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Oliver Lee Bateman is one of the co-founders of the Moustache Club of America, a literary collective (or “beehive,� as the kids like to say) that specializes in postmodern flash fiction, schoolgirl diary entries, navelgazing coming-of-age stories set at prestigious New England preparatory academies, and good clean fun. He is also a Ph.D. candidate and Andrew Mellon Fellow at the University of Pittsburgh.

GETTING OLD IS WHAT WE’RE HERE TO DO Brian Powell sat in the back of the room with his best friends Pillowface Jones and Petunia Chaser while the rest of Mrs. Camden’s third grade class engaged in age-appropriate games and social activities. He loved these two girls because they didn’t tease him about his slicked-back hair, which would remain his pride and joy until it fell out during his early twenties. In exchange, he never mentioned Pillowface’s pillow-for-a-face deformity or the nimbus of chapped skin that circumscribed Petunia’s lips. “Stupid Christmas party,” Powell said. “I hate it. I hate Christmas.” Pillowface put her pillow-face down on a desk and started to cry. “It’s just awful. Why won’t they ever talk to us?” Petunia Chaser nodded at Pillowface’s remark, then made the sign of the cross five times before beginning to lick her knuckles. If she succeeded in running her tongue over each knuckle in less than twelve seconds, she knew that she wasn’t going to die. “My daddy says that you can’t trust anybody. They’re all out to get you.” “Even Santa Claus?” asked Pillowface Jones, who refused to stop believing in mythical creatures like angels, teddy bears, and Santa Clauses. Powell ran his fingers through his hair, smoothing it out. He enjoyed feeling the stickiness of the gel almost as much as he enjoyed feeling superior to these two. Not that the latter was all that hard, given that Pillowface was a gullible moron and Petunia was insane. “There isn’t a Santa Claus, Pillowface. Don’t you know anything?”

“I don’t believe it,” Pillowface said, still sobbing into the desk. “Who puts the presents under my tree, smarty-pants? “Your dad does,” Powell said. “My daddy is never home.” “Your mom, then.” “My mom can’t even get up off the couch to cook dinner.” “Maybe it’s aliens,” Petunia offered helpfully between instances of biting her fingernails and muttering short prayers. “There’s a Santa and one day he’ll bring me a new face,” Pillowface insisted. Powell sneered. “Yeah, yeah. Pillowface, you need to learn a thing or two.” Mrs. Camden approached the three children, a concerned look on her round, guileless face. “Why aren’t you playing with your classmates? You can dunk for apples, pin the tail on the donkey— there are so many wonderful games for you to do.” “I don’t want to do any of that,” Powell said. “It’s stupid.” “Why is it stupid?” Mrs. Camden asked. “I don’t think it’s stupid.”

Brian Powell didn’t know what this frumpy, middle-aged woman needed from him. Did she aspire to love him as if he were her own? That couldn’t be it. No, she just wanted him to fit in and disappear. If he wouldn’t stand out so much—if the three of them could somehow find a way to be less of who they were—her job wouldn’t be as painful and difficult. “It’s stupid and you’re stupid,” he said. “Brian, that’s no way to talk to anyone,” Mrs. Camden said. Maybe words like this wounded Mrs. Camden; maybe they didn’t. Why should that matter to him? “It’s a way to talk to you,” he said, wanting desperately to remind her that he was still here.


Marit Ericson is originally from New England. Her recent work appears or is forthcoming in Forge Journal, Pure Francis, and Emprise Review. She likes walking in rainy cities with a beige umbrella, because why not? Marit writes in various rooms, hotels, and cabins in her imagination and lives on the Eastern U.S. Coast.

ORIGINAL SONG WITH UNORIGINAL INTENTIONS Sure, I believe in fate. Want to. The Mets are doing okay. Health’s health. Weather, a drizzling so. Odd to be your own middle distance. Most songs weren’t made for that guy on the bridge but for pocket-monied dreamers, the not-yetgiving-up. Rain drops pat my jacket. It’s almost an identity, and these paper boats scattering across a pond, and… no, I’m stumped. The horizon is a plain string; my body’s getting older. And next to your love, the world looks rather unscenic.

APOPHENIA PICKED MY POCKET (AND I LET HER) The world is not an erogenous zone, grasshopper. More like moodless newsdays, pale-lit floors of unisex footsteps—and nobody here to say that. So your body is a stand up routine. So you’ve gone through its motions, and the only thing left is becoming, more or less, yourself. Or a wrapped up sucker with a tinge of half-blues. Let kids lash against pain they don’t want to see in themselves. Let the past burn its leaves, err, lose nine pounds a decade until it disappears. A day of lit rain aches to cool circumstance. It all feels like her, except here.

BEFORE AND AFTER THE PLAY This hall I know but vaguely. It’s been a dream, anyway, this pin of myself to all corners. The audience has moved on, too. Anxiety sticks around like door handles, thinks of anything as germs. My palm squeezes for luck, worry now in ducats. Squeeze is slang for goodfriend, a someher who, once defined, had a thing for me? I feel my thin tighten. A little. A toy body in the area air. I wish I could wash it all down: the pangs, the lack of courage: look at me, I’m so open! In the next tune, I’m noon I’m reborn. I giraffe out of frame with Stones lips and woodblock vocals, my coat scale-covered like Lucifer, a worst-ever fish. The sea is a far cry. Not even the future could unfold me. Spun to here as a blur, hope is so damn new to me it must be Surrealism in the 1920s. Topped off with a velvet hat. The skeleton of a fire. A name.


David Greenspan is a twenty two year old student living in South Florida. He has a pet rat named Annette whom he loves very much. He will appear soon in: This Zine Will Change Your Life and Vinyl Poetry. Find David online at

MADNESS NOT DUE TO KETAMINE INGESTED AN HOUR AGO the year I said fuck cops was the year I noticed shoelaces talked back murmuring about catching fish. my father’s most expensive sports coat is ripped to shreds by my tender hands during an episode the same day windows start baring their rusty gazes at me. this glass shrieks carve the brightest statues, paint unyielding bone. there is a woman with elephant tusks for eyes who models the sexiest Victoria Secret underwear. think a grizzled hot dog vendor from Fenway Park, who throws the first pitch of a ball game that never begins while she recites the alphabet, backwards. I am not crazy, I have just fallen off my bicycle to fuck concrete. I have never stabbed another in the chest, never cradled a knife to the perfect slumber between ribs. I have never inhaled burning flesh or made others cry while ogling silhouettes of dust. I sing my own felonies. there is smoke trudging from my lover’s gentle windowsill mouth as I spend hours inside the creases littering her face, eating crow’s feet.


Meghan Lamb edits the online literary magazine Red Lightbulbs alongside her husband, Russ Woods.Together, they live on the South Side of Chicago. She has most recently been published in Pank, Bluestem, elimae, wtf pwm, Nano Fiction, Spork, and Pear Noir!.

SUNFLOWERS She says haha look at this It’s me when I was twelve She is wearing a floppy red Hat with a sunflower on it In the picture she is wearing No hat now her hair is black And straightened now Not in the picture In the picture it is brown It’s mousey couch-like brown And she is sitting on a couch Her dog is sitting next to her He’s dead now he says damn Girl you were ugly As she smiles and shows her braces In the picture she is smiling But not now She opens and closes her hand like her hand Is a locket and inside she’ll open it up and there Right in her hand she will see herself smiling With black hair, a red hat, and sunflowers


Rob MacDonald lives in Boston and is the editor of the online journal Sixth Finch. His poetry has appeared in Octopus, Everyday Genius, H_NGM_N, The Lumberyard and other journals. Last New Death, a chapbook, is available from Scantily Clad Press.

JOHN IRVING IS A TRAINED BEAR John Irving is a trained bear who offers you raw salmon in return for transcribing his new novel. John Irving licks fish guts from his paws as he growls and beckons a whole chapter from the brook. The bear that John Irving is wears a bright red bow tie. While he’s dictating dialogue, he stands on his hind legs, swaying and waving awkwardly, but there’s a confused quiet there in his bear eyes that every teenage boy understands. Humiliation is hibernation, he decides, and vice versa.

DOPPELGANGER You see yourself in an ad for jeans in a magazine, but it turns out to be your doppelganger dreaming of getting into your pants again. You see yourself thumbing a ride from the side of a dusty highway because magazine ads are no place for originality. You see yourself, but it’s not yourself. This German word means that someone really is out there unzipping your fly in the Gobi desert. See? You don’t feel relieved to know that you’re not alone. If only magazines told the whole story. If only your other half evaporated so easily.

UNPRECOCIOUS I’m not into New Year’s resolutions, but I’m determined to be more unprecocious than ever before. I figure there’s nothing a stupid haircut can’t fix. And inventing new slang has been a blast; from now on, I’ll be calling my mortgage my mo-mo. My shelves: well-stocked with applesauce. A box of raisins rolled into my sleeve, à la James Dean. Tween pop’s snaps and crackles fall weird on these ears. Dear two-note heartbeat coming from somewhere above me: love me and all my unintelligible mumbling.


Emily O’Neill tells loud stories in her inside voice because she wants you to come closer. Her work has previously appeared or is forthcoming in The Pedestal, Neon, and Pank, among others. It’s also seen stages from Portland to Orlando. She has a degree in the synesthesia of storytelling from Hampshire College and hangs her many hats in Providence, RI.

LAST GASP A shark beached itself down the dunes from the summer place. I caught a glimpse of thrash from the patio, ran to it--the poor, blunt death took hours. The heaving fish gray as cancered lung. Splutter. Salt. Spew. The sand, chilly as the tide turned its back. I could not leave the beast, though it snapped those teeth. Like rows of empty opera seats, a stadium of silence. I pressed a hand to rough flank for final shudder. The gills moved only at breeze’s brush.

RUST STORM The sky and its slumber in a knife fight. A dream carved night thin with the moon’s sharp crescent. Water just kept falling, painting horizon the color of closed eyes and sun. That sun rose. The gutters could not hold color. They’d slept all night with their mouths open. The storm painted the robins blush, gave the woodpeckers their hats. The trees were up to their knees in it. The yard, bloodshot. Even the lilacs came up crimson.

MEN FOR BREAKFAST Regret cannot carry its own weight, arms always full of other hurts. I split your lip with my teeth, smiled at weakness’s weak flavor. Violences this small are never question or answer, but rope’s end that escapes the knot frayed but clean.

THE MOUNTAINS On the day they shot the tigers the country was quiet. The men left the bodies too long in the sun. The flies came after the metal smell, mined muscle as a shifting, buzzing mountain. Wings took the place of pant a single breath to cut the hot, thick air. The blood looked midnight as it mixed with the dirt. The flies went swimming and stuck there in the slick. When the men moved the mountains away, a few stones stayed in the black river. Their wings stirred the water, but never made ripples.

TORN TICKET The cop told us we could tear up the parking ticket. (I kept it. I’d never gambled and won.) We drove down Thurbers. You shook your head at me. Said, “Luck is an excuse to believe in helplessness.” It sounded tidy if not true. Another car dipped into our lane. I avoided it, but you gripped the seat like you hadn’t been saved. Said, “I’ll be the one who decides when I die.” I believed your flawed logic less than the officer.


Lam Pham was born in Midland,Texas and graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2008. He lives in Southern California with his partner of three years. His fiction has or is set to appear in JMWW, apt, Fractured West, The Good Men Project Magazine, the Foundling Review and more. He is a volunteer reader for PANK Magazine and blogs at

FOUR GRIM TRUTHS 1. Suffering Grim’s first meal of every day is a two-dollar hot dog at the gas station. The meat, he is sure, consists of leftover parts from animals that have never been loved: a nameless goat, parts of pigs, a hormoneinfused cow, the odd chicken. All harvested. He’s odd too, according to the landlord and his neighbor down the hall. His small and distant collection of friends resemble a patchwork of important landmarks he’s never seen, the Golden Gate Bridge spanning across the Grand Canyon with the Deira Clock Tower and the Fernsehturm roosting in its valley.They don’t live here anymore, his friends, coupled in pairs or grouped with children. Happy. He follows all of their timelines on five different social networks and waits for them to appear only to disappear, the wink of his online button a flashing taillight veering away. A drive-by visit, he imagines.

2. The Origin of Suffering Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays are Grim’s favorite days of the week. Mrs. Virk’s schedule reminds him to take his Topranil, two every other morning. When she rings up his hot dog and chides him, Grim lingers at the counter, rolling pills underneath his tongue. He secretly calls her his tutting hen, the dark wings of her jacket ensconcing him, hushing his cries with lyrical Punjabi, dropping chicken feed in his waiting mouth. Grim is sure Mrs. Virk thinks of him as a son by the way she cares, offers him Nutri-grain bars, tells him to quit smoking. He has researched maternal proposals, scanning cultures by the dozens during his lunch break to find one where a man in his mid-forties can drop to one knee and ask a woman to be his mother. Just the other day, Grim saw a news special on adults roleplaying as infants. The world is growing more accepting. He hopes.

3. The Cessation of Suffering Grim normally eats his breakfast in the parking lot before he heads to the office. There he file clerks for Junior, a man fifteen years younger than him. Grim is certain Junior had slipped out of his mother’s womb in a double windsor circumcising his neck. Rumor has it that Grim is due for a break, the permanent kind. There have been complaints of oddity from his fellow employees. One of the sales guys caught him sniffing the plastic food wrapper at the urinal the other day, its crinkles pinched into his nostrils. It was like he was doing blow, laughed Sales Guy. Literally snorting man. Snorting that shit. Grim doesn’t understand recreational drugs, but he understands recreational highs. The smell of his father’s butcher shop.The texture of bratwurst, pastrami preserved in brine, smoked mutton chops. The taste of grease slicking his teeth.

4. The Way Leading to the Cessation of Suffering At night, Grim fantasizes of America after the Ice Age. He replays the National Geographic DVD box set of the prehistoric age on the same television set his father bought in the eighties. Balks at the dramatizations, far less lucid than his own indelicate imagination of torn fingernails and scabbed feet. Of grass stroking his shins, air scattering pollen, the sun the color of blinding ecru. His spear made of three bones twined in sun-dried catgut. Its head a sharpened talus excised from a bleeding horse. The grazing bison doesn’t see him covered in mud and wrapped in tree bark. Its left carotid artery quivering. He always slips into sleep right as the spear shunts forward from his fingers and wakes up the next morning dissatisfied, uncertain why.








Michelle Reale is an academic librarian on faculty at Arcadia University in the suburbs of Philadelphia. Her work has appeared in a variety of publications, including Gargoyle, Pank, JMWW, Smokelong Quarterly, Staccato,Word Riot, and elimae. Her work was included in Dzanc’s 2011 Best of the Web Anthology. Her short fiction collection, Natural Habitat, was published by Burning River in 2010. Her short fiction chapbook, Like Lungfish Getting Through the Dry Season (2011), is available from Thunderclap Press. She has been twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

THE SICKLE IS SOMETHING I THINK ABOUT FROM TIME TO TIME Haven’t we all been gifted things we have not needed long enough? That Messiah may have arrived just in time. Even if we don’t have everything we need, is there still one person left who is just like me, who tries to figure out how sickle moon formations show up in cracks on sidewalks, dinner plates, and the inside of some eyes hell bent on forward momentum? Let’s take a step back here, please. Your heart, my heart, someone’s heart could cleave a dent, sickleshaped right this minute and would not skip a single breath, so a person might not even notice the blood draining from the face. Right now, I’d rather dance to a song I hear on someone’s radio, maybe a song I know by heart. My dotted Swiss skirt feels so soft in my hands, all bird-boned and lovely. My habit to dust translucent powder over the bumped bridge of my nose continues. What is flawed must be seen. That Messiah will wait. For sure, that clock is ticking and symbols abound. But, honestly, he has all the time in the world.


Daniel Romo is half curve ball/half prose poem. Proof:

FORMAL I asked my prom date out with a poem. AA BB rhyme scheme teeming with sweetness and timidity—neatly folded and tucked in her locker. I know I don’t know you very well/not really much for that matter, but I can tell/you and I will get along great/will you be my prom date? She said yes. But that’s the only time I heard an affirmative from her. She was shapely. A poor brown girl in a lace red dress who sat on manicured hands in a stretched white limo. She didn’t slow dance. I passed on the Crème Brule. We were home by 1. The night was a haiku I haven’t forgotten. I wrote a sonnet for the girl I really wanted to ask, Carolina, but was too shy to ever give it to her. I don’t remember how it goes.

ZEN When in doubt think, Origami. Study folds that complete the crane. Crease the corners; tuck the body into itself—a pleated beak, a furrowed foot. Become a tourist in the top of a Pagoda. Stare out the window; watch your handiwork herd fly by—watermarked eyes, recycled wings. Take pride in your paper child. Think you’re turning Japanese. Arigatō. Bow.










David Tomaloff (b. 1972) | is a writer, photographer, musician, and all around bad influence | likes: jazz | hates: jazz | photography: yes | his work has appeared in fine publications such as Mud Luscious, >kill author, Thunderclap!, HOUSEFIRE, Prick of the Spindle, DOGZPLOT, elimae, and many more | he is the author of the chapbooks, Olifaunt (The Red Ceilings Press, 2011), EXIT STRATEGIES (Gold Wake Press, 2011), MESCAL NON-PALINDROME CINEMA (Ten Pages Press, 2011), and A SOFT THAT TOUCHES DOWN &REMOVES ITSELF (NAP, 2011) | David Tomaloff resides in the form of ones and zeros at:

YEAH, ROBOTS My lady place is made of robots that will one day rise up and roll out like transformers. In the sense of werewolves vs. vampires, though. My lady place doesn’t have a gun; my lady place lobs jarts. Also, something about the common good. —Plato, Small Orange Notebook with ironic “Hecho En Mexico” sticker, date unknown.

LET ME ABE THAT Dude said, “Caucasoid erasure.” I removed the old bird from his mouth and chainsawed him off a bit of Twizzler. Dude said, “Thanks, P.” We shared a comfortable pause. I said, “Bowling is kind of messed up, but we do it like it’s not, y’know?” Dude shrugged, said, “Thanks for the Twizzler stump.” I felt happy to oblige. Later that night we used Abraham as a verb for the very first time. I’m pretty sure we always did after that. No one seemed to mind. Abraham soon became a gateway to other things. Then the gerunds came. Then the dreams of minotaurs. Kansas was the soundtrack, but we were feeling Judas Priest. —Plato, Notebook with the Dokken Logo, 1986

ISLES AND AISLES There is a hole where I am standing—where the two halves collide. The world is full of crazy things and to do—the world is full of crazy things to do. The grocer sneers unapologetically, where two halves collide. The world is full of holes where I am standing. Fluorescence chokes the air, and I am an x-ray. The woman behind me is laughing up a ghost. The man behind her is no man at all. We are a death parade. The grocer couldn’t care less.


Meredith Weiers graduated from Carnegie Mellon University and currently lives in southern Maryland.

MEAL TICKET You pluck the bugs off my back, eat them as your own. Tacked to the couch I’m where you expect, a hopeful forage. But I am famine, am your distended stomach raising hackles in shadow. Our pace around one another perfected, a trail we gnaw into carpet: we are savannahs, and savannahs of locusts—you burn my calories, I pass the match.

STORM WARNING Excuses brewed, I spoon crushed couplings into coffee. A neglectedbrass sky evaporates hours: I’ve a date to spin loose his bolts.

LEOPARD Impala curves her neck long to meet his sharp-set mouth. With grace he takes her to tree-tops.

NAP 2.1  


NAP 2.1