NAP 1.4

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Editor: Chad Redden NAP Literary Magazine and Books: Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S.A. WWW.NAPLITMAG.COM NAP Year 1 Issue 4 Š 2011 NAP Literary Magazine and Books All rights revert back to authors upon publication.





OCEAN CITY I pulled down my panties to brag to all the beachgirls about my fresh brazilian wax, my skin red as a hummingbird’s soft throat, & I bet in my head that the one with the hippie boyfriend didn’t even trim, always wearing hats & jangly anklebracelets, which was kind of how I wanted to be, but I wasn’t sure how exactly to hold my nose so I wouldn’t smell the rotting cast on the broken leg of the boy whose semen I later scrubbed off with sand and G. kept saying what did it taste like? J. plucked two flowers, one for her hair & one for a vodka bottle on our kitchen table. Sitting on the porch smoking till our breaths periwinkled, H. snipped the horizon up into beads for hemp necklaces & I braided then unbraided then rebraided L.’s soft strawberry hair. The cops were busting the boys upstairs so we hid our beers behind the big flowerpot ashtray. I gulped in the hazy damp dark, kissing a boy who listened to phantom of the opera techno, fingered my black cotton thong while I drank Malibu. O. wandered off to get paisley-eyed at the bong, K. worried her new eyebrow ring pink, & everyone watched as the moon slipped off her bikini & put her sunglasses on.

EXQUISITE You’re a virgin who can’t drive condoms mold in your bedside drawer you listen for the beep the horn you make suck-in-skinny love to yourself in the mirror every night mousse & blowdryer love mornings the kiss of a metal clasp on your slick neck boys don’t have best friends but you have a thousand though the toilet paper at their houses is weird & always wrong it’s ok to bleed if on schedule it’s ok to wake up in a cold sweat but not ok to squint because glasses are ugly & you won’t listen to opinions you’ll only wear cut cotton only wear jeans with whiskers boys wear cargo pants because they stuff their pockets you carry purses taut & embossed.

THE BITTEN TONGUE We’ll never remember the time before we grew breasts. Our bodies, our limbs, cracking skin & red, hips, hair, these legs that move us forward indefinitely, imploring get us out of this classroom & teach us how. All we have in common is our colossal boredom; that urge that forces us to cold cement.

Carrie Murphy is from Baltimore, MD. She received her B.A. in English from the University of Maryland, College Park, and her MFA at New Mexico State University. Her poems have appeared in PANK, Keyhole, Prick of the Spindle, and other journals. Her chapbook, MEET THE LAVENDERS is available from Birds of Lace.


THICK WET RED HOT WE STUFF because these things happen, there is a piece of glass in your foot. it’s wet you say. it looks like red syrup coming hot from your foot i say. i offer my teeth to your foot. i’ll ply the glass from the wet line holding the glass in your foot like a socket for two balls called eyes. yes. & the line is now open, your foot wears a gash of thick wet red heat. a balloon really is nothing without the color of blood you say. so glad your foot took kindly to my hot teeth & sorry it wasn’t my foot stuck by a line of glass i say. this is the point of two smile touches. & wouldn’t it be swell if the stars turned red & drew wet lines toward each other’s heat says the radio voice. maybe, probably not we say. i put a band-aid on your foot with my teeth & say: where is the line at which we evolve into a two person poem about wet heat? i’m trying to find that line, it is where i will leave all of my me stuff. i will come back & place my eyeballs in your sockets. then, you will find that line & place your you stuff next to mine, in a pile of thick wet red hot we stuff.

EAT ME LIKE FRUIT FLESH you began forcing yourself into my general shape the moment you had no idea that i began looking at you. this was the first tangible moment of fruit trees. five years ago i would’ve said that you’re the reason pomegranates are poems. five years later i sit here & count your elbows, over & over. there are only two when you are sleeping. the way you step out of the shower is a variation on a theme called eat me like fruit flesh. my body is filled with empty trash bags & at the beach all of the sand moves toward your fingers. i think they are magnets. i am a variation on a theme called paper cut in my heart. one quarter of all love poems are statistics. three quarters would rather live inside of your mammary glands. i would make love to a pomegranate if you told me to. but i would do it with gusto if you would let me be your tongue. oh please let me be your tongue.

GROWN MEN CAN PLAY WITH DOLLS if you were a real you & not a reverse voodoo doll, you would ask me to do the dishes when you were at work because we would live together. sure. i would look at the dishes & get an idea but then make a papier-mâché mold of your body using only my memory. upon drying i would write these poems on your hollowed out you. if you were a real you & not a reverse voodoo doll i would ask you when you were at work. ask you because the only certainty is that if you would let me lay behind you we would look like a very large question mark. i would look at the dishes & do the idea. & from work you would write to me: the dishes could overtake the whole of the apartment & you would still be the best, especially if you wrote poems on the dishes. but it doesn’t matter because you are a reverse voodoo doll & live in my apron & can’t read, because dolls can’t even breathe. i did the poems with food & eat off the floor.

M.G. Martin is the author of One For None (Ink., 2010). His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in PANK, Everyday Genius, elimae & >kill author, among others. Find him at & @themgmartin.


wikipedia says it will pass (The Red Ceilings Press, 2011)

THE BEST OF FRAT JAMZ 2011 i want to ask, when did you become so out with it when did you stop laughing with me not at me? i can’t sleep past five am i miss the sounds of your upstairs neighbors fucking lopsidedly to the best of frat jamz 2011 the right half of my body is weird and homeless without the left half of yours i want to have the burgers-or-chinese-takeout gchat debate at the end of a workday

I DIDN’T CRY AT THE END OF TITANIC this one day you flew to berlin then later you flew back home and i rode my bike to your apartment outside it was hot and windy we laid under your sheets we listened to the beach boys i made you come i got on top and said i loved you i should’ve just said fuck walt disney you’re the happiest place on earth let’s commit a crime so we’ll get caught and do time together let’s steal puppies from duboce park you had brought some german chocolate you had been gone for too long

MY GMAIL MAKES YOU LAUGH SO HARD before we break up we gchat randomly about men on segways cookie monster videos what we should do for dinner and all this mundane that suddenly feels like the series finale of LOST or finding out whether the afterlife really exists and you say my gmail makes you laugh so hard hahaha after we break up we gchat awkwardly about whether things are awkward between us now which just makes it more awkward whether or not it was already awkward to begin with and i say did you get my messages i kept typing after you went away and you say no i didn’t get anything and i make myself invisible

LET’S MAKE THE WORLD SO QUIET AGAIN if anybody asks this is the story i like to tell: we met in the frozen food aisle the night the giants won the world series. i woke up with a panda bear biting on toaster waffles and never ate an eggo the same way again. when you brushed my teeth in the bathtub i crouched by your ears and shouted baby ! you must be a facebook page because i like you. this is the one where i meet my thoughts in a neutral setting and politely ask their intentions. i’m hiding my real feelings inside my underwear, hoping you’ll just stumble on them eventually. there was a night you texted me from a bathroom in oakland ‘’haha i just saw us as an old couple” -there’s a card catalog of every gum wrapper we’ve ever chewed set to the aladdin song parody i wrote for you. your family name is an informal name of a former european province , is a sufjan stevens song , is a tourism website i have set on limited access. this is a thing about you: you want to be with someone for a long time who wants to be with you for a long time. how long is long and what if the atomic bomb explodes in our bed tomorrow , if my teeth start falling out , if you forget how i like my waffles and the speed of tim lincecum’s last pitch ? ? if this is a choose-your-own-adventure then please tell me how i’m supposed to proceed.

this is the laser that zaps us at night: sometimes i worry that i don’t have real worries just first world problems – like tonight there’s a party at my house and everyone is invited but the beds are hollow props so you can sleep under the stairs, inside my coat pocket or on top of me. are you stuck in airplane mode // is that why i haven’t heard from you in weeks. i heard natalie portman had a baby and no one gives a shit brb -- i’m going to get a pacifier let’s make the world so quiet again

Diana Salier is the author of wikipedia says it will pass (The Red Ceilings Press, 2011). Her poems have recently appeared in Every Day Genius, 3:AM Magazine, Robot Melon, Red Lightbulbs and Yes Poetry, among other places. She lives, writes and sleeps in San Francisco, and at


MISVISION Next to me at the DMV, you made sense of blurry letters. You saw lights flash temple-level. You bragged about missed speeding fines, then mentioned that time I left-turned from the wrong lane and got a ticket. Like charm is a part of it. I once mistook a stop sign for a basketball hoop.You took air shots, cheered yourself on. Sometimes I can’t make sense of words at the grocery and I remember my mother applying mascara a quarterinch from the mirror. Gunky streaks on the glass. I’m tired of trying to focus. When scanning the baking aisle I ask you where the hell is the brown sugar, you point, you smile, like you know something special. Really you are dumb and forget several things on the list. Same smile when I stuttered through letters at the DMV, couldn’t see the red lights flashing until the woman clued me where to look. Don’t tell me I need glasses. Don’t tell me I passed because she felt sorry for me. I can gunk up the mirrors and still be charming when I want to. For different reasons than you think I get a lot of relief from closing my eyes.

GROCERY STORE DECISIONS Grocery store decisions are better made together we scour aisles, follow lists on paper scraps marked with vertical checks are halfarrows, lines with elbows, pleased kinks fissure quickly; will you show me your list careless qualities, butter beside meat this plastictorn broccoli, black-holed strawberries, too many boxes in the cart your belongings to the curb tonight for once the fridge is packed tight and if you hate is exhaustion. I have food for a weak-breathed as you go, I don’t wish to see your elbows again even when next week shopping alone means skimming eager-eyed products of a decade promoting needs knocked around in the cart, ill-fitting, not wanted and for consumption anyway.

Jessica Hollander recently received her MFA from the University of Alabama. Her work has appeared in over 50 journals including BLIP, the Cincinnati Review, the Journal, >kill author, Pank, and Web Conjunctions. You can find Jessica at




SNAILS hard & soft & wisdom when to stay put so why am I thinking fountain pen or how boundaries are reflexive pronouns

NINE WORD NOVELLA I ate the meal then I ate the cook.

COMMA DIRECT ADDRESS YOU talking to nature a ramble of self. Think nesting dolls, largest squeezing into two sizes smaller out of orbit. No go. Going forward, polite conversation an image consumes the larger until nothing requires swallowing up. Boundaries unnecessary. Little to redress to the spent. Moon can do on her own. You, let go. Scurry. A pail in one hand. Thimble of salt in the left.

EITHER IT RAINS TOMORROW OR IT DOESN’T a theorem Einstein worked on but abandoned. Where would we be had he disproved ennui? So tell me, am I losing you to night’s generic hunger or someone?

Kit Kennedy co-authored Inconvenience (Littoral Press) and Constellations (Co-Lab Press) with Susan Gangel. While Eating Oysters is published by CLWN WR Press. Her work has appeared in Ambush Review, CLWN WR, Runes, Shot Glass Journal, Uphook Press, Super Arrow,Tak’Til. . She lives in San Francisco.



contentious shrieks during postmortem examination - made steel structures respectable again

smooth surface of this tortoise shell – dusty debris that fly off – at closest approach – a venture will include the making of an orb

the astronaut renamed himself Tycho to pass through the eminence in all directions – like vestiges of velocity – the stitches were a sign of annihilated kickback

wandering with Heraclitus – you can futz with obscure innocence - the riddler generates “the death of fire” – “the birth of air”

Thierry Brunet currently lives in Antibes, on the French Riviera. He created Nova Cookie & Frozen Hell, an experimental journal publishing only very short stories in 6 words. His poems and illustrated texts appear or are forthcoming in Cricket Online Review, Word For/ Word, WORK, Sous Rature, Danse Macabre, Alice Blue and elsewhere. His first full-length collection, Waste, has been published by BlazeVOX.


ENTER THIS ONE //Write your dreams here Debug.That.DreamBoard (“in-and-out�) rainy driveways {water dripping $east and $west} Hitchcock mystery at the train depot no body found yet? Past nine post meridian Alligator in the lake behind the house ~ ~ ~ <?

speaks Italian; French; German; Polish

?> another round of Guinness at the bar with a dartboard obscuring a photo of Bettie Page %Bihj4lp9hgtr3strasse //////00pabst00/////

SALOON BAR Require ‘dead_record’ ruby-h didn’t take her love to town cmd. HitThisButton

not F9 or F12

t.columnLite: client - Budweiser Coors and Michelob, :string Putty and/or Silly $vegetable1=”Brussels sprouts” $vegetable2=”asparagus” $vegetable3=”carrots”

{three foods babies usually dislike}

while (defined not so clearly in quartz ($a=<THISMEAL>)) #rutilated# [western saloon run by Joan Blondell] cmd. OneWellDoneSteak

not rare nor medium

[made a hearty poker game]

LIMBO OF HIPPOCAMPUS Vindaloo creeping out my mind after Bombay Mumbai Ah the sweetest mystery finding what new worlds are in limbo of hippocampus.

Julie Kovacs lives in Venice, Florida. Her poetry has been published in Children Churches and Daddies, Because We Write, Illogical Muse, Poems Niederngasse, Aquapolis, The Blotter, Danse Macabre, Silver Blade, The Camel Saloon, Falling Star, Veil, Moria, Nether, and Cherry Bleeds. She is the author of two poetry books: Silver Moonbeams, and The Emerald Grail. Her website is at


AT A DINER WITH ANDERSON COOPER OFF AVENUE OF THE AMERICAS “All things were together. Then mind came and arranged them.” ~ Democritus The framed portraits of cable news anchors hang above the Formica counter, signatures in Sharpie squiggled across their fox-fleeing-the-henhouse smiles. Below, I wait at the counter in my parka and order tomato soup and grilled cheese because this is what it seems one should order on a January day in a greasy-spoon-favorite of the sound stages up the street. The diner before me has left a section-strewn New York Post on purpose, like the mints left by the maids at the Hilton. I pretend to read the Post, thinking, this is not my news, I am not a New Yorker, this is not my governor’s sex scandal, but then I am reading it. This city calls us back. When in New York, one is a New Yorker, its news, our news. And as I twist on my counter stool, I glance at the door every few seconds, not so secretly wishing for Wolf Blitzer, George Stephanopoulos or Anderson Cooper—

oh yes, definitely, Anderson Cooper, to bluster in, settle next to me and remove black leather gloves, first right and then left, tug off his Burberry scarf, and order a grilled cheese.

CUCUMBER-VEGETABLE MAN You scratch and sniff and wake me up, with your cucumber poking into my back. Why do you suppose I want to eat a cucumber first thing in the morning? I eat cucumbers but only in salads. And remember, I pick off the carrot shavings. The carrot shavings, I save for you. And I have never cared for creamy dressing. But here we are with the morning, and your poke wakes me up, along with your scratch on my arm and rub of my side. I think, I need to pee. Eggs scrambled or over-easy? You say I am not easy at all. But I never poke. I always let you sleep. And I give you all my carrots and make you hot tea. But yet you scratch and sniff and poke. I guess I will have to learn to eat cucumbers, or tell you to find a girl who likes salad in the morning. Maybe an Asian.

NO GRADE LESS THAN A “B” Dad says: “No grade less than a B.” You say: “I gotta hive of Bs.” He says: “Smart ass, do you have all Bs?” You say: “Honey’s in the hive.” But you lie. Four courses: Speech, Music (History of Rock’n’Roll), Math and a science, Intro to Entymology. One afternoon in lab, A monarch dies in your palm. The instructor dons a beekeeper suit In front of the class and returns papers. Darth Vader’s minion has scrawled, “Do Bees Interest You?” Above the ninety-five percent. Midterm, Dad drones: “No grade less than a B.” You say: “I’m an expert in bees.” Dad says: “When pigs fly.” You hum: “Wait and see.”

But your music instructor Doles out a D for “Rhythm of the Hive”— Your presentation. And in algebra, Not all problems Solve for Bs, Result in Bs. Harvest yield: Dad’s swarm: “Nothing less than a B! Nothing less than a B!” Your sting: “Science, Dad, one perfect A.” Dad’s pinch: “And what about it?” Your buzz: “My hive made smooth honey while all the other bees died.”

Vanessa Blakeslee’s work has been recognized by grants and fellowships from the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Yaddo, the Ragdale Foundation and the United Arts of Central Florida, and has appeared or is forthcoming in Harpur Palate, The Bellingham Review, Green Mountains Review, and The Southern Review, among other journals. She was a finalist for the 2011 Philip Roth Residency at Bucknell University and the Sozopol Fiction Seminars. Please visit for more.






We Will Celebrate Our Failures (NAP, 2012)

BLAZE I’m staring into the mirror when the Blackberry rattles against the sink. My stomach is an awkward Boy Scout who can’t tie a square knot but tries repeatedly. *** Peter says Eden has become more of a second skin. “We were like Bonnie and Clyde but without the blaze of glory ending and the crime and the Warren Beatty on Faye Dunaway action” he said over the phone “I wish sometimes we would go out like that though. Her idea of excitement now is wandering around IKEA, buying the shit that least looks Swedish. I miss those days.” Have you tried talking to her about this? I tried. There was that time I set his futon on fire, switched his beer but he just replaced both. “Maybe there’s a way you can go out like that.” *** Around the pots and pans, I watch Peter and Eden look at dinner plates. The revolver finally warms up to my waist. As I start to pull it out, Peter’s chest explodes, ruining his yellow plaid long sleeved shirt. Eden runs a finger across the blood and tastes it. I get out of there as everyone stares at Peter, bleeding. *** “I’m sorry, Farrah. Eden bumped into me and I just hit the trigger and bam, I was wearing a stigmata t-shirt. I told her some friends of mine made that stuff and we were supposed to try it later. She believed it, thank fucking God. Got any other suggestions that might

not involve firearms and fake death?” I had other ideas. When burning his futon and tainting his beer didn’t work, I borrowed Eleanor’s test results and said they were mine. “I’ll love you always, just won’t fuck you ever again”, he belched. “I mean if I’m brave enough, I might finger you.That’s the most you’ll get out of anyone now that you’re infected.” He didn’t believe me when I said the results weren’t mine. *** “I read that poem your friend wrote for me to break it to Eden we were done and it backfired.” “How?” “Apparently she really liked the line about ‘taking her home/to look for her expiration date./you and your taste/are worth the salmonella shakes.’ I mean, it was like old times, the room destroying fucking. Jesus can’t you hear the mattress in my voice? Is that what I need to get this back, vaguely offensive and charming poetry? Can your friend write more like that?” “What if doesn’t work again?” “Then she’ll break up with me. Or stay with me and just throw up an ice wall all over my dick. Shit, maybe that’s not a good idea, then.” “Do you still want to break things off with her?” “I...yeah...this wedding planning shit is driving me crazy and it’s driving her crazy and I think it would be better to just end things at this point.”

“What are you more scared of, being alone or being with her?” “What?” Oh shit. “Ignore what I just said.” “What do you mean am I scared of being alone or being with her?” “It’s just...look Peter, I just ended things with my fiancee and it took a stranger to do it because he wouldn’t listen to me. He learned to drown my voice out with PBR. You keep saying you want to end things but I don’t think you want to end things. Was that thing in the IKEA really an accident? Did you read the poem the right way?” “Why are you asking me this shit? Your supposed to help me end things. I mean, you needed a stranger. I need one too.” “Peter...” I take a deep breath. “Peter, you don’t want to end things. I can tell in your voice. You love Eden. A lot. Don’t do this. Please...” I stick my thumb in my right tear duct. “Don’t fucking do this to her. Don’t. Don’t.” The phone lays on the other end of the living room. I’m trying to breathe through my hands, but I can’t. I’m not good at this at all. I don’t know how to keep anyone. I don’t know how to help anyone let go.

J. Bradley is the author of Dodging Traffic (Ampersand Books, 2009), The Serial Rapist Sitting Behind You is a Robot (Safety Third Enterprises, 2010), and Bodies Made of Smoke (HOUSEFIRE, 2011). He is a contributing writer to Specter Magazine, the Interviews Editor of PANK Magazine, and lives at


TRANSFIXED. SOFTLY She got tattoos the way some people got therapy. When she turned 18 she defiantly placed a rose in a spot where it wouldn’t show in a wedding dress and it wouldn’t stretch with weight gain and weight loss like Silly Putty on the funnies. When her marriage got broken she had the word for strength carved at the top of her shoulder where she could glance down and remind herself. When her divorce was final she graced her body with a phoenix. Happily she now inked her lover’s lips on the inside of her right wrist, closing her eyes and remembering his beautiful face as he kissed her there.

RAINCHECK IN THE BOOK OF MORNINGS Sun blinding off windshields, a ricochet of white that no shade can camouflage no matter what the intention. Pupils constrict into pinpricks. Heat, cold, time on the clock it doesn’t matter. I should have stayed home with you.

Tobi Cogswell is a two-time Pushcart nominee. Blah blah. She has three chapbooks and her full-length poetry collection Poste Restante is available from Bellowing Ark Press. She is the co-editor of San Pedro River Review (


HEAVEN AND EARTH We turn each other from chair to bed, tracing small fires along the hallway, above waves. Our breath forms islands, wrecked galleons on my shoulder, your stomach. Sixty-watt flames burn great sea monsters and wild beasts of every kind into our eyes— so much to see, so much to touch. Hills slope into grass and whispers. Your thighs round off a darker sky. I pull you on top of me, hold your neck, drag white silk from your shoulders, cup your breasts. A swath of black rides above your hips and my head sinks into a blue sofa— wine-dark sea, wheel-like fan of flowers. Pray your husband dies broken, burned on the interstate. Pray any you loved before

dies broken, burned on the interstate. Pray any you loved before go blind and sick. Pray my wife jumps from a bridge and drowns. Happy the woman who kills anything not love. Happy the man who murders his children, walks away.  

I’VE SAILED FURTHER INTO DAYLIGHT THAN ANY PORTUGUESE SAILOR In the anti-traveler’s book of cul-de-sacs light’s the only excursion. This pour warms my lungs. My hands turn over an hour like a sail pulled away from the sky. I thumb turquoise air and watch dust play across an empty shirt. The sun threshes my skin, cuts blue from bone. I’m a little holocaust laid on our bed. Fire streams through windows, burns my face into dark, peach walls and green shutters. Smoke and sweet smell. At daybreak, my heart’s a handful of ash poured in a glass. Drink.

THEOGONY An ankle against tile, hand clinging to a chair. Flesh painted on cupboards, windows—our moans like pooled water, calm sea. The house breathes. Your hair falls on my knee. I lift your face to mine, always to my mouth. The stove dreams a brilliant sun, white clouds, silver leaves cutting the air. Your fingers find my cock. We hear children’s laughter touch, flatten then scatter across the road. I press inside you and the world burns into life.

John Harvey directs the Center for Creative Work at The Honors College, University of Houston and is Resident Playwright for Mildred’s Umbrella Theater Company. His poems have appeared in Gulf Coast,The Paris Review, Poet Lore, XCP and other journals.


from COLLAGRAPHY Ten thousand miles later and the horizon hasn’t moved. Someone died in the car that’s why he sold it for cheap. Someone probably died right where I’m sitting and, and, I’m sitting there—a good soul from Long Beach discussed vortexs of energy with me until the bus rolled by for our tokens. We are filters and as such some things are left behind. I wonder how often I’m me. Five hundred miles retracing ourselves, one hundred miles on the right track, the horizon hasn’t moved. JR hasn’t given up the wheel, I don’t want him to I don’t trust my wherewithal. He advises me to consider compiling a report And sending it to the interdimensional police for investigation, Because this is just stupid. I’m thinking I will also CC my youngerself. Let him know your mistakes are small devastating blows.

from THE SOFT DESTRUCTION OF A SINGLE ENTITY OVER A PERIOD OF TIME MIGHT CALL AGING I died around the same time you lived. We are not punctual people. Or functional. Kind of like how NM means nevermind and not much. By the way, I’m eating your girlfriend out while Hunter plays on tv, Stepfanie Kramer as Dee Dee McCall, “the Brass Cupcake” discussing the merits of being grim, example: Monkeys trained to locate high value mine fields and tinker with the suckers until it’s safe to move out, because blown up monkey is worth twenty minutes in the jungle with an oversized lidded butterfly net. I’m thinking this still swirling my tongue up and down and you’re girlfriend is loving the motion, her hips gyrate. Excuse the all-in-one printer printing blank pages of a manifesto written in the condensation of our heavy breaths. Enjoy while it lasts, this is a freebie. This is a piano falling, a near death experience. Or not. Or I’m a dead fish and your girl is just happy to have someone new fucking up the motion of her ocean.

Michael J. Martin works in the IT field solving downright hilarious problems. Various poems have sprouted legs or are doing preparatory stretches in journals like New York Quarterly, Juked, Drunken Boat. But better yet, look for the poems themselves. “from Quantum Leap� might be a good start.


STATE FAIR REVERIE AT the fair, the hawker with the little handheld hand-sized vacuum cleaner sucked purposely made crumbs from a square of material. “No more messy table cloths again,” he said, and I stood there with one, still in its almost obsolete clamshell package, in my hands and thought: it’ll need batteries, it’ll have a pair then run out, and I’ll always mean to replace them, to recycle the old ones, to buy rechargeable ones. And I see it sitting there in the pile of junk we keep by the bureau, a pile full of stuff that we need batteries or parts or inks or whatever for covered with a light coat of dust which will grow fuzzier and more fuzzy as the days pass by. Those things will never have batteries or parts or inks, they will remain there until we move, when we’ll sit there, sorting through that shit, wondering what to save, what to toss, what’s sentimentally salvageable and what is useless and what we have forgotten about, what is almost so nice to remember together it hurts like all fuck—I’m standing there with a little vacuum in my hand thinking how light air is. I’m thinking about the length of my longest gray hair and how long it’s been growing, when the hawker nearly sings, “You’re going to take that, little lady? Magic price of nineteen ninety-nine.” I want to say, here, that no one says little lady anymore. It’s as archaic as traveling salesmen. Instead, I lie, “I don’t use tablecloths.” I replace the little appliance with the other ones—blue ones and red, green. Orange. I leave for the rabbit pavilion.

DeMisty D. Bellinger is a Ph.D. student in the creative writing program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Her fiction has most recently appeared in SpringGun Journal, The Monarch Review, and Wilderness House Literary Review.


DUSTBIN PROPOSAL Yesterday I found you baking brownies in your yellow oven. You held the pan below the broiler with your bare hands, kneeling on potholders like a prayer mat. Drops of batter slid down the edge of the off-white Formica countertop and a silicone spatula rested on the lip of a burnt orange ceramic bowl. Chocolate slashed across your right cheek. You leaned over the oven door and I wondered how you ignored the sharp pains that must have shot down your back. The old plastic timer ticked irregularly, seven minutes from ringing. You forgot to turn the oven on, but I imagined as if you had. Your hands boiled and blackened, first your fingers then crawling up to your elbows. Little bubbles formed as the top of the batter crusted over. I think they’re done, Mom, I said.When I reached my hands under your armpits and tried to lift you up, you dropped the pan onto the top rack long enough to contortion out of my grasp. You reached right back in. The old television played in the living room and Mr. Rogers sang about bathtubs and drains. I walked to the bathroom to check the cabinet. Your medicine bottles held all the pills, even though the fill date was almost three months old. Flattened toothpaste tubes stacked neatly on the shelves next to cardboard cylinders of used toilet paper rolls. As soon as the timer went off you yanked out the brownies and tossed the pan on the stovetop. Careful, they’re hot! you said. When you removed your wedding band and threw it into the oven, I reminded you that the melting point of gold is nearly 2,000 degrees. Let it burn, you replied.

When you were a little girl, you buried your dolls in the garden behind the farmhouse. Grandma confided that after you went to bed each night, she’d dig up the fresh graves, pull the dolls out and mound the dirt again. She left the pinecone gravestones in place. Back in the kitchen, she rinsed the dirt from the plastic joints and shampooed the nylon hair. She threw out the old clothes, redressed the dolls in hand-sewn ball gowns and set them on your beside table. At school you boasted about receiving new dolls daily. You never knew your mother was on a budget. Grandma said you collected random objects: empty brightpatterned Kleenex boxes, the ivory slivers of soap discarded to the bathroom waste basket, the greyed-pink topped stubs of No. 2 pencils. You bookended your shelves with empty glass soda bottles and populated the space beneath your bed with so much smoothedout crumpled wrapping paper that no monster had space to lurk. I imagine you leaving for college, the first higher-educated woman from a long line of seamstresses and factory canners.Your collections stored and labeled in corrugated cardboard, shoved into your closet. As you double kissed your mother’s cheeks, you grasped her hand and begged a promise not to throw out your relics. Even though Dad died last winter, you set the table for two tonight. At five, a volunteer delivers a single plastic-containered meal and you divide the meatloaf, potatoes and peas between two plates. Sorry I don’t have enough for you, you say and invite me to sit down anyway. Over the previous months you’ve reinvented him: rewritten anger as overworked, fists as caresses, thrown-against the wall boxed collections as your fault for holding onto useless objects. Your

husband sits unsmiling, framed to your bedside table, the fireplace mantle, sleeved to your clear-plastic wallet slot. You stare at him, glossed over with empty-house wandering, your mind jumping across decades as chapters you reread to make real again. Suddenly, you anger. I can see the search reflected in your eyes, the surge of fury without recognition of its origin. You clench my wrist too hard and fork-stab your mashed potatoes. The cheap plastic peppermill that won’t grind hits the wall and cracks on the ground, small spice pebbles clicking and bouncing across the hardwood floor. You shake your head and move toward the broom closet, programmed clean-up response overtaking the rage. Tomorrow we will drive you to the nursing home, comfort you into a room you don’t recognize. All three of your children will share a space for the first time in twenty-four years to deliver you. I’ll hang gauzy white curtains and line up tattered mystery novels along your single bookshelf. Your son will discuss medication with the nurse out in the linoleum-covered hallways as your younger daughter hangs dresses in the closet, folds handkerchiefs and scarves into the drawers. You’ll bend down next to me as I hold up the edge of the bedspread and we’ll push shoeboxed soap, pigeon feathers, pebbles and dried pasta underneath like brownies to your oven.

Kathryn Roberts works as a bread baker in Portland, Maine. She currently is finishing her BFA in Creative Writing at Goddard College and was elected Editor-in-Chief for the Spring 2012 edition of Goddard’s literary journal, Guideword.




ARY You know when you’re still not doing that anymore. It’s not a minute or kissed by a sandwich. Cheeks are subways. Thinking is for assholes.

BUY WHAT YOU WANT Remember what you didn’t have to tell them. Form a mask, wear it alone around. Stand up stuffed animals instead of empty ones. Pull your eyes in as far as they will go. Do this for the If, the Maybe that they’ll come back out.

AISLE DOMESTIC When you don’t call you sound the same. I’ve indented. Something about pasta & fucking torture, otherwise. There are more than two stages of cold.

BC There’s a sound for flannel. Some of anything is awful special. You text for directions, I discount aluminum. We’re two cars ahead of blues turning right.

SINCE V It’s raining if there’s a difference. I stop to start another apartment later. Lightning has steps. I walk like a duck when I’m drunk.Tomorrow I don’t have to work. I’m going to see a movie with anybody.

Parker Tettleton’s work is featured in &/or forthcoming from Gargoyle, elimae, Mud Luscious, The Catalonian Review, & FRiGG, among others. His chapbook SAME OPPOSITE is available from Thunderclap! Press. Find more work & information here:


BULK For Devan My shopping cart is a wheeled cornucopia of comfort. Vodka and beer to swim with my low spirit. Doritos and frozen burritos so I could die from my diet. If I were a building, I’d have been demolished due to structural damage. If I were stronger, I wouldn’t have told her to keep the ring anyway, and gotten over her wrecking ball I can’t to my gut. My groceries are high calorie Jenga pieces marking the last two years of our romance. They spill into the aisles and over my waistline, waiting to decorate my coffee table. I grab a sample of pineapple juice and crawl underneath the oranges bin. My body slowly falls to the floor like a melting Creamsicle. A checker with a sympathetic voice as if she speaks the language cloggedarteries, talks over an intercom—Harry, cleanup in produce.

Daniel Romo is an MFA candidate at Queens University of Charlotte, but represents the LBC. His poetry can be found or is forthcoming in Gargoyle, MiPoesias, Fogged Clarity, Scythe, and elsewhere. His first book of poetry, Romancing Gravity, is forthcoming from Pecan Grove Press. More of his writing can be found at


LOST BOHEMIA Do what you feel, they told each other, and misaddressed packages intended for India to China. She noticed blood on the handkerchief. We are all mass assassins, serial killers, he said. In autumn, leaves fell into their drinks. The arrival of a fat little bald man everyone called Red could only mean one thing – the baby would celebrate its birth with tears and anguish.

WAR IS ALWAYS WITH US 1 An angel with a grave face walked in. Everyone knew what that meant: ambulances are everywhere. 2 All over the country, people had lost each other. Others got suddenly old. Small groups huddled around baby cribs, sobbing. 3 One eye is for looking outward, the other for looking inward. The great windows of the cathedral are missing their stained glass.

THE ARTIST MODEL As a flower, she would have been a tulip, with decorous hints of pubic hair.

STRANDED I study my reflection in the window of the butcher. The trains that leave the city empty return empty as well. Does the sound of sobbing mean what I think it does? People who were born here exchange knowing glances. Tomorrow’s paper may carry news of a terrible accident. For now, it’s night and raining, and somewhere lovers are blowing smoke rings into the dark.

Howie Good’s latest chapbooks are Inspired Remnants, from Red Ceiling Press, and Threatening Weather, available as a free download from Whale Sounds at  


HONOR Do ants honor their dead more than their living? Their squished more than their disabled? I imagine the parade—tiny coffin, mere thread for a flag— proceeding down an underground Main Street. He’s their hero. I made him that.

Randall Weiss is a poet from Tulsa, OK. He hosts a monthly poetry reading in Tulsa, Third Thursday Poetry Night, and frequents the local open mic nights. He’s also a perpetual student pursuing a B.A. in English.


KIDNEY STONES It began not with a bang but a whimper. I felt a stabbing pain in my lower back and the urge to pass what felt like a razor blade through my urinary track. Waves of nausea flooded my head with shocks of pain in my groin and back. I sprinted to the bathroom hoping to pass the stone but only a trickle of blood splattered onto the toilet seat. I rushed outside, and, after vomiting in the driveway, I cursed at the sun, and bit my right hand as hard as I could to distract myself from the back and groin pain. I got in my car and soon my speedometer needle squeaked past 85 mph and soon I entered the hospital parking lot with tires squealing. “I’m having a kidney stone!” I barked at the admitting nurse. She was unmoved and queried, “Do you have your insurance card with you? What is your mother’s maiden name? What is your Social Security Number?” Judas Priest. I entered a maze of questions and maddening forms, but I soon made it past the barbarian at the gate and into a tiny hospital bed. I flopped about like a fish on a hot skillet until a doctor who looked like Alan Alda’s twin came in. Hell, he probably was Alan Alda. I grabbed his right arm and begged, “You’re going to give me a shot right now?” “Yes, but a nurse will administer it. It’ll be quick; she’ll just hook it into your IV.” Alan Alda turned and left the room.

“It that you Kevin?” It was an old woman’s voice: croaking, tiring, and somehow accusing. I turned and noticed an old woman in a wheelchair. She had eyes covered with cataracts. “What?” I said. She nodded. “I’m ready to die, Kevin.” I shook my head. “My name isn’t Kevin.” She begged me to take her home. “I can’t take you home. I don’t know who you are. I don’t know who I am.” She shouted, “YOU’RE AN ASSHOLE KEVIN!” “You don’t know the half of it, lady.” Oh, gawd, how I wanted to crawl under my bed, hide and show what a brave man I was. A nurse bustled in. I smiled until I realized that she was there to help the shouting woman instead. I twisted back and forth. Another nurse came in. She asked my name and my birthday. I told her. She drained morphine into my IV. I held my breath but didn’t feel any relief. O, Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you…

“TAKE ME HOME TO DIE KEVIN!” I bit my lower lip until I felt the blood dribble down my chin. Why wasn’t the morphine working? It was all a joke. The nurse used a placebo: there was no other explanation. Suddenly I felt covered in a blanket made of warm liquid. I floated up, sprouted wings, and soared out of the window, past the moon and the stars, and into a pain free universe. *** The kidney stone passed and so did the morphine. An older grinning doctor shook my hand three times and told me I was too young to have another kidney stone anytime soon. He was wrong, but I believed him. Oh, how I believed him.

Adam Graupe’s first piece of writing appeared in Futurics in 1996. In that article he made comically bold predictions about the future of the Information Superhighway and about how floppy disks would someday become more affordable.


FOLLOWING RULES I am returning my library books on time. I am reading them fully and finishing them. I am following rules. Look at me following rules No renewals. No bullshit. I am a good citizen. I am also not swearing in public. I am writing my congressman. Not to tell him I want something from him. Just tell him he is doing a good job. I do not know if he is doing a good job. I think he should be told he is. I am keeping all of my receipts. I keep them in a hanging file in a file cabinet in my office which I have altered to perfectly fit the dimensions of even my largest receipts. I am paying parking tickets. I am decidedly not eating silica gel. I am not even getting parking tickets but am finding them on other people’s cars and paying them.

Or I was, before I found out that was illegal. now I am just following the signs about parking not thinking not thinking of tickets at all. I am trying to forget that they exist.

Russ Woods once saw a gang fight on his commute home. He has been published in New Wave Vomit, Dinosaur Bees and Pangur Ban Party and has work forthcoming in LIES/ISLE. He co-edits Red Lightbulbs with Meghan Lamb. He recently lied about his favorite movie to the Mayor of Homewood, IL on television.


JET ENGINE We stood under a jumbo jet and opened our mouths; everybody said something, but nothing (what we heard over the jet engine’s screaming at us, demanding that we speak our minds).

ACCIDENT When I slice the vegetables for dinner and also see blood—the accident which will stain the stained wood cutting board, and be fed to all of us, anyway—what picture could find this kind of shallow, skindepth damage, like coloured streaks in the evening sky? The Twilight stars on TV tell Oprah, “Kristin Stewart is pregnant,” and if I waited months I could find that baby and pinch him, hard, and feel his skin’s grain in my fingerlines as he cries saltwater, and the spot I touched would turn to a colour that, if any more beautiful, would be like magenta.

LAUGH In a short message he once sent me—only to me, not because only I could read it, but just because he was typing to me and that was what he happened to be typing—Phil told me he felt both pity and camaraderie with whoever was laughing on the laugh tracks in sitcoms. Especially the old sitcoms, the ones taped on cheap film stock with bright colours, where sometimes even the camera would get sick of the set and swing through the fourth wall and you’d actually see them clapping and laughing, like on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. But mostly they would just be waving, usually to the cameras and sometimes to the stars. What I remember about that show is that it lives on in colour, like the lime and light purple graffiti in the title sequence, which still screams nineties TV at me like an acrylic painting. Phil said to me—another time, because he’s always thinking about it—that it’s his favourite nineties TV show, and that he still watches it all the time when he’s lying in his room reading his textbooks. He said it makes him laugh always. I don’t remember. I just remember that the colours were really important to how people might watch that show even if they didn’t know anything about it, because things like that stand out to me more than things I wish stood out, like what it was really about, or what it might have taught me when I was a kid. As many times as people tell me that what they talked about on that show was bullshit, I can’t say I actually remember. But I can tell Phil that it was bullshit. I usually tell him when he wants to talk about it again—not the same things he’s already said, but something else about it, another fragment—in a conversation with one of our other friends, or tells me in a text message that he’s in his room watching it on his computer. But it just makes me think about it more. Wouldn’t the people who clapped and waved to

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air be old now, and wouldn’t the old ones, like my grandparents who also liked that show, be dead? And if you went back far enough to when everything was in black and white, you’d know they’d be dead. Phil watches those shows, too, sends me old clips of them like viruses. In syndication they’ll echo like cacophonous ghosts, not laughing at anything, really, maybe just laughing through their own laughter. Laughing on videotape to things that will be funny always. I can’t go any further with that. All of those are things I’ve never told Phil—not because it’s him, just because I haven’t told them to anyone, really—even though sometimes I’m thinking them while I’m typing him a message. After just a few weeks I stopped saying them, even though that’s what I think I thought was so great about him when I first met him, that he would talk about stuff like that. After just a few weeks he would say things and say things and say things, usually in short messages he’d type to me, and I’d sit and read them and smile. I imagine Phil sitting in his room—thin t-shirt, studded belt, spiked blue-blond hair—on his computer watching The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and sometimes thinking to send me a short message. But usually he’s just laughing, the way I imagine him, moving forward in a way I don’t really understand.

John Nyman’s poetry and short fiction has appeared in Misunderstandings Magazine, Steel Bananas, Clark-Nova Books’ anthology Writing Without Direction and Tightrope Books’ GULCH: An Assemblage of Poetry and Prose. He is currently studying Creative Writing and English at York University, where he has served as Senior Fiction Editor of Existere,York’s journal of literature and art. He will also be attending Vanderbilt University as a Killam fellow during fall 2011.


LONY GHORRI IS A HORNY GIRL Chew, sip, and slurp. Chew and chew, and sip. Lony Ghorri is eating a Boston Market roast beef dinner alone. She drinks Tropicana juice alone. It is expired. She stares at the ceiling and wonders, how can I get some? Lony has a problem: her toilet is clogged. It could be fixed if ran her fingers down the P listings, circled Yellow Pages, and dialed for a plumber, but Lony will not call a plumber. She believes a plunger and time will fix her problems. Lony goes in to her bathroom just to check and see. Her body and arms move as if fighting against a wave. She feels her dinner and expired juice turning inside her whenever every time she moves; her dinner and juice pretend to be twins inside a womb. She hurries out of the bathroom. She runs awkwardly through the hallways. She knocks on her neighbor’s door with one hand. Upon seeing Lony the neighbor lets her in without question. She’s done this before. The neighbor still guides her with his fingers, though, it’s a habit. And she’s grateful. Sss sss sss sss. Plop, plop. She taps her toes. Her odor fills the bathroom. She wipes her ass first and cleans her vagina second. She throws the used tissue in the toilet; she is relieved. She washes her hands with cold water and then uses her neighbor’s towel. Their names are embroidered on the towel: Neighbor & Neighbor’s Wife. She feels it and places her face against their towel and she feels jealous. When she closes the door behind her the neighbor and the neighbor’s wife greet her.

She smiles when the neighbors smile. The neighbor escorts her to the door. She smiles again, but the neighbor just opens the door. She fumbles for the door knob when she remembers she didn’t wipe the toilet seat down. Her dead, urine soaked skin is on the toilet seat. She frowns, but then she shrugs. Lony passes her bathroom when she re-enters her home. Lony passes her bathroom when she retrieves a carrot from the refrigerator; Lony is on a diet. Lony passes her bathroom as she thinks of that guy who gave her his number earlier on today. Lony passes her bathroom when she searches for a piece of paper with that guy’s scribbled number on it. Lony passes her bathroom when she uses her laptop. Lony passes her bathroom when she thinks about calling that guy. Lony passes her bathroom when she retrieves Ben and Jerry’s ice cream from the refrigerator; Lony is on a diet. Lony passes her bathroom as she dials the numbers. Lony passes her bathroom as she mouths a laugh and a conversation. Lony passes her bathroom when that guy picks up.

Lony passes her bathroom as she talks to that guy. Lony passes her bathroom when she learns that guy’s name: Herb Peltum. Lony passes her bathroom when he asks her out on a date. Lony passes her bathroom when she says ‘yes.’ Lony passes her bathroom when she hangs up. Lony passes her bathroom to rest her weary head. Lony dreams of her and Herb Peltum. She dreams he is doing more than fingering her. She dreams he is fucking her and pissing and cuming inside her. Lony wakes up. She walks to the bathroom and opens the door. She lifts the toilet seat and sees pieces of herself decomposing and floating in the toilet. She can see hunks of shit in the murky brown water. Lony pours bleach in the toilet to combat the smell, but it doesn’t work. She has to hold back the tears. She fishes in the toilet with the gloves on. She fishes with her breath held and head turned. She fishes for feces. She holds them in her gloved hands; they make sounds like squish squish. She places them in a large black garbage bag. She dumps bleach and ammonia in the toilet bowl. She scrubs the Pollock painting rendition away. She washes her hands when she is finished. She washes her hands again.

Lony thinks about Herb Peltum during work, but Lony thinks about her toilet more. She calls Herb Peltum sometime in the afternoon and softens her voice for him. She tells Herb Peltum that she must cancel their date. Herb Peltum asks, “Why?” She’s embarrassed to say it at first, but she tells him about her issues. She explains a rusted pipe and a clog in detail, but manages to keep an air of uncertainty. Herb Peltum says, “My grandfather was a plumber.” He is telling a lie because he hasn’t been inside a woman’s home for a while. He says, “I am the grandson of a Plumber, so I’m a Plumber, too.” Lony Ghorri smiles and nods, Lony laughs at the right moments, Lony wonders if he’s big.

C. Jak Mussington lives in Inje, Gangwon-do, South Korea. She is forthcoming in Negative Suck, The Delinquent, Metazen Magazine, and New Wave Vomit. She doodles at:




YUSUF One otherwise very normal morning, Francine woke up to a sloth glued to her head. It was an absolutely terrifying way for Francine to start her day. Questions raced through her head as she scrambled to a mirror. What is this? Why is my head so heavy? Is that fur? She examined the tiny mammal on her cranium for a few minutes. What kind of animal is that? She thought, having never seen a sloth. She poked at it with her hairbrush, trying her best to find out if it was alive. Suddenly, a huge yawn came from the sloth as it lifted its head and looked into the mirror with Francine. “Good morning,” the sloth said. “Not for me,” Francine snapped. “What are you? And why are you on my head?” “One at a time, dear,” the sloth said, “and why must it be what am I? Can it not be who am I?” “What?” “No, dear, whoooooo,” the sloth slowly stated. “This is no time for you to be cheeky,” Francine exclaimed. “You need to answer my questions.” “I’m not being cheeky,” the sloth defended, “for I am just as lost as you are as to why I am here, seemingly bound to the side of your head.”

Francine dwelled on this thought. She became empathetic towards the sloth. Surely this was quite traumatizing for him, perhaps even more so since he had evidently lost control of his body as he was glued to her and not vice versa. “Well,” the sloth said, trying to interrupt the silence made by Francine’s sudden appreciation of the creature, “have you a name, dear? Or shall I keep calling you dear?” “Francine,” she replied, her thoughts still wrangling with how the sloth must be feeling. “Absolutely delighted to meet you, Francine,” the sloth nodded his head. “My name is Yusuf.” “Yusuf,” Francine mumbled. “An odd name for… well for whatever you are.” “Once more with the what, Francine,” Yusuf said. “You even know my name.” Francine felt foolish. “You’re right,” she admitted. “Yusuf then. That’s a perfectly fine name.” Francine brushed her hair.Then Yusuf’s.Then went on about her day.

Matthew Fugere is a writer and student from Virginia. Some of his short fiction can be found at Untoward Magazine. On his spare time, he likes to maintain a satirical online advice column called Sage Advice at


BUYING BLUEBERRIES “Do you want to go into my pockets before I leave?” says a man to a woman. Wearing only white briefs and not going to work at the diner, a woman touches her left foot. There is a metal spoon collecting one concentrated package of white sun. “That is not going to work.” says the woman. “I would be upset.” She looks into the living room which for an instant is a flower filled space and then returns to what it is, an open mouth stinking of soy milk. The man touches her breast with the pads of his fingers as if it were box of blueberries to cary out with him. He says, “I appreciate that you let me stay in your house.”

DINOSAUR RIOT 1969 Corporations wept for there was a new model of government. It rose over stadiums, leapt into nostrils and spilled onto the trade routes of grocery truckers. There was Democrat Karmal he owned the meantime. Mother Geneva - the negotiator and maker of warm milk. And Emperor Kush - the easy-going convert with poor toilet aim. He was appointed for accepting the experimental arts but was instantaneously impeached for revealing the identity of Banksy. Studies have shown that the mystery of Banksy’s celebrity allowed for imagination; the thought that he could be anyone, maybe Alexander the Great controlling the Persian facades, philosophically pantsing what was forced upon him.Yes, it was a miserable day and of course the clouds hung like limp dough but legislators everywhere were celebrating with a BBQ.

There was a roasted pig dressed in pineapple and glowing pink skin, its eyes deposed in sharpie. Democrat Karmal wore Jesus sandals and spoke in broken diplomatic cliches like, “There was a lapse in judgement, but it went down smooth.” and, “People will vote with their hearts thus I should leave soon.” The backyard became untidy the wood of the porch curled, clotheslines snapped and one drunk was ordered not to wear the dealings of his marriage on his face. When their mothers found out they called just to hang up.

TIGERS LAWNING 1/2 pacified tigers sublet apt a & i watch them pack the window into a box, roll up their human carpets & move to the apt with a veranda. ooo. it was there, w/ a bundle of grocery roses in his paws that the male tiger atoned for his drunken gardening by allowing for the lawn. the wife said, “regarding your lowtops, the earth is probably dreading yr footprints.” she said, “god wears socks. he has a satin robe and bathes in blond daylight.” he re:, “everything is dew ascending with the morning.” and he tramped the sprouts.

Peter Richter received his BA from Rider University in 09. His poetry has since been featured in kill author, decomP,THE2NDHAND, Indiefeed Performance Poetry & other great publications. He is currently the poetry editor for the fledging Inky Squib magazine and will be releasing an ebook through Pangur Ban Party in late 2010.


SOMEWHERE STILL THE SAME In the beginning, even before the heavens and the earth, the flash came to be. I imagine it lurking out there, in here, wherever it was before it did what it was born to do, and I imagine it with a moustache, because most villains have moustaches. I miss music, new music. Nothing new is being recorded or released. A lover made me a mixed CD once to celebrate our first Valentine’s Day. He and I had exchanged roses, and no one had given me roses in a long time, and before I went home that night, he gave me this mixed CD, and when I miss music most, I remember this mixed CD, and I may not remember each song on the CD, but I make up the playlist. I think I get at least one or two songs right. If there’s a thing as too much joy, I would be taken away. A lyric. I’m sure of it. A lyric from a song three or four songs in. He and I hadn’t said I love you, but I knew the I love you was coming, on the tips of our tongues most nights, and I had not yet memorized his body, the scars on his wrists, where, one night, he had cut himself, just because. And just because he used the words just because, I stopped seeing the scars as anything but the before in his life leading to his after with me. I look for him, for adults I knew as a child, and I look for faces and voices I once knew, sometimes intimately, and each time I seek familiarity, I am reminded that nothing after can be familiar because we have nothing to compare after to. We are restricted to the places we can reach on foot. Some set out to walk the world. An old woman – probably 70, if 70 can be called old in our after – led the walk. She wanted to see Australia before

she died. She was living in a place called Illinois before. After, she was in Topeka. A tornado, she said. A farmhouse. A woman on a bicycle pedaling furiously outside the window in the tornado. She had a dog, this woman inside the farmhouse, but this dog had been afraid and died, after. This woman in the tornado who landed in Topeka, we’ve created stories about her. We call her Harriet, even though Harriet is not her name. We named her Harriet as in Ozzie and, because she was in a farmhouse in a tornado and landed elsewhere. *** I’m looking for a spark. Any chance collision, and I light up – no, I do not light up, it lit us, neither up nor down, maybe sideways or upside down, something other than who we were before. I liked the before. I ran each morning, and I wanted to like yoga but I did not, and I was apathetic about religion – think how quickly that changed for many of us – and I went to work where I worked and hated the work I worked, and I kissed my spouse hello and I kissed my spouse goodnight and sometimes my spouse and I did more than kiss goodnight. Come in, I tell them, and in they come, because there is little to do but come in to hear today’s incoming outgoing postcard from before. Do you remember the day the towers fell? Doesn’t matter where you lived that year, that month, that day, for days and months and years after, you know about the day the towers fell because we were each inside those falling towers and we were each the bodies

outside of the falling towers and we were the rescuers and the mourners and the newsmen and women trying to capture the moment the towers fell because already, then, we knew that we would remember wanting to remember the moment the towers fell. Before those towers fell, we did not know of an after the towers fell, because we did not think in terms of before and after. Only after a before do you think in terms of before and after. We shrouded our mirrors in black and tore our clothing and cried until we were waterlogged from crying and we went to cemeteries and talked to the before-dead because there is no room for the after-dead and I feel I must archive each after-dead, remembering their before-dead, resolving their afterlives. We went to church and we asked for forgiveness and we asked for reasons and we kept saying that word,why,whywhywhywhywhywhywhy, until we sounded like a murder of crows. Why. Harriet sent a postcard last week. Made it, she wrote. Beautiful here. Neither rain nor snow nor sleet nor hale nor flash can keep the postal services from delivering, though the decrease in postal use has most post offices shuttered every other day. Stamps cost $23. No joke. $23 to send a letter. But we send these letters because every now and then getting something unexpected is nice. Beautiful here, Harriet wrote, but she didn’t include a return address, so we can’t write back and say that here, where we are, this here, remains the same, and that her farmhouse in Topeka, still where it landed, remains the same, and the streets with its cars and its dead

and its stop and go lights and signs and dead ends and two ways and rotaries, all of that remains the same, and we remain the same and mostly we can’t write back to say how jealous we are that she is somewhere beautiful and we are somewhere still the same.  

William Henderson has been published in Dr. Hurley’s Snake-Oil Cure; Eunoia Review; Hippocampus Magazine; Annalemma Magazine; Curbside Quotidian; How I met ‌, an online collection of essays detailing intersections, crashes, and other ways we meet people; Sea Giraffe (from which he was awarded the Martius Prize in Nonfiction); the Smoking Poet, Bluestem, Zouch Magazine,Whistling Fire, 50 to 1, Specter Literary Magazine, Pure Slush, Revolution House, This Great Society, Ham Lit, The Writing Disorder, nontrue, Xenith, The Fix, The Subterranean Literary Journal, Red Fez, and Writing in Public. Also, NAP Literary Magazine will publish his first chapbook in January 2012. Henderson works as a freelance writer, editor, and copyeditor, and is a full-time father to his children, Avery and Aurora. He can be reached at, on Twitter @Avesdad, and through his blog,


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