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COVER BY BEN AUSTIN Ben Austin has a love for strangers, laughing/crying simultaneously, and stuffed animals. has around 600 images of his. He spent the last two years in Korea and will likely be back there soon throwing bottles down stairs. His aesthetic approach lies somewhere between Bebe Zeva and horse_ebooks.


A man from England. Of no fixed address. Work has appeared in small publications, toilet walls and New York. Suggestions welcome. Lives at


The person will appear in the place. The needs of the place will be contemplated by the person. The person may not know that the place cannot stop the person leaving. The start and end will not be negotiable but will change according to the needs of the place. The end may sometimes take more time to reach than the person thought it might. The presence of the person will improve the place. The person will experience moments of enjoyment. Other people in the place will look at the person. The person would rather the people were not so numerous. The place would rather the person spoke to the people. Links will sprout from the person’s chest and attach themselves to the boundaries of the place. At times it will be difficult for the person to stand up. The attachments will occasionally get in the way. Any disputes will be settled in the place’s favour. One or two syndromes may be observed. One or two teeth may be involved. A residue will form in the chest of the person. The attachments will strengthen in direct proportion to the time spent by the person in the place and lengthen in direct proportion to the distance between the person and the place. There may occasionally be a great distance between the person and the place. The attachments will sometimes hold the person’s forehead against a cold surface. The place will eventually relinquish the person.


Howie Good, a journalism professor at SUNY New Paltz, is the author of the full-length poetry collections Lovesick (Press Americana, 2009), Heart With a Dirty Windshield (BeWrite Books, 2010), and Everything Reminds Me of Me (Desperanto, 2011), as well as numerous print and digital poetry chapbooks, including most recently Love Dagger from Right Hand Pointing, To Shadowy Blue from Gold Wake Press, and Love in a Time of Paranoia from Diamond Point Press.


1 No one knows which truth is the right truth to follow. Father flexes his trigger finger. Mother searches the pocket of her apron for the paragraph she tore out of the paper. It’s about dark by this time. The children kick human skulls from their path. 2 At the critical moment, the hunter’s rifle jammed. Ah, beautiful, the trees and boulders deeply absorbed in thought. The rain began to fall again. It’s either pump or drown. 3 The name of the thing disguises the thing itself – the rip tide, for example, that everyone truculently calls an undertow, and though sometimes out of strength and almost always out of contention, please believe me and the forecast on the radio of sunshine later.


1 Something about Nazis and interrogations, the clicked heels of polished black boots, and that if my devils leave me, my angels will take flight, too. 2 Ten years or more of pills and pilgrimages and the endless black windows of empty streets. Is it me? Is it? Or is there really a bird with a broken branch for a beak? 3 In the dream I woke up on the floor next to a big pile of eyeglasses that had belonged to the vanished Jews. Oh mankind, a voice cried, why do you destroy yourself? And I might have answered if not for the patrols that enforced silence. Many of us had the shaved heads of prisoners or raw recruits. Others lived in whimsical houses built of bales of human hair. How horrible – always waiting for news of some distant expedition!


1 Pessimism is a dead end. You’re sewn in a blanket with weights at your feet. Strangers working for drinks lift you onto a plank. You’re utterly helpless. A phone rings somewhere. No one but the dog is there to answer it. He doesn’t even try. 2 The meditation CD says, Imagine you’re lying in the shade of beautiful trees. Objective conditions don’t allow it. Your mind reverts to the gold fillings extracted from the slovenly mouths of murdered relatives. Life on other planets may be possible, but only if the British royal family takes no part and you have clouds to shelter you.


Joseph Goosey dropped or failed out of the MFA program at George Mason University. His most recent thing is called WE, THE INSTITUTIONALIZED, out on nonpress (

THIS YEAR WILL BE THE ONE IN WHICH I DIG A HOLE AND DON’T EMERGE ‘TIL I’M AT LEAST CONVERSATIONAL IN FRENCH Corollaries or arteries close in and I will stand harvesting boyfriends beneath the pier. Your language is fraught with ill-tipped thornage. Go ahead, inform what words are real. They’re all air or become so. Without car I live quite comfortably, rat-like and wanting. Working at the sports bar I learned how to tolerate rash. Working at the gay bar I learned how to abandon thoroughly. With pants moist I cultivate new fungus, calling it research.

DEAR SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA RAIN IS SEXY SO WHY NOT REPENT The initial urge is to lose weight like whoa The result is fallacies in the cheeks of our feigned interest One girl’s Mariposa Avenue is another man’s collection of wretched cancers Simply I am not willing to absorb the consequences in one sitting A lifetime’s supply of P.F. Chang’s could be quite persuasive Honeybuns mouth-aching documented like-so Come eat me I beg waiting or wait begging or all-of the above in snow wrapped or warped accordingly

THIS SEDENTARY LIFESTYLE WILL EVENTUALLY GIVE WAY TO MORE PROMISING CAVES A poem written while watching The Dilemma featuring Kevin James and Vince Vaughn in which a man experiences increasingly hilarious foibles while figuring out how to tell his best friend that his wife is cheating on him is also a shotgun. Let’s be honest regarding this sickness. Alien eggs on the back of my neck, says the executive producer, how to excise in the era of success? The electric car will become excessive. The people will run solely on air. Dear sirs, we appreciate your spirit, but your paintings are not fit for our current needs. The tension escalates scary. Is it possible Vince Vaughn is the other man?

YOU MAY BE DATING A PROFESSOR OF LITERATURE WHO WEARS PANTS THAT DON’T FIT BUT I’M MADE OF EXPENSIVE KNIVES When locked up you said I love your pupils, let’s get together. Once released you said I deserve harsh pineapple torture. I suppose that’s just the standard nature of anyone held captive. I mean, when I was on the inside I would’ve talked up Hitler with promises of pretty, pretty ponies. Today I’m going to go down to the mall (the “dangerous” one!) to stalk the Spencer’s Gifts employees. I’m going to post up at the Panda Express because the food court provides a perfect vantage point of the Spencer’s Gifts cash register. This is not illegal, just weird, and it makes me feel better. It makes me feel.


Brett Elizabeth Jenkins currently lives and writes in Albert Lea, MN with her husband and no children and no dog at all. She is the poetry editor for Stymie and managing editor for Specter. Look for her poems in Beloit Poetry Journal, Potomac Review, elimae, PANK, and elsewhere.


Do I really have to say what part of my ancestors is buried inside my sternum? Must it necessarily be sternum-shaped? If so, I’d have to guess that it’s a long stone, smoothed down & thrown into the sea (for what reason, am I qualified to say?) & watched as it fell, pushed up what little water it could. If not that, then the fingers (now bones) of a man who smoothed down the part of his hair on Gower Coast. Who cracked his knuckles often. With it, the ratio of times the fist closed to the times the fist closed in anger. If not that, then the rope of a well pulley. If not that, then yes, the hilt of a sword.

WHAT OUR HANDS CAN SAY WITHOUT US Pointing is our universal way of showing: this, that, there. Of outlining our basic needs: me, you, her. Of showing our dissatisfactions: you, you, you. The hands fold, clutch; what our hands can say without us even wanting to: what, who what. Our hands grab at some special place, hold things, are connected somehow to our ancestors & their wants, know things they ought not know, know things before we can know them, flutter to our chests, say: why, why, why, why, why.


Steve McGouldrick, a Pittsburgh native, has had his work appear in Pear Noir!, /Radioactive Moat, Red Lightbulbs, and elsewhere. He is a co-editor of SLAB Literary Magazine and blogs at


You fell asleep spread-eagled beneath the train tracks of seasonal change, wrapped in a blanket of orange stars and junebugs, head propped upon cool pillows of fresh lemonade. Your tanlines and phone number, faded burgundy, becoming a dew. The junebugs, your armor, glowing chestnut by the headlights in the river. Ohio and cherry-blossoms clinging to the fragile hairs of your neckline, your sweat the consistency of glue. These simple pleasures, this red wine and nostalgia. If it were a movie. The junebugs wait for you, growing old on your saran-wrap skin. Batteries drained, robins leaving the nest. Your ponytail, a wisp of smoke, unraveling in the wind. The junebugs and I, arthritic and ailing, roll over, die at your feet.

THE CASH CROPS OF NORTH CAROLINA The oceanfront glows with aftershave and pink neon. Crumpled corner-store receipts bounce down the warped oak boardwalk into the patient claws of pickpockets scuttling between skee-ball displays and clenched fists that lead state route 17 into the breakers. The cash crops of North Carolina are burning sore throats, hanging over Wilmington in a blur of grey and orange reminiscent of bedsheets. I’ve been trapped in this chain link purse for years, rattling cans and loose tabs of Musinex against the mesh of forgotten bikinis, building my beehive out of your old packs of reds.

TRACY CHAPMAN AND THE SPECIAL BLENDS Butane and April, 1889, a supermarket resting in my left hand. Refilling yourself with marrow, measuring how far you’ve come with yardsticks while rush-hour storm systems fight into the passing lane, Fast Cars sprinkle through the FM dial. Fire ants chipping at my paint, you bent over backwards for passersby on the squishy border, 19 a cyclone of smoke and shredded sneakers. Cooler shades of grey have come and gone, ponytails break with time; there just aren’t photographs to prove it.


Originally from New Jersey, John Mortara now resides in North Carolina, where he is pursuing his MFA in Creative Writing. John works at a local public radio station as well as the publishing imprint Lookout Books. His poems have previously appeared or are currently forthcoming in HoboEye, PANK, and RHINO.


yesterday i was a tree and i was alone i was completely alone because i was the last tree on earth i was the last tree on earth sitting alone in the last saloon on earth i crunched my long brown branches to fit inside the place because i didn’t know what else to do i didn’t know what to do so i swept my dry brown leaves across the countertop and ordered myself a drink i ordered myself a maker’s and stretched my tired brown roots into the glass dipped them right in there and looked around i looked everywhere but there was suddenly nothing for me only cowboys

only firefights

only cards to play

there was nothing of myself the tree resting his battered brown bark on the end stool the tree leaning half-rotten brushing his dry brown leaves on the countertop

and that beaten countertop was wooden just like me it must have died some time ago some long time ago before yesterday when there was suddenly nothing nothing of my sprawling world remained and there were certainly no more trees like me


Harmony Neal is the 2011-2013 fiction Fellow at Emory University. She’s been published in recent issues of New Letters, Ninth Letter, Cold Mountain Review, and Word Riot. She spends her spare time playing with her dog, Milkshake, and growing poets in her house.


When I saw Him, He appeared to be covered in some kind of mustard, or liquid cheese. A yellow, oily sludge dripped from the cuffs of His robe. I opened the door before He could knock, entreated Him with a small bow, “Welcome master! Could I interest you in a shower while I wash your robes in the laundry detergent of your choice?” He flinched, glanced up to the heavens and back at me, “Son, please let me in. I’ve walked from DeKalb, Illinois, and my bunions are killing—don’t call me ‘master.’ ” I guided Him to our humble kitchen, where I’d laid out a table with pastries, meats, cheeses, fruits—a feast for the Son of Our Lord returned to us. He did not bow His head or pray. I guess if you’re the Son of God you don’t have to. His filthy robes imprinted my pastel dining chair as he devoured the buffet. I tried not to look at the mustard footprints filing down the hallway carpet. Martha would flay me. Bowed by His grace, I stood in the doorway, tried to ask again, “A shower? Some clean clothes? Father, who did this to you? Was it the atheists or the Muslims? The Jews?” He peered at me with what I thought may be pity, or annoyance that I was breaking His covenant with the cheese plate, “Son, Christians did this to me.”

“What? Which ones? Where?”

He raised one mustard-smeared palm in my direction, “You know the line. Forgive them for they know not what they do, all that. And don’t call me ‘Father,’ that’s my dad.” He continued shoveling sliced meats and cheese into His Holy mouth, cramming in a few grapes. His fingernails were dirty and ragged. When I got the email that Our Savoir was coming through town, I immediately replied that I could furnish meals and a bed for as long as He needed. My wife called it a scam, went to her mother’s, threatened not to return. I may not have the strength of Abraham, but what could I lose that I would not willingly give, even my wife? I meekly approached the table and sat across from Our Lord and Savior, averted my eyes from the particles clinging to His beard. “Master—”

“Don’t call me ‘Master.’ ”

“Our Holy Father—”

He let out a heavy sigh that sent a spray of meaty crackers across the linen tablecloth, “What? What is it you want?”

“Will I go to heaven?”

He paused, examined the decimated spread, then raised His holy eyes to my wife’s ceramic kitten collection hanging slightly askew in its cherry wood display case. He breathed in deep, then turned to look me in the eye while I held my breath and dared not move, “Son, do you have a level and a nailgun?”


Alexandra is a freelance writer living and teaching in Montreal, Quebec. Among other journals, her work has appeared in Arc, CV2, Event, The Fiddlehead and NAP 1.2. In addition, she was short-listed for the Arc Magazine’s “Poem of The Year” in 2004 and 2008 as well as Leaf Press’ “Love Poem Contest.” She holds an MA in Creative Writing from Concordia University.


--for RD

There is no calendar for grief, grieving; regardless of what the King says, there is never time for such words. There is only weather. Some days it matches the heart with dark skies rain, other days its sunshine a contradiction. Day and night and day, the sky changing and always, she is gone.


Careful fingers orient, place the toy horses. Small hands working in concentric circles, building a battalion of rider-less steeds. Some in pairs joined by harness or yoke, others singly draw carriages, a frame for a two-furrow plough. It’s slow work this measure and steadying: equal parts patients and persistence. But oh, when the stampede’s prepared. Victory will be swift and sweet.


A photograph of the skyline stands in for the city. Montreal is dressed up to look like New York: tilted camera angles, steam rising from the street, the shifting focus of lights. As if one city could be another, as if one could mean more than the other. But the spiders are real. Stuck, momentarily to their web, it’s impossible to recognize their relationship, even as the larger one moves to overtake the other.


Matt Rowan is co-founder and editor of Untoward Magazine. In general, he is very nice, he thinks. He could be wrong, though. Like so many other things he’s been wrong about. So many. A few of his previous and forthcoming publications can be found at Red Fez, Emprise Review, Metazen and Everyday Genius. Find him on Facebook. He loves to be friends via Facebook!


I There are philosophers I picture hunched atop a comfortably grooved boulder somewhere, elbow on their knee and fist under chin, an image recalling The Thinker. The philosopher sits and meditates hard on something. Take Kierkegaard, as one possible example. He is at the same time sitting in the shade of a tree whose fruits are fleshed and pitted with love. YOU SHALL LOVE! C’mon! -- He thinks these things, or they forcibly enter his mind. “Spread those love fruits’ seeds! YEAH!” II But what about this? What if his neighbor, a guy he clearly doesn’t know too well, walks up to him and the boulder, and the neighbor says, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOU LOVE YOURSELF!” It might give Kierkegaard a start, said abruptly and stentorian like this, because who wouldn’t be started, at first? But recovering his wits, and sensibly considering the man’s pronouncement, Kierkegaard’d probably think, how silly, this man is telling me to love him as I would myself, which is a thing that only God can do. Kierkegaard means that only God (that’s if anyone can) can tell him who to love (and further,

honor and obey): family, neighbors and so forth. It’s not in his neighbor’s hands to decide these things. It’s certainly not in his neighbor’s hands to dictate to Kierkegaard that Kierkegaard shall love any human (not least of which being, implicitly, the neighbor) as he would himself. The dispute (both internal and external) quickly becomes tiresome, and it becomes a bit circular too. Kierkegaard would like to meditate on the whole thing some more and return later with his findings. If only his neighbor would leave him be. III But what if, to change things up, instead of his neighbor, it was God via an angel who’d told Kierkegaard to love thy neighbor as one would love thyself. Isn’t Kierkegaard frustrated, by now? His thoughts have been interrupted rather visibly, by a thing that maybe he wanted to meditate about or maybe he’d rather have not, but the thing, which was, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOU LOVE YOURSELF!”, didn’t give him much choice in the matter, because it imposed itself on him with the weight of a certain special devotion. This is not unlike how a fulsome uncle, who’s also a recently paroled ex-con, might need a place to get back on his feet. Accordingly, he may impose himself on charitable loved ones, which is -- admittedly -- an analogy for a contemporary audience, as who knows how impropriety, rehabilitation and familial loyalty (avuncular or otherwise) would have factored into the relational dynamics of early 19th century Denmark? (excepting, of course, historians of that particular time period and place, among other possible enthusiasts and dilettantes who have enough special knowledge to make a claim.) (And, of course, all of the aforesaid is assuming you believe history can be recorded with absolute and incontrovertible certainty.)

Although it is probably safe to say that the love for an uncle, a brother, a brother-in-law, or a great uncle is rather different from that which one would declare for the celestial spirit who has created and holds dominion over the universe. But it is a near enough approximation, especially when one considers in both cases it would be at least largely done out of a feeling of compulsion, of being required and not because it is the course that is necessarily most desired. The point is, now Kierkegaard has got a subject of real heft for further analysis. A higher authority has promulgated “YOU SHALL LOVE!” So what can he do but write a book? And in it, he hopes he covered everything, so that he can get back to meditating on other subjects that it is possible he’d prefer to suss out, over the sussing out of love and love’s necessity and goodness and import. But this thought lingers and stays and before you know it, the book lengthens and goes on and on and on and on, and speaks of love in ways that probably are overwrought but congrats to him because he got it out there, circulating, being profusely read and thought about. Which is what the higher authority most certainly wanted, or why would this authority “plant the love seed” in Søren Kierkegaard’s brain? Riddling him with questions to answer? IV Kierkegaard, still seated on his boulder, searches for more metaphors to adequately describe love, beyond trees and the love fruit they bear. V The boulder is warmed by Kierkegaard, seated atop it. It wonders if this is what love is? If it is, the boulder thinks, I like it.


Marina Rubin’s first chapbook Ode to Hotels came out in 2002, followed by Once in 2004 and Logic in 2007. Her work had appeared in 13th Warrior Review, Asheville Poetry Review, Dos Passos Review, 5AM; Coal City, Green Hills Literary Lantern, Jewish Currents, Lillith, Pearl, Poet Lore, Skidrow Penthouse, The Portland Review, The Worcester Review and many more. She is an associate editor of Mudfish. She lives in New York City where she works as a headhunter on Wall Street while writing her fourth book, a collection of flash fiction stories. Her website is


once the head of a hospital, Sam immigrated at that age when it was too late to start over, too early to retire. a home attendant in Brooklyn, he was now assigned to D’ada Mbabaali, an exiled president of Mugembo. he helped him bathe, dress, prepared his meals, picked up prescriptions, escorted him to hearings at the United Nations, conferences, summits. D’ada introduced Samuel to foreign leaders as his trusted ally, soon he appointed him the Secretary of External Affairs and awarded him a baby elephant, awaiting in Mugembo upon the triumphant return of democracy. letters from the caretaker arrived every week with status reports, photos of the growing Kofi Samuél, showering himself with his trunk, raising his big foot in a dance. in the company of friends, other émigrés, taxi drivers, washers, handlers, Sam joked that he was now a high government official, but sometimes he secretly hoped for a coup d’état that would restore his patient to power. they would all go to Mugembo, he would ride atop his elephant while his wife, tired bitter Sarachka, would stroll the fields like Angelina Jolie, surrounded by african children and bustling bees


it was hard to blend in, twenty-seven of us marching together, australian kangaroos on our backpacks. we checked into hotel Izmailovo located next to chechen markets, the plan was simple: unpack, meet up for a quick drink at the hotel bar, then head out for a Moscow night city tour. but one Stolichnaya led to another until we were flying in our rented loafers down slippery lanes of the bowling alley. Nina lost her wallet, notified security, a swat team of bluecoats arrived almost within minutes, handcuffed Jason who wore Nina’s wallet around his neck, like Shaka Zulu. we pleaded with the overzealous task force, they demanded to see passports, Olga in reception refused to give them up without our tour guide present. a multi-lingual cursing match progressed to a barbaric brawl, as chechen merchants dwelling in the lobby cheered, some for the home team, some for the visitors. bloody and bruised, we watched the Moscow night in all its splendor of golden spires and onion domes through the window of a moving prison bus, the charges against us piling up, theft, assault, public drunkenness, someone mentioned twenty-seven years in Siberia


Jason Teal is a BFA undergraduate studying Creative Writing at Bowling Green State University. His work is forthcoming in SUSQUEHANNA REVIEW. In April 2011, he helped start and now co-edits the journal, HEAVY FEATHER REVIEW,


Topless mermaids in the lake hummin’ phat ones, flipping off sea-dos. Stiffs underwater trip sun. I got toes. I got toes. Our own islands, each of us another corpse on the grill. Your fishing hooks catch whatever you eat. I got toes. I got toes. Based on the song, “Welcome to Juggalo Island,” by the Insane Clown Posse.


Theories of miracles: Water, fire, air, & dirt; don’t wanna talk to a scientist. Fucking magnets, I am wind brushing the backs of giraffe necks. Recognized clean: A pelican tried to eat my cell phone, he looked away. After the rain each rainbow is astounding, shaggy. Open your mind, magic no way in this bitch. Time on planet: caterpillars turning into crows, into ghosts, & shit’s crazy. Based on the song, “Miracles,” by Insane Clown Posse.




NAP 2.2  


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