers or more elaborate. This may take 10 minutes or half an hour or longer. You may find that you have more than one answer to the questions. Lastly pick a couple of these answers and do some free writing on them, writing anything that comes into your head. Write as much as you can about them. Pick which one you think can be taken further. Have you a short story, play or poem maybe even a non-fiction piece? Hopefully you have. See you soon.

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ď §ď€

STAGE DIRECTIONS -Paul Strohm (You and I enter from the front door.) (I rush to the bathroom. You leave by the backdoor for the guest house.) ( Our three children now enter from the back door.) ( Your mother enters from the guest house.) (Enter, from the back door, your sister.) (Your sister leaves by the way she came.) (Your sister enters again with you.) (Your mother gives instructions.) (I am called from the bathroom to the living room.) (You and I are taken by your sister to the guest house.) (Your father enters from the front door.) (Your father leaves by the back door for the guest house.) (Our three children are told to go to their rooms.) (You are brought back from the guest house by your sister.) (Your father enters from the guest house.)

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(I enter from the guest house.) (Your mother calls our children from their rooms.) (Re-enter our three children) (Your mother, father, sister and 3 children exit front door.) (You and I sit down together.)

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Beggar on Beggars -Lee Mavin The jingle of coins means stare at the ground Look else were as it nears The beggar is lurking towards Some scurry through Coach Handbags for something to read Something to shield their vision for the horrible beast that clatters up the isle Like the face of a horror movie A mask? Or a Reality? Scampering on like a pathetic side show freak No-one is giving A man moves his touch screen in front of its scarred hand Another shield that it doesn’t recognize But it keeps jingling those coins In that rusty old cup Nearing me, one eye covered over with burnt skin No one is giving When it nears your ears Be sure to turn your electro-ignorance up The words are on repeat Broken English and cracked stuttering It might whisper through your headphones “I need help” So camouflage with baselines And turn the other way

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They tell me not too They say it won’t get the money anyway It is being controlled by someone watching Someone who has never been seen Someone who caused its horrible injuries Maybe that someone is holding a talking machine Collecting coins from the homeless he has burnt Hiding behind a touch screen Technology means innocence A true beast and coward Watching it’s pet cower and beg No one is fed on this story But some hand it change out of fear Then the train reaches it destination And the people are relieved to flee the beast But as the freak stretches into the shadows He trips on his rags and his rusty cup soars into the mist The people turn Seeing the coins shine in the fluorescent flicker The coins hit the ground in a catastrophe of pity And the people dash at them Dropping their talking machines and touch devices, They claw at the coins

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A whiff

of pepper

-Clive Gresswell my lover writes to me on black paper with a whiff of pepper it studied robotics in welsh signs its name carl although it is belinda & asks me to respond with humour drawn in wads somehow from my back pocket it is raining i have no overcoat & anyway i never go out in september.

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Friendly Wars -Ndaba Sibanda

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E

ver since his appointment to the lofty position of defence minister, he seemed to be gripped by some phobia. Some residents claimed the irrational fear stemmed from the possibility that he did not know what he was expected to do. Others thought that he was a lucky coward who found himself having to oversee a strategic security portfolio which he did not deserve or understand.

Then one day one foreign journalist decided to ask him one general question. “Sir, please shed light on what you are doing or intend doing as minister of defence to keep soldiers fit?"

With exaggerated steadiness, he cleared his throat and said, “Soon l will start some friendly wars with neigbouring countries�.

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Sometimes -Nick Plumber Sometimes When no one is looking I dance in the warehouse In the halls of dust I do a One Two Three A quick pada beret shuffle through asbestos tombs I dance because no one is looking I dance on the dust Stomp it down as it rises and chokes me A grey whirlwind of dead skin and promise I tap a kalinka a brute beat of toxins sometimes I dance and when they catch me my rolling legs flying, I lie And tell them I stumbled A quick fall, No joy. Blood on the Concrete There’s blood on the sidewalks today Crimson splashed from tight-fisted pugilists With scabs on their knuckles And piss in their eyes Blotches like Orion’s belt Burgundy and dried That have fallen Dripped in a row Telling a story Of bourbon bruising

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And passion rushed So there’s blood on the sidewalk today And rain the will come tomorrow To wash it away Heretic He drinks like it’s serious, Like it’s a job Chased down with each shot and beer Angry With god …as he tosses each golden liquid morsel Down his throat Like fire to burn and roast The heretic within

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Karma

-Ezeiyoke Chukwunons If he only knew That yesterday Was part of today And that today Was part of tomorrow And tomorrow...? I saw rain In his eyes Tears in the sky Mine was yesterday His was today And we...? Yesterday I plucked a flower Kneeling with tears Asking him To look at our photos And remember our love. The door slammed in my face. He reached for Another skirt. Behind the door I heard familiar laughter. But today He came with A bouquet of flower Lying down With rain in his eyes And tears from the sky.

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HIS THROAT BANDAGED, MY UNCLE IN A DARK ROOM

-Lyn Lifshin with photographs of relatives above his head. Apple tree thru the window. Days with the door closed. The, on the porch, on the glider. Green leaves. Spirea. Wicker basket, chairs where he made up verbs to win word contests, read about the blood. the heart, strange things about the body in medical books that grew damp in the August wind, the pages sticking together. Girls with damp thighs opening in the yellow roses maybe like those "Dirtie Gertie" drawings he'd slam me down for reading on the same porch so many years later

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Invisible Ink for Charlotte -Rich Murphy

The poet places one foot and then another, leaving no impression on the planet: Any carbon print wears moccasins over each syllable. Around the Earth sonnets toddle donning bonnets for faces that jump onto buses for work each morning or slump into a depression that sulks fully employed. The job dweller ponders only what stance would create meals, what boots will hold the position for tomorrow. An impractical ghost can sink soles into farmland and muck up townhouse carpeting and not a sole in cities would notice a tread. Though no promises for utopia pass lips or smudge the page, the widget for no purpose does choreograph a way through life that welcomes stumblers into font into sound into the dance.

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Odd epilogue -Chinedu Ichu the bright yellow stars upon this colored sky washes filth away from the stamp glued to the humor of a fallen angel the blanket has grown pale from the postman’s constant gaze it shatters leaving behind splinters of broken rose petals victory, now escape this haggard lungs plastered on that ugly wall filled with warm memories memory of a body bag memory of a limping rag doll memoorrieez... taxing down the fading runway just like the woman in the great coat did she left in a hurry through the back hole.

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Nightly Visitation -Olga Kolesnikova She'll saunter through the closed door, rubbing the smile off her face with her gloved hand. All purple lace, black curls and silk.

Then she'll sit down and take a swig of liquid silver from a rubied chalice that out of nowhere grew beneath her touch. All's still and silent when like a heavy, hot and stifling blanket on a summer night her voice falls in the stuffy room.

And she begins reciting some passage of your life or a bizarre and weird tale that could never have occurred to any sane mind. You listen and you nod and then it is as if you've woken up from a deep slumber.

Your life is strange; events don't follow one another; you keep searching for someone you knew in the future; you are followed by a man who always stands still and yet he's catching up,

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and your legs bend like rubber beneath you and you are drowning in quicksand and now you can't breathe...

Then you see her sitting across the room, laughing, and you realise hours have passed.

“There is the sun”, she says. “It is morning. The last warning for me to leave. Yes, it was all a dream. Things aren't always what they seem.”

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joker -Yvonne Green Unmasked, every word I speak wears its own question. "Joker", you say and laugh where it comes to me as a surprise. If I wore make up, skewed my clothes, dyed my hair, would the way you hear me be different? The way I hear myself, only on paper, after a long time, I never recognise. Masks, jugglers, acrobats, go home, wait quietly I'll come and visit before you go back to work.

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holding the soul -JB Mulligan Each holds a soul in different ways. One man holds his soul like a fist clenching itself. Another holds it as a breeze holds light. A third bobbles it always in anxious fingers, unable to keep or to drop it. A woman holds her soul aloft like a sword, while her sister kisses and covets it, though she has it already. A child holds its soul as a gem holds reflections. At the end of it, each soul is let go of, perhaps up into a sky which gathers them and spills them into another world like sweet rain into the cupped hands of alien vegetation. Many are certain, but nobody knows. Each soul squeezes a razor. The bleeding sings.

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On Growing -Hannah Scharton When I was a little kid, I would search for fairies in the flowers of my Grandparent’s garden. I loved Botany and Debussy. I thought the library was my second home. In the summer, I couldn’t contain my excitement over the stacks of books they would let me take back to my first home. I’d spend my days reading and making floral arrangements. At night, I would dance in the grass with the fireflies and catch as many of their lights as I could, their acrid smell on my fingers. (I would always let them go though. I didn’t like the way they faded when trapped in a mason jar.) I would fall asleep to the sound of moonlight. When I was a little kid, my Mom said I stole people’s hearts with my smile. I thought this unkind, so I gave them mine. After the towers fell, I told my Mom about the man with the “diabolical plan to take over the world".

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She told me I was an old soul trapped in a young body. When I was a little kid, I wrote my first novel. It was about a man with an addiction and the woman who loved him and how they overcame it. My Mom said I was too young to write stories so dark. She couldn’t see then; it was just practice for the three years I would fight, helping my best friend battle his own demons. I’m not a little kid anymore. My first chapter has been written. I still cry for him, but life has taken the boy and his demons far from me. I still hear that my soul is old, but now it’s told to me by men that disappear as quickly as the sound of their voice withers in the air. I still keep my heart in my left hand, ready to give, but now I show the world the middle finger of my right one first. I still seek comfort in books and gardens, (sometimes I even look for fairies) but now I see the faded light in people’s eyes and wake to Claire de Lune.

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Lunch Time Murder -Grant Tarbard Harbour on the launch Of lunch time murder. Embedded sparkler, This quark element On this false idol, This pig tongued, sabre Toothed phoney, make weight For the chosen king. We relish his doom, His loathsome demise. Guy forks his ampules So I can hear Death And its knuckles grasp, Rapping, its dirty Fingers bare stretching, Eager to get on With the task to bake The Devil's cake. I Take my leave of this Squalid traitors life, Your fain harpies, your Funfair obscurer Disgusting me and Mine. You are my flight, God help you help me.

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Submissions for Issue 9 are currently open! Theme: Cage The theme can be interpreted in any way and we’d like you to give your imagination a wild direction. Your artworks and literary pieces can be any topic while we would love to read theme based works. Check our website later for more details. Thank you.

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Miracle: Issue 8  

Miracle Magazine's Joker edition.

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