RIGGWELTER #20 APRIL 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 Short handled hoe Generation (Ars Poetica) Pink Singularity The Barber Chair A Possible Cure for Stuttering Untitled Adjustment Period [Figure Study #3: Bone Formation] Chronic god Poems for the Devil usr Midas’ Alchemy Moth My sister hatched from her shell The Quick The Sphinx Night Vision Mother a Butterfly, Father a Bird Veil Falls the bruise God Bless You Prison Servant Urged to Silence Untitled Cuckoo. You Jumped Off Your Father’s Lakehouse Pier to Search for Him Capri Swimming in the Styx Love Poem: For The Summer I Was 17 Seek Not Whom The Stalker Stalks Memory’s View Please Answer The Question From Memory Scorched Earth Protocol Sun Poppy Failed Self-Portrait No.1: Study in Forgetting Someone Else Contributors
4 5 6 7 12 14 15 16 21 22 23 24 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 38 39 40 41 43 45 46 47 51 52 53 55 56 60 61 63 64 65 67 68
Welcome to April. We made it (I guess)! This issue is all about the body – our physicality, everything that comes from it and our sovereignty over it. At a time which, for this editor at least, is very chaotic and uncertain, there is comfort in knowing that we are present in this meat suit and that, in the face of everything, we are still alive. This issue is about just that, as well as: the strangeness of bodies that are not ours; where we orient the self within the body; violations of the sanctity of the body; previously observed, and bizarre, medical phenomena and moving beyond the bounds of the physical. As always, there is thanks to be given before we commence. On a personal note, thank you to all our submitters that have been very patient about our unusually slow turn around times whilst I finished and handed in my dissertation. Regular service has been resumed. Thank you to everyone that has aided me in that process, especially Jane Lowe (a literal angel). Thank you to all our contributors, to our promoters and to our readers for making Riggwelter a perfect family. Finally, some housekeeping. It’s that time of the year again where the Saboteur Awards open up for nominations. Last year Riggwelter made the shortlist for Best Magazine and we’d be delighted if you’d help us make it again this year. You can nominate by visiting this URL: https://form.jotformeu.com/90645792222358 That’s quite enough from me: on with the show. Enjoy!
Amy Kinsman (Founding Editor)
Short handled hoe
for Caesar Chavez
There is pleasant bookended symmetry to the short handled hoe ending up in the Hall of Fame after being brandished as a tool of the gods so long ago, before even the plough. It is thought people only poked at the earth with sticks before then, before some god decided what the poking stick needed was a delta blade to scar through the soil, to drag and turn and stack and twist the soil to make it good. He made it short handled, that god, in order for all to bow low to him, even more back breaking work than poking the ground with a stick. It is odd how people continued to bend so low even after they had forgotten that god, his prayers became chaff on the breeze. However there were other people to bend low to and what dignity had once been in the stoop of worship was gone. The short handled hoe is outlawed now, though displayed to those who wish to see: not for the shaft and blade, but for the thing it is not - for a time when Men stood straight and said â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;see here, I draw my line in the earth with this, a long handled hoe.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; Emma McKervey
Generation (Ars Poetica)
The first breaching crown of a child. A daughter who skins the back of its father with a vegetable peeler. It cannot see, only know with its thin fingers braiding tissue skin. It is not afraid of blood-blood smells like birth, like maker like love, like the press of proud lips to its forehead. It smiles. Joyous with purpose and blind to all else.
The edge of euphoria: a needle a dip pen a knife threaded through skinning back the skin of temples down the cheek and peeling off bottom lip. Unraveling. A voice vibrating loose ribbons. Tying bouquets of wild flowers into a young girlâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s hair.
The last time it opens its eyes and drinking the light that spills from there. The girl is a handmade body on the cusp of reanimation. A moment so freshly dead that it might sit up at any moment and run. You canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t out run a child but you can catch it, encircle it, breath in its excess and wait for its struggle to taper out. You can feed a child raw meat and berries, soft fruit and citrus so that it smells like home.
Marcus L. Kearns
a response to BLEACH by Brockhampton. I’m exploding inside. It’s like looking at a gorgeous shamble of hope and care. Her eyes are eating mine; I can’t stop staring. The lights are off, but there’s a radiance shining from the windows of the building next to mine. A network of rusty pipes binds my building to the building of the stranger curled on my bed. She came over from that networked place. A fissure tore open like a revolution, fast, something beginning that can’t be undone. She came asking for too-ripe bananas, to make a trendy ice cream thing, but she left with my phone number. She texted me five minutes later. It was one of those electric things. One innocent knock turned into one innocent coffee date turned into one innocent touch. Our finger tips swirled like latte art. There’s a paternity to her, the dark hair on the back of her hands giving me something I hadn’t found in any woman: reality. My phone case makes my Samsung look like Pikachu. It buzzes through the incense smoke and I swipe it to life. It’s the neighbor asking for more than a coffee date, for more than groceries. I wish I didn’t, but I feel my heart churn like the furnace in Spirited Away. Little motes bouncing around my chest. She’s wearing short shorts and hoop earrings. I don’t invite her in; she breezes in like she inherited some estate. We sit on my bed and feel that adolescent joy of anticipation. I kiss the bottom of her neck, stupidly, but she murmurs a yes. I can’t do wrong. I can’t do wrong.
She has long hair and it splays like divine rays of sun around her head against the cherry headboard. I’m poor, so no one would expect such a nice headboard. Our bodies sink into the mattress. It’s, again, too nice for such reckless people. Our lips begin the singularity. Her head lifts from the pillow as I kiss her, creating a gravity that she disregards. Big thighs squeezing against mine. The tension is unreal, it’s like someone left the doors open to the zoo. The two of us are exploring every locked cage, and every minute the stakes get higher. I want him. She wants me. I’m inside her. I’m inside him. He’s better but he wants to receive. He’s better but he likes to take. My fingers aren’t laced through hers, they’re chained, and I’m pushing her into the bed like it was the only place to go. “No one will be home for a while,” I say. “Can you help me take my pants off?” she asks. They are so tight I peel them from her like a tangerine. My sheets are from Target. They’re not what she deserves. She’s a concept made real. She lets me in. My lip bleeds. I can’t tell if I’m too tense or if it’s from her perfect teeth biting me. I taste the iron but I don’t want to stop. There’s a curve in me that greets the warmth she made. I splash. She floods. We’re swimming. I see her face morph, the experience shifting. It looks like she wants to be my wife. The tiniest noises eek out from in between her fantastic lips like house guests seeing themselves out, washed in wine and gin. I chase each noise with my hips, with my ass. I squeeze and attempt and pulse and pretend it’s working. She moans and smiles.
“Do you make mistakes? Or do you make a change?” she holds onto my shoulders as she asks. I’m throttling in between her legs, like riding a motorcycle. I am flexing and hoping it feels like I’m intending it does. The scent of Midnight brand incense skates from the desk in the corner. It swirls with the smell of misplaced need. I’m so young. I’m so green. The pink of her body is the totality of why I love. She knows that and again her face morphs. The aspiration contorts into acceptance. “I try,” I grunt. “I try to make a change, I guess.” She smiles and paints the side of my face with her soft palm. Her hands have never known hard labor. That seems good. It’s like a bouncy house coated in bubble gum. I’m lost, tumbling around like a hobbit in a barrel cascading down a hill. The medieval ignorance startling her, startling me; I was sure I was worthy. My throat stops some weird noise from clucking out. My cock quakes, and she understands. “It’s alright,” she says. She speaks like a scholar now. Her moans have become a singular encouragement. Her hands are around my face and in my hair; she has six arms. I’m exploding inside. She demands more, she drains me, she takes everything. I sputter because I haven’t been serviced in a long time. I sputter because I haven’t got a clue. The gushing stops and she takes it in her hands. She tastes herself, she tastes himself, she tastes me. The gravitational pull disconnects like a synapsis and she grins.
Her name is Daniel. She’s as gorgeous as Kevin Abstract, as pretty as Matt Champion, style like a New York barista. “Thank you,” he says. He sits on the edge of my bed and his shoulders are like lumps of coal, shaped and placed on either side of his neck. There’s hair sprouting from his shoulders, but nothing like the garden on his chest. He’s blonde like Armie Hammer, and sharp like Henry Cavill. I’m wrapped under my blankets like a child. I feel small and impossible. “For what?” “Keeping me young,” he smiles and his teeth are like playing cards. Some kind of gambler. “Will you come over again?” “I live next door, don’t I?” “That’s not what I asked.” He zips his corduroy shorts. I pull the blankets closer to my chin, waiting for drama to come that never will. “I’ll reach out,” he speaks like a police officer, like he has some form of authority over me. He, of course, does. The pink singularity disappears in an instant. I lie in the gray space he leaves behind. What power. For a stranger, any ways.
I thought it meant more to him, I told myself it did. He throws his hair in a bun and he looks like Post Malone, but much, much prettier. He shrugs on a heavy flannel that, with his shorts, make him look like a pantsless lumberjack.
I sit on the front porch and mutter to myself. It’s over, I tell me. It’s over, I tell me. His authority, her authority, can’t take away the pink singularity. The afternoon of exploring what I’m capable of creating. The cosmic construction completed by me inside
her. Inside him. That’s mine. The singularity was as brief as moths at a flame, wings crumbling by the candle. I can dance in that memory forever. I still do.
The Barber Chair
At the neck nape, hair clippers coo, susurrations as they spill hair. Tingle trickles down to toes. Brush massages loose hairs from scalp, and every atom rocks into a tide. Daydream drifts, eyes flickering like the box television playing Friday on BET. Static-rippled loll, barber-cupped chin. Fingers center the forehead. Across the hairline, he charts a path, squatting, lips aligning for a moment. He takes a call from his wife. He teases through receiver. He hangs up, unsheathes razor blade. Edge cruising skin, he cuts in on veteran's story of women in Vietnam who bathed men with their bodies. Curiosity erect, all men listen, every clipper holding its tongue. Ears warm, head cold and unfinished. Blade clean, remains so until the vet leaves, stories wet in every mouth, Playboy play-by-play savored like the vet savors his past fuck. Blade gripped, the barber leans
back in, geometry whispers to hairline, then throat. Elsewhere, only a woman gets this close to your blood. Quintin Collins
A Possible Cure for Stuttering
Wendell Johnson (1906-1965), a lifelong stutterer and eventual professor in Speech Pathology, experimented with ECT as a possible cure for stuttering.
We thought it would work. All of my neurological misfires corrected with this electrical reset. A defibrillation of voice. Wendell, my throat expanded with purple welts and heartache. Speckled aired starred vision, thrumming pupils as they dilated, blackening and whiting as colors faded in and out. I was a twinkling mess of bleached blue electric, a face under your lamp of possibility. I shone for you. My fingers tapped edges of the plastic table as convulsions softened, a ticking rhythm I remember once a week when I vomit water and the last drops ring porcelain. Troy Varvel
Untitled Tim Stuemke
I woke up one morning with no arms. I don’t mean the kind of waking up where you can’t feel them, where blood has caught somewhere and is now a steady thunder under your skin, I mean my arms weren’t there at all. The down comforter clung to my legs as I kicked at it, frantically rolling out of bed. Standing shakily, I looked at myself in my floorlength mirror, expecting blood, or oozing flesh in danger of gangrene. In place of my arms, however, was nothing. Just smooth nothing. I had a boyfriend who used to call me monkey-toes. In response, I’d pinch his feet and pull his coarse leg hair with them under the sheets at night. He would have laughed if he saw me reaching for my phone, saw my claw-toes clamp on and lift it up to the nightstand, biting my tongue in concentration. “Hello, Police?” They understood immediately, a girl with no arms was no laughing matter, no matter how thick her toe-knuckles were. “Hey, Tony?” Work was a little slower to understand. “What do you mean, gone?” Tony asked, but he heard the ambulance sirens and let me go, which is good because I realized that it’s difficult to hang up without arms. The hospital was a dead-eyed, leery place, and in the waiting room a man with sore like a squashed grapefruit gaped at me as I walked by. Everyone did, though, so I didn’t mind. Not that the EMTs had wanted me walking, for some reason any major trauma they saw they tried to strap to a gurney. I kept trying to tip it over, so they let me stand. It took a while for the doc to come in and see me, even though several others politely excused themselves from their patients to walk into my room, scratch their
heads and nod “Extraordinary.” When she did finally come in, she just looked at my shoulders and shrugged. “Could you come back in a few days? We might have something for you then,” she said, although I didn’t know what she meant. “My arms?” I asked, “Are the police looking for them? Can you put them back?” But she shooed me away, muttering about how lucky I was, that some people wished that all they had to worry about was not having any arms. In a way, she was right. Survival became a game, a puzzle to solve and then sit back and admire. I wore dresses for the next few days. I pulled the closet doors back with my toes and slinked up into the cool fabric, blowing warm air from the bottom to create a small cave that I could slip into while they still hung on the racks. I’ve always been confused about the term “breathing life” into something, because the only things you breathe out are what your body cannot use. In that way, I made a path for myself into the folds of light cotton and dark satin. I used my chin and nose to press buttons on the microwave, having soup for three (sometimes four) meals a day. I used my teeth, and sometimes just my tongue, to turn the pages of the newspaper, letting my saliva cling to the grey fibers. In the mirror I saw words stained onto my pink tongue, things like “transparent” and “alleged,” always cut off at the corner of a page. I hoped my search would turn up something like this: “twenty-something, reliable humerus seeking a long-term relationship with scapula of her dreams” or “pair of young and exciting arms looking to add a body to the mix,” but I don’t know if body parts would go under personal or
I went back to the hospital when they said they had “good news.” The “good news” was waiting for me under a white sheet on a cold metal gurney, and the doc was only too happy to pull the cloth back. When she did, I saw two arms crossed over each other as if deep in thought. “It was all we had with such short notice, but we think they’ll work.” The hands were enormous. The knuckles were pink and dotted with small, white scars. Past the wrists, a thick coat of brown fur enveloped thick muscles, and the skin at the tip of the gnarled elbow was the only sign of bone, of something frail beneath the flesh. They were certainly not my arms. But what could I say? Check the dumpsters, I’m sure that’s where mine are? Or better yet, just wait for some young girl to die, some beautiful, slimwristed thing? I conceded that yes, they might work, and the doc took care of the rest. The first thing I noticed was that the fingertips brushed my knees when I walked. The second was the new strain on my shoulders. At least I could open doors normally, but now I slammed them all the time, and sometimes I would pull too much food out of the fridge, as if the arms were conscious of their original hunger. In fact, the arms did many things like this. I would turn on the water for the shower, and the hands would instinctively crank too far. I would try to clip my bra and the fingers would fumble, no muscle memory associated with putting one on. Sometimes I would yell at them, “You idiot that’s not how you do that,” and try to get one hand to punish the other. They didn’t cut bread, or twirl spaghetti, or even punch numbers into the microwave the way I wanted (the middle finger was not meant to be the primary one, arms). And at night I slept with arms atop sheets. Like a snow angel, I stretched them out so they could not touch me.
One day, they reached for the sugar, remembering that this was how I drank coffee before they came along. Another day, one cranked the shower slow while the other stuck itself in the stream up to its wrist. I felt the heat through them, and let them know what temperature was just right. I still didn’t like the way they picked up popcorn, crunching it all into a fist, but I started to see the efficiency in it. And they were learning that I took smaller bites as we cut our food. I was staring at the veins on the back of the right hand when my phone rang. Shy and (strange) soft, the left hand raised the phone to my ear. The doctor spoke, but I didn’t pay attention. I was thinking about the veins, about whose blood traveled there. Did we have shared custody? “We think we’ve found something a bit more appropriate,” the doc repeated, sneering as if the current limbs were not, in fact, her idea. So I went back. I drove myself. The arms drove me, I suppose, but we had an understanding. As I got out of the car I banged an elbow and cringed. Sharing pain, I remembered that first sign of frailty I saw, their elbows pointing to the ceiling from the metal gurney. So little separating bone and flesh. I held the elbow, or the left hand did, as I walked through the still-dead halls. This was a place where people got better once they left, I thought.
The doc showed a new table. On it, a new sheet. Under that, two new arms. They were supple, pale, almost hairless. As I looked at them, I unconsciously traced a hand through the fur on my arms, and clenched a hard-knuckled fist. My toes curled as well. The arms on the table were smaller, and wouldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t brush my knees or cause a second look. Reaching across my body, I felt the knobby elbow, and tried to sooth away the sting. And then I left. That night, I fell asleep cradling myself, arms heavy, warm, and mine.
Carleton J. Whaley
[Figure Study #3: Bone Formation]
T i c k s c o v e r i n g e b o n e , l i t t l e d e a t h s
b y d e a t h c u t s ,
a t h o u s a n d l o v e s i n s c h i s m s
I have been dwelling on each line, the cleavages that form, their pulling-backcaving-in motion, a literal body languageâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;and how they are deployed for dissection, for studying, classifying or identifying this unbelievable body, its history, its wild particulars, under one general rule, as if one indent contained only the truth of his condition, Harry Eastlack subsumed by a diagnosis. a F e f i c o the tissue broken, a r n r r a reaction, a process in healing c o t o XXXXXXXXXX h m o s s sinew transformed <to> bone, s o from a mesh of collaged fibers o u a m to a polysaccharide p n t e that acts like cement o a d t h to hold the tissues together f q e r e u r a l a h e e o y e n f o s i x n b o y s a v s t t f u p o l c e w r o u r r u u e h E a m s o r c â&#x20AC;&#x201D; i e x c b c s t e s n a t s a p r s n c s t i u h t a a t i e n s i l o y t s e i r t w H o , o t e a i k u w t n x y s n r i h t s t i t e o f b h a r e o s n i d h i a i y i n i n n , s g n t u t d o f l r i l a u p i e r s s n s i i k h t o , , y n , Corey Zielinski
Precious tissue, hung with delicate purpose on each catacombed bone you fail with such strange elegance cascading errors, ciphers in the skin left for us, the bodyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s dumb inhabitants to decode. We go to our oracles, Delphi a starched white room with a long table, inhale whatever smoke sheâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll sell us and the misty shapes within might be wellness or another hopeless echo; impossible to tell if this week's sacrifice of blood and time will yield some remedy until itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s long past spent. Haley Campbell
your hooves are showing don’t worry I won’t tell I’ll shine them up real nice they’ll look like halos Erik Fuhrer
Poems for the Devil
Dr. Horne was the Devil, literally, the Devil. We figured this because of his profound laugh, causing the classroom to quake at every bark. And he’d only cackle at wicked events, like the sadistic murders of the Mitchell twins a few months ago, a lovely pair of boys, their bodies found chopped up into hundreds of perfect cubic pieces scattered throughout campus. One day some of my classmates vanished. After the university grew suspicious, Dr. Horne instructed our class as normal, but our peers never returned. He preferred teaching English, probably since it wasn’t his primary language. At the beginning of every class, Dr. Horne would stand by the door, his face stained by glossy velvet and a bland expression. “There’s only one way to pass,” he’d repeat in a colorless tone. “A final exam, a poem presented in front of the class, something you think I’d like.” What the hell did the Devil like? I pictured fiery planes occupied by a castrated humanity, people burning, the majority deserving. Or maybe he’d like something simpler, like problematic icons tormented for their wrongdoings. Anyway, it was the final day of class. I overheard some of my classmates talking about their topics. Genocides. Pandemics. Famine. It all sounded of knockoff narratives from tales of the Four Horsemen. So trite and artless, did they really think the Devil adored ingenuousness? The Mitchells were sliced into perfect cubes for crying out loud.
The final exams began as I gazed at the empty blue lines of my yellow notepad. Speaker notes were advised, and anything Dr. Horne suggested had to be followed, or so we believed. The perpetual duress troubled many of us, students wailing under their cracked voices, stuttering between stanzas even when reciting the most unsophisticated of verses. No one received feedback. Ever. Even for the final exams, once students declaimed their poems, Dr. Horne apathetically waved his hand for them to sit. Did he intend to post our grades online weeks after the semester ended, for us to live in chronic trepidation until our dooms were determined by a letter on a website? I hoped not, but it did sound like something the Devil would do. It was my turn. I tried ignoring Dr. Horne’s scrutiny while approaching the podium. I felt sick; sweat escaping my glands, breaching my clothes. I resorted to the opposite of appropriate solutions: improvisation. It was all I had left, in a time of life and death. “Hi,” I opened. “This poem is called Wounds.” Dr. Horne nodded, gazing at me from the tips of his eyelids. Recalling a bank of pieces I crafted over the years, I attempted to pick apart some of the bolder or gloomy verses to summon an amalgam of my darker youth. The poem didn’t even make sense, but a couple of stanzas in, I watched Dr. Horne form a smirk, the ambiguity behind his gesture more frightening than anything.
I finished, nearly quoting a work originated as a response to my former partner’s unexpected leave and urge to find better, including my relationship with the environment and how it influenced self-destructive vices. The analogy of the world portrayed as an already existing realm of damnation undermined the meaning of my piece, but I hoped it would delight the Devil. Dr. Horne’s grin confirmed everything. He even showed his devilish teeth, accompanied by a sudden applause. Everyone immediately followed, yet it appeared quite obvious that many were confused. For the first time, I became the reason Dr. Horne clapped for anything. I slowly walked to my seat, hearing some of my peers whisper about how terrible my poem turned out to be, the recycled verses, how only I received recognition. Henry was called on next. He exhaled, looking back at me and down at my notepad to find it empty. Shaking his head, he balled up his original notes and threw them into the trash. He pulled an even worse composition out of his ass, narrating it in style. Looking like a damn dictator, he poured an unbelievable amount of heart and soul into the most deplorable of verses, piercing all of us with daggering, lifeless eyes. I shouldn’t have been so overt about my extemporization. Poor Henry seemed lost. Yet, Dr. Horne guffawed in his seat, clapping his hands or grabbing his stomach. He truly enjoyed Henry’s poem, and Henry embraced his reactions. The previous presenters became more perplexed, trying to find errors in their works, and every student who hadn’t yet recited their pieces began to craft new ideas. Losing sense of the transpiring events, fearing the imminent tragic demise of my class, I fell into
hypnosis behind Dr. Horne’s rambunctious laugh, my cheek pressed against cheap, antiquated wood. Then, Henry concluded his poem with a final pound of his fist, and I snapped out of my trance. Dr. Horne stood, awarding Henry with a roaring ovation. That’s when it all made sense to me: The Devil would enjoy shitty poetry. And it was up to the remaining students to keep him under infinite hilarity. Because if his trembling cackles caused the building to collapse, well, at least we’d die a more peaceful death, and not end up like them Mitchell boys.
Delvon T. Mattingly
usr Aaron Bailey
You come from the sunâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s mortal undoing, turn me to gold: slabs of body and rock, mythopoeic hurt. My flesh is yours. Corpuscular man-god, touch me in June with your hands strawberry-red from labour; touch me hard with your sweat-stained, swollen fat and you will be forgiven. By July, heat will have churned me to a molten heart that slathers itself over other hearts so we know the metallic taste of blood. You will then bathe me in river water and we will be clean. Beyond my rued skin, your fingers will slant downwards like light shafts, their holy blankness searing through my palms. Joanna Cleary
Slow light broiling. The dark lip of a window. A buttery moth has come in, crossed the threshold & now here she moves. She must be feathermade, to flick & grope the soup of air beneath her curtain wings. What is a moth, anyway? The wide house sits with rings around its eyes, the moth small & smooth as drops of cream. Fracture in the fold of its knees. A large line of dark shadow spreads shawl along the fireplace. Moth dance. I am a fracture too, then. A hairline crack runs right the way through (me). The moths Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve removed always fly back straight towards the dark windowâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s lips, the sun disappearing like a sinking spoon. Other moths I could kill, using my warm palms as two moist, smashing walls. The moths pestled to a golden paste, dust transformed & pulverised in shining flakes. That question again (what is a moth). This one lesson out the room comes back in, low-light fading through crag on wall. Catch her from below in a gentle, oily cup. She leaves this time, lopsided & flutter-folded over both ways, heading dark, as the men in their houses turn on all their lights. Ezra Miles
My sister hatched from her shell (Cover Image) Andrea Robinson
I wish you hadn’t told me how you saw a magpie from your window jab at a starling’s head, how you ran downstairs, halted to slip on shoes, got there too late and saw it unhinge each tiny eye from its slick socket. I wish, when you saw it, you’d run barefoot across gravel kicking your legs ’til the soles of your feet were threaded with beads of blood and how you might have stood there arms flapping until the unbroken hatchling caught its breath, heart soft-pedalled inside its newly-woken chest. This morning my mother found four plump feathers curled on the doorstep, gathered them, gave one to each saying it’s a sign from you, how we’re not forgotten. I watch a hawk circling and know its belly is full of newly-whispering dead, and the blood rising on its beak is still warm. Abegail Morley
The sphinx is wrought of black pig-iron Its curling tail scratched barb-wire Its torn-up face loomed from static Its eyes glow with red uranium, mined from the hate of rotten wars Its wings trail cables, wires and flex Its nose a sniffing neo-brutalist nightmare. Its skin pastel-pale plastic, hiding kidneys, offal; oozing meat. The mouth curls in a smile, licking tasting blood-tide heat. The sphinx is built of paradox, a sacrifice for cloaked, besuited viziers. When it dies they'll crack the skin, scrawl words in crimson entrail-ablate: With it we'll see the future, glimpse Our stinking birthing fate. George Kes
Four pairs of shoes are lined up on the window ledge of an apartment across the narrow street from my hotel window in Trieste, Italy. I’ve come for a conference and a break. The shoe family’s ledge is “next door” to a balcony where a man’s button-down shirt, a woman’s dress, a boy’s shorts, and a girl’s school uniform dry on a clothesline. I muse on electric dryers and Mother’s laboring over a washboard when I was young. Near midnight a woman appears on the balcony to smoke. She leans over the railing, her hair a dark wreath around pale skin. The clothes catch the breeze, flapping behind her like angel wings, bluish from the TV inside. The orange tip of the cigarette glows like Mars strung on a chain. The conference is fine. I meet colleagues, listen to presentations, share lunchdrinks-coffee-more drinks. They’re excited I came so far; I’m gratified to be here. I don't say Markus pushed me into coming. “You need a break. Your mother will be fine—been holding steady for weeks now, and you can't really help her.”
But I can. I think of cradling her arthritic hand, reading to her. Keeping her earthbound. “You can't put your career on hold indefinitely,” he’d said. “She could be like this for months longer.” Like this means not speaking, eating hardly anything, not moving, not wanting to leave her bed. It’s true I couldn't do much.
At the end of the day I’m back in my room, nursing a glass of wine in front of the windows. The night angel is there too. She fills a cup from a teapot and smokes, and when the light glances off the tea just right, the rings of Saturn play on her chin and neck. Tonight her wings are all shirts: the man’s hung where the clothesline is highest and the tails and sleeves won’t sweep the floor. I hear shouts behind her and the TV’s glow flicks off. A man swaggers onto the balcony. He drapes his hand on her hip and she stiffens, arms straightening on the railing. She turns halfway to him, says something, takes another drag and Mars brightens. A few seconds later she grinds her cigarette out and they both disappear inside. The next day the conference pauses early for a sightseeing trip. My head is throbbing and I retreat to the hotel. I catch movement across the street. The shoes are gone, off to do the day’s shoework. Veil curtains billow like sails through the open windows. The street, not much more than an alley, is empty, and in the quiet, the man’s grunts are followed by a woman’s high-pitched keen of ecstasy. Soon the curtains shift enough to reveal a hand holding a cigarette and a mess of long blonde hair. After taking an Advil, I return to close the shades. The hand, the cigarette and the hair are gone. Later, groggy with sleep but headache-free, I read Markus’ text. I'm so sorry,
darling, your mom took a sudden turn for the worse / The nurse called / I got there in time / She was calm / I was with her till the end. I call him. Nothing to be done. He’d take care of the arrangements and I'd be back for the funeral in a few days.
I skip the conference dinner, the next couple of sessions. In front of the window, I flip through pictures of her on my phone, scrolling through memories, some from just days before my trip, some from childhood. Her holding my small hand in hers, both of us giggling. I wake disoriented in the middle of the night. Sleep doesn't come, so I grab one of the minibar rums and take it to the open windows. The night wears on. A text comes in: my old school friend Marie expresses her support, then writes that she saw Markus having dinner with a young woman, maybe a student of his. He must be celebrating some work victory, though he hasn’t mentioned anything. Perhaps he doesn’t want to encroach on my grief. I call Marie. She tells me their hands were stretched over the table, fingers touching. I recall how Markus would touch the tips of my fingers, when we were dating. Travel upwards. Where have the years gone? Across the street the night angel stands on the balcony, her black curls mussed, stretching away sleep. The thin chemise shows the curves of her breasts. She is beautiful, and still young. I lean out of my window and shout, “He cheats on you!” She is startled, not knowing where my voice is coming from. Then, “Non capisco…” My Italian is lacking, but all hail Google Translate. “Ti tradisce. He… cheats… on… you.” She leans away from me, then backs into her apartment. I expect a screaming match but hear nothing.
Half-hour later she hauls a laundry basket to the balcony She pulls out a piece of clothing, then snaps it hard against the air and hangs it on the rope with clothing pins. A girl’s dress, a blouse; boy’s underwear. She comes to a man’s shirt. She pauses, then throws it over the railing. We both watch it flutter down until it settles on the pavement. Another shirt follows: it gets stuck on the antenna of a parked car. She throws over a dark pair of pants, and we watch them hit the pavement. A white T-shirt gets stuck on a street sign. She goes in, returns with a pair of large canvas shoes and pitches them as far as she can into the street. “Giulia! Dio! Basta, prego!” The man’s voice is pleading. She gives me a last look and disappears inside.
Mother a Butterfly, Father a Bird Andrea Robinson
She never smiles or eats anymore— bloody little secrets —or are they teeth— nestle in the dark box with her jewelry. Sunflowers bulge, crow-cracked to the core. The sky lowers, faces flicker, & winter nears, peering from the creek’s bright surface. This is the rose-light of home. Cepevorous birds circle the kitchen, snapping over the stove & lunging at the stew. What treasure hides in the onion’s heart— grains of estranged night, or only more onion? Shoveling in the garden, I upturn a petrified wing— lissome crisis. The moth’s bridal eye goes dark, struck by an icicle. Mouthfuls of lace— infinitesimal teeth merge with static. Rabid, the dress wanders alone into the snow. Amee Nassrene Broumand
is tiny an uneven smudge on the inside of my right thigh a kiss turned fierce a split second of pain that ripples into today a week later your parting gift Laila Halaby
God Bless You
We found the pew on Craigslist. The description said, “Antique, solid oak, seven feet long, excellent condition, two hundred dollars. Cash only.” It looked nice in the picture. “That’s it,” said Rachel. “It’s perfect for our table.” I called the number and told the guy to hold it. I could be over that afternoon. He was way out in Brimfield—“Brimtucky” we called it in Hudson. The boonies. By four, I was at his house. It was a Victorian farmhouse with weathered clapboard siding and a drooping wrap-around porch. Out back was a sun-bleached barn surrounded by abandoned equipment—long-dormant lawnmowers rusting under dense tangles of weeds, a prehistoric tractor with the remnants of a bird’s nest in the driver’s seat, a skeletal push plow leaning drunkenly against a rotted split rail fence. Two men came to the door. One was about forty and the other was maybe twenty. They were both big—at least six four, two fifty. Their faces were stubbly and sunburned, and they wore ratty tank tops and grease-smeared jeans. The younger one had a hammer hanging from his belt. All at once, I realized how vulnerable I was. These men could easily kill me, take my wallet, and bury me out back. No one would know what happened. I couldn’t believe this possibility hadn’t dawned on me before. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t brought my gun. Maybe I could make a dash for my van. I doubted these Neanderthals could catch me. “Grant?” said the older one. I nodded. He extended his catcher’s mitt of a hand. “I’m Frank. This is my son, Matthew. Pew’s inside.”
As I shook his hand, Matthew moved behind me. Frank opened the door, and we stepped into the house. On the right and left were shelves cluttered with knick-knacks—salt and pepper shakers painted with the likenesses of Laurel and Hardy, a vintage figure skate, an unplugged pistachio-colored rotary phone, a porcelain figurine of a hobo playing an accordion. “There she is,” said Frank. He pointed to the pew. “Look okay?” “Looks great,” I said. It did—just like the picture. I was shaky, and I dropped my wallet before I could get my cash out. Credit cards, twenties, and a picture of my five-year-old daughter fanned out across the floor. Frank picked up the picture. “She’s pretty,” he said. “What’s her name?” “Mabel,” I said. “I like that,” said Frank, smiling. I breathed in the musty foyer air and exhaled slowly.
Frank and Matthew loaded the pew into the van. When they were done, Frank shook my hand through the driver’s side window. “Thanks for your business,” he said. “Thank you,” I said. “Take care of that little girl. It’s a bad world out there.” “I will,” I said. I rolled up the window and put the van in reverse. At the end of the driveway, I glanced back at the house. Frank waved and said something. It looked like “God bless you.”
Prisoner of the third division assigned to the Mosleys' cottage in the grounds of Holloway Prison, 1942
I always listen at the door, first. It isn't always decent, even if you knock. Like they want us to see. Eve and Adam in various poses. Not forbidden, they got permission to be as one. All flesh, in their Garden of Eden ripening like wild strawberries. Him bare-chested with his nipples winking. I'd be tempted if I didn't know who his friends were. And anyway, there's her, The 'lovely one' made from Hitler's missing rib, its marrow hollowed out. She flaunts her rotting fruit so beautifully no one would know there was a grub at the core. While their bodies burn he feeds her truffles. She licks her lips as their skin turns black.
I turn away and leave them to it. I'm not ready to see anything like this just yet. Natalie Scott
Urged to Silence
for Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz
After someone stole the moon, the tide forgot the shore. Seastars returned to their sisters in the sky. Whales remembered their legs. Fish grew feathers. Such a long time ago, shells ground to sand. Such a long time ago, memory of waves is an ache I cannot hear. Lisa Stice
* Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz (1648-1695; Mexico): poet, composer and philosopher; referred to as “The Tenth Muse” She died the year after the Bishop of Puebla forced her to sell her entire collection of books as a punishment for speaking out against misogyny. The title of this poem is borrowed from Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz’s poem `The Dream’.
Untitled Gaby Deimeke
I was getting the washing in when I found her in the garden. Curled up against the sudden storm, she was quaking. I lifted her into my hands and carried her outside. She revived with sugar water. I kept a respectful distance. The dagger small but deadly pointed at her navel. I was moving by instinct and grief. When she was breathing calmly I placed my fingers near her face and she took hold. I placed her by the shrubs in the garden and went to bed.
The night was quiet.
The sun struck me awake at 7.38am. It was a Sunday. Yellow banded light through the window. I was awake. I thought she was gone when I opened the door to the garden. Did I hope she was gone? I was happy and concerned she was right where I had left her.
I went down to the park overgrown and full. I wade through ivy and moss and grasses. A tiny green snake stuck its tongue out at me. A cloud of midges invaded my nostrils. I could not find what I was looking for. So I gathered what drew my eye when I thought of her and took my bouquet home to lay at my guest's feet. She was not interested. Sustained on sugar water she rested. I looked through the boxes of old books in the attic for answers. My hands are arthriticky before the rain. It was slow. I grew weary.
While she slept I got a good look at her.
Did you know before they were called bumble bees they were called humble bees?
My queen was bold.
I built her a house out of what I had left from my gardening days. She moved herself in. I laid flowers at her feet and she ignored them choosing the sugar water over anything else. She grew fat and round. I worried.
I didn't like to leave her alone. I didn't like to be alone. I moved her house beside my bed and let her constant zz lull me into false sleep. I dreamt of hexagon drudgery. I dreamt of my queen.
She had no wings. I could not cast her out. She grew and grew on sugar water until the house was not big enough for her.
I laid flowers down until the carpet was mulch. She did not touch them.
She slept in the afternoon in my lap as big as a cat now. Yellow black hairs. I brushed them while she dozed with my own hairbrush.
When she awoke she climbed over me to get to her bowl. With her long tongue she lapped, lapped, lapped the sugar water and ran around screaming until she collapsed, depressed.
I started taking her on walks round the park. It was quiet. Save for her own drone.
Humble bees live solitary lives together. Humble bees will work as a team, not mimicking each other's movements but emulating each other's goals.
The humble bee competitively socialises.
Whenever I went out, my queen accompanied me. All my friends wanted to look at her, talk to her, be with her. Whenever I tried to talk she would buzz over me. If I tried to leave alone, she crawled after me.
And she kept growing.
She kept growing until there was no more room for me.
She slept in my bed.
She drank from my bath.
One day I came home and she was six foot three and standing upright. She was wearing my dress. Yellow and Black. She put her hands on her round middle and said you need to go you are dragging me down with your attitude could it kill you to try?
My queen started going out without me. My queen started performing in my local bar telling my jokes, my stories. My queen became a star in a city where there were no more bees left.
She turned her head and cocked it.
Why are you still here I told you to go.
You Jumped Off Your Father’s Lakehouse Pier to Search for Him
Remember, I pulled you from the heart of the water, fish scales stained glassed on our arms and chest, shimmering in the faint moonlight. I clung you to my chest as I kicked us to shore. You told me you were searching for your father, gasping, He’s underwater. It’s easier for him down there. I asked you to help me kick. I was afraid I couldn’t take us back alone, and you gurgled, drunken words bubbling at the edge of your mouth, about your father sitting at the bus stop in the heart of the water. The hydrilla bench, you mumbled. He can’t wait to coast smooth like fish. Your beer breath, cold on my cheek, dried the grime of the lake on my skin. I told you you would be okay. I felt the water become shallow, lake bed scraping against my feet. And then grass and the mud and the muck of the bank. I laid you on land, and you gazed at the canopy of stars. There’re so close, you said and raised your hand. Stars not even a finger apart. They clogged the arteries of the sky. Like my father’s heart, you said. You told me he breathed easier down there, all of his blood cells pumped so smooth. I pressed my ear to your chest and listened, your heart pumping schools of oxygen. Your breathing leveled as you stared at the stars. They must have rippled in your recovering sight, your hand touching the black skied water, reaching to clasp mine, ready to resurface. Troy Varvel
Capri Gaby Deimeke
Swimming in the Styx
it is unlikely that anyone can survive without a god not to believe in how quiet the world becomes without self-judgment breathing down your neck like a snoring Saint Bernard on a hot day your nape hairs stand erect curling in shame and self-recrimination like that time you fell in love with someone who wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t your spouse was someone elseâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s you kept asking can you love two people at the same time though that play was never staged that kind of god is so yesterday so Old Testament that your own guilt and ignominy zoom down Easy Street tearing up end-remnants of jollity and mirth
i have my entire life to learn how to master myself later you said
everything that used to be habitual and fun procrastination sloth puzzles sleeping now makes those tiny hairs leap up in protest demand a self-accounting a restitution an atonement for enjoying the just desserts of life an atonement for lack of self-mastery they leap into the dream-state disguised as fierce wild cats and bears and boars
hungry to claw their way into your heart stare you down tell you there is no later Linda Stryker
Love Poem: For The Summer I Was 17
My love went up the mountain to talk to God. This is God’s country & God’s land & God’s streams & God said I’m sorry but I’m booked up – so my love sat legs dangling off a scenic overlook & my love thought of my boyfriend telling his uncle who asked why liberals were so torn up about changing the world when places like this still exist
you shouldn’t be able to see like that over the land, it should all be trees, & the world has been changed for your enjoyment my love wondered what else has been changed for my enjoyment the low-hanging clouds look beautiful, gossamer, hanging over the hollers from up here, but I would have stomped inside drenched with sweat, clutching an untied bathing suit to my chest saying fuck this, when one covered the concrete slab porch where I laid out all summer at age 17 trying to think of words for rape that weren’t rape so everyone could understand my first-love heartbreak was not the normal kind or maybe was the most normal kind I had never heard of & remembering that summer of sweat & skin, my love walked back down the mountain because God can find me when he feels like apologizing Emily Blair
Seek Not Whom The Stalker Stalks
I'd felt god watching for some time. But this sense of being stalked wasn't the worst of it. It was how I was followed: a presence lingering in the background, uncertain in intent – perhaps evaluating. Or maybe it was not even watching at all – just loitering like an uninterested talent-scout at a bad gig. Eventually, tiring of this indolent intrusion, I decided to hunt down this peeping deity. I asked a doctor to scan my skeleton. This seemed to me a reasonable place to begin searching for a snooper – bones being the frame from which complex life is hung. “I'm sorry, Missy Lou-Lu,” said the doctor, trying not to look at the left hand side of my face, “the X-rays show nothing. Except . . . you may want to sit down for this.” “No. I don't.” I insisted. “Okay. Well . . . You have an extra skull embedded in your body. And – perhaps uniquely in medical history – it's not human.” The doctor obviously imagined I'd be shocked at this news. But I knew, around the time of by birth, that my mother had evening jobs – and most of these involved masturbating with dead animals. I merely surmised that her work resulted in a chinchilla's head being dislodged into her womb where, at some point as a foetus, I'd incorporated the foreign object – into my right buttock, as it turned out. But such details were a mere side-show. My primary aim was uncovering the cause of this irritating and intrusive presence. My next port of call was to get my dog examined. Given that he followed me everywhere, I figured his proximity may account for feeling pried upon.
Convincing the vet that I was in a position of authority, I encouraged him to tear the Alsatian to shreds in search of an answer. “I'm sure we can find something,” he said. “Anything to help you, Miss. It is ‘Miss', isn't it?” I confirmed my gender, and he continued his enthusiastic, brutal endeavours. But his nervous violence led nowhere – not even to the lunch date for which he so eagerly begged, claiming that tall, unkempt women were his weakness. Dog-less, but still feeling observed, I explored the route of conspiracy theories and modern technology by consulting a mobile phone technician. After staring intrusively at the left hand side of my face for several minutes, the technician informed me that such growths could be removed these days. Deflecting his invasive curiosity, I explained to him my experiences of feeling watched from within. This triggered in him a long, excitable tirade about governments using mobile devices to control lives – only ceasing this diatribe when a supervisor appeared telling him to remove, “This . . . thing from the premises,” and gestured toward me. I visited a neurosurgeon next. She scanned my brain and diagnosed minor functional abnormalities, but also detected a small crucifix that had been lodged in my nose since childhood. Concerned my frontal lobes may have been perceiving the close proximity of this symbol (and perhaps explaining the feelings I'd been having) I insisted on having the article removed immediately. Awaking next day in a hospital bed, I was surprised by the strong smell of antiseptic. It was the first thing I'd smelt in years. Soon after, the surgeon came to see me and handed over the removed object – along with some squirrel fur that hadn't shown up in the X-ray.
She sat down by the bed and adopted a soothing manner as she began, “How long have you had the growth on the side of your head?” “Since birth. Why do you ask?” “I took the liberty of doing some tests. We've discovered it's formed of rat cells and – this may seem odd – there's a sentient nervous system there. And, stranger still, the neural connections continue through the skull and into your brain.” She looked at me with concern, expecting some reaction, but I just sighed with relief. “That explains it!” I said. “Why I felt I was being watched.” “You don't quite understand,” continued the surgeon, “your whole brain is made up of rat neurons. We can't ascertain how or when this happened – maybe you never had a human brain. But we'd be very interested in doing some tests on you – check your maze solving abilities, that sort of thing.” The surgeon stared with a cold, unwavering analysis. “I have a regular office job.” I asserted defensively. “We know. Do you find you adapt easily to bureaucracy?” “I'm a manager – third grade.” “I see. And have you always had an aptitude for manoeuvring administrative organisations?” I felt scared – as if trapped – and asked if instead of this direct questioning, I might be able to fill out some forms.
The surgeon stood up, brushed some invisible fluff from her lab coat and informed me that that was no longer an option. She then removed a pen and notepad from my side table. Nodding to the male nurse in the doorway, she stated: “Your life within human culture is over. We're going to release you into an environment where you'll feel more . . . comfortable: a laboratory where you can be looked after and properly observed.” “But . . .” I was cut short by the assertion: “You'll have to stop using language, too: that is a human privilege.” I felt my world collapse. Everything I'd assumed to be me seemed trapped and squeezed out of existence. I lay there immobile, staring at the ceiling as my perceptions shifted and the white stucco ceiling morphed into a laboratory setting. I then became aware that my body was strapped to a table. Gazing anxious around the room I noticed a reflection of myself in a window: electrodes protruding from the top of my rats head, with a scientist standing over, rearranging a set of tiny wires. “That's me!” I screamed. A methodical voice boomed above me: “Clear memory and rewire for the next scenario: 62c – accidentally becoming a deity. And get a move on, folks. There's a promotion if we get this right.”
Memoryâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s View Claire Loader
Please Answer The Question From Memory
If the global temperature rises by over 1.5C what percentage of species will be at risk of extinction?
100% 15-20% 0% 10-15%
Draw a clock face by hand, mark the time as ten past eleven:
If this poem doesn’t sound like ice creaking like coal snapping__look like rain seeding backwards from dandelion clocks__its because these words are only mechanical implements working upon something undetermined. A green chaos. Or a wood. We know how the violent transience of nature recedes when given a status of human classification. Of specimen of species of locus. Of phosphorus of Homo dementiae of Planeta terra mortem.
Step back to innominate places__places that are not lived in, have no need of classification. If you canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t say where it is, â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; is edgeland, car park, jungle margin. Some visible place unseen changing. Think of it, one day soon we may feel stone accelerate again. Glacial is flipping its meaning to speed. Still, a cliff-face untouched by the sun in winter can hold freezing. Suicide. Waiting to drop every held thing, in the sun of a poem__where we go empty handed into a wild place to discover the materials that with each binding step, on the page, lay a lightcarrier
đ&#x;&#x2122;&#x201E; like some firefly of hope
Scorched Earth Protocol
Homes sell for a dollar now. A sole man, a wizened widower, Lives alone on a woebegone block. Century-old houses, all eaves and shingles, All gone and vacant, Erode under the elements, Succumb to time, neglect, arson. Textbooks and violin cases molder outside A shuttered high school down the street, A hulking brick morgue of fading memories And yellowing yearbooks. Smug suburban defectors feel validated, Striking out to greener cul-de-sacs In a self-fulfilling prophesy. Joseph S. Pete
Sun Poppy Angie Hedman
Failed Self-Portrait No.1: Study in Forgetting
What to wear? Pantyhose? A cloak? Ruins Of remnants… When the artist arrives, Preparation of the canvas, the mixing of egg Yolk, charcoal & pencils, the organization of the body, where to look? Who To become? The children gathered about Are shadows, light from a candle, strobe Light going off every 5 seconds, face Painted in white, cloth adhering to my Chest, a pair of scissors in one hand, In the other a pipe or censer. The smell Of urine or incense, televisions chewed Through by acid, other generations retroFitted to the lens of the eye, gods & Lightbulbs, a murder of crows, images Of other centuries piled up beneath The digital afterimage. Better to be headLess, to erase the phallus or right hand, To wear long boots or heels, a beret Or many medals & a black suit With the crotch ripped out, better to Arrive late, take drugs, practice Reciting your name, your children’s Names, your parents, so you don’t Forget, the face you can never sketch, Face that you will never truly see,
Your own, only this similitude, this Metaphor of a chain or a basket, inDecipherable subject past all Knowingâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;the image mutates even As the glaze flakes away from this Conquest, empire of the self, Remnants of someone else past all Failing. Jeremy Valentine Freeman Ganem
The doe & two fawns pass through again, outside my window, so close I could trace their images on glass. Watching them snatch at bushes, weeds, allows my morning ease despite what I witness on television: how someone died in a car attack, someone died in a stabbing, someone died past a good, long life after having been forgotten. Do deer have celebrities they forget? One startles at the sound of a dog barking half a mile away. Its head snaps up, quick as a mousetrap. Its eyes search nearby undergrowth, the grass, the road. It sniffs the air for gun smoke. Nothing it senses alarms it more than its racing heart. Nobody catches death approachingâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; not deer, not victims of crime or mayhem, not the dusty shell of a 90year-old actor. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s just what happens one day when fear stops & all the hurt moves on to someone else. Ace Boggess
Aaron Bailey is a visual, display, and concrete poet who has also been known to write free verse poetry and short stories. After almost a decade of working in the IT sector, Aaron achieved a 1st class degree in Creative Writing from the University of Bedfordshire. While studying he stumbled upon innovative writing such as Oulipian constraints, Burrough's cut-ups, the sound poetry of Chopin and Cobbing through to Brazilian visual poets such as de Campos. Paolo Bicchieri is a Chicano author, journalist, and poet writing for folks on the margins. His work is found in Headway Literary, WordLitZine, Standart Magazine, and in bookstores across the West Coast Emily Blair is a queer Appalachian poet, blue collar scholar, and community college professor currently living in Charlotte, North Carolina. Her first chapbook of poetry, WE ARE BIRDS, is forthcoming from Dancing Girl Press. Other recent works can be found in Boshemia Magazine, Anti-Heroin Chic, Figroot Press, and Punch Drunk Press, among others. Ace Boggess is author of three books of poetry, most recently I Have Lost the Art of Dreaming It So (Unsolicited Press, 2018) and Ultra Deep Field (Brick Road, 2017), and the novel A Song Without a Melody (Hyperborea, 2016). His poetry has appeared in Harvard Review, Rhino, North Dakota Quarterly, and many other journals. He lives in Charleston, West Virginia. Haley Campbell is a poet and editor who lives in Austin, Texas. She received her BA in English from the University of Mary Washington. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Hypertrophic Lit, Mojave Heart Review, L'Éphémère Review and Rhythm & Bones, and she's currently a reader for Pidgeonholes. You can find her online at haleycampbell.net, or on Twitter at @haley_exe. Joanna Cleary is an undergraduate student double majoring in English Literature and Theatre and Performance at the University of Waterloo. Her work has previously appeared or is forthcoming in The /tƐmz/ Review, The Hunger, and Subterranean Blue Poetry, among others. She is also currently a Poetry Editor for Inklette Magazine. Quintin Collins is a writer, editor, and Solstice MFA program graduate. His works have appeared or are forthcoming in Lily Poetry Review, Up the Staircase Quarterly, poems2go, Transition magazine, and elsewhere. If he were to have one extravagance, it would be a personal sommelier to give him wine pairings for books.
Gaby Deimeke is a commercial and editorial photographer based in New York City. Gaby's work has taken her to 26 countries and 140 cities, including her favorite, London. Gaby is on a constant search for ways to fuel her creativity, and often finds inspiration while walking through the city with her earbuds in. Erik Fuhrer holds an MFA from the University of Notre Dame. His poems have appeared, or are forthcoming, in BlazeVox, Crab Fat Magazine, Noble/Gas Qrtrly, Dream Pop Press, and Crack the Spine. In addition to having had poetry and short stories published in print and online journals, Laila Halaby is the author of a collection of poetry, my name on his tongue, and two novels, Once in a Promised Land and West of the Jordan. Angie Hedman is an artist, writer, gallery director/curator, and high school art educator who resides in Muncie, IN. She holds degrees from Ball State University in the areas of Fine Arts (Metals), and Art Education. Her art has been recently published or is forthcoming in Gravel, The Broken Plate, Soapbox, Drunk Monkeys, Montana Mouthful,
Pidgeonholes, 805 Lit+Art, Rhythm & Bones Lit, Burning House Press, Barren Magazine, Junto Magazine, and Boston Accent Lit. Soren James is a writer and visual artist who recreates himself on a daily basis from the materials at his disposal, continuing to do so in an upbeat manner until one day he will sumptuously throw his drained materials aside and resume stillness without asking why. More of his work can be seen here: sorenjames.wordpress.com Marcus L. Kearns is a Creative Writing graduate from Interlochen Arts Academy, currently studying at St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas. His poetry has appeared in the Cult magazine, Ghost City Review, and won several silver keys from the Scholastic Art and Writing Competition. Marcus’s poetry seeks empathy; rooting itself in the light of the natural world to find the unexpected hiding in the shadows. George Kes spent fifteen years growing up in the middle of nowhere and is now very glad to be somewhere. Their poetic and political work concerns finding new ways to sneak past old problems, so as to find newer ones. A writer and photographer, Claire Loader was born in New Zealand and spent several years in China before moving to County Galway, Ireland. Recently published in Crannóg, Dodging The Rain and Pidgeonholes, she spends her days seeking enchantment in ruins. You can find her work here: allthefallingstones.com Delvon T. Mattingly, who also goes by D.T. Mattingly, is an emerging fiction writer and a PhD student in epidemiology at the University of Michigan. He currently lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan with his two cats, Liam and Tsuki. Learn more about his work at delvonmattingly.com/. He tweets here: @Delvonmattingly
Emma McKervey's debut collection was published by the Doire Press in Autumn 2017. Her work has been shortlisted for the Irish Poem of the Year at the Irish Book Awards, the Seamus Heaney Prize for New Writing and the FSNI National Poetry Competition. She lives just outside of Belfast and is currently collaborating with a visual artist, making work based on local Neolithic and sacred sites. Ezra Miles is a poet from London. His work has appeared in Tears in the Fence, Ink Sweat & Tears, Allegro Poetry, Poetry Pacific and Runcible Spoon. He works in a museum as his day job. Abegail Morleyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s fourth collection, The Skin Diary is published by Nine Arches Press (2016). Her debut collection, How to Pour Madness into a Teacup (2010) was shortlisted for the Forward Prize Best First Collection. She has two pamphlets published by Indigo Dreams and is co-editor of Against the Grain Press and editor of The Poetry Shed. Amee Nassrene Broumand is an Iranian-American poet, photographer, & grad student in computer science. Nominated for a Pushcart by Sundog Lit, she also has poems in AMinor Magazine, Empty Mirror, Menacing Hedge, The Rising Phoenix Review, Occulum, & elsewhere. She blogs for Burning House Press & served as their guest editor for the month of March 2018. Find her on Twitter @AmeeBroumand. Joseph S. Pete is an award-winning journalist, an Iraq War veteran, and an Indiana University graduate. He is a 2017 Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee who was named the poet laureate of Chicago BaconFest, a feat that Chaucer chump never accomplished. His literary work and photography have appeared in Dogzplot, The High Window, Synesthesia Literary Journal, 404 Ink, and more than 100 other journals. Like Bartleby, he would prefer not to. Andrea Robinson is a visual artist, writer and printmaker. Andreaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s work is inspired by found text, photographs, artefacts and family histories - birds often appear. She has exhibited at venues throughout the UK, and in Dublin, Berlin and Luxembourg. Her prints and artist books are held in private collections in the UK and in the archives of Scarborough Art Gallery, Tate Britain and the V&A. Anca Segall has been a working, practicing microbiologist on the faculty of San Diego State University for longer than she cares to admit. She originally hails from Romania but is now happily settled in Southern California. Lately, she has been indulging her creative writing impulses, publishing poetry in Streetlight Magazine, Sediments ArtLiterary Journal and The Coachella Review, as well as nonfiction in Bookends Review and Open Thought Vortex. She wastes much too much time on Twitter as @AncaMaraScribes
Natalie Scott is a Teesside-based poet and educator with a PhD in Creative Writing. She has collections published by Indigo Dreams, Bradshaw Books and Mudfog, as well as many appearances in literary journals including Ambit, Agenda and Orbis. Her collection Berth – Voices of the Titanic was awarded runner-up for the Cork Literary Review Manuscript Competition, 2011. Her latest project Rare Birds – Voices of Holloway Prison was awarded funding from the Arts Council of England. Catherine Smith is a writer from Glasgow. Jack Somers’ has appeared in WhiskeyPaper, The Molotov Cocktail, Jellyfish Review, and a number of other publications. He lives in Hudson, Ohio with his wife and their three children. You can find me on Twitter @jsomers530 or visit me at jacksomerswriter.com. Lisa Stice is a poet/mother/military spouse. She is the author of Permanent Change of Station (Middle West Press, 2018) and Uniform (Aldrich Press, 2016). While it is difficult to say where home is, she currently lives in North Carolina with her husband, daughter and dog. You can learn more about her and her publications at lisastice.wordpress.com and at facebook.com/LisaSticePoet. @LisaSticePoet Linda Stryker writes from Phoenix, Arizona, and is a radio reader for Sun Sounds. Her chapbook, STARCROSSED, was recently published by dancing girl press. Her creative writing has been published in Highlights for Children, New Millennium Writings, Ekphrastic Review, Third Wednesday, and Chiron Review, among several other venues. Tim Stuemke is a collage artist working in Minneapolis Minnesota. Twitter: @pepperford. Pintrest @Tim Stuemke Jeremy Valentine Freeman Ganem is presently completing his doctorate in fin de siècle poetics and aesthetics at Concordia University in Montreal, where he resides. His poetry has appeared in Oxford Poetry, Boston Review, Poetry Salzburg, The Puritan, Van Gogh’s Ear, The French Literary Review and other journals. In addition to a number of short lyric works he is currently working on a long poem that re-works and deconstructs the Orpheus myth and an experimental post-pop novel centred at the millennium provisionally titled The Golden Apocalypse of Yves Antichrist. Troy Varvel is from Nacogdoches, TX, where he earned his BFA and MA in creative writing and English at Stephen F. Austin State University. Currently, he is a MFA candidate at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, where is an assistant editor at Crab Orchard Review. His poetry and fiction have appeared in The Cape Rock: Poetry, Driftwood Press, Edify Fiction, Gravel, and That Literary Review, among other literary journals.
Carleton J. Whaley is Editor in Chief of The Slag Review: a journal of art, literature, and metallurgy. His work has appeared in Paper Darts, Occulum, New South Journal, and more. At this moment he is likely spilling coffee on his second-favorite shirt. Alice Willitts is an emerging poet and will be graduating an MA in Creative Writing Poetry at UEA in Sept 2018. She writes speculative nature poetry of the Anthropocene most recently being shortlisted (with her creative collaborator) for the Ivan Jurtiz Prize in experimental poetics. She is a participant in the Speculative Futures Collective (UEA), writing speculative nature poems for 2080, due to be published in summer 2019 by Boilerhouse Press. Her first pamphlet, Dear, won the Magma pamphlet competition. Corey Zielinski is a PhD student residing in Buffalo, NY where he teaches and studies poetry.
ISSUE #21 COMING MAY 2019