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STRIATION Knitting. This is what the nurse suggested Lauren teach her mother to keep her hands moving, to keep her brain occupied. How anyone could shake Lauren’s calloused cyclist’s paw and make this suggestion, she did not know, but she went to the hobby store, walked through displays of potpourri and paint stencils until she found herself in an ocean-themed aisle filled with starfish stickers, stuffed sharks, ways to make entire aquatic papier-mâché worlds. While Lauren and her father spent their summers mapping new bike trails into the Colorado Rockies, her mother had stayed with her sisters at a beach house in Connecticut, the last remnant of faded family wealth. She would return tan and smiling, and for as long as this lasted, Lauren would find small trails of sand in the hallway and in the dining room and on the staircase. There were bags of sand in the ocean-themed aisle, sand dyed cheerful colors. Lauren bought one bag of each color, a plastic funnel, and little glass jars with tiny cork stoppers. She created an assembly line at a table near the window where a stationary bike once stood, carted away after her father’s death along with the displays of Lauren’s medals and time sheets. After dinner each evening, Lauren watched her mother layer the purple, green, red, blue, yellow, until the bottles could hold no more.

She finished six or seven each day. The doctors said this was a good sign, but Lauren thought they only meant it was not a bad sign, and how they could tell the difference between the two, she did not know, but she displayed these good signs on windowsills, tables, mantelpieces until sunlight threw rainbows over carpet, walls, curtains, their skin, and being in that house again was like living underwater.

Amanda Bales received her MFA from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. Her work has previously appeared in Painted Bride Quarterly, Bateau, Southern Humanities Review, and elsewhere. She lives in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, the seat of the Cherokee Nation.


THE BUS ROUTE It had been a while since traveling that highway, yet the exit ramp never changed: the screaming children, graffiti of his girlfriend eating the guardrail, as if two decades had floated into one moment, Travis aimed the yellow bus through her familiar signature. The children bounced against the ceiling; they still wore no safety belts; the strap burnt into the driver’s cheek and neck as he watched their backs crack in the rearview mirror. They busted all the tires, obliterated the hood, demolished the windshield and half the widows – landed it safely on the grass in front of Mrs. Warren’s mailbox. Travis had checked himself out of a fancy clinic in the hills of Montana hours earlier; one of those houses that treats alcoholics, sex addicts, and obsessive compulsive hoarders. They have two chimneys and a horse tied to the front arch. There is no need to address which category Travis fell under. He was a good-natured diabetic who collected Frisbees and brewed his own beer in his mother’s basement. He was haunted by passengers who had grown up – many had turned into monsters. ¨Stay calm idiots,¨ he said, swinging the rear emergency door wide open.

Many of the children were already crawling out the windows. The injuries the driver anticipated had not occurred. The girls were brave and stoic, the boys disorganized. The bullies and big shots began to cry when the flames were borne into the bus from the engine. ~~~ Travis always paid attention to his retired passengers. He saw them in crosswalks, sometimes they looked at him, usually through him. Their giggles stirred his memories: the flash of their eyebrows frosted in snow sent tremors, smell of sweat and a hand job in a magnified mirror on the way home from the zoo. ~~~ Only one of those ladies lives in the neighborhood today. Mrs. Miner inherited the house from her mother. Most of the gang lives nearby and all keep in touch. On the first Monday of May they meet to plant seeds or release baby turtles into the brook in the backyard (on the stone bridge where Mrs. Miner forced the future Navy Seal to stick his finger down her pink floral blouse). ~~~ ¨He hurt me, it was cold, fingernails, and then it got warm,¨ she said in the seat behind Travis the next morning.

~~~ They told Travis everything. Another seventh grader begged him to take her back to his apartment, but the driver promised God and his grandmother he would never abuse power beyond steering the yellow machine – the time capsule of his dreams now abandoned – he bandaged a boy’s head, waited to greet the women jogging toward his wreck, instinctively grabbing their garden bonnets in the breeze; a moaning orchestra conducting mosquitoes with soiled fingers. Travis could smell champagne on Mrs. Harrison’s breath. A strawberry skin was stuck to Mrs. Addison’s upper tooth. He could smell the sex on Mrs. Joplin as she brushed past him toward the bloody bully. ¨What happened here?¨ Nothing had changed, Travis tried to rediscover those black hairs that still curled out Mrs. River’s nostrils, but he failed to accept them as he once had. They were blown in a strange manner by the warm exhalations of a furious woman looking for answers. Those freckles once so harmless had become the farthest thing from innocuous. Lament and madness crumpled frantic expressions when they recognized his pupils. The moon fell closer to the ground as the sirens wailed and the driver buckled from the weight of a bus crashing down on him, again.

Like the nomadic Pericú natives before him, Matthew Dexter survives on a hunter-gatherer subsistence diet of shrimp tacos, smoked marlin, cold beer, and warm sunshine. He lives and writes in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.


AND SO ON Mr. Death visited a hospital out of professional curiosity, searched for Yeats’ grave throughout the south of France, walked on the beach in winter, when the ocean is flat and gray, the way he likes it. His interest now was in precise things – caliber, killing range, etc. – and as he considered whether to use a .22 on you or something poisonous, his face assumed the benign expression of a secret bomb factory.

Howie Good, a journalism professor at SUNY New Paltz, is the author of the new poetry collection, Dreaming in Red, from Right Hand Pointing. All proceeds from the sale of the book go to a crisis center, which you can read about here: He is also the author of numerous chapbooks, including most recently The Devil’s Fuzzy Slippers from Flutter Press. He has two more chapbooks forthcoming, Personal Myths from Writing Knights Press and Fog Area from Dog on a Chain Press.


SUSTENANCE sometimes when i’m in a grocery store, i can’t help but think to myself “much of this will soon be shit.” and amiable aprons unknowingly smile and nod at me. “mama never laid no trophic eggs so we were born starving,” my sister sneered once in aisle 9. flustered in the feeble florescent post-hunter-gatherer expanse, i forgot to buy dental floss so i fell asleep uneasy. at least twice a week that summer i chased away the raccoon that repeatedly shit in our pool, and considered the digested invertebrates buried nobly in the food pyramid. the predator grinned from the withered bush with spindly appendages crawling in her teeth.

OR WAS IT LIEBESTRAUME NO. 3 i think i’ve been watching too many documentaries because i’ve been having erotic dreams in which you are historical figures last night you were franz liszt and when you closed your eyes the lashes silkily trilled “un sospiro” the pads of your fingertips swept a glissando up the notches of my spine and my taut frame bent and oscillated like the strings of a baby grand

Candace Holmes is presently a Creative Writing student at Columbia College Chicago. When she isn’t recording her every banal thought on paper, she is doing any odd job within her legal means to support her nasty habits of eating and not being homeless.


TINY I am Tiny and I am large. The kids they say, “Oh, hey, Tiny. Hi, Tiny.” They no longer connect the nickname with a meaning. As they trundle on the bus with their overloaded backpacks, one or two will high-five me. None stares or tries to shred me. When I was their age, I had not yet become colossal. In high school, however, the ground started to shift. My father’s girlfriends all looked like Mother. Some wore white wigs and meringue lipstick. One time a lady name Lottie said, “Here, see if you like this,” and pushed my hand down her shirt. Dad thought it was my idea and punched me in the gut, said, “You pull another stunt like that, see if I don’t kill you some day.” After that, I made a moat of myself. It was too easy to eat. Hostess cherry pies. HoHos. Cakey Snowballs with the coconut frosting. Whoppers or Wendy’s, it was all good. Kids at school claimed I looked like a seal, so they called me that. Afternoons, the boys would hold me down and say, “Seal, make that sound.” Sometimes I wouldn’t oblige, so

they’d beat me, the same way Dad beat Mom until she left. Other times I’d relent and do it. “Ork! Ork! Ork!“ Even so, they’d try to rip the blubber from my belly. At night in bed, I’d inspect their fingernail scrapes, unable to distinguish most from my own stretch marks. Here, though, teachers don’t seem to care about size. I have a special bus to drive, one where the seat is set farther back from the wheel so that I can scooch in and out without too much effort. I keep a sack of Double Stuf in a sack by my left boot. I like the way the white icing makes my mouth clammy, reminding me of hiding under the blanket, in hot air, having trouble breathing, thinking, This is what it would feel like to be smothered. Not so bad. “Hi, Tiny!” “Merry Christmas, Tiny!” My apartment is small, the table is small, the sofa, too, my bed is small. Once I brought a girl here, but she ended up robbing me before we’d even kissed. On TV the parade starts at Macy’s. The floats are packed with dancing puppets. In the sky a blowup Hulk figure waddles against the wind. He keeps trying to tear loose from where he’s tethered. Same as me, he’s no good with crowds either. I hear the phone, but let it ring. Most of the time I’ll buy stuff from solicitors just to have someone to talk to, though that can get expensive.

I stomp on a box of Fritos, pour the orange dust into my mouth, and lick the crusty bits from the plastic bag. In the bathroom I distract myself from looking into the mirror. I open the reflective cabinet and take out a box of blades. Five inches of water is all the tub will take to overflow once I get inside. The water is warm or cold, it doesn’t matter. I tilt my head back and picture that balloon figurine straining in front of everyone, looming above the cheering children. I picture it floating away, light as air.

Len Kuntz is a writer from Washington State. His work appears widely in print and online. Every few days he shares his thoughts about writing and life at


I’M NOT AN INVESTOR I visit swimming pools in basements. The pools are only a few meters long. The color of the tiles is blue, turquoise, orange, acid green and yellow. Some tiles have fallen out, some have broken. Peeling oil paint, plaster dropped onto the floor. I wear rubber boots. All I can hear are my crunching steps, and those of my guide. Were it not for the broken glass, I could go barefoot. It wasn’t foot fungus that men feared, and they’re all gone now. Has there ever been water in these pools? Nobody is screaming any more. One tiled room after another, dark passages, sometimes a flickering neon light. I can’t read these signs. The air is stuffy. I sweat in my boots. I smell a bad, sweet odor. I don’t look at the bottom of the pools. I did not ask for a tour of forgotten swimming pools. I’m not an investor. I only closed my eyes when I was taking a shower. Never do that.

THE PAINTERS AND THE ONE IN THE WOOD You overdosed on sleep. I carried you across the summit, to the other side of the mountain. There was no other way. Trusting, but silent, you lay on my back, your heads nestled in the crook of my neck. I put you down on the damp moss, your chins on the edge. The morning sun finally opens your eyes. I’m lying upside down in the woods below, my back is bent forever. Now, paint the valley! And send the cripple a picture.

A VISIT TO KORPE The day is fast approaching when we will pay Korpe a visit. Be ready. Maintain the tools I’ve given you. Say farewell to your wives and daughters. Be bearded. Do not cut your fingernails; use them to examine the beards of your brothers. Grab their chin and pull their hair up to their ear, slowly, against the grain. Korpe sits in a large room with many windows on the third floor. We will silently climb the stairs and walk up the hallway, straight to his door. Each of you will knock, one after the other, not too loud but not too quiet, not too urgent but not entirely patient. When you stand in front of Korpe, I will no longer be with you. Don’t let this confuse you. Just do what you have to do.

Rupprecht Mayer lives as an interpreter in Shanghai, translates Chinese literature and writes short prose. Numerous publications in Germanlanguage literary journals. Translations appeared in Washington Square, Ninth Letter and as Postcard Shorts.


HE HATES THE FISH He hates the fish I cook. I sweep up the pieces of his plate. I bandage his knuckles, which is hard with these claws I have. My mother used to cry in her dark room, sobs that sounded like shattering glass. I stand at the windows in his lab, and I wish for light, and I wish for air. But we live at the bottom of the ocean. Fish out of water. My father spent years building his Miraculous Machine. Three meters tall, it sits in the corner like a big, beautiful psychopath, like the promise of a dreadful snow white Christmas, like a guarantee that keeps your fingers crossed behind your back where no one will see, because hoping that way leaves you vulnerable. Our dome is at the bottom of the ocean. Do you know how much water weighs? On all sides of us, endless pressure. My mother was abducted from the surface in order to love me, but you never acquiesce to demands like that. My father built me, brick by genetic brick. I am a seahorse, a lion, a darting mouse, a monkey. I don’t know where he got the wings. Because he built me, he is my father. Because he built me, I belong entirely to him.

After we ate my mother, who never thought the Miraculous Machine was a good idea, he said, she never supported my dreams. He said, we didn’t need her, anyway. And now he is asking me to pull the lever of the Miraculous Machine, he says this is all for you. He wraps his fingers around my claws, and his muscles bunch, and there it is. A flash like an immense darting fish finding sunlight for the first time. Sucked in by such terrible splendor, he says: You see, we didn’t need the world, anyway.

David R Morgan teaches 11-19 year olds in Luton, and lives in Bedfordshire . David has been an arts worker and literature officer, organizer of book festivals and writer-in-residence for education authorities, Littlehay Prison and Fairfield Psychiatric Hospital (which was the subject of a Channel 4 film, Out of Our Minds).He has had two plays screened on ITV and over 200 hundred poems published in National and International Poetry Magazines. His latest collections: Beneath The Dreaming Tree was published by Poetry Space Ltd in October 2011 and Lightbulbs In The Sea by Knives, Forks & Spoons Press was published in November 2011.


ZACK MORRIS, AN OBSESSION Zack Morris, an obsession. Transcendent Teen Beat magazine connection -- Boy you kill those LA Gear white high tops big tongues your acid wash jeans rolled up, Damn those pastel sleeves n oversized t’s n Z. Cavarricci’s, button downs so cowabunga so West Coast Cali your bodacious bod is so peroxide ! LA Looks hair gel and stolen eyeliner pancake makeup fists full of Cover Girl and Aussie Stiff Spray works well with Zack’s summer job at the Sands Country Club AC Slater’s nips were visible in that tight green and white striped polo Da Boss short fat dago Mr. Carossi of course from New York City, specifically Brooklyn, NYC Such a bummer, he was last name like so Italian and grossi !

Zack Morris dumped Kelly Kapowski for Leah Remini aka Stacy Carossi that summer, the competition was stiff -- Bump Set Match over Fourth of July fireworks Ms. Sands 1994 looked good in a red white and blue glitter bikini she can spike a volleyball two inches taller than Elizabeth Berkeley in Showgirls ( A masterpiece -it’s not Vers-ay-sis, It’s Ver-sa-chi ) Striptease is an important skill when seducing a West Coast tall drink of Evian water oh word Mark Paul Gosselar ( Flip any script make any line perverted -Bend over Zack Morris, At the Max bend over cold hamburgers vanilla milkshakes Hot Sundae serenades Bend over Jessie Spano OD’ing on caffeine pills :

I’m so excited ! I’m so excited ! I’m so I’m so ( dramatic teenage pause and fall ) ... scared ! All day backwards Zack Morris daydreams, buses and stop signs, I wait for mysterious messages I wait for match lit lampshades I wait for boxcars boxcars boxcars I wait for solace elevated I -Wait for me, Zack Morris next stop is Bay Parkway.

Natalie Nuzzo lives and teaches in Brooklyn, NY. She is currently an MA candidate in English Literature at Brooklyn College, CUNY. Her poetry has been published in The Junction, Having a Whiskey Coke with You, and The Medical Chronicles.


IN A SEA OF WILD PONIES In this one I bite my nails down to the bed. I tie your arms to the post. I read you Bible verses and whip you with braided shoestrings. There is no escape! There is no more sunlight or puppies or cellophane. Imagine! No puppies. In this one the world ends and we are left dangling in the sky like released balloons. Messages tied to our strings that no one will ever receive. Did they think someone would actually write back? Maybe they would have if the world didn’t end. It’s so dark now and I’m embarrassed because you have to see me with my makeup off. It’s all like they said it would be, except not at all. When the world ended we decided no one knew anything about it. Yesterday we looked at each other from across the room like pigeons. We didn’t give a shit! Today is much different because our room is gone and I’m not sure why we’re not dead or maybe we are and heaven is less like heaven and more like we’re balloons and we just need a place to land.

IN A SEA OF VINTAGE PHOTOGRAPHS You ride the train to Akron only to realize that there is no train to Akron and it’s some giant misunderstanding and you’re heading south, wherever that is. It’s south of Akron. There’s a place in the corner where sunlight meets lamp light and your beaver furred sweater catches both and the fire looks so much like her gingivitised gums that you can’t help but make out with it. If hell were real it would look a lot like Akron, but with less trees and more potholes. There’s a bus stop that reminds you of home and of her bare knee exposed through torn nylons and her key is still a nervous habit in your pocket.

There’s a porcelain pig butt in the background and there’s you with your new haircut, a side part, pomade and you’re not sure how but it happened.

Alexis Pope is not your wife. She’s your girlfriend. She likes to make out. Search for her in PANK, >kill author, Red Lightbulbs, Dinosaur Bees, and elsewhere.


MORNING UNCORKS WITHOUT A CORK TO UNCORK Wake up, Tracy, wake up. Someone tapping their fingers across her till her eye’s crack open, already she’s got daylight ripping into her skin like some rapist. Sky’s out. One fat, blue ashtray smoking her, eye slits cut the business of day, she’s stomach down in somebody’s car. Tracy’s hands worry over her body finding her clothes intact, a few crumpled dollars in her pocket, some coins, five cigarettes in a smashed pack and a key. “Not bad,” she murmurs. She searches the back of the car for some leftover wine. She finds a crowbar, toolbox and some ratty old clothes. She pulls out a cigarette that’s torn in half. She rips it and lights up without the filter. “Goddamn pricks,” she says. Usually they leave her in a hotel room or an apartment or kick her out before daylight hits. These bastards stick her in the back of a station wagon in the middle of some deserted parking lot. “Stupid jocks.” That’s what she gets for doing a wholesale group of teenagers.

BODY OR BREAD Clips of memory slash by like a hot blast of wind. The world drowns itself in a sea of drunken strangers pushing her through bars and bodies. Panting, pawing and rolling over one another. Swarms of flesh as predictable as her mom kneading a fat ball of dough. Pockets of couples and friends clump together in tight little dry fists in separate corners at the start of the night. But then, with the methodical addition of liquor to humans, as water to dough, those clusters of dried up mounds start to move and mix and spread, soften, open up to the folded clutches of strange elements around them. Longstanding couples, bound together by that solid daily flour of allegiance in the bland security of each other’s arms, stray away into unexplored regions of a softer mold with more elastic force. Couples slip into the depths of the moist unknown without ever feeling any pull to turn back. Tracy spends the nights forging through this monotony of reality in the same way her mother plunges her fists into the dough, feeling out those areas of resistance to work them, maneuvering the hidden lumps, forcing them into the center to merge and pounding down their coarse little fistfuls of tireless egos to break them up and mingle them, pummeling again and again to work out life’s inbred inertia and resistance with the looser, runnier matter of risk.

Tracy’s mother makes damn good bread. Tracy makes body damn good. “Take this bread and eat of it, for this is my body.” Tracy’s mom closes the door on Tracy, but she is only doing what the bible says. Tracy laughs as she pulls out another broken smoke.

REALITY VIOLATION Tracy tries to get out of bars before the lights go on. She moves in the shadows, the dark ovens. She doesn’t look in bathroom mirrors. They devise themselves to cut her up, mutilate her. “Ugly caverns. Holey skin. Eyes of black rings, old as forests.” Tracy traces her face with her fingers, feels parchment and bark. “One beer will help blur all of this.” She checks her money again. Her body vibrates. Her head is an omen. It tells her she can’t get out of this car. She will be watched. The sun blazing in on her. She has three dollars and some change. More cars have pulled in to the parking lot. Tracy drags her body to the front seat, slithering like a snake, falling like a tragedy. She sits. She is the driver now waiting for that passenger who will never arrive, to arrive. She checks the stores in this parking lot. She spots a Walgreens. They have liquor. They are open late. She has three dollars and some change. She will wait for darkness.

Meg Tuite’s writing has appeared or is forthcoming in over 100 journals. She has been nominated numerous times for the Pushcart Prize. She is the fiction editor of The Santa Fe Literary Review and Connotation Press. Her novel “Domestic Apparition” (2011) is available through San Francisco Bay Press. She has a chapbook coming out (2012) through Monkey Puzzle Press. She has a monthly column “Exquisite Quartet” up at Used Furniture Review. Her blog:

NAP 2.6  


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