I Issue #2 I May 2015 I www.peacheslitmag.com I
Issue 2 May 2015 Index 1. Cover page: Two-hundred-ninety-three right hand lines by Gilmore Tamny 4. Photo by Eleanor Leonne Bennett;; Medea Was A Daughter by Katy Williams 6. Gary Gonejob by Mark Antony Rossi 7. Call, Unanswered by Katie Hibner; Flea Market Shades by Gary Singh; A Suit That Fits by Gary Singh 8. Wildfireby Scott Jessop 9. Budda & Co. by Howie Good 10. Calgon Take Me Away by Emma Zurer; Bitter Fruit PAGE 29
by Abigail George 14. They’re Versions of Us by Jessica Van De Kemp; I Was Scared of Safe Love by Trisha Kc Buel Wheeldon 15. Wilt by Dan Sicoli ; It’s My Birthday by Brittany
Ackerman 16. Easter by Dylan Debelis ; Hilary by Dylan Debelis 17. Shitty Symbiosis by Janne Karlsson 18. Rememberence by Philip Jackey; Possibly A Bozo
Copyright 2015 No part of this publication may be reproduced without publisher’s permission
by Glen Armstrong 19. Codependence by Philip Jackey; Granny and Papa’s house by Philip Jackey 20. A Broken Escalator by James Hartman 22. Inside the Flower Lair by Janne Karlsson 23. A Family (Rattle Dreams) by N.V. Baker; We All Drink Alone by Jason Bertucci 24. Missing Time by Jason Bertucci; I’m On An Adventure or I’m on the Poop Deck by Alex L. Swartzentruber 25. Stay under the radar by Jason Bertucci 26. Ed is Not My Friend (Today)by Mark Antony Rossi 27. Menthol by Chris Wilkensen 29. Swallow Tail by Emma Zurer 30. The Next one’s On Me by Eleni Chelioti 33-35. Contributor’s Bios 36. Back Cover Two-hundred-ninety-four-righthand-circles by Gilmore Tamny
Rights, Permissions, Publicity, Contact: Peacheslitmag@gmail.com
Letter from the Editor Dear Readers,
Itâ€™s almost summer time! That means lazy Saturdays sitting pool side, a half melted popsicle in hand, jotting down poetry under an open window. It also means longer days; at 7pm the sun seems closer to the Earth than itâ€™s ever been, touching the tops of buildings and trees with strawberry hands.
So I just want to wish you all, readers and contributors alike, to enjoy yourselves. It is such a delicious time to write, to make art, to reinvent and play. I hope that you are open to the possibilities of trying something and then failing, because the broken pieces are sometimes the most beautiful once rearranged. I think youâ€™ll find some truth to that in this issue, as Peaches has a soft spot for the fearless. They are, in times when you need them, the last burning lights in a dark hall closet.
Thanks for reading and enjoy Issue #2,
Photo by Eleanor Leonne Bennett
Medea Was A Daughter This is not the space for the pure and simple truth. I was born of rain and gushing springs, of the changing wavering mystery of what’s around the bend. All offspring are born of the warm wetness of motherhood, although I was never able to swim my way up to the surface. I learned to breath in bubbles instead. All girls are jealous of me, washing their laundry in rotating silver machines, never going anywhere but around and around again, while I have the expanse of the world’s oceans every time I open my arms wide and say, “Mommy, I love you this much.” The first day I stepped foot on land, a babe out of amniotic fluid, a fish out of water, I forgot about the orbs of my mother’s mother’s mother’s genes still jostling around in my uterus. I forgot the simple truth that my mother was ruined by me, that she passed on a part of herself to make me whole, and I used my gain to admonish her for her deficiency. She got it from me. She got it from me, the way her hips widened to accommodate my own, the way she chewed on her ring finger when hesitant, the way she mispronounced “crouton,” the way she stooped beside my father, the way she sneezed after a summer rain. But that was never the truth, just a thing we said, “I blame my parents,” “I blame my daughter,” I blame this ever-evolving slang and the necessities of new technologies. I was to blame for the freckles on her stretching skin, and her love for excessively long scarves. I was to blame for the cute man on our television screen. I was to blame for never leaving her so that we became a single person, always moving with my small feet pressed on to her shoes, my hands grasping hers in bubbling giggles. And I had a poster of panda bears that I hung over my bed, with the child chewing on a bamboo stock while the mother licked at her paws, and that was my mother and me. If I said that she was to blame for my self-destructive benders, that would not be the complete truth, but it would be a portion of the truth meaty enough to sustain a hiker on her trek up the mountain. If I said it was my father’s fault, because his stubborn and violent nature was the only thing he gifted to me on the day of my birth, that would be a part of the truth as well. The whole truth cannot be spoken of, because I cannot push my hand down my throat and grasp at those eggs, like so many grains of sand, where I keep the perspectives of my maternal ancestors, and the influences of their daughters to come. The truth will come in starts and stops, flowing like the waters of time diverging around rocks and meeting again on pale beaches, a drop of my blood on this side of the Golden Gate Bridge appearing faster than seems possible whirling down the Nile, as if seventy-two years cannot hold meaning in a land of whirlpools and Millenia.
They say that Medea murdered her own children, purposefully, all to revenge herself against a killer and his new princess. But they did not say this until Euripides made it fashionable, as stunning as a dress of white lace turned to flames in an instant. Before this, Medea was as dark as her arts, folding in and out of Jason’s story, bits and pieces here and there, so that no one text can encompass her entirety. Riding upon her dragons, she cannot commit to one space, one pure and simple truth, but instead finds herself ten years in the past, beating at her breasts because she is not the daughter she thought she was. The important part of Medea’s life depends on whom you ask, and whether or not you want to sympathize with a wronged but foolish girl, or point your finger at the madness and changeability of women— worse than loose cannons, which is why they are never allowed on ships at sea. Or you see her as I do, the sorceress of time, refusing to tremble in her presence but maintaining a respectable closeness, grasping at her black veils and golden coronets, searching in vain for her nexus. Her power lies in keeping you guessing, never letting you know if the true story is the first one you heard, later spiraling out of control and into sensation, or the last, finally putting the puzzle together to form the complete picture, or none of the above. None of the above. I never hung a poster of Medea over my bed. What does she even look like? I can see her in my mind, but not on the whiteness of the ceiling. I can see her in my mother’s wet tears, and my own longing to fly over the sea in a plane with scales down its back.I endeavor to be like Medea, but instead of murdering my children, I drowned my mother. I drowned my mother for a man, and isn’t that always the way of it? No, that’s not the whole truth. I drowned my mother, in jealousy, in a rage, in sadness, in the rain and the river where I was born, in complete consciousness of my actions. Or none of the above. I drowned my mother two days ago and tomorrow I will ask her about the waves and the moon, about her bruises and my father’s fists. I drowned my mother so that she could remember the feel of her breath passing from her lungs to mine and back again. If you are looking for truth, in all of its confusions and contradictions, its backs and forths, its mutability and static popping, then you have not come to the right space. The right space is two retellings ahead. Go there now.
Gary was a lost fool of a mumbling stumbling generation. Nobody knew a single word this guy said. It was all a mishmash of monosyllabic nonsense. I depended on hand signals and pointing at things whenever he visited the pharmacy. I never cared for the insults or street jargon applied to him. The guy didnâ€™t need any more problems. The terminology the paternalistic people used made them feel better but never improve his life or our understanding of his world. Gary was a man-child who threw a pack of gum and a pack of condoms on the counter and you wondered if he knew how to use either. I also wondered if he had any money. Most times he was just given things for free to get him out of the way. Ten minutes after I closed the pharmacy last night I heard Gary was hit by a car while working home from the park. They said he body flew like a paper airplane and landed back first on the roof of a nearby car. He was pronounced dead at the scene. His immediate family was pleasantly surprised when many visitors stopped by the funeral and clipped pins on his casket of his favorite restaurants like Johnny Rockets and Hard Rock CafĂŠ. Cards were left with hand-made images of his beloved cartoon characters. Gary left a note which was read by his father to a packed room. In the note, Gary decried our need for war and our neglect of animals. He thanked the few people that were kind to him. It was a very small list. None of his family was on that list. Neither was I. I really thought I measured better in his eyes. I really thought.
---Mark Antony Rossi
Call, Unanswered Snuggle in your apricot slippers while I extrapolate if I can do our laundry underwater / stamping down delicates in a furnace / like whack-a-mole / a stunning multiplex your fasces never blinked / to recognize / forking into the miasma / you’re stumped at a pool of gymnasium foam blocks / plushy / you don’t have to be Charon / to be able to cross it while chewing gum / your mouth is too fixed to the cider-hole / I force out a blank cartridge and / you scoff / it was mutual rejection / mutual / so I melt / blubber over like wax on the wicker ----Katie Hibner
FLEA MARKET SHADES I craved her units in college, when we both weathered our benders at the same intersection, the only interesting street in our home town, forging our paths from guitar-based apartments to flannel-packed rooms, while our homework dried on the campus vine. Her international business units and my recording studio obsessions played second and third viola to King Cobra and chain wallets. There were two of me: gifted student and snotty overgrown teenager. There were two of her: poet, visionary and brunette swan with flea market shades. Actually, that makes three, but who’s counting? One evening she emerged from night class wearing a light green vintage sweater jacket, open over a tight Soundgarden tshirt and jeans, back when only the two of us knew that band. And when I confessed that both of us together would make a wonderful duet, she apologized for being stuck on the wrong guy. So I faked a class project and recorded her talking just so I could have her voice on tape. Twenty years later, I posted on Facebook that creative types are the most hypersensitive creatures on earth. And she hit ‘like.’
A SUIT THAT FITS A suit looks good when it fits. Everything she ever said to me, that's all I remember, especially now, on the train, surrounded by suits and more suits, all of them tailored for the masses: browns, grays, navy blues, the hues that confuse me. Why can't I find a suit that fits? ---Gary Singh
Wildfire A black column on the hill behind the house Blue skies, sun’s blaze burning our skin “I’m dying inside” Yellow light redolent with burning pine Smoke stings our eyes “This is not living” Red faces, wide eyes fixated on the wind Helicopters chop the sky “Get a real job, like a real man” Distant sirens wail; a glow on the ridge Raining orange embers on the houses below “I love you but I’m not in-love with you” The distance felt; hell is coming Watching helter skelter devastation “I’ve felt this way for years” My arms wrap tightly Flames grow on the dry hills “Do you know how this hurts me” The order comes, “Evacuate” We pack up the litter of our lives “I was hoping we could stay friends” Five minutes to consider What is needed; what is important “It’s over” Wood makes up our lives Papers with numbers, papers with stains we call pictures “I’m leaving” Into the Pathfinder Into the Charger “But what about Mom”
Fire sweeps down the ridge Time to go; no good-bye “But what about Mom” You go to his place I take the kids to a hotel The fire takes the house. --- Scott Jessop
Buddha & Co. Exposure has eroded the face of the garden Buddha. Perhaps I shouldn’t compare, but Kanye West broke down and cried during a BBC interview. It sounded like treachery, the Dreyfus court martial, Van Gogh getting most of his teeth pulled. And that hadn’t happened before. His message was simply, “Your egg, my semen, we change the world.” Someone else once said that to feel like an underwater jellyfish is to experience a higher mode of being. Let’s cover the walls with soft, plush things, then make people sit on the floor. --Howie Good
Collage by Emma Zurer
The steak knives were missing. Is there any value in that truth? Give me a little earth. A place in the sun. A bowl of shelled, salted and roasted peanuts. Let me have a piece of the supernatural universal in my hands. Give me something to grow in the chilled earth that was once made of volcanic rock. I do not really care what you give me to grow just not hidden sadness, or egoism. Too many people let egoism grow on them and then they call it arrogance. Once arrogance is in the picture then your whole wide world is turned asunder. At some point in your life, you are going to stand alone. Sometimes it feels like an hour. Can be longer. Wait for it. It is coming. Like winter in the air. Clouds that look like people. The human being does not know how organic conversation is. It is just as organic as depression, or any other mental illness is. It is just as organic as paperwork. It really means nothing at the end of the day, that sexual impulse. Like a river, it has a song. A marginalised beginning and an end. Marilyn Monroe sweetheart with her ballad of plum flesh naked under moonlight, the Kafkaesque novel between her ears. Her feast of autumn flesh. Her winter flesh. Her most basic mood a summer or a spring in the photo album is ripe for the taking. It was her wedding. Day framed by shell people (and those most fragile relations and relationships, delicate, and sensitive), and memoir. A white glove. A cab driver. Grape juice instead of wine. She was still childlike. Innocent of family life as a newlywed. The archipelago of rainbow children with their ghetto planet. Sometimes she cried. I could not feel empathy for her because I was not yet born. This image of the autumn chill is always on my mind. The butterfly. Coconut milk. A woman must always keep a diary. A thinking woman must keep all things Orlando to herself, that she will write a triumphant book from beginning to end with unchanging hope, instill her characters with extraordinary innocence. There is always this struggle for creativity. The tapestry of a wonderful dream. I love men. I love women. You cannot ask me to give up either because always my search is for love, for acceptance, for attention,
for affection, for approval. Joy fills my lungs. The release of forgiveness. Fresh and new as rain and the wheels of James Byron Dean’s Little Bastard. Cauliflower for breakfast. Who knew? Look how sweet it looks on the plate. Almost as if it can live, and breathe for a little while longer. How divine the florets look in their pale green mess of a feast of leaves (why did you leave me heartbroken, cold, and alone). We are all acting a bit part here, and a bit part there. We are all learning how to cook slow roasted vegetables. Doctors, talking heads, talking to themselves. I try. I try. I try. I must. I must not be afraid to dream, to have goals, to see myself fail and then to have the courage and the motivation to dream again, and when all I have to offer the world is my sadness. The delicate fissure that frames my every psychological framework in my nucleic acid. I do feel incomplete without family life. No anchor there to empower or uplift me. No lifeline there only the harmonic pleasure of ocean wave after wave. Intuition a quiet dream. A Jinny, a Rhoda, and a Susan. I am not a Jinny, a Rhoda, or a Susan. I spy with my little eye on the dreams of others. What am I? I am in need of a room of my own, caught between fantasy and delusion, financial, and emotional security, and a world to call my own. I refuse to evaporate. I am an endangered species. I am in need of money, the bliss of joyful happiness, the splendid loveliness, the new, and the psychological. What is this feeling? What is this situation located beneath my collarbone? What is this sensation rising up within me? I have poets to confront. Social cohesion in African countries neighbouring communities. There are no longer any borders, any boundaries of any kind. Steps of all kinds must be taken towards being a commissioner of peace, and reconciliation before bullets ricochet out of control. Although I will never forget the tension of childhood. I will never forget the surface tension, that loss of the measure of self- control I had as a child. I am growing older beautifully, gracefully guiding the skeleton quiet with shark teeth. My mother is elegant. She has never stroked my hair. Put comb or brush through it, but love her I must. I must forgive her. In forgiving her, Jesus comes, my being is filled with the Holy Ghost, and I wash away my sins and hers together to save myself if I want survival. Light numbs me. Numbs the pain, that pressure behind my eyes. With one blink and the world as I know it, is gone. Reality is blurred. Material possessions as I know them are gone. I need to know how to love. How to accomplish the grand design of it. Flowers are beautiful. Her flowers are beautiful. I watch how her garden grows. How she nurtures the roses with her green fingers, and under my breath I am thankful for not feeling peaceful as a child in my childhood home. There is no more sadness. There is no more emptiness. Just empty coffee cups as I work through the night. Plunging myself inside and out of manuscripts to the beat of a different drum as I word a childhood world dreamt up in the kinks of kindergarten, and adolescence. I guess my mother needed me as much as I needed her. She gave me her everything. Her mess. Her grief. Jesus Christ. Tennis and swimming lessons and ballet. Weekly visits to the hairdresser to comb out the kinks in my hair. It was all right if my dad called me his Angela Davis. She did not want me looking anything like her with barely an afro. If I had to have my hair straightened, I had to grit my teeth while my eyes watered. ‘Pain. Luvvie, do you feel any pain?’ The hairdresser would always ask and I would shake my head as she pulled the comb through the thick cream on my head. Mothers of children who had their hair chemically treated as children always knew the cost of what beauty meant. They would never hold their daughter’s hand. My mother never held my hand. She knew there was a lesson to learn in everything for the baby that was being thrown out with the bathwater. She gave me the shore, the bay and the baby of the family, my brother, and her brothers, and the Hotel Alabama. Do not think you know all of me just because you walked into a chapter of my life. Only know this, that there has always been a division between us, that there has always been eyes watching over us, that there has always been a spotlight on us. Perhaps a better word would be conflict but we need each other. We need this complicated love because it makes up our personality and our genes now and yet it gives us enough personal space to breathe. I know this battle will always have a beginning and a middle but no end. What do they do with the urine samples in the renal unit at Livingstone Hospital? What do they do with the vials of blood? How day in and day out do they make savage case studies of tragic women? I need to write to live. I need to write to survive. This is also how my mother makes hummus in the food processor. With olive oil and a can of chickpeas. She makes it with love and red chillies from my brother’s garden that burn your mouth. The garden where he grows friendly mange tout, blushing baby tomatoes, basil
that hates direct sunlight, mint, celery, avocado trees and papaya that play at happy family. They take to the soil as if there is joy in their taproots. We drink chilled water with mint, lemon and cucumber as if we are movie stars living in the Hollywood Hills. I try to understand what this magical feeling is inside of me. This sensation as I realise he is no longer here to frighten me to death with his stories. My brother. I am no longer half of his soul. He is no longer half of mine. It is only when we talk on the telephone that I become aware of the distance between us, and the decay of our relationship. I am prepared to accept responsibility now. For that distance. For that decay. He is no longer my sun. My Virginia Woolf in disguise. She is my veil, my apprentice, shaman, owl wise. I see Jean Rhys’s ghost in-intervals. Joyce Carol Oates’s hands and rouge. Rapture. Oh, rapture. There was Plath’s lipstick. The milk, the buttered bread, Ariel. Gas. Gas. Gas and stamps. Updike’s father’s tears. A child’s eyes can see the worm. Daddy has a painted drum. Let the dishes rot-into-nothing. Hemingway’s earth does not waste-anything-in-the-end. The cornfields of Illinois are pretty. Where David Foster Wallace grew up. His childhood made up of bonfire anecdotes, shark teeth and infinite jest. He was the pale king sitting on an earth-throne. The so-called psychotic bewitched by libraries. By the halls of Amherst. The Midwest where ofall-things genocide took place. Murder and speeches. His dream songs. They came from space. He gripped his pen. Left behind an alphabet of supernova writing. There were monsters hiding in the closet. Monsters under the bed. The room is smaller than he remembers when he returns home from Amherst, water and lobsters pouring out of him. Worms, holes, the dark, maniacs. Hooks already programming him. There it was staring back at us (although we did not want to admit it). There it was. The archipelago (we did not want to admire it). There it was staring back at us. The body has gone into shock. There it was like a ghost story. A soldier missing a limb but understanding what shrapnel meant now and a woman’s addiction to alcoholism. Diabetes threading its way through her nervous system. This woman my second mother would die from it. Dad also has diabetes. He follows a special diet. His palate clean from things of childhood. It is a Monday afternoon. We take things slow and easy. We drink our ‘elixir’ of mint water. Making a mantra out of the words. ‘Healthy lifestyle’ and ‘pain’. It was Christmas, which meant people would be coming home for the holidays, festive cheer and we would all drink. Hold the bottle as if it kept the Grand Canyon and liberty in its mouth. I listen to my parents argue as I have always listened to them since I was a child reading a book under the covers with a torch. I am thirty-five. It burns me up. The waves of my childhood sea. I call it home. I am a girl again. A girl playing nursemaid to my father. The mall has shark-infested waters. Do not let us go there. I prefer sunlight. I prefer soaking up the sun and the breeze in my hair to booze. To boozing it up. To my brother’s beers. My sister’s wine. Both of them do not believe that they are alcoholics. I find this information startling. Like the fact that I have studied ballet. Even though I grew too tall. Even though there were girls who had prettier feet than I did. My feet looked like fish. Those words reverberated in my tiny chest but I was not alone in that room. My reflection staring back at me. This is the river’s song. Melodic. Catchy. I mourn many things now. I dream of high school corridors. Youth does not have a name anymore. I live for water. For a body of water, the weight of it to uplift me, empower me. I dream of capturing castles in the air. I also will myself to be happy. Happiness is best when shared with a friend. I remember my mother whispering to me. She does not whisper to me anymore and nothing seems as lovely as when my mother was in my life. I wish it could go back to being that way. That perfect world. People bring life into the world. Couples make love. Elderly people move around in their nursing home, half-forgotten. Others live with their children, grandchildren, forgotten too. I must do something with my hair. Buy new clothes. Do that makeover. Maybe it will makeover my soul. Maybe I will get a new soul instead. Replace the old one. I love me. The old one or the sinister new one, I ask suspiciously. Funny girl, you are beautiful I tell myself. I need love or rather I need the design of it. The walls made by an architect’s hands or hours. Does this mean that a man’s hands must make the walls? Hours make me stand still staring out of the window waiting to welcome home a brother and a sister. We have been estranged now from each other now for years. I hold the winking horror of it all, of humanity inside my head. Inside the chambers of my heart. Cells and platelets float by. Nerves need the childproof cap that covers those pharmaceuticals just as much as I do. All I can do is grin at
this new lopsided world. What dwells in a flood of tears, of sobs? This river’s song is so complex. So complicated but bear with me. Her song is not so strange after all. Not so where are you. Where have you been all this time? Something flaps in the air. What must I do with all this time on my hands? I cannot stand the footage of war on the television anymore. Cannot stand politick? This talk of cohesion. Social cohesion. Yet they are all there in their sheep’s clothing. They all flood my brain like rain. Like the hens in my paternal grandmother’s backyard that I remember feeding biscuits to with my siblings. I am dead to them. Hard to believe how they looked up to me once. Would have done anything for me. People used to concentrate, focus on my potential but that is history. That is a wilderness song. I am that river. Can you see the symbols? Can you seem them staring back at you in the water? Love I will never understand. Life in a field. I think of the collages I made with my siblings in Sunday school. Life with them now. --Abigail George
They’re Versions of Us I know the month will be endless. A hundred birds making the journey. Some will die in the wind like nightfall. We’ll touch them together. Our hands rising like buttercups. Light buffering dark from dark. The fire of ourselves we’ll put to their chins. --Jessica Van de Kemp
I Was Scared of Safe Love I used to word everything for you. When I thought the clouds looked like jagged cliffs, I planned to give that simile to you. In the public pool, I opened my eyes underwater And swam slow so you could see the broken sunrays On concrete through the suspended strands of my dark hair. This, until I loved someone who actually loved me, Someone who let me keep the clouds soft for myself, Someone who let me swim fast with my eyes shut. And I should not have feared losing my similes Or missing the view by being intimate with the instant. I have not. I still have words with safe love.
---Trisha Kc Buel Wheeldon
It’s My Birthday
There's a version of you hanging there over the back of a chair
“It’s my birthday today.” Happy birthday. I hope you have a good day. “No you don’t, you don’t care anymore.”
and another dangling from shower curtain in the upstairs bathroom
“I’m seeing someone.” Me too. “I wish I didn’t know that.” Me too. “What if one of us was lying?” One of us always is. “What makes you say that?” It’s true. “Are you really seeing someone?” Are you? “Maybe it’s better if we don’t talk for a while.” Or ever again. “Why?” What’s the point? “Because I love you.” Then why are you seeing someone else? “Why are you?
and, of course, various unseen you loom in hanger closets your code-switching fashion in a stream of shedding over these years clues of you stir re-discovery never tiring of shaping the ghosts from floating shadows return anew like the fresh morning aroma absorbing me into surrender the wanting like a stubborn weed in after-winter glow
“Just know that I love you.” I don’t know that. “How could you not know that?” How could I? “It’s been so long.” It’s been long with her too, and I bet you tell her you love her. “I can’t stand that you’re jealous.” Why would I not be jealous? “This is why I can’t do this.” We aren’t doing anything.
-----Dan Sicoli What do you want? I miss you. I miss you. “I just wanted you to know it’s my birthday and our song came on at the bar.” No, you just want to know that I’m here. “Maybe we shouldn’t talk anymore.” You already said that, but if that’s what you want, then I agree. “Is that what you want?” Yes, because you don’t know what you want. Maybe it’s her, maybe not, but if you really did love me you would know after all this time. “Be nice to me, it’s my birthday.” Happy birthday. ---Brittany Ackerman
Twelve days before Easter a heron dances on razor wire thatâ€™s strung like Christmas lights around the Texas prison. The San Juan riverbed is dry enough for breath to expose the bones of migrants buried in the topsoil. I do not waste my children. With the bones I craft a mobile and let the blistered marrow pollinate the earth as snow. And with the wire I forge a catch and tether to fish the holy out from hiding in the empty lake where shadows rage. But heron, I let you dance until your lungs are parched and sore. Even God needs to exhale some mornings.
Hilary Willamette was winter stretched ice sculpture daughter fawn ear tongue young belmont and a half moon playground intimate animal wrapped two warm bodies sleep skin skeleton key grip intestinal fortitude strip screws in leg poles x-ray resistant forehead opens clumps ginkgo petals north waterfront poem pages pieces ship bottle belongwater tightlip strong lockdown angeldevil baby infant wave crush who i made love once maybe ------Dylan Debelis
Remembrance I try my best but I just can't remember the last time I felt lucky to be an adult. I remember age 9 and my winning free throw, how the popcorn was used for confetti, how the guys invited me for pizza but I was too shy to go so mom treated me to McDonald's and for the rest of the night I took pride in pretending that I was Michael Jordan doing a Big Mac commercial. These days I'm lucky if I make it through the week. Tomorrow is Friday but I’m terrible at optimism. I’d give it all for a one-track-mind: a Pink Floyd song on repeat. But sadly I dwell on anything subliminal, and I'll believe anything I'm told. And I remember age 9, carefully watching my father who's lost it all to the power of intolerance. I'd ask myself: how can he be mad in a world where a summer night can loosen the knots in your belly? I bet he's never listened to the crickets chirp below the glow of countless stars. Or let the green grass slide between his fingers so the moisture could soften his calloused heart, far unlike my heart: weak & naive but only when it mattered, weak when I was scared to look at Playboy and naive when I was scared not to.
Possibly a Bozo It may have been a Bozo the Clown toy, its talking string pulled permanently out, the spring inside its chest no longer serviceable, or it may have been love. The constant dance of ring and finger, of pull and ridiculous voice box, of ruffles left on a park bench and foreheads smudged with graphite, give me suspicions once again that it might have been a Bozo the Clown toy. And it might have been repairable by some mad junk dealer who understands the hearts of clowns.
Codependent I cried again today, kinda like a 6-year-old might cry: palms coated with tears & snot. It's the third time this week and tomorrow is only Wednesday. Not to mention I'm a 29-year-old man with a wife but no clue how to love. Rather I've learned to belittle, utilizing the fewest words with the harshest intent. A slut-cunt-bitch. Slut and cunt describes the bitch. The bitch describes my wife. Our photos are only mimics, just wall décor to humor the neighbors; squares & rectangles suspended above more squares & rectangles resting on these ridiculous doilies that are almost always synonymous with dust. But without my wife, there's not much I can handle. Just a bird caught in a room with a bleeding wing. And I am way too hysterical to tell you where it hurts.
Granny and Papa’s house And for sure this house is haunted; it moans at night like papa did when he wasn’t papa anymore, rather a sad story of children and their children and pestilent cancer cells, his sunken cheeks pale and white as the ghosts who live here. If you listen close you still hear his son, been dead since ’72— plastered to a tree, killed instantly, thrown out the window like a sack of shit, the same way most repudiated his mendacious words of advice. And you can still smell the menthols, almost if she hadn’t lost to the stroke ten years prior, my granny, who smoked before you could die from smoking, turning her walls to dirt, stained dull yellow like the nicotine on papa’s teeth. And granny’s the kind of gal papa read poems about, and papa didn’t read poems, he was more a hands on kind of man, who preferred using fists when he was angry, scared, and even in love because granny swears that one of the holes papa punched through the closet door was in the perfect shape of a heart, and you could see right through. ---Philip Jackey
A Broken Escalator
Halfway up the flight of stairs, his motherâ€™s grip loosened on the handrail and as he watched sweat spotted the back of her neck like weary stars. He had helped her at first, placing a firm hand on each side of her waist, but she shoved him off every time with her arm. Remaining always a step behind, he kept his palm poised near her back. Onlookers with their Christmas worries rushed past the frail lady on the left clutching the handrail. A few scowled. A haggard man in his bank suit stared at his shoes behind them. His mother paid no attention. Her back, more hunched now, heaved as if the weight of this task and not just her arthritis had finally begun to bring her down. Her head started to sway. He thought her concentration unraveling like a ball of string. She clawed now at the rail, but his motherâ€™s body tipped back and with all too much familiarity he lunged, hopped up behind her and slid his left arm around her waist while he clamped his right hand to her belly. He cradled her back into the pillow of his chest and balanced on his heels. She squirmed inside his embrace as wet, silver hair scattered his cheeks. A slow exhalation, and she settled, like clay molding into its final shape. He raised his left foot to the next step, simultaneously moving her leg up with him. He repeated this with his right but it was like kneeing sudden cement. His left foot planted on the next step, he nudged her leg to move with him but it wouldnâ€™t. Again, with more force, he encouraged with his right leg her right leg to move. With stubborn reluctance, her resistance finally melted, and he pushed her leg up to the next step, feeling a more concentrated weight sink into his chest as his mother tucked her arms in and cupped her hands beneath her elbows. He moved his left leg with hers to the next, and did the same again with his right. He repeated this process of moving his and her left and his and her right until they arrived at the top. There, he stood behind her holding each of her arms. He let go and stepped to the side. But he noticed a sweaty clump of silver hair drooping before her eye so he brushed it aside with his thumb. whistling.
The haggard man behind them began
She straightened herself and exhaled. “My slacks are this way,” she pointed, and walked up to the counter, where she opted to add three more pairs of slacks to her order. The bag hitched on his shoulder and his right arm curled around her waist, they walked back to the steps. “Now let go of me, Bradley,” she said. “Go off and look for those Nautica and Tommy Nilfiger clothes you like and I’ll meet you where we came in.” “Julia,” the haggard man in the bank suit remarked with hard irritation. Bradley slipped his mother’s hand inside his and placed her other hand around the handrail. She sidestepped away from him, at first. The man in the bank suit behind them checked his watch.
After repeating more or less the same process down the stairs, the three of them made for the exit. The man in the bank suit, without looking back, jingled out his keys and rushed ahead. Bradley curled his arm all the way around his mother’s waist. As they waited just inside the doors, and waited, and waited, and waited still, he bravely glanced over his shoulder at the strip of gold tape warning its caution: the black railing had skewered off, some of it lying in a twisted heap on the ground like a dead python. The rest of it trailed in a zigzag, draping the steps, and these steps tilted weirdly all the way up, as though a massive weight had crushed the left side. Broken and neglected, locked in time this thing waited, for help that was taking too long to arrive. ---James Hartman
A Family (Rattle Dreams)
We All Drink Alone
She wakes, turning over in sleep many times each night not because of the dreams, not because they disturb her tender-soft rhythms, she wakes because she is restless, she wakes because she is always tired,
the smoky blues singer in the local lounge the tired beat cop thinking about his pension the witty lawyer working on cases late at night the lonely housewife wondering where her husband is the handsome aristocrat handling his empire the disheveled cashier full of dreams at Walmart the fire captain trying to keep up the moral the average mail carrier kept under duress the pizza delivery boy attempting to be bold the unlicensed mechanic never finalizing jobs the typical gambler hoping for something sensational the lesbian bartender that gets bored at night the head chef that schmoozes all day the liquor store clerk that expects a perk the wood worker who deals with imbeciles the bank teller that counts deposits subliminally the seasoned corn farmer that feels he’s finished the old day trader that thinks he’s been had the scrawny sandwich maker at the corner deli the nursery guy that helps dull people nurture the lead singer that can’t stand the spotlight the Toto fan that has no taste for their new album
She has dreamt that I murder her, not violently, but with fondness, gently put hands around her neck, considerate not to cause discomfort, I lay her face affably beneath the water, I smiled, she smiled, no resistance, no hesitation, from either set of hands, a muse? She has dreamt that we had a little dirt root cellar, and we buried bones beneath the earth, mostly little bones, little skulls, tiny phalanges, and one day I came down, fever-sweats of rage, while she struggled hopelessly and cried, trying to hide her body, heaping dirt atop her body and making mandalas with her pinched tears I was angry and she was sorry, None of this disturbed either of us, but I thought later that I should have been disturbed. ---n.v. baker
we should feel sorry for some but also watch out for them they could be beautiful humans or wild sociopaths maybe we’re all a strange breed, seeking hope and wonder or it’s possible that we want to go numb and feel nothing some of us find it sexy and some find it necessary we’ve all been there at some point or another I don’t judge anyone based on alcohol intake, I enjoy it myself sometimes it’s more fun to be alone with your thoughts and your booze
Missing Time I picture myself on a small island somewhere in the Caribbean feasting on conch and shrimp tacos with flaming hot peppers I choose my drinks by color and they all come with little umbrellas it’s often very humid and shorts suffice, I rarely wear a shirt or shoes the mosquitos, lizards and cockroaches are simply part of the bargain after a couple weeks they become like family and I even name a few I put in special orders for books to be brought in from the mainland my mode of transportation is a golf cart with a slow leak in one tire everyday I fish the reef for grouper and occasionally dive for lionfish I barter for white powders with the men who climb the coconut trees boats weighted down with tourists come and go like bees from a hive I hunt the women with braids in their hair and without makeup on their faces my surprisingly charming cabana is somehow irresistible to them when not worshipping the sun, I hide in the shade or swim in the big blue the tallest hotel hosts fabulous fiestas on Friday and Saturday nights there I make my money, singing and strumming an old warped guitar I don’t meet the kind of people that usually bore me like card tricks another beautiful day goes by as the jungle swallows me like plankton then I wake up: startled - wondering how to get back to paradise
----- Jason Bertucci
Im On An Adventure or I’m on the Poop Deck I’m on a journey to the heart of myself. I’m on a voyage into the funk and goo of life. I’m on a treasure hunt for wild jewels of experience. I found a big ruby yesterday and a pirates skull with gold teeth still attached. Maybe I’ll still have teeth when I'm 500 years old too. I’ve been flossing and eating my vegetables, saying my prayers and doing tiny sins to keep balanced. I’m on the poop deck of a far out bizarro wooden ship. I’m mating with mermaids and getting a sunburn. -Alex L. Swartzentruber
Stay under the radar don’t get too fat too soon - don’t read a book too late pay your bills on time Stay under the radar don’t wake up too soon - don’t teach your child too late go to the dentist Stay under the radar don’t make friends too soon - don’t say goodbye too late be kind to the mailman Stay under the radar don’t interrupt a conversation too soon - don’t learn to love too late give money to the poor Stay under the radar don’t fake a smile too soon - don’t visit another country too late register to vote Stay under the radar don’t drive a car too soon - don’t play an instrument too late see a baseball game Stay under the radar don’t lie to a woman too soon - don’t swim in the ocean too late buy food from a farmer Stay under the radar don’t forget dead friends too soon - don’t think out loud too late keep out of jail Stay under the radar don’t master any games too soon - don’t break a bone too late paint your masterpiece Stay under the radar don’t embrace the rules too soon - don’t stare at the moon too late be your own doctor Stay under the radar don’t talk to millionaires too soon - don’t rescue an animal too late avoid purchasing electronics Stay under the radar
----- Jason Bertucci
Ed is Not My Friend (Today) Something happened on my way to the man cave. My pencil lost its lead and I can't sleep with my wife. Is it medical? Is it psychological? I don't know yet. But I feel less than a man and no small pill is going to make me feel bigger. (Well you know what I mean.) We take things for granted. I will be the first to admit. Yet you can't prepare for this kind of failure. You can't reach the moon without a rocket. You can't see the heavens without a telescope. Ed is not my friend. Even if it's a symptom of something deeper, something blocked or something broken. Ironically I can relate to the woman forced into a mastectomy. I can sense how one's very identity can be intrinsically tied into a body part. There's a rage in me that wants to scream out, “my part is more important than your part.” But I can't afford to be an unfeeling jerk when all I'm feeling is an urgency to be a better man. I have my pill and waiting on blood tests. I have a woman very supportive. That should be enough but I'm a man and suspect mockery at every turn. Maybe it's a figment of my imagination or maybe it’s the kink in my firehouse. I don't know yet. But I plan to do more than bark at the moon. I will see the heavens in all their glory because my identity is not lost or stolen. It's gained a finer understanding of manhood that must recognize love as a worthy pursuit. Funny how I could grow up so much when my partner below has let me down.
------Mark Antony Rossi
Justin walked into his first court-appointed therapy session to deal with his anger. His judge said therapy was ‘merciful’ for the road rage incident. “I’m Ken. Nice to meet you, Justin. How is your day going?” His therapist greeted him with a handshake. Justin, who worked in a deli department, sat, saying sometimes he wanted to put his head into a cheese slicer. “I would promise that my head would be smiling, and saying ‘cheese,’ when they take a picture of it.” “What?” Ken began writing. “I could put my head in a meat grinder and they could grind my brain, which is almost nothing, so it would be metal grinding metal, in essence. A cheap version of a guillotine.” “I can’t have you talking like that. I should have you admitted for saying something like that.” Justin shook his head violently. “I’m sorry,” Justin said. “I just really hate my job.” “If it’s that stressful, can you get a different job?” Ken asked. “No, because I’m not good at anything. Well, smoking.” Justin dropped his head. “That’s an admirable quality,” Ken laughed. “Kidding, kidding.” “I could have you fired for saying that.” Justin folded his hands. “Justin, it was a joke.” Ken stopped writing. “So, Justin, do you want to tell me why you’re here?” “You already know. Unless you’re too lazy to read my file.” “You’re not helping yourself by being like this, Justin.” “Quit calling me by my first name.” Justin barged out of the room, not noticing his Newports fell from his pocket. Ken picked up the pack and chased after Justin, who kicked the wall on his walk down the hallway. “Justin,” Ken yelled. “You dropped your cigarettes.” Justin kept walking, pretending not to hear. Ken met him at the door. “Shame. You almost lost half-a-pack. Mind if I have one?” They walked outside. Ken opened the box, took out two cigarettes and the Bic. “I don’t want ‘em,” Justin said.
Ken handed one to Justin anyway and lit up his smoke. “Cigaretiquette,” Ken then lit his own cigarette. “Can I have my pack back?” Justin inhaled. “But, you just said you didn’t want them.” “I changed my mind.” “Here. Please come back inside and talk to me, though.” Ken gave the pack back to Justin. They took quick drags off their cigarettes and walked back to Ken’s office. Justin stayed for the rest of the session and returned for several more sessions. Ken wrote a lot of notes in his pad.
--- Chris Wilkensen
Collage by Emma Zurer
The next one’s on me
He gave me two bells. One of them for happy thoughts, he said, and one for when you’re drowning. The first had a lovely chime; it resonated quietude. The other had a haunting sound, like it emanated from the depth of a dark abyss; a roar of sorts, a cry of despair.
‘I made them myself,’ he said, ‘my soul is in them. I made them for you; they chime your essence.’ I asked him why as I held one in each hand and felt their quiet reverberations. They recognized my fingertips. ‘They are you,’ he said and smiled. Grey, metal fragments of a flustered existence. ‘This is my gift to you, for all that you’ve given me.’ ‘What have I ever given you?’ I asked. ‘You know,’ he said and smiled again. ‘Tell me.’ ‘The truth.’ ‘Truth is relative, I’ve come to know,’ I said and looked at the bells again. ‘Not yours,’ he said. ‘Especially mine.’ ‘Which one tickles you the most?’ he asked. ‘The one you’re looking at, the one whose outline carries a little more of me.’ ‘Close your eyes,’ he said, ‘and think of the last place where you felt happy.’ ‘It’s not a place, it’s a feeling; a rhythm only my heart can hear.’ ‘What do you see?’ he asked. ‘Nothing. The best places in the world are plunged in darkness, because your eyes are closed, because you feel safe, because there’s nowhere else you’d rather be. Because all you need is someone’s breath to want to exhale in your direction.’
A bell chimed; the left one. ‘What are they made of?’ I asked as he looked at my lips. ‘Your words,' he said, 'I’ve put them all in. Every single one you’ve ever said to me. The clapper is made of your silences.’ ‘Will they hold?’ ‘Did you lie?’ ‘Only to myself, a little. Never to you.’ ‘They will hold.’ ‘What of all my future utterances?’ ‘Close your eyes,’ he said again and closed my hands around the bells. ‘Now speak to me.’ Every thought glowed inside my fingers. Two twin sentences, one silver, one gold, hovered right in front of me, inside the darkness.
Don’t go. Don’t go. Same in every way, except one. The words bled into the bells. ‘I see now,’ I said, ‘I can feel them in. I can hear them weep and smile. They are yours but they belong to me; they are me.’ ‘When was the last time you cried?’ he asked. ‘The last time my words fell all around you. When you left I spent the day on my hands and knees trying to pick them up. But they didn’t make sense anymore. They never do when you’re around. If you could only pick them from inside my head, like flowers. If you could only see.’ The left bell chimed again. ‘Stop,’ he said and took his hands away from mine. ‘What scares you the most?’ I asked, ‘that I feel something you don’t understand, or that I will one day stop?’ ‘What did I ever give you?’
Exactly what I needed. I was a moment to you. You were a glowing ember.’ He looked at me now, his brown eyes wide, the smile I’ve come to love erased. ‘You don’t know what you’ve made, do you?’ His hands were in his pockets. His head bent down, his thoughts kept repeating it’s too much. ‘It’s your words that brought the bells into existence, don’t you see?’ He shook his head. ‘You gave me that part of yourself you wanted and left the rest inside of you, shield in hand. Look at me.’ His eyes focused on mine. ‘Maybe that is all we were ever meant to be; each other’s next life.’
---- Eleni Chelioti
"Swallowtail" and "Calgon take me away"- Emma Zurer is a Brooklyn-bred artist, performer and educator. She helps to promote the acceptance of clowns and the legacy of Klaus Nomi. Her collages have been exhibited in New York at the SculptureCenter and CULTUREfix Gallery. Emma has performed with the artist collective Cheryl in nightclubs around New York, including the Museum of Modern Art. She has recently joined the engagement team at the Abrons Arts Center where she also teaches a movement and art classes for children. You can view more of Emma’s collage work at veryimportantpapers.tumblr.com “Wildfire”-Scott Jessop lives in the 135-year old, haunted Midland Railroad station in Manitou Springs, Colorado with his daughter, Kathleen and his cat, Jack Kerouac. He is a corporate video and TV commercial producer, author, poet, and spoken word performer. His work has appeared in The Red Earth Review, Carbon Culture, Brickplight, New Verse News, Weber-The Contemporary West and 300 Days of Sun. He is a two-time Pushcart Prize nominated author.
“It’s My Birthday”- Brittany Ackerman is a current MFA candidate in Creative Nonfiction at Florida Atlantic University. She also works at the University's Center for Excellence in Writing and as a Graduate Teaching Assistant for English Composition. More of her work can be found athttp://dailyackermations.blogspot.com "Inside the Flower Lair" and "Shitty Symbiosis"- Janne Karlsson (1973) is a productive artist from Sweden whose edgy and surreal artwork is widely spread over the world. Janne´s books and chaps are available through amazon and several publishers, but most notably Epic Rites Press. When this wine sipping maniac isn´t busy drawing he´s working for the paycheck on some temporary job somewhere. Janne´s website is here: www.svenskapache.se" “Buddha & co.”-Howie Good is the author of several poetry collections, including most recently Beautiful Decay and The Cruel Radiance of What Is from Another New Calligraphy and Fugitive Piecesfrom Right Hand Pointing Press. “ Two-hundred-ninety-three-right-hand-lines” and “two-hundred-ninety-four-right-hand-circles”- Gilmore Tamny: I live in Somerville, MA, where I spend much of my time writing, drawing and playing guitar. A bit about my publishing history: I have a story in Madison Smartt Bell’s Narrative Design, several short essay pieces in Not A Rose by Heide Hatry and The Dan Clowes Reader. I have a book of poems published in 1997, The Small Time Smirker. I’ve had essays, artwork, interviews and short stories published in Chickfactor, Petrichor Review, Foliate Oak, Turk's Head Review, 3Elements,Pithead Chapel, Meat for Tea, MadHatter, Vine Leaves, Elohi Gadugi and Sinister Wisdom (cover, upcoming 2016). I wrote songs for three albums under the name The Yips, and am finishing up a record with my current band Weather Weapon. In 2002, I received an MFA from Emerson College. Currently my agent is working on finding publication for two novels, one of which is being serialized online at Ohioedit. I was Somerville's (MA) November 2014 Artist of the Month. “Gary Gonejob” and “Ed is Not My Friend” Mark Antony Rossi's poetry, criticism, fiction and photography have appeared in The Antigonish Review, Another Chicago Review Bareback Magazine, Black Heart Review, Collages & Bricolages, Death Throes, Deep South Journal, Ethical Specacle, Deep South Journal, Flash Fiction, The Magill Review, Japanophile, On The Rusk,Purple Patch, Sentiment Literary Journal, The Sacrificial and Wild Quarterly. His most recent play "Eye of the Needle" was produced by Grin Theatre, Liverpool, England and its youtube recording is available at the link below. http://markantonyrossi.jigsy.com
"Europe Sheffield Yorkshire Modern UK (5)"- Eleanor Leonne Bennett is an internationally award winning photographer and artist who has won first places with National Geographic,The World Photography Organisation, Nature's Best Photography, Papworth Trust, Mencap, The Woodland trust and Postal Heritage. Her photography has been published in the Telegraph , The Guardian, and on the cover of books and magazines in the United States and Canada. Her art is globally exhibited , having shown work in London, Paris, Indonesia, Los Angeles,Florida, Washington, Scotland,Wales, Ireland,Canada,Spain,Germany, Japan, Australia and twice exhibited with The CIWEM Environmental Photographer of the year Exhibition amongst many other locations. She was also the only person from the UK to have her work displayed in the National Geographic and Airbus run See The Bigger Picture global exhibition tour with the United Nations International Year Of Biodiversity 2010. www.eleanorleonnebennett.com "Medea Was A Daughter"- Katy Williams is a freelance writer and artist. She is a recent graduate of Mills College with a BA in English, and a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Society. Katy writes short fiction and poetry, and is particularly interested in queering the definitions of words, genres, and identities. "Remembrance", "Codependent" and "Granny and Papa's House"- Philip Jackey, a Midwest poet, was born and raised in South Bend, Indiana. His work has appeared in journals such as Torrid Literature, The Write Place at the Write Time, Agave Mag, Sundog Lit, Sixfold, and Pudding Magazine to name a few. When he's not writing, you can likely find him crawling with his daughter on their living room floor, mastering the art of baby talk. Follow him on Twitter @phil82885 “A Broken Escalator”- A recent graduate of the Bluegrass Writers Studio at Eastern Kentucky University, James Hartman lives in Lexington, Kentucky with his wife and their two dogs and two cats. Other fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Blue Fifth Review, Gravel, and Spelk. He has finished his first novel. "I'm On An Adventure or I’m on the Poop Deck"-Alex L. Swartzentruber is a poet and musician from Indiana. He is also known as Beverly Bounce House. "Possibly a Bozo"-Glen Armstrong holds an MFA in English from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and teaches writing at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. He edits a poetry journal called Cruel Garters and has a new chapbook titled Set List (Bitchin Kitsch,) and two more scheduled for 2015: In Stone and The Most Awkward Silence of All (both Cruel Garters Press.) His work has appeared in Poetry Northwest,Conduit and Cloudbank. "Flea Market Shades" and "A Suit that Fits"-Gary Singh is an award-winning travel journalist with a music degree who publishes poetry, paints and exhibits photographs. As a scribe, he's published hundreds of works including travel essays, art and music criticism, profiles, business journalism, lifestyle articles and more. For 500 straight weeks he’s penned a creative newspaper column for Metro, San Jose’s alt-weekly newspaper, an offbeat glimpse into the frontiers of the human condition in Silicon Valley. He is the author of The San Jose Earthquakes: A Seismic Soccer Legacy, (forthcoming from The History Press, March 2015). "Hilary", and "Easter"-Dylan Debelis is a publisher, poet, performer, chaplain, and minister based out of New York City. A candidate for Unitarian Universalist Ministry, Dylan embodies his faith in praxis through his pastoral care and social justice activism. In sermons, writings, and worship, Dylan weaves grotesque worlds, loving embraces, and an off-kilter wit to lead the audience or congregation in a very unorthodox prayer.
"There Are Versions of Us"-Jessica Van de Kemp (BA, B.Ed, MA) is a 2014 Best of the Netnominee. Her e-chapbook, Spirit Light, is the second release in a new series fromThe Steel Chisel. Jessica is currently pursuing a PhD in English at the University of Waterloo. Webpage: jessvdk.wordpress.com | Twitter: @jess_vdk
"Bitter Fruit"-Abigail George, a Pushcart Prize nominee writes a weekly article/commentary for Modern Diplomacy. She was recently anthologized in the Sol Plaatje EU Poetry Anthology IV. A feminist, poet, writer she contributes bimonthly to a symposium on the Ovi Magazine: Finland’s English Online Magazine. She is the recipient of grants from ECPACC, the Centre for the Book and the National Arts Council in South Africa. She has written a novella, books of poetry, and collections of short stories. She was born and raised in the coastal city of Port Elizabeth, the Eastern Cape of South Africa, educated there and in Swaziland and Johannesburg. "I Was Scared of Safe Love."-Trisha Kc Buel Wheeldon recently got up the courage to say out loud that she is a poet. She's a west coast native but her current adventures have landed her in Eglin AFB, Florida with her husband, son, and daughter. She studied creative writing at Brigham Young University-Idaho. She writes both poetry and nonfiction. Trisha's other love is yoga because the practice makes her feel like the phrases and pauses of a poem. Connect with her at https://www.facebook.com/trisha.wheeldon, https://instagram.com/kcbuel/, and https://mobile.twitter.com/kcbuel/ "We All Drink Alone", "Missing Time", and "Stay Under the Radar”-Jason Bertucci is a freelance writer currently residing in Kansas. He has been published in Litterae Magazine and will appear in Akashic Book’s “Thursdaze” series this May. He is an iconoclast and finds inspiration from Beat writers and quirky musicians. He plays electric bass and loves experimenting with effects and new sounds. Jason collects vintage typewriters and loves the island life. He aspires to be a retired beach bum and live out his days in the Caribbean. "Call, Unanswered"-Katie Hibner's poetry has been published or is forthcoming in "Bone Bouquet", "Dead Ink", "Similar:Peaks::", "Dead Ink", and "Smoking Glue Gun" magazines. She has won a Scholastic Gold Medal and third prize in Princeton University’s Leonard L. Milberg '53 Secondary School Poetry Contest. Katie was also a Commended Poet in the Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2014 contest. She is an editor for "Polyphony HS" and "Siblíní Art and Literature Journal". She interns for Coconut Poetry press, and will attend Bennington College in the fall of 2015. “Wilt”-Dan Sicoli, of Niagara Falls, NY, writes about hope and the fallout that comes from offering it up. He is the author of two poetry chapbooks from Pudding House Publications (Columbus, Ohio), Pagan Supper and the allegories. In addition to co-founding/co-editing the literary press and magazine Slipstream, his work has appeared in a variety of litmags, e-zines, and anthologies including ONTHEBUS, Quercus Review, Chiron Review, Bop Dead City, Red Paint Hill Poetry Journal, Santa Fe Literary Review, Barbaric Yawp, Alpha Beat Soup, The Birds We Piled Loosely, EXPERIMEMENTOS, Architrave, Jackhammer Lobotomy, Bathtub Gin, 2River, Dressing Room Poetry Journal, Rock Salt Plum, Stirring, Up the Staircase, and Nerve Cowboy. He has been twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Currently, he can be found in local dives, saloons and barrelhouses banging on an old Gibson 335 with an area rock'n'roll band. In late summers, he oven-dries home-grown plum tomatoes. "The Next One's on Me"-Eleni Chelioti: I was recently awarded my PhD in English Literature from the University of Birmingham in the UK and I am currently living and working in Athens, Greece. I write poetry in Greek, and prose in English. My short stories 'Stealing Time' and 'Expendable Universes' were recently published in The Rusty Nail and Fuck Fiction respectively. "Menthol"-Chris Wilkensen is the editor of the e-journal Rock Bottom. Originally from Chicago, he has worked and traveled Asia and the Middle East. He currently lives in Saudi Arabia. His short stories have appeared in Thoughtsmith, eFiction, The Story Shack and others. More of his work can be found at chriswilkensen.com. “A Family (Rattle Dreams)”-n.v. baker proudly bears the letters B.A. behind his name in the summa cum laude tradition, though it continues to mystify him what this means or how it is utile in the slightest aside from taking up sorely needed page space—which, he concedes, is always a good start. His scribbles are inspired by the resulting confusion of existing as a stymie tethered between the imagined and the rendered. You can find more of his work in The Crab Creek Review and The Roanoke Review firstname.lastname@example.org