RIGGWELTER #17 JANUARY 2019 ed. Amy Kinsman
The following works are copyrighted to their listed authors ÂŠ2019. Riggwelter Press is copyrighted to Amy Kinsman ÂŠ2017.
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Foreword Nativity New Years Bruiser In a Blue Film Dress Rehearsal for Claustrophobia Mellow Dharma PORTALS My Spine Meeting the Husband Graviton leak The Mystery of Flight Re-imagined as a Legoland Bouncy Castle Midday: Barton Swimming Pool: Lengths Under the Bell Jar Untitled Damson Day Women’s Work Amsterdam at 5am This party isn’t free 4 PM: Ashmolean Museum: Self portrait of Raphael at 17 Carrot Top bullet points et cetera Isadora’s Muse Untitled I Am The Breeze That Shifts Your Hair The Moon Has Been Full For Five Full Days Flying to Seattle with a Cowboy in which america hears me Cultivar (how not to recover) Satyr at a Waterfall The Song of Sally Weaver Sirena Finding Home Fishing for Mahseer The Unsavory Shit Hello Sailor A Postcard from the Kingdom of Unearned Endings Slippers City Sue Klebold in a Sycamore Contributors
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Happy 2019! May it be better than the year preceding. We’re kicking off the year with an incredible issue of Riggwelter and, appropriate for a moment of self-examination, this one is all about the self and all our internal workings. Don’t be fooled, the self doesn’t happen in a vacuum; a huge part of us is our relationship with others: with parents, children, friends, lovers, our homes, our countries, institutions, the earth – we could go on forever. Let’s allow this powerful selection of work to do the talking for us. As always, some thanks are in order before we commence. Thank you to Keira James and Sam Grudgings for getting us out of a tight spot at the last minute. Thank you to the reviews team, who work tirelessly in the face of an avalanche of requests. Thank you to everyone that has helped promote Riggwelter – we are constantly amazed by the community that is springing up around these issues. Thank you to all of our submitters and readers, without whom this would be a strange, futile endeavour. May you all have the most prosperous year possible (and if you’re suffering from a hangover right now, as this editor definitely is, may it be blessedly short-lived). Onwards and upwards!
Amy Kinsman (Founding Editor)
Nativity New Years
My lover and I buy a new home so my mother flies to Bethlehem, brings us back a nativity scene that glows in the dark. My mother walks down our hallway, mutters that Jesus screenshots our sins, that her churchâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s website sells prayer beads full of tiny cameras. My mother blesses us with a burlap sack of loose diamonds, clumps to craft a pyramid we donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t care to climb. My lover and I visit a Turkish bath for a back massage, sing out loud, do handstands, and pass out. When we rise, the nativity is still inside our attic. We can see it glowing like a spotlight on our drive to the nearest zoo. Benjamin Niespodziany
Right bruiser, my mother, biggest bum in town, gaps in her teeth, but pretty enough still to put your money on – greased in the ring, bringing her egregious, massive gum-guarded smiles to the crowds, and ready for the fight… wanting a new go at the super-heavy-weight title in the maternity ward amongst the mothers…wanting more – wanting the girl with the board to flag another round, another child and chance to bring another home with her liver in a bag, and now…a colosseum of fans calling for blood, urged on by George Foreman sponging her down, bandaging her mitts and telling her she’s Nuthin’ hurt, flexing her biceps at the doc working her reach and laughing in a slap-headed evening full of tooth-pulling, hot-squats, breech births, and bone-setting, in front of the interns…headbutting her way past the umpire, and kneeing into the balls anything that drops, getting the points…so when the ref holds her out-and-out arm up like Nike upside-down in a thumping sea of amnion
I body forth in a nose-bleed of nerves, blue funk, butterflies in the stomach, flopping in a stage-frightened and blubbering heap of jeebies blorting to her I’m sucker-punched, but she doesn’t believe a word…she’s taking the punches, I’m taking the hurt. Kevin Cahill
In a Blue Film
The moment you were born you were breathless— in a split second I conjured up scenarios of you being consigned to ashes in my tomb of hands. You, in a blue film, an inanimate bean imprisoned, lost in the lubricated offal of your nativity. Strangely, I remember the delivery suite as still, serene, all animation shut off by a power cut that splits textures as hitched up iodine marionettes with arms still hovering over slug mucus forceps and the scalpel flowered with sinews— we are all born in an illustration of a Victorian dissection. And there you werethe air rushed back into the room, a nectarous aria; inhale, repeat… Your first vocalisation was a sparrow’s cough to all creation saying you’d arrived, that the correct postage was paid. Grant Tarbard
Dress Rehearsal for Claustrophobia
I was 3 months old when my parents tore down the house by the sea and shuffled our family back into the booming arms of their native New York. Born breach, too small and too soon, there was no cradle for a baby conceived to fix a marriage torn by discontent. They put me in a drawer and closed it half way, hoping I would sleep quietly through the night. My drawer was high quality, not that particle board crap that makes your hands bleed and crumbles the bones in your fingers as you piece it haphazardly together. I was encased in branches of elm, swaddled in a forgotten blanket. A dress rehearsal for claustrophobia and abandonment issues. I slumbered in my wooden cocoon for three nights, until my father flipped a coin that decided our fate. We raced back across the country, to a house filled with ghosts and days of hang ten on the beach. It was only idyllic at the edges. My parentâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s marriage dissolved beneath the blisters of a deceptive sunrise, and my mother disappeared into the allure of sea spray and a new identity. I still have the blanket that lined the sarcophagus of my innocence, folded neatly in an old picnic basket to preserve my fear of enclosed spaces. You can feed me to the flames when I die, transform the failings of my flesh into ash and bone, release me into the mouth of the wind, but please, donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t put me in a drawer. Susan Richardson
The girl child had come to believe that she was part of the soap opera and, even though it was a flat screen, she started to climb in. There were pauses, while she exchanged long meaningful looks with various of the soap’s characters. One, the soap’s muddled and easily shocked woman, lets loose a shriek at sight of the girl. But she and the girl gaze into one another’s eyes, then the girl continues to edge and wriggle herself further into the soap’s tidy rooms and gardens. On coming into the living room all that the mother can see of her daughter is the soles of her patent leather shoes. Aware of her daughter’s other life fascination, “Please don’t do this!” she cries; and she takes hold of her daughter’s right foot. But, thinking to have heard a muffled response from the other side of the screen, the mother pauses in her tugging, listens. She can make out nothing distinct, only earnest murmurings, possibly secretive, interspersed with lengthy silences – the looking - and punctuated by exclamations. While she has been distracted her daughter’s left foot has disappeared into the screen and she has less of the right to grip. The soap is eyeball to eyeball, nose to nose, almost to the cliff-hanger and the credits. Her fingers are slipping. Oh no!
My spine, rib cage, and pelvis all have to be from different bodies. My femurs are definitely my own, as well as my knees. But not my shoulders. My hands are my mothers, but my jawline is mine. I don't know about my wrists. The aching inside of each of my hips, I have to own that one. I don't own the back of my neck or my ankles. I've been trying to decide about my calves, some days the answer is yes, others no. If I could see inside of my ears, I might like them more. But for now, I focus on my lower back; the muscles mine, the bones a stranger. The hollow under my ribs is recent so it certainly is from elsewhere but it seems to be at home. The extra length of tail bone I've always suspected, alien. The creases on my stomach, mine. Breasts, from the past. Armpits, reclaimed. Bottoms of my feet, I'll claim those, but not the tops. The low-hum of the curve from hip to ass, I'm sure only I can hear. And the crack of the sternum, too.
This skin, all of this skin, all of this skin everywhere, foreign. There's too much, it can't all be mine. Have I been stealing skin? What do they say about seven pounds of flesh. The awareness of the body is all my own while the body itself was cobbled together. The sounds the body makes are from other planets, the silence from the center of the earth. The pain of having a body, the pain that lives in the body, the diagnosis of pain as chronic, a transfer. At the middle of the night, the body feels grief, and tries to grieve. The weight of the grief belongs to the parts of the body, but the source is untranslatable. The body as the force of imploding, but the parts of the body as spared. The hollows above my collar bones have always belonged to no one else but me, but the hollows around my hips belong to grief. My mother made this body from scratch, I tell myself; I tell myself she had help from no one. And yet. I find the father in the weakness of my knees, years praying. I find the father in the sinew.
But myself, in the strength of my thighs, the letter writing fingers, the sharpness of nails. There is a place between my shoulder blade and spine that belongs to ecstasy. I don't recognize this body. Bee Walsh
Meeting the Husband
When you first met Christina, in a musty corner of the bookstore, a shining bar of sunlight resting on her tattooed wrist, you didn’t know she was married. Finally learning your lesson from the last one, you remembered to look at her hand this time; but she had rings on every finger, not just the important one. Later, as your tongue toured her body, you found many small cuts and scars in her pretty skin. And on each shoulder, pressed into the taut shelf of muscle near her collarbone, you saw some imprints that looked like bite marks. Moments after coming for the first time, she slapped you across the face without warning. Following the second time, she bit you on the shoulder and left a bruise. In the afterglow of the third, she sighed happily and talked about the forest: the lazy flutter of falling leaves, the fruity musk of rotting wood, the hot knives of sunlight cleaving the trail. When not fucking, you and Christina hiked the woods outside town. During these times she asked you many questions about your life and your childhood and the women you had loved and fucked in the past, but she never said anything about herself. Although you sometimes wanted to, you didn’t ask her any questions of your own. Things were going good in your life for once, and you didn’t want to mess everything up again. Then, on a steamy summer morning two months after you met, as you walked the rocky trail and breathed her spiky sweat, Christina said her husband wanted to meet you. She said she had a special arrangement with him and out of respect she could not deny him certain requests. Hearing these words, you felt a length of steel
cable coil around your stomach. You felt betrayed, tricked, and played for a fool. Unlike her, you had always tried your best to keep pain and pleasure separate. You knew that these things mix as well as ice cream and olives. But despite these feelings, you didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t want to face the other parts of your life without her touch. So you agreed to meet her husband. A week later you hiked the woods with them. Prior to the hike, they arrived in separate cars. As he climbed out of his Ford pickup, you saw that her husband was not the man you had expected to meet. Instead of curly hair, sandals, khakis, and a soul patch, you saw a bald head, muddy jeans, work boots, and a wiry beard. To your surprise, he seemed to be genuinely excited for this meeting. His handshake was hearty and his hands soft and while he had your hand in his grip he introduced himself as Marty. From here he leaned in close and grinned at you strangely; but before you could think of something to say, he crushed your hand in a savage grip and rolled your knuckles as if trying to break every bone in your hand. Your face flushed hot at this bright shock of pain, and when you tried to pull your hand away, he only squeezed harder. Then you heard Christinaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s voice and your hand was suddenly free. By the time she turned around and looked in your direction, Marty was standing at the tree line six feet to your right, running a finger along a spongy vein on the back of a star-shaped leaf. Now she came close, close enough for you to smell the oils in her hair; you tried to smile at her, but the knuckles on your palm throbbed with a sour ache, and this hurt bent your lips into a crooked grimace of pain. Christina led the hike and pointed out her favorite things in the forest. After a while, she suddenly went quiet and shuffled out ahead by herself. Seeing this, you quickened your stride and matched her pace without a thought, but then something
hard and rubbery smashed down on your Achilles and scoured the skin raw there. Your heel popped out of your shoe and you fell to one knee; from here the pain pulsed sharp and thick, like the crack of your father’s belt across your back, but you didn’t make a sound. It was around this time that you began to understand what was happening. Seconds later a cool shadow swallowed your crouched body and Marty’s hands slipped under your arms. You rose to your feet without effort. The pressure under your arms eased. Now you looked down the trail and saw her walking alone up ahead, wholly unaware of what had happened, her tanned legs scissoring the black dirt. Too afraid to say a word to either of them, you crouched to fix your shoe. An instant later you felt the searing burn of a thin knife slicing open the back of your arm. To keep yourself from screaming, you pressed your eyes closed and bit the inside of your cheek. Seconds passed and a bird sang from somewhere nearby, somewhere close to the ground; the animal seemed to be saying, teacher, teacher, teacher. You could not feel any blood yet but you knew it was there, meandering down your arm. Staring at your shoes, the ground and your feet seemed very far away all of a sudden. Somehow, your arms bridged this distance and you slipped your heel back into your shoe. Now you looked down the trail once more, trying to locate her shape, but she was gone. Seeing this, you sprang to your feet and ran away. You ran and ran. The pain came fast and hard, from all the distant regions of your body, and after a time, once it was clear you were free from them, it even started to feel good. And as you climbed into your car, sticky red blood dripping from your fingers, you understood that she had been right. Some pain can be a pleasure after all.
A farrago of ticks & jerks. Pencils & paper | spectacles & microscopes | cup & beverage orbiting each other. Outside off-licenses dogs yanked by air | still tied to lampposts | “panicky” owners
clasping their fur | hugging their paws. “The gravitons leaked out somewhere!!!” Strangers grip onto one another | rising @ signs | pulled into the airstream eddying their way to the ionosphere. This is the closest humanities been to one another | “it took this anomaly.” The air alive with jittery prayers | tearful adieus | some pinwheel playfully | labile as water | faithful in rapture. Some ditch clothing & fuck mid-flight | many start filling their pockets with clots of earth | rocks & pebbles | some try to dive into bodies of water | quicksand | vats. One man chains himself to an anchor. In Asia | those with roped waists lance the sky with bamboo poles to give ascendants hope of rescue. The earth orbited by people & their stuff : “whoever said you can’t take all your wealth with you to Heaven.” Daniel Paul Marshall
The Mystery of Flight Re-imagined as a Legoland Bouncy Castle
This is the heron i pray for during Morning ablutions during Nocturnal humiliations her hollow boned mass equals energy sleeping between her wing and the weed-pocked earth her twin telescopes scan for cracks where life might hide—how regal her updraft glide! but king kong to iron man isn’t progress neither is raytheon’s patented heat-seeking missiles or communion with grape juice. i smashed the x-wing fighter out of spite: now it’s too late for sorry and all the furniture’s been re-arranged. st. jude respond to my text with the winking emoticon. if not for me, do it for the heron. Darrell Epps
Midday: Barton Swimming Pool: Lengths Under the Bell Jar
You’re water in water, a particle in the wave of touching currents, deaf under a ringing bell that holds the bottomless water down at the entrance to where the world is soft and close and stings. Exhausted by nothing, you haul your body into gravity again, ready to step into the same pool next week with the key to yourself on your wrist, leave with whoever’s life you’re given. Ian Dudley
Untitled (Cover Image) Natty Peterkin
A volcano of purple splattered and puttered up the sides, threatening to scar. Damson stones roiled, hiding amongst broken skins. She watched the bubbles deepen, transmuting the dusky bloom of damson windfalls, changing from chalice-wine to something more densely bloody. The thick damson cheese would be spread on a white cottage loaf undercut with butter. Inside her caravan, condensation puddled at the base of her windows. The jam jars had been sterilised in the oven. Twenty-past three! Jam would have to wait. When they returned Milly could push her finger across a spoonful of jam in a saucer to test for setting point. The lanes were thick with dust, the overblown grass deadened by summer’s heat. Her Micra was stuck behind a grain trailer, trundling back to a farm, kicking up a stormy wheat dust. There were no parents gossiping by the bus stop, no sign of Milly at the school gates. She parked up, pulling the hand brake almost to vertical. She raced into the school and found the headteacher marking books. ‘Her Dad picked her up.’ Jen jabbed at her mobile. Neither Milly nor Mike answered their phones. It took half an hour to reach his house via the B-roads. Traffic was building towards the end of the day. His Land Rover was not parked in the yard. She peered through the windows into the downstairs bedroom. Wardrobe doors bowed, a suitcase gaped on the bed. Jen battered the glass, but it stood firm. At the front door the lock did its duty. ‘Bastard,’ she yelled. The sparrows continued to chatter. She did not know which way to go.
He’d demonstrated only sarcasm since he’d gone, no hint at this, nothing, but the curt lip, the snarky comments filtered through Milly’s lips. ‘Mummy, why do you do that?’ Back at the caravan she yanked the drawers open, scrabbling with hot fingers through dust and debris. Milly’s passport had gone. Papers, screws and elastic bands fell and the jam jars rattled, waiting.
Womenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Work Tianna Grosch
Amsterdam at 5am
is soaked in sweat and semen the silken moon vomits behind the church rinses herself in the canal a baptism, of sorts ice crisps the edges frightens language with its frigidity another brittle tongue clacks, a sign in the empty wind those frosted words unspeakable a beggar passes a tram, then a bike rooves like silent bells have red windows their wicked clappers, damped the sky is like a dirtied fingernail smoked stained a cuticle of dawn beginning the old cinema smells of dogs and hashish breath is chiffon here neon, red Susannah Violette
This party isn’t free
I paid for it with a pile of stones caught when a wave was receding. Mozart paid for it in bathroom tiles. And sits at the head of the table eating broccoli rabe as if his hands were not bleeding. Titian, with the beat-up nose, swigs his martini as if he hadn’t paid for it in used exhausts. And lets not forget Andre Gide who has fallen into his clam roulade and will pay in conversation but hasn’t spoken yet. I don’t know what Beethoven paid, or Satie or Bach. Amanda Oosthuizen
4 PM: Ashmolean Museum: Self portrait of Raphael at 17
He is too young for me and too beautiful, and I do not want him. Do or do not do— both will disappoint. You can make a fool of yourself, but not of those who love you. But I want him. Why? Because he’s a genius? Works like a fever? 300 years old? Out of my league? Startled with a kiss, I can't find the words. On the threshold of a crisp white sheet of paper his hands see more clearly than his eyes, and no less kindly. My muscles are as slack as sand, my tongue stuck in neutral. I think: let us go then, you and I, and fuck each other senseless… I sieve my head for words. He could say no. Ian Dudley
Carrot Top Jen G. Peper
bullet points et cetera
* a curtain falls on her lover. she paints her face with a smallest part of a small particle: atom. thick rimmed glasses and bondage hair: topography. lover feels her stomach for straws, kidneys and soft flour. * i’m lying inside a cemented vagina. there are windows and leather chairs. hair grows as thick, steel wire and corrupts the outside view. i’m lying on my bed. it’s made of sugar and sleeping infants. my mouth is swallowing concrete with ex-lovers initials: Y+K foreva <3. my toes are open and i’m running for safety. * there are moments when i grow on her shoulder, little by little i watch her as my face becomes an unwanted passenger, fused to her shoulder blade. i watch her pull at her lower lip, dry skin and blood on her tips and she folds the blood within two pieces of irritated skin and i watch her as she puts it in the middle of her tongue and swallows. i keep growing on her, limbed together till our heads touch. i tell her she/myself disgusts me. i face her and my bones stiffen and enlarge and i consume my lover’s arteries. we meet under a cocooned ribcage. empyrean: ikeas developing in ether. i watch soft boys kissing in a mustard field, hair sewn in yellows and drinking sweetness of trees. i imagine it’s us, an embroidery of love and piss in the cosmos, a paradise with our choice of genitals. empyrean: whirring of a saw, of an easy cyclone by human. i’m reaping my identity from under your eyelashes. the length is defiant of softness, of silk, of yours. an exaggerated belief in my identity extends into you. i’m a high school type and my selfworth is orbiting every sky in this paradise. the field is holier than fiction with every choice of gods and famous persons et al. we lie into sweet grapes, eroding a tiresome epoch. Nooks Krannie
Just once, I wanted to be the inspiration for a work of art— maybe a winged sculpture, a chilling adagio, or an epic poem— I’m talking big league— like Botticelli’s Venus, or Manet’s Olympia, though I’d have settled for Raphael’s Madonna or de La Tour’s Magdalen. People would have uttered my name when telling stories of the mistress whose affections gave rise to Chopin’s nocturnes. They’d have told how I once burst forth— armed to the teeth— from my father’s forehead; how I once changed to laurel to escape the clutches of a brazen god. They’d have spoken of me as if my loveliness had upstaged a summer’s day— as if I’d been the genius behind every legend, litany, or or lullaby—
as if when Isadora glided across the stage (like a sylph, en pointe) it was me she was channelling. Jules Henderson
Untitled Joshua Anderson
I Am The Breeze That Shifts Your Hair
The stars are farther away when you’re an Intangible. A concept. Your existence turns cyclical. You go through the same motions in precise steps, again and again, until, like dirty water circling the drain, you disappear into some depth of some place people can only imagine. That’s what it’s like when you die. “Is there anyone here with us tonight?” A hush falls over the small crowd as they huddle against the autumn chill. It always starts the same way with the living, and I sometimes wonder if I myself was as predictable, as boring. Their flashlights cast blots of faint glows, like orbs blinking into an uncertain eternity, and beyond the lights, darkness engulfs them and they might as well be floating among the stars. “Is there anyone here with us tonight? We just want to ask some questions.” I hear clicking and clacking on one of their gadgets. They always bring things that make noises and light up in the dark, urging us to go ahead and touch, or walk through, or speak into. As I find myself time and time again in the middle of fields, or on a bridge, or in an old dilapidated house, I begin to revel in my ability to quietly observe without them knowing I’m merely a few steps away. I am the reason their hairs stand on end; the reason their skin prickles.
I often come to Suicide Bridge, not because I died here (I did not), but because the living always roll through like a storm, expecting something. Anything. And it makes my time here more worthwhile. The bridge’s name suggests drama and tragedy, and though to be sure there are in fact tragic stories rooted in this wooded corner of Gettysburg (Civil War deserters hanging themselves, lovers’ suicide pacts), it is still only a bridge. Nothing more, nothing less. But the living—they don’t care to know that. They care about stories and they come only to extract them. The bridge creaks under the weight of breathless individuals straining to hear a word or feel a tug on their sleeves, but they’re oftentimes too preoccupied with the sound of a frog diving into the creek to hear me whisper my name. So my breath becomes the breeze that shift’s a woman’s hair from her face, and my voice is caught as static in their machines. They come through the whole town—Sachs Bridge, Suicide Bridge, the Baladerry Inn—all the places soldiers marched through and bullets flew by, their eager breaths curling and dissipating in the midnight air. And for a brief, blazing moment, I feel revived as their energy rolls through me like a bolt of thunder. They’re here for me, even when they’re not, and like cells splitting and multiplying, I begin to expand and fill the space until I’m too big for this plane; too large to simply be an afterthought.
And you know, it’s ugly business sitting in the bowels of the earth, in the parentheses of life cycles, waiting to be summoned. You calcify into the damp stone walls that hoard those wasting away, until finally, the living come. They untie their bags and take out their equipment—for you. And when I feel that shudder roll through me, I know they’ve arrived.
I want to tell them that an end is the best they could hope for, instead of the ellipses that is death; a long break between paragraphs. We all end up in the same place, peeping at life when we are summoned and occasionally shrieking to be heard. Then the shrieking stops. Eventually. You balance death with a little less death each time you re-emerge under a canopy of wilted, dying leaves. Sometimes the branches are bare and other times the moon is full and blinks down at you. The only thing that sees you. The only thing that has really ever seen you.
“Did you die here?” they continue. “Did you kill yourself?” “You can’t ask them that,” says a girl. “They might not know they’re dead.” I want to press my lips to their cold box and whisper the secret that we all know we’re dead, that we’ve always known.
On the bridge, a woman breaks away from the group and wanders over to where the dirt trail begins. Away from the hissing and crackling static, the questions falling all over each other, she stands facing the dark tunnel of trees and holds the dowsing rods firmly in her hands. She closes her eyes, bracing herself for sincerity. “Is there anyone here?” The wind whistles and I see her strain to interpret the sound. “If there is a spirit here who wants to communicate, cross the rods for yes.”
The session must be nearing its end because I begin to quiver uncontrollably, but I am not yet ready to sink back down below. The woman repeats her question, her voice pleading. Moving beside her, I can just barely feel the warmth emanating from her body, and I imagine: A bulbous heart, throbbing behind her ribs, thum-thump thum-thump thum-
Veins, twisting and turning—rivers leading everywhere and nowhere at the same time.
Muscles—slow moving glaciers, urging her ears to twitch or her head to turn.
I move closer, standing behind her, and click my teeth. She flinches and I know she knows I’m here. “Let’s pack it up,” the team leader shouts from the bridge. I feel myself fading, slowly, and it’s always at the last moment that I begin to think about the next time I’ll be brought here, to smell fresh air again; to swallow and fill myself with it. I grab a gentle hold of the rods and push them towards each other, until they cross. I want to crawl into her ear and whisper all the secrets that aren’t mine to tell, but all I can manage are these rods. So I do us both a favor and prove that I’m still here.
I’m still here. I’m still. And then there’s darkness.
The Moon Has Been Full For Five Full Days
and I’m looking at this woman and she is in a grey thin sweatsuit looking somewhere else cross legged on a chair but her face is happy and then it moves fast like in a blur or something but not at me but in itself and it is quiet but air and her face is on a spin cycle or something and she is the most beautiful person I have ever seen and I can’t even see her face it’s glowing somewhere around me I can feel it there is a presence but I never look up or down completely but there is this big giant grey flower in an empty like lawn and it was a huge the flower but not really like it wasn’t big in the right parts and mostly just straight up thick and the stem and reminded me of a thick half microwaved potato you could grow and hey a microwaved potato walks over to me and it doesn’t talk but falls and I know what it means right away but I don’t want to go and hey the flower’s head isn’t really that extraordinary just only kind of big the man of the house walks over from the woman talking over the air and she is older but keeps morphing in and out really and he’s wearing a tanktop and those thin grey shorts old guys wear to water the lawn and porch I’m taken from everything and walked by him to the real garden from the porch because this is his house and it’s either day or night but I’m not sure but it is hot for sure because he keeps telling me about that and how his garden is a habitat for wildlife and I’m just wondering how wild can you get before potatoes start to walk and he points to an evergreen I’d never seen before just now and it is infinite and it is so beautiful he looks at me and says it has been here forever in a nasal noise that is a whole new language I don’t understand and he grabs the tree and tells me I think that I’ll be safe and to come on but it’s hot to the touch and glowing now but differently than the sky is glowing through its density a city and through that a system or something larger and intricate and he grabs my arm and I go limp and dark at once and he says something to me in the same nasal voice after I see birds and bugs with lipstick and faces that are legs and I’m getting poked and prodded and he is staring at me from far but there is static now in this area where we went and I hadn’t noticed that but a drop of rain fell on me and it hurt and I could hear it like metal and we are standing by the tree and he looks at me and says hey check this tree out so I start to run and do not say anything like a potato back toward the porch the woman is still talking
just to no one but I knew there was a presence behind me he is still standing and just watching me I feel it and I am making my way to the driveway but canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t feel anything but sand grains or tingles and I trip and I am talking to this beautiful woman in a grey sweatsuit but I canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t really make out exactly what she looks like Angelo Maneage
Flying to Seattle with a Cowboy
I didn’t know cowboys still travelled by horse. One showed up in my driveway the morning of my flight to an aquarium in Seattle with high water temperatures and “unsatisfied” whales. Third time in five years administration relocated me. Just got settled in a suburban apartment while inspecting seal tanks. I was the only thing left at my place. The cowboy aimed west, too. “How you getting there?” the cowboy asked. His black hat formed a sharp V. The ragged, black coat hung just above shiny spurs of his leather boots. He pulled back the coat to show off silver revolvers and the gold center of his belt. A thick beard went down to his chest. The horse was white. Liberty, its name. “I got a 9 o’clock flight out of Akron-Canton,” I said. The cowboy looked up at the sky. Leftover dark from last night. A rim of red emerged below bare trees surrounding the one-story apartments. Our breaths made trails in the frigid air. “Traveling ain’t a sure bet,” he said. He folded his coat, hiding the gold belt and revolvers. For a second, I thought tears began dripping from his blue eyes. “Do you mind if I ride with you?” Before leaving I told him about my work at the American Aquarium Association. We sent inspectors to all aquariums in the country. The inspection department was understaffed, though, so most of the better ones always got relocated to a new place until they could find someone else. I specialized in water temperatures, cafeteria exit doors, tank space, hand sanitizer dispensers, satisfaction of mammals and customers, and fire hazards. Last week a seal with an Ohio State Brutus sticker on
its back kissed my fat cheeks. I drank coffee and fooled around with the gift shop cashier named Kim. She had old-school glasses, the 60’s type. On my last day, she gave me a stuffed penguin dressed like an executive holding a briefcase overloaded with papers. Damn if I ever thought there was nothing in Ohio when they told me I was moving to Canton. “Do you love her?” the cowboy asked when I showed him the penguin in my suitcase. “Yes, I think so,” I said. “You married?” “I got someone waiting for me back in Oklahoma. She’s pregnant.” After the congratulations of the baby we headed to the tiny Akron-Canton airport. A company driver picked me up in a white car with red lettering of AAA beneath a wave on the side door while the cowboy took Liberty. The airport looked like a hotel with an unnecessary parking lot of empty spaces. “Why Seattle?” I asked when I got out of the car. The question made him take off his hat and feel his sweaty hair. He watched a plane take off in the reddened sky. Almost in tears, he fixed his hair one more time and put his hat on and answered with a shrug. Since the cowboy had never been on a plane he had no idea on what to do before flying. The airport called someone to take his white horse away in a muddy trailer. He was ashamed that I bought his ticket but told me that he kept true to his debts. Security stopped him before he went through the metal detector. They took him to another room while I got two coffees at a Starbucks. He came out in gray sweatpants and a gray Ohio State hoodie and old Adidas tennis shoes that were too small for his feet. He still had the long beard and the cowboy hat though.
“They can’t just take my guns, can they?” he said. “You can’t bring a gun on an airplane,” I said. “Sorry.” “But, those were my granddaddy’s. He gave ‘em to me the day he passed. I’ve had ‘em since I was a boy.” “I’m sorry. I should’ve warned you before you followed me over here.” He liked the coffee though and I mentioned that Starbucks was from Seattle. We talked about skyscrapers and aquariums and cell phones. Everything I knew amazed him. Like he witnessed a painter recreating the art around him again and again. Then we moved on to past relationships. He couldn’t remember the last time he saw someone he knew. I went over some general rules about flying as we lined up at the gate. One of the flight attendants shouted an O-H! at the cowboy when we sat down in the plane. A few people in the back responded with an I-O! The cowboy pulled out the white bag from the seat pocket and looked inside. “For vomiting,” I said. His eyes got big. “Don’t worry. Just do whatever the people in the blue suitcoats say and you’ll be fine.” The take-off was the hardest part for him. When the plane sped up on the runway, he clutched my wrist. His eyes shut tight and his gapped teeth showed. “It hurts,” he said. The plane lifted. All the trees and suburbs below began shrinking into plots of green and brown squares. I had the penguin in my lap and tried saying goodbye for the third time. Goodbye, Kim. “Ah, God it hurts!” “Shut up,” I whispered. “It’s alright. Just breathe.” “I don’t wanna’ die like this,” the cowboy cried. He opened his blue eyes and turned to me. The tears finally came. “Not like this. Not up here.”
When the plane levelled out his face smoothed with the ease of the flight and he fell asleep for the rest of the trip even after we landed in Seattle. He said he had a dream that we got off a train together and all his things were waiting for him at the station: the white horse, the revolvers, the spurs, his pregnant lover in a blue dress. When we arrived at baggage claim, though, we only found people hauling up huge brown and black suitcases from the conveyor belt. I grabbed my suitcase and stood with him. The both of us waited for what was next. “I still owe you that money, now,” he said finally as he shook my hand. “Once they send back ole’ Lib and my revolvers, I’ll repay you. In a city like this, I reckon the banks got more money than Carnegie.” I almost told him that the bank robbing business these days wasn’t a sure bet as well, but he continued. He put his hands on his hips and leaned on one foot as he stared at people waiting for their suitcases. “In my day, you just carried your belongings and went out on your own. But now they make you place everything you have in someone else’s hands and maybe, just maybe, you’ll get it all back if you wait on them long enough. By that time what you were heading for already seems halfway out of sight. Like a bird you named to follow just before you headed out to ride and you sitting there weighted down by all your things, wondering if it’s really worth it to carry everything you own and never think twice about it again. It’s sad seeing people do that to themselves these days.” He waited for me to say something, but I thought it was all a ramble. After we said goodbye and good luck to each other I wrote down my cell phone number on the Starbucks receipt and told him to give me a call even though he never used a phone before.
I looked back at him and the people picking up their suitcases when I walked out. He stood there in the cowboy hat and gray hoodie for a while, watching the suitcases pass him like coffins down a black river he never came upon before. Then he took his hat and flung it over all the people bending to pick up their belongings. The hat spun through the air, curved downward, and landed between a suitcase and a gym bag. I havenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t seen another cowboy since.
in which america hears me
i pledge allegiance to follow your footsteps to tighten the elbow to rotate the barrel & not get caught to ignore the guilt to continue this kneel to mount the flag striped & waving in my peopleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s graveyard in which i grant them citizenship to shoot down the bird
after 400 years i pledge allegiance o my brothers & sisters dead 400
years now let us to a god who cannot hear us pray that the hollow insides of a casket soften the blow in which gratefulness arrives o america i pledge allegiance to not pacify & to at the end of all of this sleep with both eyes closed i pledge allegiance naked on both knees with a black fist raised & to give my life to have it taken for the freedom of those who suffer of both transactions i know the difference o america this is my pledge the one in which i do not falter the one in which i do not die goodbye america in which i mean stay goodbye america in which i mean go Jason Harris
Cultivar (how not to recover)
Grief is a cause for growth apparently However Cancer & tumours & fungus all grown in the dark of human gardens & I have no desire to will my resolve to fester Mildew hearts coughing spores of "It gets easier in time" I think You let Flowers Bloom from Your Everything And never picked out the weeds and Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s ok. But the flora of my stomach lining Is a show home with Bile flourishing beneath the windowsills I have no greenfingered desire To let the mulch of my untold secrets Grow into anything. Maybe repression isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t the best way to grow But I think of how carefully cultivated bonsai trees are And how the hottest chillies and Sharpest cacti grow in terrible conditions Maybe I'll just Ensure I divert waters To force drought conditions So my grief Has nothing to feed on
And worry about the arid nature Of my irrigation channels Only when my famine Starves the village that raised me. Sam Grudgings
Satyr at a Waterfall Keira James
The Song of Sally Weaver
When I change from woman to hare, I shrink but am never diminished. It’s freedom, I feel it keenly; the close-packed power of muscles made to run, the speed that feels like flight and the joy of a barefoot streak across close-cropped turf and deep green valleys. Over the downland in my brindled pelt, I race along the belly of a whale. Only romance can trap me; my lover can confiscate my charm if I confess. All my magic would drain away, the crunch of spring-loaded rules would shatter my bones. I am careful not to let any man love me but even if I dart away there are other means of capture – hunters and predators will soon find the scarpfoot and the moon isn’t always a mother to us all. She can light a gun sight too, she’s as much a friend to the stalking hounds as she is to me. I must keep moving to be free. If I am shot, I wonder where the bullet goes, which creature it kills. As both woman and hare I ask nothing of the world than that I may run and know the grassy hills, the sea and sky, the fossils and bands of flint that sleep beneath my feet. Zoe Mitchell
I remember when we’d swim in the starlit waters. At sunset, we’d watch the ships dock for the night, sailors retreating to taverns for a mug of ale and a room. You told me you’d be departing with them someday—when the merchant ships returned from the foreign lands. I always told myself that you were but a dreamer. Casting your lines to the sea of stars. But when your ship did dock, you packed your bags and kissed my cheek, sails steadfast to the wind. “I’d take you with me, but everyone knows a woman’s bad luck on the sea.”
Bad luck? I’d spent my life growing up along the shore, assisting my father—a poor fisherman—with his work. Countless times I’d sailed off in the bay, only twice never catching a net’s worth. I remember telling you that, how I, too, longed for adventure on the sea—to see exotic lands and treasures only the traders laid eyes on. That was my dream, the dream you said was too far-fetched to be real. I pled you take me with you, even if I were to be smuggled. I wouldn’t eat much, I swore. I was of a tiny build anyway and knew a life of poverty—fighting for a scrap of bread on the table each day. My begging went on for a while, and finally you gave in. I knew a part of you didn’t want to leave me. “You’ll need a disguise,” you said. “Something to keep the other sailors from becoming suspicious.”
So you gathered up one of your biggest overcoats and a cap, and fixed me up just right. You wound my hair and tucked it up, careful no strands would hang down. And you bound my breasts just tight enough that no one would suspect a thing. You said you’d tell them I was your son—eager to see the seas. And I told you that’d be just alright. As long as we’re together.
The men on board fell for our trick, and I earned a place swabbing decks. They took me as the youngest of the bunch and wanted to work me into a man—but slowly, as you coaxed them. By day I’d endure my laboring tasks and by night, I’d watch the stars. They were beautiful—crystalline gems sparkling above, trapped in their own waves, hoping to not burn out. I thought of the treasures that lay ahead, of the finest silks and pearls. A poor girl like me had never seen such splendor—only heard the stories from the merchants returning from months on their voyage. I wondered if diamonds really did shine like stars; the only difference was a diamond could never go out.
In the coming months, dread befell the ship. Many of the men had fallen ill and the food was becoming scarce. Molding bread and sea water were all we were left with— and no land had been in sight. One of the sailors cursed the map, claiming it was a work of witchcraft—that we’d been going in circles. The wind hadn’t been on their side, they said. They said they all were to starve.
I did my best to try and reassure them that all would be well. We needed to keep pushing on and find land, wherever it be. Surely there would be a tavern at the harbor to find direction from—at least, that’s how things were in Plymouth. Yet, they still cursed to the skies and declared witchcraft; something I hardly held faith in. Yet, they confirmed it true when one of the men spotted me in my chambers. I’d been turning in for the night, unwinding my hair and letting my aching and bruised ribs breathe. He reported me to the captain, claiming I wasn’t your son, but a witch—the one bringing the plague to the sailors. They stormed my cabin and dragged me to the deck—squirming. Their hands left deep bruises on my flesh and I begged them to understand. I wasn’t an omen of misfortune! “Woman’s bad luck on the sea…” They held me down and bound my hands and legs with the thickest rope they could find. They gagged me with old rags, silencing me, and carrying out their orders. You stood off to the side—watching—but you never said a word. Yet, somehow, I could hear in your thoughts the word witch. You believed them… Without second thought, they tossed me overboard, giving their “misfortune” to the sea. I struggled against the waves, attempting to break free, but the rope was too tight and the water too deep. My lungs burned, aching for a breath, but it never came. And all I could see in my mind was you, standing there, without a word, watching me die. Watching me… You never loved me.
The ropes began to loosen and I could feel my legs begin to morph. Bound together, becoming one, like the sturdy tail of a whale. I managed to release my gag, fearful of taking a breath, but my lungs gave in and I inhaled—surprised by the welcoming feeling. The embrace. My body floated along, limp, but strong, marveled by the changes the sea had done. I was one with the waves, a being of the deep, and I accepted my fate. But still, I could feel you watching. I remember when we’d swim in the starlit waters. Back then, I was of the land—with two legs standing proudly towards the sun. Towards my dreams. Now, the sea is my only companion. Filled with the salty taste of betrayal. Your betrayal. And I still wait, as I did years before, waiting for the merchant ships to dock for the night. Waiting, for the moonlight to grace the waters, illuminating even the darkest caverns below. The sharp rocky cliffs surrounding my haven remind me of those diamonds I once longed for. Sturdy, ever shining. Immortal. And it’s with my voice I beckon them—calling them to the treasures they thought they desired. But when their vessels reach the mainland, they’re met with nothing but destruction. Greed is a killer. I can’t help but smile as I see them sink below—crying out for help as the waves devour them. If only they had embraced the sea and her wonders. If only they realized that she, too, gives back what she was given. And still I wait. Wait for the ship I remember all those years before. Wait for the sailor who did me wrong. Turned against me and cast me away. My dear, we will swim the same waters once again—when your blood is illuminated within it like the stars.
Dorian J. Sinnott
The sea-snake swished to shore and whispered to the panther preening herself on a nearby rock / I like to swim exactly once around this island each day. Now I know you
are here, by a process of triangulation—you here on your rock, that tree on the headland, and my own position— I will be able tell when I have returned to where I set off. Though I’m happy to help / said the panther / please understand that I move around during the day, in search of food. My perambulations will doubtless render your calculations unreliable. True enough / replied the sea-snake / but what more beautiful creature should I choose to mark my homecoming? Jinny Fisher
Fishing for Mahseer
We took a boat out for Golden Mahseer, fishing the greedy Ganges, casting flies across its race as logs and rags spun by. It seemed a futile hunt until - what luck! a charred body neared, fallen from a pyre, preyed upon by a shoal of roiling fish. As this hellish vision drifted closer my angling friend reeled in his lure and line, remade his tackle with a pink 'flesh fly' then cast into the froth around the corpse. I looked away. On the bank women washed, above the trees a little minaret shone through the smog framed sun. What can be said? We fished for fish which fed upon the dead. Marc Woodward
The Unsavory Shit
I wouldn’t necessarily say that I picture an octopus when we have sex, but I don’t not picture one. Octopi have three hearts, just like I do. Think safes full of getaway money. Think fake passports using multisyllabic, Eastern European names. Think coffins full of reasons to self-destruct. I have two spare hearts in which to store the unsavory shit. Octopi also lack bones. A fifty-pound octopus can squeeze through a hole the size of a quarter. Talk about adaptability. I adapt too, but far more slowly. When Crumb leaves for work, I spend half the day learning to exist without him. I spill coffee, light books on fire, open the neighbor’s Amazon packages. Those sorts of things. By the time my blood has cooled, it’s almost time for him to come home. Then it takes the better part of the evening to relearn his presence. I step on his feet, throw the hissing cat at him, slip acid in his Dr. Pepper. He spends hours staring into the cat’s litter box, like he can’t decide if he’s better off in there. Tonight Crumb grabs the plunger. Tells me it has magical powers. Like what? I ask. He raises his eyebrows, does a little wiggle. It can transport you anywhere, he smiles as if he invented teeth. Typically, I wake up several times throughout the night to check that he’s still lying next to me. In the dark I reach for his body then make my way down to his butt. Crumb has an excellent butt. Very muscular, squeezable. I rub it like a magic lamp and wish that he never finds out what I’m hiding.
When it comes to sex, Crumb has just one move. In-and-out-in-and-out, at the pace of a jack hammer. Kind of like he’s trying to drill a ghost out of his system. This rhythmic nightmare is why I may or may not picture an octopus. I imagine eight tentacles suctioned onto my skin, slurping up my salty goodness. I accidentally rip a tentacle off in a fit of pleasure. The octopus regrows its limb with great ease. It seems to do everything with ease. Never tense or anxious. Being with Crumb is nice in the way that having a dishwasher is nice. I love him, don’t want him to leave, but I know I could survive without him. Once my blood cooled, anyway. I don’t necessarily think this is a bad thing. There have been several reports of octopi breaking out of tanks. One even escaped an aquarium in Australia. Just rode down the pipes like a damn slip ‘n slide. I imagine myself as an octopus. Smart and rebellious, making headlines. What’s crazy to me is that all of the octopus’ organs are located in its head. Seems risky, throwing it all in one pot like that. I envy their courage. There are so many versions of me to which Crumb doesn’t have access. I choke them down whenever they try to slither their way up my esophagus, desperate for air. For this reason, Crumb keeps a Costco-sized bottle of Tums on the nightstand next to the lube and his scratched Big Lebowski DVD. Tonight he waves his one hand in front of his nose and plunges the toilet. Says that there are an infinite number of universes out there. That we’re arrogant to assume we’re the only one. We aren't even that great, he says, splashing filthy water all over the tile floor. When I don't respond, he says it again, but with less conviction. I take a Klonopin and cross my fingers that an escaped octopus crawls out of the toilet.
When I first met Crumb, I owned at least twenty-six gas station t-shirts. I’d never stayed in one place long enough to get attached. Slept with men and women who tied me up. They gagged, whipped, and humiliated me, because I told them I liked it. I wasn’t going to tell them I was punishing myself. What the hell is a Buc-ee’s? Crumb had asked, examining my chest as we watched some dumb movie on the couch. A gas station in Texas, I’d said, leaning towards his face. He’d kissed me then pulled back and grinned, as if my response explained everything. I’d pushed my second and third hearts down a little deeper into my chest. My first and only girlfriend had an electric blue octopus tattoo named Lenny on her inner bicep. I used to squeeze Lenny, pretending to get squirted with ink. Her arm was so soft, like a baby’s skull. I still remember the last time I saw her, the way her arm lay limply over the side of our bed, the blood from her wrist dripping onto the white carpet like strawberry sauce. A female octopus forgoes food in order to protect her eggs and eventually dies of starvation. I wonder if they sacrifice themselves in every universe. If there’s one in which they developed the human trait of selfishness. Tonight Crumb stabs the air with the plunger. Like a knight with a sword. He tells me that in one universe there is a support group for fish who get caught and thrown back into the water. He sucks on the inside of his cheeks and screws his face up into “fish lips” as he says it. I laugh because laughing feels just as good as crying.
Crumb says in another universe, our cat is possessed by a dead drug lord. But like, a chill guy. Heâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s learned his lesson. In yet another universe, the primary currency is hugs, but only if you mean them. Crumb closes his eyes and begins to spin like a top, knocking my face wash and vitamins off the counter. I wonder who spun him. I wonder if it matters.
And suddenly his bones disappear. His body goes limp, and he is shapeless and pure. Melting into a beautiful puddle on the floor. I plunge a hand into my chest and throw all three of hearts on the floor next to what I think is his head. One of them is electric blue and leaking ink.
Hello Sailor Julia Webb
A Postcard from the Kingdom of Unearned Endings
From the kingdom of unearned endings, hereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a postcard: Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m sending you the photographs of every animal or thing that ought to feel shameful, possums, with their human hands eating figs and ticks because they can, balanced rock, tilting, white pelican, holding its own against December, when the gales grow thick. Tender pouches teeming with fish, disproportionate, the errant finch finding library glass where sky was, the extra chromosome that took a child from the quiet street where children live, their red boots in rain, their glib parents complaining and sick of them. If none of these things is earned, then how can anything be called worthy of what happens to it? Nothing in this whirling way is ordered. There is no perfect end. The orchard peters out by the ocean, condos root themselves where citrus should grow, their spires pierce the weather, turn south, a sunny paradise, an ending unearned Amy Alexander
He had just got out of his chair to make his bedtime cocoa, when there was an explosion, but gentle, just a soft gurgle as his tartan dressing-gown flickered into flame, then pieces of pyjama and bits of wax whirled about in a cloud smelling of bacon not even a moan as his head turned into a simmering mask. Only his new slippers remained (a birthday gift from the cat), a small heap of ash and a trickle of oil. Jennie Farley
City Judith R. Robinson
Sue Klebold in a Sycamore
I got us a corner booth, back there where brown bugs come loose from the brown wall. Sit a minute, won't you, and help me drink this candle. I feel moroseful, and my son is cruel, I guess, because he'll see no full example. Seventeen years around the doors in that hollow house, things were always crawlingâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; out of love, it didn't matter, stomp or gas, or gummy pads of poison. We poured liquid tin in an anthill once. I showed him how to do it. His first knife was a gift from yours truly. There's no fooling the migraine in my eyes, or the bullfrog edemas in these wrists. I taught him how to spark a bit of hay with a loupe. I don't think the inner ruby deserves us, the crust of blood on a bathable dayâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; any of the thousands before the main event. I hear still the illiterate wailing from a diaper overdue, focus on the stubborn dot of a missed thimble, the needle-warning, for a thread by which to reassemble
the sweater of a good citizen, its woollen belly slack as a flag. I had room then. To spareâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;and to grow. Even the arsonist, I suppose, lights a fire in the stove. Sometimes, to keep from freezing. Alec Hershman
Amy Alexander is a poet and visual artist who lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with her husband and kids. Her work has most recently appeared in The Coil, Anti-Heroin Chic, The Remembered Arts and the Mojave Heart Review. She also enjoys interviewing writers about their work for literary magazines. Follow her on Twitter @iriemom. Joshua Anderson is an artist of Tempe, Arizona. He depicts abstract portraits and structures in essence of the experiences he has both had, and told to him. His use of mixed media give his works many hidden textures and repeating patterns. These provide the viewer with many items to pick and choose to take from as they please. Kevin Cahill was born in Cork, Ireland and graduated from University College Cork with an honours degree in politics. At present he is a full-time writer and to date his work has appeared in The London Magazine, The Stinging Fly, Southword, Northwords Now, and The Edinburgh Review, amongst other journals. Marisa Crane is a lesbian fiction writer and poet. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Pigeon Pages, Drunk Monkeys, The Zodiac Review, among others. She currently lives in San Diego with her fiancée. You can read more of her work at marisacrane.org. Her twitter handle is @marisabcrane. Ian Dudley’s most recent publications have been in Ink, Sweat and Tears, The Rialto and Zoomorphic. He has won the Oxonian Review (2015) and Aesthetica (2017) poetry competitions, and featured in Eyewear’s The Best New British And Irish Poets 2016. Darrell Epp's poetry as appeared in over 100 magazines on 6 continents. His third collection, Sinners Dance, was published in 2018. Jennie Farley is a published poet, workshop leader and teacher. Her poetry has featured in magazines including New Welsh Review, Under the Radar, The Interpreter’s House and webzines and received competition awards. She lives in Cheltenham where she is very active in the poetry scene, and runs events for an iconic arts club, NewBohemians@CharltonKings. Her first collection My Grandmother Skating (Indigo Dreams Pub) was published 2016. Her new book Hex (IDP) is due out 2018. Jinny Fisher was a violinist, then a psychotherapist, and is now a member of Wells Fountain Poets. Print and online publications include The Interpreter’s House, Under the Radar, Prole, Tears in the Fence, New Walk, Domestic Cherry, Ink Sweat & Tears, The Poetry Shed, Amaryllis, and Strange Poetry. Her poem `Transition’ won 2nd Prize in
The Interpreterâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s House competition, 2016. She likes to push around her Poetry Pram, particularly at poetry and rock festivals. Steve Gergley is a writer and runner based in Warwick, NY. His fiction has appeared in The Fiction Pool, Typishly, and the Eunoia Review. In addition to writing fiction, he has composed and recorded five albums of original music. Nikoletta Gjoni is a fiction and creative nonfiction writer living outside of DC. She currently has a collection of linked short stories out on submission about people living in Communist Albania, spanning the 1970s through to the present day. You can find her work in Bartleby, Kindling Volume III, Cleaver Magazine, and Cotton Xenomorph. Her first published story was nominated for the 2018 PEN/Robert J. Dau prize. Tianna Grosch has been creating all her life, whether with words or bits of paper, she loves pasting things together to create something new. Check out her creative writings at CreativeTianna.com and follow her adventures @tiannag92 Sam Grudgings is a shabbily dressed painter, poet and storyteller from Bristol. He works strictly in acrylic and other mediums, but never in larges. He sexts in comic sans and everything he says is a fucking lie. Dangerously nude. Fashionably late. Sam's work has been displayed in some places and banned in others. Jason Harris is a poet and college educator living in Cleveland, Ohio. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Et Cetera Literary Magazine, SLEEPER SERVICE, and Winter Tangerine. He is the Managing Editor of BARNHOUSE Journal. Jules Henderson is a Writing MFA candidate at the University of San Francisco where she studies under D.A. Powell, Bruce Snider, Brynn Saito, and Rachel Richardson. Her work has appeared at the Paradise Review, Bookends Review, The Social Poet, The Drunken Odyssey, and in Words Fly Away, a collection of poems that address the 2011 Fukushima disaster. Alec Hershman is the author of The Egg Goes Under (Seven Kitchens Press, 2017). He has received awards from the KHN Center for the Arts, The Jentel Foundation, Playa, The Virginia Creative Center for the Arts, and The Institute for Sustainable Living, Art, and Natural Design. He lives in Michigan where he teaches writing and literature to college students. You can learn more at alechershmanpoetry.com. Keira James is an artist and author from Sheffield. She has a real job to pay the bills, much of which she spends daydreaming of mountains and valleys. Occasionally she draws them. She is working on a graphic novel called Planet Umbra and her work can be found at grindstoneart.wordpress.com.
Nooks Krannie is a Palestinian/Persian female writer from Montreal, Canada. She is the author of two poetry chapbooks, I have hard feelings & I wish I could quit chocolate (Moloko House Press, 2016) and candied pussy (Thistlemilk Press, 2017). nkrannie.com @nookskrannie Angelo Maneage is a grocery clerk and 2017 recipient of the Academy of American Poets' Alberta Turner Poetry Prize. He has work on Hobart, in Sprung Formal, coming to FIVE:2:ONE, and around other places. He lives in Bedford, Ohio.
Daniel Paul Marshall runs a guesthouse he built, on the island of Jeju. His poems can be found at PoetHead, FourTiesLitReview, The Contemporary Haibun Online, The High Window & Isacoustic. His first chapbook, a collaboration with the poet Robert Okaji, was published in October 2018 by Dink Press. He is assistant-editor of Tim Miller’s Underfoot Poetry. His website is danielpaulmarshall.com. Zoe Mitchell is a poet and PhD student at the University of Chichester. She has been published in a range of literary magazines and wrote and performed commissioned poems at the Winchester Poetry Festival in 2016 for the Chalk Poets Anthology. She lives and works on the South Coast. writingbyzoe.com @writingbyzoe Benjamin Niespodziany is a night librarian at the University of Chicago. He runs the multimedia art blog [neonpajamas] and has had work published in Ghost City Press, HOOT Review, formercactus, Occulum, and others. Amanda Oosthuizen’s stories and poems have been published online, in print, in galleries, in Winchester Cathedral and pasted up on the London Underground. Recent successes include the Winchester Poetry Prize and The Pre-Raphaelite Society’s poetry competition. Work is forthcoming in Cosmonauts Avenue, Prelude, Storgy and Under the Radar. She has an MA with distinction in Creative Writing from the University of Chichester where she was joint winner of the Kate Betts Prize; she earns her living by writing and arranging music and teaching woodwind. Grace Palmer has an MA in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University, was long-listed in the Bristol Short Story Prize 2017 and for the Tongues & Grooves Prose Poetry Award 2018. She is completing her second novel and working on a flash fiction collection. She teaches creative writing to adults and directs Novel Nights, live lit events, for writers in Bristol and Bath. @wordpoppy
Jennifer G. Peper is a visual artist and writer. Since 2016, her work has been published in Gone Lawn, Taxicab, Knee-Jerk and Woven Tale Press. She has collaborated in several exhibitions, including A Book About Death, exhibited at Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles, CA and the Queens Museum in Queens, NY. You can find her on jengpeper.com and Twitter.
Natty Peterkin graduated from the Communication Design MA at Norwich University of the Arts in 2015. He is a freelance designer, illustrator and fine artist (primarily making abstract paintings as the latter). He has a keen interest in philosophy and bringing together different forms of creativity; he also sings in two touring bands, bringing musical influence into his artwork and vice versa. Some examples of his work can be accessed here for art: nattypeterkin.tumblr.com and here for ‘Zine and experimental art: specialbargaindeal.tumblr.com Susan Richardson is living, writing and going blind in Los Angeles. In addition to poetry, she writes a blog called, Stories from the Edge of Blindness. Her work has been published in Foxglove Journal, Amaryllis, The Writing Disorder and Eunoia Review, among others. She was awarded the Sheila – Na – Gig 2017 Winter Poetry Prize, featured in the Literary Juice Q&A Series, and chosen as the Ink Sweat & Tears March 2018 Poet of the Month. She also writes for Morality Park, an Arts and Lit Collective. Judith R. Robinson is a visual artist, editor, fiction writer and poet. A 1980 summa cum laude graduate of the University of Pittsburgh, she is listed in the Directory of American Poets and Writers. She has published 75+ poems, five poetry collections, one fiction collection; one novel; edited or co-edited eleven poetry collections. She is a teacher at Osher at Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh. Her newest collection, Carousel, was published in January, 2017 by Lummox Press. Tom Roth works for Sandy Valley Local Schools. His writing has appeared in The Canton Repository, The Flash Fiction Press, Literally Stories, The Literary Yard, and
Tuck Magazine. Dorian J. Sinnott is a graduate of Emerson College's Writing, Literature, and Publishing program, currently living in Kingston, New York with his sassy munchkinmix cat, Scarlette. When he's not busy at his full-time job, he works as a cat adoption assistant at a local humane society-- which he claims is more therapy than work. He enjoys English horseback riding, playing violin, and cosplaying his favorite childhood characters at comic cons. Dorian's work has appeared in Crab Fat Literary Magazine, Alter Ego, and The Hungry Chimera.
Sam Smith is editor of The Journal (once 'of Contemporary Anglo-Scandinavian Poetry'), and publisher of Original Plus books. He has been a psychiatric nurse, residential social worker, milkman, plumber, laboratory analyst, groundsman, sailor, computer operator, scaffolder, gardener, painter & decorator... Working at anything, in fact, which paid the rent, enabled him to raise his three daughters and which hasn’t got too much in the way of his writing. sites.google.com/site/samsmiththejournal/
Tand is an artist living in the dark heart of West Yorkshire while trying to make comics, portals and blues music. Grant Tarbard is the former editor of The Screech Owl, co-founder of Resurgant Press, a reviewer, and an editorial assistant for Three Drops From A Cauldron. He is the author of Loneliness is the Machine that Drives the World (Platypus Press) and Rosary of Ghosts (Indigo Dreams). His new pamphlet This is the Carousel Mother Warned You About (Three Drops Press) will be out soon. Susannah Violette is an artist, silversmith, musician and poet. She lives in the endless forests of Germany with her husband and two daughters. Much of her inspirations is drawn from the natural world and the intensity of our existence. Bee Walsh is a poet, freelance editor, and introvert from the Bronx, NY. She has been published in such literary journals as Velvet Tail, The Vagina Zine, Vagabond Lit, Wyvern Lit, and as well as Synaesthesia Magazine, where she is currently the Poetry Editor. You can find her work, her upcoming book, as well as her editing services at beewalsh.com. Julia Webb lives in Norwich, UK. She has a BA Creative Writing from Norwich University of the Arts and an MA in creative writing from the UEA. She is a founding editor of Lighthouse Literary Journal. Her poetry collection Bird Sisters was published by Nine Arches Press in 2016. Marc Woodward is a poet and musician living in rural Devon. His writing reflects those surroundings - although often with a dark undercurrent. He has been widely published in anthologies, journals and online sites. His chapbook A Fright Of Jays is available from Maquette Press and a full collection Hide Songs is out with Green Bottle Press. He blogs at marcwoodwardpoetry.blogspot.com and @marcomando and can be easily found wasting time on Facebook.
ISSUE #18 COMING FEBRUARY 2019