RIGGWELTER #5 JANUARY 2018 ed. Amy Kinsman
The following works are copyrighted to their listed authors ÂŠ2018. Riggwelter Press is copyrighted to Amy Kinsman ÂŠ2017.
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Dream Progression #2
The Jamaica Coach Stop
From The Jupiter Cave
The Reverse Metamorphosis Of A Mourning Cloak
the piano teacher
(Miles from) Massachusetts
Mildred Attempts Suicide
Girl Sitting In The Attic Doorway
beads in my bed
In Which We Write A New Religion With Our Lips
A License to Wed for Mr. Chips
Reptiles in Texas
At the Mercy of Crows
In Politics You Create a List of Pros and Cons
Urban Hobo Signs
Dirkâ€™s Last Day
At Fourteen Weeks Orlando
Thank goodness that’s over. I won’t waste any more time lingering over 2017. Here’s to 2018, may it exceed those that came before it. This issue, quite accidentally, is all about moving forward: letting go of past lovers and becoming one with new ones, travel, aging, greetings, space. All these steps onward are not always easy. Sometimes carrying on is the hardest thing that can be done – recovering from the past can be truly painful, but in the end, deeply rewarding. This first issue of the new year reminds us that there are still places to go, still things unseen, still friends unmet. I hope 2018 is full of journeys for you, beautiful and enlightening. May it bring you joy and success and love; may it bring you peace – not a new beginning, but a continuation of the story. Some thanks are in order, before we continue. Thank you to everyone that has supported Riggwelter in the past year: contributors, submitters, readers and everyone that has helped to spread the word, online or in person. This journal would not be possible without you and it is a delight to hear such a wonderful response from all of you. Thank you to my cats for keeping me company while I edit. Thank you to everyone that brings me cups of tea. Enjoy these gorgeous pieces of writing and art and keep your eyes peeled in 2018. Who knows where Riggwelter will go next?
Amy Kinsman (Founding Editor)
Entree SautĂŠing your heart in onions on the back burner of the stove the pink rawness turns slowly brown the onions release their liquid and sizzle in the pan. Iâ€™ll serve it sliced thinly layered on a bed of risotto garnished with rosemary and a new wine the guy at the liquor store recommended as he wrote his number on my receipt. Megan E. Freeman
Three Figures Lily: The forest is dark tonight, my dear, as dark as my shadow, as dark as a violet flower. Let’s not wander far. Alfran: Dark, dark, as dark as a flower. Wolf: Closer, come closer, come closer into the dark. The three figures circle each other in the blues of night. Flowers have closed up their petals, infants sleep in cradles inside. Bats leap in the spaces between trees. It has been a long night, and Lily and Alfran have been sleepless. It was Alfran’s idea to explore, although Lily quickly agreed. All the while, the wolf had been lurking by their window under the leafy darkness of trees, tongue lolling. The wolf’s paws itch. It has been a long day. A long day without prey, a long day without whetting teeth and claw. The wolf listens to their conversation, grey ears pricked. Now, he watches as the couple move in the forest, discussing their course. Lily: Is it this way? Alfran: It’s whichever way we want. Let’s hold hands, let’s walk. If we walk further, sleep will come upon us. Lily: I love the feeling of being enfolded in sleep, closing my eyelids to the blue night. Falling asleep is like being sung a soft song. Wolf: A song, a song. I hope they sing this song. Alfran: Falling asleep is like having a bath. Falling asleep is like water. Lily: I feel water on this plant; here, look. Alfran stretches his hand to the plant; his fingers are his sight. He feels the water droplets on the stem. The wolf’s tongue is near his hand. It trembles, pink, in the dark. He thinks of extending it in a long lick, but restrains himself. The couple bumble like bees, sightless. Lily: Let’s walk further. You’re right, the night is ripe. It will rock us to sleep. Alfran: Sleep is my dream, to sleep, and then to wake. To sleep with you in my arms, to wake with you in my arms. The morning all silver. Morning dew on the grass. Lily: Yes, dew, yes. Wolf: Yes, dew, yes. All three breathe together in the dark. Rhythmically, they breath. Their breathing blocks the sound of the others breathing, so that each is alone in their breath. Flowers sigh night sighs: they are dreaming. The dreaming and breathing rise in the quiet of the night. All three walk forwards. The wolf’s paws pad on the crushed undergrowth. The couple send up dust with each step.
Lily: Dew and soft spots of sun on the windowpane. Alfran: Dew and quick caresses and later breakfast and picnics. Lily: Dew and picnics and rivers and sunlight. Wolf: Dew and dinner, dew and dinner. Into the purple night, the couple step. Step, step, step. Pad, pad, pad. The couple have four legs, the wolf has four paws. The wolf wonders if this means they are equal. The wolf opens his mouth. The couple walk into it, falteringly. Suzannah V. Evans
Dream Progression #2
We climb the sides of the world by holding on to deep-rooted plants, meet atop a hill, atmosphere torn open behind us. We hold out a hand. We say the only thing we can think of saying. We say hello. C.C. Russell
The Wanderer Keira James
The Jamaica Coach Stop
For as long as the oldest residents of Kingston could remember, there had always been a young boy assigned by one of the foundling school headmasters to loiter conscientiously about the coach pavilion, to rush out and greet each arriving coach, and to open its doors and escort each passenger in turn to the long bench under the overhanging roof of the livery stable. After all were seated and relaxing and taking a breather before resuming whatever was coming next in their life, the boy would pass from person to person and offer to remove their shoes or boots, their socks or hose, and then perform a lively, scintillating foot massage on either the right or left foot (but never both). The choice of which foot was totally at the boy’s discretion. But per a showy, green-lettered sign mounted on the livery wall above the bench, it was simply and directly written: “GIVE THE FOOTMAN ZERO REMUNERATION. any attempt to do so will occasion immediate and brutal enforcement of this policy! Godspeed, and thanks for your cooperation.” Okay, so the significance of almost anything in this life can be more difficult to measure honestly than may be first (or even secondarily) apparent, but many a Kingstonian came to believe it was hugely remarkable that in the decade-after-decade history of this particular coach stop, never once did any of the footmen report any occasion of a traveller attempting to offer a tip or gift for the foot service. However, lots of the young bastards did engage in argument or banter with the bench-warming passengers over the foot selected for rubbing, and it was nearly a daily occurrence to have at least one incident report filed with the station manager about such a dispute. ‘Sad to relate, there were also continuing, documented instances concerning angry discussion as to why a given traveller (if he or she so requested) could not have both
feet massaged, though it is perhaps to everyone’s credit that most of these reports do state in one way or another that the amount of journey wait-time remaining per disgruntled customer was not at issue here. That is, as a matter of course, such folks were neither requesting a rapid, additional service because they were being told to begin boarding the coach to which they were transferring (or to return at once to the coach in which they came), nor were they asking for leisurely, luxurious pampering because they admitted of moment after moment of empty time in front of them. It certainly seems safe to say that tons and tons of people over the history of this Jamaica coach stop (customers as well as staff) pondered over just what was meant by the sign’s wording of “immediate and brutal enforcement”. For whatever its worth, the young footmen of each generation quietly noted that their own, infrequent incident reports were never collected by the station manager until the end of the workday. Meanwhile, everyone who went inside the building never failed to notice the whips and chains hanging on the coach stop’s interior walls; there was also a large table top of numerous, outsized jars. Some had perforated lids inside of which fairsized scorpions tussled and brawled with one another; others housed a chalky powder that was identified as RATSBANE on each jar’s label; each label also featured a prominent and red skull-and-crossbones toxicity warning, but, again, because enforcement of the policy statement outside never came to pass, no one was ever known to devote an inordinate amount of time conjecturing how it might ever become a reality. Thus the scourges, fetters, arachnids, and poisons were essentially observed as decorative and somewhat timeless conversation pieces; for frequent travellers (and certainly for all the coach stop staff) they came to be regarded as customary
background, and they were never necessarily suspect or linked with anything horrific; never necessarily sinister, abusive, or punitive.
William C. Blome
At first he liked them because of their eyes, the way he could fall into them and plummet to the depths of antiquity, he liked their brutal strength, so gently contained, sliding, steeple high on the church broad back, staying up all day. He could not lift the harness, hands too small to circle the crested loops of leather, together they traced tracks from farm to field and back, sun travellers, turning bygones up to the surface, a chink of willow pattern, a zephyr of clay, rasps long forgotten, a pitch of coal bleeding close to the skin, there for the taking. He often wondered if horses walked abroad when those trees fell to chrysalis cocoon deep into carbon dreams. He loaded the grate for his mother and considered horse bones, woven in, rising with the sparks to ignite the sky. Ali Jones
Star Charts Latch the ice across the circle and Depart for the softness of halos. Not all beings know the warning signs In gardens where lost souls are hiding. Darkness as thin as velvet, as redolent as lavender. The star charts of summer bode well for change. The air is halved by longing, and the dark need To embrace our desire speaks like flames. Give me your promises, even if untruths, And let them be the lotus in winter, A trumpeter swan of delicate intention Blooming within the cold of ice-covered skies And we will be on shore seeing white upon white And arc within arc, completed to infinity. We will stand alone against surrender To the thieveries of time. As hearts count the talismans of self-preservation, Words are skeletons dressed in dreams. Once our nocturne cradled striving hearts In the pale ice of whispered expectations. Now the hope is for starlight that lasts the night, As all time, all love, yield only the moment of cosmic fire Burning to extinction in forgiveness and belief. Christina Murphy
From The Jupiter Cave (Cover Image) Hank Nielsen
/libra season/ we sat in plastic lawn chairs and stuck cherry pits in the holes of our knees we both knew it was time for desolate summers to stretch into orange autumns on the sun against the horizon, you said to me that girl you almost kissed, she collects memories like worry stones. our eyes watched ambulances pass by like story times in clouded screens, and you promised me those worried stones i held them as scarred them like goodbyes. i recollect feeling smooth grains in the cracks between the white plastic chairs and her tiresome smile, tongue spilling between teeth like bruised fruit. i can count the nights we spent chewing cherries and finding homes for temporary skin. Akirah Williams
The Reverse Metamorphosis Of A Mourning Cloak
She’s covered with mourning cloak butterflies when he collects her in his pickup on the run from rehab. They flutter from her chapped lips, come to rest on torn vinyl. He passes her a soiled napkin, one that’s stuck together with a smear of ketchup, and she wipes her mouth. “Can you take me somewhere to score?” she asks. The butterflies come to a standstill, line the rim of the passenger window. She cranks down the glass and a steady stream of maroon wings, their edges a ragged yellow, arc into the wind. “Let’s go back to my apartment,” he says. # The coffee table is void of mirrors, the counters clear of candles and spoons. The space smells of pine and bleach, not of burning plastic. She drops onto the couch, curls into a ball. He slides in behind her, wraps an arm around her belly. There’s an edge to her curves, a layer of sadness on her bones. “I’ve missed you,” he says. She shakes her head, her body jittery. “Maybe if I had a fix. Just a little bit.” “We can do this,” he says. “You can do this.” “I can’t,” she whispers. A group of mourning cloaks funnel through the heat vent, come to rest on the mantelpiece. With each minute that passes, another one flings itself into the fire. “Don’t go,” she cries. “Stay with me.” She reaches out to grab one, to give herself a chance, but silk secretes from her lymph nodes and, before long, she’s fallen asleep.
He pulls the sticky strands around her body, and lets her dream, afraid to move her. Afraid she’ll give in first. He senses her exterior hardening, feels her withdraw. The remaining butterflies keep watch from their perch, but they’re dwindling just like his hope is that she’ll make it. # It’s after midnight when she wakes, writhing in a fit. She scuttles along the stained carpet, screams at him to help her. To fix her. Furious hands and feet pummel his skin, still bruised and tender from all those times they shot up together before he checked her in. The mourning cloaks swarm his face, flutter their wings in his ears, scratch at his eyes. “Don’t let her go,” he says. “You have to stop her.” He tries to block her from reaching the door, but she shrinks and sheds the skin he holds. # She sits beside a stranger in an apartment, nestled into the crook of his arm. He watches as she places the rock on the spoon, holds it over a dancing blue flame, and inhales. There’s a symbiosis between them, her high reaching his heights. She sinks back, folds up, her eyes closed. Her mouth hangs open in ecstasy. From between her lips a single mourning cloak falls onto the floor at her feet.
the piano teacher
after Michael Haneke’s `The Piano Teacher` the black keys
the scrutiny of the teacher
depressed and released
the rhythm of her two hands over the black keys and the white keys who can’t do it if they’re watched then can’t do it at all the lone midnight wanderer depressed and released, the scrutiny of the teacher such sacrifices over years her mother made indeed made by everybody’s mother depressed and released the slow rivulet of blood Richard Barrett
Neela scraped the plastic chairs against the floor as she set them out in a semi-circle. The expression of frustration didn't work that well on the time-compressed brown carpet tile in Camberwell Library, but it's the thought that counts. Dariya’s late again. According to Louise, the Senior Librarian, "The Volunteer" is a shining jewel in the endeavours to "Bring Reading Back" in the community. There was tacit agreement Neela is the employee who helps Dariya settle in. There are layers to this understanding between the three other Non-Asian staff, like a good biriyani. The rice, the bulk of it, is they are broadly the same age and have young children. It's studded with tiny meaty chunks- they're both born abroad and settled here, they also speak a language that's not English. It's sprinkled with a crunchy garnish of ‘well they're both ethnic aren't they?’ The oily smell of biriyani is sickening. Neela arranged a comfortable chair for herself and wedged a hard-backed one next to the table with the craft supplies, close enough that whoever sat there would perilously skim the table when reaching for the scissors. She made an overdue cup of tea from her personal Nilgiri stock. Whittards sell it now, but this was hoarded from her last trip home to Munnar. The twisted black strands released their amber liquid. The mellow plummy aroma masked the lingering staff-kitchen smell of porridge and lemon cleaner. Dariya bustled in, dishevelled and thirsty-looking. "Traffic?" She pressed the tea-leaves down, streaked the brew with dark swirls. Dariya didn't drive but her house in Posh Peckham is so close she could walk. Neela has discounted fifteen reasons for her chronic inconsiderateness. Not rheumatoid arthritis, she wouldn't wear those kitten heels. Not housework, she wouldn't keep those magenta falsies. Not an affair, she wouldn't risk the supply of those shoes and those
nails. But perhaps a lover is the explanation for those gaudy, dangly earrings and that garish, glittery scarf, with its unnecessary fringe of bells. They're either presents bought with lust and colour-blindness or an attempt to recreate her long-lost youth. If she's going to cover her head, why didn't she wear hijab? The earrings/scarf combo could only be due to some kind of hypocrisy, and there were often dark circles under her eyes and scratches on her arms. "No, no, sorry, sorry. Everything good so far?" Dariya licked dry lips, eyes on the open recycled short-bread tin of tea leaves. The fine Nilgiri threads contrasted admirably with the library supply of Morrisons Yorkshire teabags. Neela raised her Jane Austen museum cup slowly and took a long sip of over-stewed tea as if it was ambrosia mixed with nectar. One of the sequins is hanging off the scarf, like a hang-nail. "Everything's ready. You can take a few minutes, calm yourself down." She closed the tin with a satisfying snap, shivered as the echo bounced off the white tiles, and took it with her. Parents and children trickled in for Book Crafts. She straightened her colour organised piles of tissue paper, eyed their pre-ravagement neatness. Sheâ€™d thrown away the ones she bled on from a paper-cut. The story today is 'Handa's Surprise'. Neela had fought to have more than one copy in stock. It's supposed to be hidden in World Literature on a bottom shelf, but she always moved it to the front of the displays. Her world was made up of small gestures. As Neelaâ€™s mid-way through her essential speech of welcome and information, Dariya strutted in with a plate of crispy, bronzed samosas, scarf gaily trailing out behind her. A walking Health and Safety hazard. The earthy aromas of coriander and
cumin wafted in front of her. All heads turned, even Aderonke's 7-month-old boy. Neela strode over, a hand raised in warning. "No food in the library!" She channelled her righteous indignation into a commanding murmur, ever conscious of her surroundings. Dariya's kohl-ringed dirty-dishwater eyes simulated moistness and confusion. "But, but, you said no biscuits? Weâ€™re doing eating for health?" Their previous discussion about Parle-G during Fairtrade Fortnight was Neela's current tiny triumph. Close up, the golden flaky triangles are plump and conspicuously home-made. "I said no food. This isn't a Marwari sari-shop, or your home. We're trying to create a Professional Atmosphere." Dariya's eyes widened. The scarf tinkled on her trembling head. A swinging earring caught a thread of the tawdry coral fabric, tearing a fissure. Neela couldn't bring herself to mention it. It's just so ugly. The Marwari jibe was accidental, she had no proof the husband was in business. Just the suspicious access to hard-to-find biscuits. A tug on her plait, leading to a minute head shift. A small dark-skinned hand pulled the braid towards a dribbly mouth. Aderonke and Temi joined their huddle. "Neela, Dariya, you know some of the little ones are getting restless? We'll just save the food for after?" Aderonke was on maternity leave from her Ward-Sister job at King's College hospital. She knew Dariya before the group. Neela has walked past their bonding on the way to collecting Ramesh from Primary school. Several times in various cutesy organic cafes on Bellenden Road. Their mixed group of babyccino-guzzling toddlers illustrating
the Big Society at work, strangers coming together from a shared desire to meddle in everyone's lives. Dariya clutched her alliesâ€™ lifeline tightly with magenta-tipped, baby-soft hands. No paper cuts for her. "Yes, yes. I put it here. Let's start. They started scrunching up tissue paper to make tangerines and passion-fruit for Handa's basket. Neela reclaimed the leather padded metal-framed seat. Dariya sat next to the craft table, and passed some khaki paper to one of the Gujerati ladies. They appeared once there was someone who could speak their language. There hasn't been a need for Neela's Hindi or Malayalam. Dariya reached forward, there came the anticipated knock of bone on wood and a stifled gasp of pain. Dark strands of satisfaction unwound in Neelaâ€™s gut. Hitting your funny-bone could be horrendous. They finished with singing and samosas. Neela submerged in a cupboard, searching for the dustpan to scour up discards and pastry crumbs. Aderonke pulled Dariya into a corner. "So, is it any better with your mother?" "Yes, yes, Aderonke, I'm thanking you. The scarf is helping, she sees me now, says my name. She thinks I am young, as you said. She gave this to me, long before." "I'm glad it helped, these things are difficult enough. Just remember you did the right thing." A faint tinkling sound. "I want to bring her home with me. I should help her, she is my blood. In that place, she cries so much. She holds me tightly when I try to go, she don't want those people."
Neela tilted her head as far as she could without falling backwards. They were starting to whisper. "You couldn't live with her walking out all the time, and slapping the children. Dementia is so cruel, it takes the person we love away. It's only been a few weeks, she'll settle in. The staff will know what to do." "I know, I know. But seeing her like that, a child. Tearing her heart all the mornings I leave her there. I am glad I can talk to you.." Neela raised her hands to her flushed cheeks and thumped her right elbow on the cupboard door. Aderonke uttered a rapid goodbye. Dariya fumbled with paper scraps, a streak of kohl down her cheek. Neela walked over on unsteady legs, with the dust-pan and the red-striped short-bread tin. Her throat dry with remembered criticisms, chair-manoeuvrings, and the time she tried to curtail the indispensable scarf with what luckily turned out to be left-handed scissors. "We can do all that in a minute, Dariya. I just thought, you made those lovely snacks. Would you like a cup of tea?"
(Miles from) Massachusetts
They buried you in a hilltop village. You can see for miles (and miles). On a clear day you can almost see Haworth. Emily and Charlotte. Snug in their crypt. They've got the museum, the Parsonage, coach parking and souvenir shop. The full tourist trail. They come from miles (and miles). You're out under the Yorkshire stars. Not even a signpost, just wilting flowers to decorate the headstone, to make you feel less far away from home miles (and miles) from Massachusetts. Al McClimens
Mildred Attempts Suicide
Mildred drove her VW Beetle off the pier and into the lake. She waited for it to sink. It didn’t. It floated. She remembered, years ago, reading something about that. Beetles float. The engine continued to run. She turned the key. It stopped. The windows were open. It was a lovely day. Mildred drifted with the current. Two young men played Frisbee on the shore. The one with curly blond hair noticed something. Disk in hand, arm cocked to throw, he stopped in mid-motion. “Oh, my God!” Mildred waved. The boys, Clarence and Pete, waved back. The Volkswagen, a mint green 1961 sedan, swayed like a canoe. Mildred felt ill. She closed her eyes. “Hey. Lady.” It was Clarence, elbows draped over the open window. His curly blond hair was wet now. The water came just to his chest. Mildred opened her eyes. “Hello.” “Are you okay?” Clarence leaned in. He looked around. “Nice car.” “Thanks.” Mildred touched her hair. “And I’m fine.” Clarence looked over his shoulder. “Pete! Get help!” “On their way!” Pete was filming with his phone. He’d put it to music have it on YouTube later that evening. “So, what happened, anyway?” Clarence was curious about things. He wanted to be a writer. “Nothing, really.” Mildred glanced at herself in the rear-view mirror. “Just one of those things, I guess.”
“Why is your car floating?” Clarence smiled. “Is it like when Wile E. Coyote runs off a cliff and doesn’t fall until he looks down?” Clarence laughed. He was high. “Maybe I shouldn’t have mentioned it.” “It’s fine. Everything is fine. These things actually do float.” “So, this was an accident?” “No. I did it on purpose. I forgot about the floating part.” “You mean, like, you’re committing suicide?” “Attempting it, yes.” That’s when the sirens started. Fire engines and squad cars. A WTMJ van with a satellite dish appeared. Firefighters and police officers carrying various pieces of equipment awaited instructions. A woman reporter spoke into a microphone. A man with a TV camera sent the signal back to the station. This was breaking news. Grabbing hold of the rear bumper, Clarence pushed Mildred and her floating car back toward shore. Firefighters and police officers waded out the help. It was over in just a few minutes. Mildred thanked everyone, started the engine, and drove home.
Girl Sitting In The Attic Doorway
after Lucien Freud The attic door is open. She’s naked, thinking naked, perched high on the doorway underneath a wardrobe. She’s slim, of small breasts. Only one is visible. Shadows flowing down the back of her legs are attached to the soles of the model’s feet. The right shadow has been cut off at the toes whilst the left shadow resembles the charm of an Arabic slipper that might just kick you. The girl’s face shows signs of anxiety, flushed for the modelling to stop, as if she were a jack in the box impatient to spring unless this is the resting between the springing outs. There’s no respite from the long grip of painting. To ease her stiffening joints she could pose on top of the wardrobe. Returning to her perch could also mean a tipping backwards into the darkness to model alone. Spring. Spring. Spring inside, banging her head against the attic door, as the artist awaits her return, continuing to paint the wardrobe and ceiling, those unloved things of the room. Alan Price
beads in my bed
itâ€™s been a week I pull back the newly laundered sheets find three tiny clear beads that must have migrated from a childâ€™s pocket pure and clean each one completely unlike those bulky African trade bead lies you shoved carelessly onto the fraying thread of your desire until the whole thing broke spatter-clattered across the floor in a crazy dangerous mess that still has people falling all over themselves strung together I thought those beads were gorgeous alone between my fingers each was nothing more than painted clay a hard, tiny promise with no currency I remove the three mysterious visitors put them on the bedside table and slide between the clean cotton sheets allow the heavy down to warm me embrace me my sweet bed is rid of you Laila Halaby
what makes J.I. Kleinberg
In Which We Write A New Religion With Our Lips at my side there is desire both unholy & of the flesh no they are not the same consider the unholy a plastic rainbow of Lifestyles and One coupled with Lyps coupled with Shibari nestled on top of a black book that is not so little consider the flesh the oils i adorn myself with to convince anyone but me that there is something divine here & the lipstick & the glitter & the lotion all righteous scents, all intended to feed what feasts on the unholy sunken under my nail polish forgotten since i went and got grownâ€” be my bible, aqua blue and engraved with my name it's funny how sometimes the only things we can claim as birth rights are the first things we render unworthy of care such as the clothes on my bed, begging to be folded. i need space to stretch in my sleep and inhabit a full mattress. you are begging me to stay the night. calling me darling. kissing my neck. she is no longer with you and you say forever but, like any faithful sinner, i know that means for now & your entreaties drip with silent promises to hold me like you love me.
of course i leave my clothes undone; both on this body and that bedâ€”wondering which set of adornments will catch the spirit of the holy ghost first. you pick me up straight after class, the passenger side window beckoning fog and moans. i reckon this sinkhole in my lungs is the same sensation the painting Israelites caught the night the angel of death swept through every bloodless doorway to open an exhibit of viscera and retribution. you & i will make our own kind of sanctified massacre, one iâ€™ll tell our children of. on the radio amy winehouse is playing or maybe my mind is just wailing for me to forget i ever agreed to you and demand you take me home. i know how this goes. you call me all the names i've ever needed to hear, grip me where i start to think you care. just like how i used to pray. study my word. promise God i felt his loving caress. i lay tucked into the fable of your arms, legs drawn apart for your discretion, ever an invitation. ever a question. ever a plea. & on the way home, i lean my head into the crook of your neck. you squirm with discomfort, turn the music up loud, and pretend you don't hear me trying to match my inhales with your heartbeat. we have learned how to hold lies in the ridges of our skin the way waves keep secrets or job kept faith,
and as i sigh into the cool air of the night, making my way to my front door, i can feel the tsunami hit. you feel it too. turn the key in your ignition and jet off quicker than i can get inside.
i love you of course i didn't say that but that is what you heard and that is how i know you do not know me. for it was in the lilt i added to i can pay for the Plan B this time and the go ahead. you can
finish; i'll swallow. but no, i did not hide my essence in a moan. i did not propose by the scratches down your back. that blood is not from my maidenhood. that worship and psalm is no sacrifice to the temple of unrequited whatever-the-fuck-i-feel-for-you-right-now. truth is, you could probably be any warm body and i might feel the same but you are a warm body with history and soft lips. a good ear for listening. good stroke. i am hoping you do not remember me for how large i could be in times when you needed space too. i am hoping you are thinking of my lips and my ears and our history and my moans. the closest we will ever come to a lovechild. a wedding night. a future. the only divine thing about us is my hope and the gas in your car. the laundry is unfolded, impeding my space to sleep. my body knows this kind of loneliness and how to cope; inviting all kinds of warmth and hoping i learn how to shrink. my bible is still collecting dust but iâ€™ve known blind devotion to a hollow doctrine and broad stories since you set your palms to my thighs
and whispered my name like the start of something sacred. Khalypso
A License to Wed for Mr. Chips
A lone cloud, on a citrus-scented fall morning, drooped lazily above the Mayor’s building as I climbed up the white oak-planked staircase lined with ivy and topiaries with my master, Mr. Chips, and Grace, his love. This was their umpteenth visit in months. It was pointless arguing with him on the futility of such visits, but Mr. Chips was a stubborn old man who still read books from a rusty trunk hidden in the loft, and believed in miracles – things from the distant past – and had dragged us along this time too, though I had a lawn full of leaves to rake, and Grace had a pumpkin bread to bake, and Mr. Chips himself could barely speak with a swollen, bandaged mouth after an unplanned impacted tooth extraction. He carried a pile of colorful cards in his tweed jacket and spoke to us by scribbling words on them with a barrel-thick pen. “Martha! Just follow me, please!” the yellow card had read, in his impeccably polite style, when I’d raised a hand to protest. “What may I do for you this morning, Mr. Chips,” tweeted Ninny, a low-cost Golem. She kept the Mayor’s appointments, greeted visitors in a cloyingly sweet nasal accent, sorted mail and performed usual household chores like filling up the birdbaths and encircling the deck with citronella candles to keep the bugs at bay. After she was done, at night, she plugged herself into the wall and charged. He sorted out his cards and flashed one that said: “My marriage license, please?” The devil had prepared the card beforehand! He was a charmer, that one; he always had a plan! Ninny smiled at him with ill-disguised impatience – the measly funded Town Office couldn’t afford artistry as an attribute in their automatons. His marriage application had been turned down, methinks, not less than six times in a row. He had a stuttering problem; all of his siblings, eleven of them including the three that had died,
stuttered. Their parents were first cousins; they had eloped, so it was a problem with the genes. Nowadays the state frowned upon such unions between closely related or handicapped persons, so they turned down Mr. Chips’ application each time on some pretext or the other. The state doesn’t want to risk freaks being born of such a match. They don’t like couples to produce children at all for that matter; they mix and match frozen DNA and genes in secret laboratories to produce perfect citizens devoted to the cause of furthering anthropoid excellence and the “model state.” Since Mr. Chips still stuttered, and it was incurable, we’d probably walked thus far only to be turned away again. Surprisingly, he’d been a ballad singer, and a famous one too – people still stopped him on the streets and took selfies with him. He used to tell me he felt fluent only when singing; and terrified when speaking. Recently, to my surprise – I was already a perfect, high-priced crooner – he’d upgraded me, something he could ill afford with his state pension, by fixing a chip in my voice box, and I could now exactly mimic his singing style and voice. “Why are you throwing away good money, master,” I’d asked him, in a gentle reproach. “When I stop singing, you could carry on,” he’d replied. Pray, why would he think like this – he was perfectly healthy, and to my mind, virile, for Grace, 52, was three months pregnant with his child? Plutopia, our state, forbade children out of wedlock among humans or bionics, and would most certainly kill the unborn baby. Grace, whose twins had been killed during a freak accident, wanted the child desperately. She would simply not survive without it. And Mr. Chips
could not let that happen, for he loved her deeply. His own children, grown up and successful, had not kept in touch. Grace and I were all he had in this world. I liked him for the gentleman he was; he treated me with dignity, like a human, though I was a Stage-4 Bot – the best money could buy – who could please him in any manner he wished; but he never performed coitus on my person, or touched me inappropriately, or spoke in a loud tone. Grace and I braced for the usual twisted look on Ninny’s face when she would apologetically announce the state’s rejection of his appeal once she had finished scanning her computer records. Mr. Chips looked on stoically; hope still lighting up his craggy features as it had the day he’d first applied. So, don’t blame me, when despite being a well-trained droid, my left eyebrow shot up a tad when Ninny declared Plutopia was pleased to grant Mr. Chips a license to wed! “Thank God!” Ms. Grace exclaimed, when we’d reached home through streets covered in whispering leaves. The word ‘God’ was forbidden in our state, but she was old fashioned and used it out of habit in private. Master beamed happily at her through the bandages. He had no card to flash this time. “You can croon to the baby in that lovely voice of yours all you want,” I said. He suddenly became all quiet, and looked down sadly. “What is it, my dear?” Grace raised his chin and looked into his eyes with concern. Mr. Chips didn’t say anything – instead he shuffled over to the desk and handed her a sheaf of papers – medical reports they seemed. She read them and fainted. I helped Mr. Chips revive her with smelling salts. I chanced to look at the reports as he
huddled by her side on the bed, desperately scribbling card after card, while she wailed and rained feeble blows on him. Mr. Chips, master, had had his tongue excised at the Bodyparts Subtraction
Center. Now that he couldnâ€™t speak, he couldnâ€™t stutter could he? And Grace would get to keep her baby. And I could do the singing.
Aquarium Dan Nielsen
Uranium Champagne We are losing all the uranium glass. It’s the war. That is why she is packing up her champagne flutes.
Let’s keep two out. Look they’re glowing green in the flat white daylight that falls in straight surgical lines through the drawing room window. It is beautiful. This time of year in England. Even the shadows are beautiful. The black empty flowers blowing across the lawn.
I’ll get a bottle from the cellar. He goes. She lights a cigarette. Smoke clouds her face. Here he comes up now from the dark. An explosion. Now they’re laughing. She feels the glow all the way down to her feet. Louise Warren
Reptiles in Texas The First Lady faces the edge of a flood as if it will give way for her. In Anahuac, 350 alligators watch their pens fill while employees sit on boats, guns ready. They've all day and no homes to return to. In Cosby, the Arkema plant could explode. A fanged eel washes up in Texas City. An aid convoy snakes up from Mexico. Wall or no wall, Mexicans help Texas work. The President declares a National Day of Prayer and offers a million dollars, that won't undo building on flood plains, or the intensity of Harvey. Emma Lee
At the Mercy of Crows
It starts with the Two Minutes Hate. As it must. You expect this, after all this is your adaptation. This is your production. But still, you are unprepared for the bristling heat of the hate. In rehearsals, the cast were dressed in black t-shirts and denim and the hate was playful. A game. Nothing more than dressing up boxes and let’s pretend. In rehearsals, you had your safe words. Amid the broiling fury someone would call ‘line’ and Linda, bless her, sat at the desk off to one side of the hall, would look up from her script. ‘“Swine! Swine! Swine!” Love. Then you chuck your book at the screen.’ She’s the backbone of the group, Linda. Retired now, of course, and you can’t quite remember what she used to do. A teacher perhaps. Or maybe she worked in a bank. On opening night, there’s no sign of Linda. She’s tucked away in the shadows backstage. You hope she won’t be needed. You walk through the foyer. You will take a seat in the auditorium and watch the show through the eyes of the audience. You are pleased that the theatre has followed your instructions to the letter. Each member of staff is dressed in the drab grey uniform of a party member. Vaguely eastern European pomp is being piped into the atrium through tinny speakers. The woman behind the box office does not smile as you pass. The bar staff make no small talk. When the announcement is made for the audience to make their way to their seats, the ushers are brusque. They tear little nicks in the corners of the tickets and make eye contact for a just a moment too long. Your seat is somewhere in the middle. The house-lights dim, and at that exact moment a man three rows in front of you leaps up and barks something unintelligible in the direction of the darkened stage. Within moments the rest of the cast, scattered
throughout the auditorium are on their feet and shouting. There is none of the selfconscious mumbling of rehearsals. No gradual increase in intensity, as practised. Instead, full volume from the outset. You find yourself standing, although you planned to merely observe the audience reaction. You scream ‘saboteur’ at the top of your lungs as a spotlight on stage reveals a portrait of Goldstein. The lady next to you rises. You do not recognise her, she is not in the cast, although in the gloom of the theatre her conservative dress could be mistaken for a party uniform. She spits the word ‘traitor’ over and over. The rest of your row join in and it transforms into a rhythmic chant. Something tribal. Nobody is seated. The entire audience stand and vent their fury at an empty stage. They are animal. Elbows jostle your ribs and the spatter of somebody’s spittle sprays against the back of your neck, again and again. The air is hot, fetid breath. From the furthest corner of the auditorium, an object is thrown. A book. It arcs through the air, its pages spread like bat’s wings as it flips once, twice. It clatters onto the stage before it can complete its third somersault. You can’t remember if this was scripted. Before you know it, wine glasses are raining down from the audience. One shatters on the lighting rig and shards tumble like wedding confetti onto the first row. The stage is dusted in crumbs of glass and beneath the spotlights it glistens like freshly laid snow under streetlamps. The woman next to you is either laughing or crying. Someone in party uniform clambers up onto the stage. You can’t hear the glass crunching under his feet, but it must. He glares at the audience; his face is twisted into the perfect masque of hatred. The rest of the cast begin to join him, pushing through the febrile mob and lining up in ranks beside him. They stare back, challenging the audience.
Walking home afterwards your tread is heavy. At some point, the hate must have ebbed, and the show begun, but you find it hard to recall exactly when. The performance itself is hazy. A fever dream. You can’t remember who played Winston Smith. Is it possible that somehow you forgot to cast anybody in the role? One thing you can remember clearly is O’Brien. His was a hulking barrelchested presence. He was the heart of each scene, in fact, you can’t recollect a single moment that he was not on stage. Somehow, he was under the covers of the bed in the secret room above Charrington’s shop. He walked in the fields with Julia. He was the singing prole. There seemed to be dozens of him, filling the stage like a chorus line or a testudo of riot police. Perhaps you ordered a batch of O’Brien rubber masks and handed them out to the cast in the final dress rehearsal. You forget why you may have done this, but it seems that you have not stopped at the cast. Each face you pass in the street as you stumble home on weary legs is the face of O’Brien. Despite the unseasonal febrile heat of the evening, you turn the collar of your jacket up as if there were a fierce wind. You shy away from your reflection in the empty shop windows. At home, you undress in the dark. In the bathroom, you run your head under the cold tap. Your face feels alien under your fingertips. If you turn on the light and look in the mirror you are sure you will see O’Brien staring back. You leave the light off.
from `Skies` G.K.M. Goddard
Royal Pain Oh, he wishes he were a Roman senator, this little local polite politician, wishes for a toga, strolling the plaza dispensing hand waves and the noble nods of his like a tonsured head, making his royal way to the chambered house to deliver the best damn patrician speech like any loyal Roman taxpayer ever heard about what ails us and his solutions, but here and now at his very best on this American street only kisses babies. Dennis Herrell
In Politics You Create a List of Pros and Cons
Last Chance’s mayor credited his election victory to the voters' recognition of four personal qualities: his innate lack of charisma, a quietness that implied wisdom, grit that bordered on stubbornness, and his refusal to use words such as “innate” and “implied” and especially “charisma.” A medium-sized middle-ager whose unremarkable facial features flowed and disappeared like water, to our town's citizens he was rye whiskey--a powerful kick at the onset, you could say, but quick to vanish from the senses. “I talk plain because I got plain words for plain folk,” he said in his bestremembered and only campaign speech, delivered the Friday before Election Day. Every picnic table outside of Carl’s Chicken Shack was full-up on that unseasonably warm November afternoon, with a crowd estimated to be in the tens. Most of those in attendance sipped on courtesy cups of water. Carl scowled through the service window screen--these gasbag politicians never spent money where it mattered. “I understand that this job you want me to do is mostly symbolic,” continued the then-candidate, “but I promise you, if awarded your trust I’ll become a symbol of invisibility. You won’t see me do no wrong to this town. Heck, you won’t see me at all.” Well, that sent up something like a cheer. For the first time in Last Chance’s nearly two-hundred-year history, one of our public servants kept their word: after three precinct workers watched him leave the polling station at Judd’s Sunoco on voting day, none of us saw our newly triumphant mayor again.
There have been unverified sightings as well as other cobwebs of evidence: reports of the mayor slipping out of the Grange Hall’s side door just prior to town council meetings, or typewritten remits sent to Arlene the town constable (who later was unable to actually lay hands on said official documents) about executive requisition of unclaimed personal property. A few citizens grumbled about the expense of parking meters the new mayor had ordered installed, but to reduce labor costs our head honcho took it on himself to gather up the coins personally; in the dead of night so as to avoid disrupting commerce. The most recent puzzle? An anonymous late-night phone call received by a town clerk, who was informed “bad stuff could happen” if a directive was not processed to cede two acres of town-owned pasture land and transfer it to the mayor. The clerk, who insisted on anonymity, on account of their other part time employment as Last Chance's sole animal control warden, cited a skirmish with severe abdominal cramps and complied with the request. “I think we are all of us quite relieved and satisfied,” Councilman Everett had told passers-by and the town maintenance superintendent during an informal postelection gathering outside of the firehouse and storage shed complex on Center Street. All of downtown buzzed with the voices of two or three people marvelling over the mayor's landslide win. “No one wants to relive the scandals of the Nelson years, of that I am quite certain!” said Mr. Everett, causing a murmur that ran through the assemblage thanks to his puffy use of “quite” in two consecutive sentences. Although Mr. Everett wore eyeglasses and creased trousers, he was nowhere near the intellectual type he pretended to be.
Older folks shrugged and nodded knowingly about Mr. Everett’s declaration. Lowell "Fuzzy" Nelson’s assumed misappropriation of the town’s riding lawnmower during the summer of 1966 inspired an outcry that initiated Last Chance’s first governmental recall. The charges against Mr. Nelson were cleared (all five witnesses scheduled to testify moved out of state) and we elected him mayor a second (nonconsecutive) time in 1982, but another over-abundant grass-growing season induced him to commit (allegedly) the same crime once again. The case was thrown out due to lack of interest. In 1994, Mayor Nelson’s next exoneration--on this occasion, the charges had been for skimming construction permit fees--and subsequent third romp to Last Chance’s highest office, combined with exceptionally grass-friendly rainfall in April and May, raised the specter of new indictments. The likelihood of prosecution was cut short, as it were, by the venerable rascal’s sudden fatal heart attack while getting a latenight trim and a hot shave at Charlotte’s Salon & Barber, although rumors persisted for years that Ol’ Fuzzy had faked his own death and was now on the lam. Charlotte's noninvolvement was declared forcefully by her big-city attorney, who also for maybe the tenth time repeated that the meaning of "trim and a hot shave" did not change after 5:30 PM and on weekends. We’re satisfied with our current mayor. Everyone goes about their daily business and the gears seem well-greased. A few old grudges linger, and maybe there’s a little municipal ruckus here and there, but Last Chance works the way it should. Our lives abound with dignity and contentment, fortified by the conviction that our trains would run on time if we had any. Gossip persists that Constable Arlene caffeined-up herself the courage to phone the State Police about our mayor, something about accusations of
"Theft in Office," but it went nowhere because Arlene couldnâ€™t remember the mayorâ€™s name or even describe him or nothing.
Michael Grant Smith
Urban Hobo Signs Found hubcap leaning against telephone pole: Passive-aggressive desires to meet a kindred spirit. Sneakers tied together, hanging on power lines: Drugs. Inexpensive succor. Angers mostly contained. Threadbare couch on an unmown lawn: Rampant disregard for future comfort, the government bureaucracy. Chained bicycle frame, missing both tires: Uneasy passage to a better, kinder place; snacks. Flower print bed sheet hanging in window, as drapes: Father issues, also excellent crepes suzette. Rusted coffee can over-flowing with cigarette butts: Phlegm. Disinclination toward littering, bright colors. Randomly numbered hopscotch blocks, in chalk: Warnings of economic downturns, early bedtimes. Political signs from elections held years ago: Willingness to wax nostalgic; possible homicidal rage. Broken windowpanes held together with duct tape: Color-blindness, willingness to ignore flaws, true blindness. Matthew Smart
rolling J.I. Kleinberg
Dirk’s Last Day
Detective Dirk Tannin hitched up his belt. It was hard to believe this was the last day he’d feel gravity pull against his badge and semi-automatic pistol. No matter how much he yearned for one, final arrest, he would not leave the squad room. He knew bad things happened to TV cops as they neared retirement. He got a cup of weak coffee and returned to his desk to sort the folders of old cases stuffed in his drawers. Most ended up on LaRue’s desk. The office chair squeaked as Tannin leaned back. What was he going to do with his free time? He yearned for the excitement of new challenges but in fourteen seasons scriptwriters had already subjected him to every possible thing that could befall a human being. Tannin fingered the scar on his belly. Romance was out. The prostate cancer he’d survived in season four had robbed him of the physical stamina he’d need to satisfy a lover. Seeing his wife shot down on the courtroom steps had left mental scars as well. After going rogue to hunt down her killers, he’d spent most of season six reluctantly working through his feelings with a tough but perceptive therapist. Love had burned him so many times. He moved his wife’s framed portrait from his desk to the cardboard box on the floor. First there was the patrolwoman in debt to the mob in season one and then the actress crooked cops used to frame him for her murder. He never wanted to repeat going on the run from his own colleagues to prove his innocence again. With all the characters in movies and pulp fiction, there was too much competition to make it as a private investigator. Besides, he’d already taken down too many corrupt millionaires and saved too many innocent men seconds before execution to count.
Perhaps he could use his remaining years to give back. There was little more he could do with AA because his recovery had been an ongoing theme since season two. The same was true for narcotics addiction after French kidnappers subjected him to hourly heroin injections in a futile attempt to make him more pliable. Try as he might, he couldn’t think of anything more as he’d already saved all the kids, who could be saved, from gangs. What was left? Travel lost its lusters. If he had any interest left after infiltrating that biker gang, he lost it when the Department seconded him to the CIA to hunt down terrorists in Europe and Asia. Music? He’d been playing the banjo during the closing credits since season three. Why couldn’t it have been something suave like a saxophone? A dog! That was it. He’d get a dog. Tannin knocked over his chair as he stood in a rush to get to the pet store. He stopped before he got halfway to the door. Oh wait. They’d paired him with a bomb-sniffing German Shepherd in season thirteen. The ratings had been terrible. It looked like all that was left for him was to ride into the sunset like in a Hollywood western, but wouldn’t he eventually reach the Pacific Ocean? What then? Would he rent a boat and circle the globe endlessly? Was this all he had to show for a lifetime lived on a TV screen? The pilot had started with such daring and promise. What happened? Tannin knew how to find out. After looking up an address in the Screenwriter’s Guild directory, he grabbed his coat. He was going to get the culprit’s confession if he had to beat it out of him. With a little luck, Tannin would stretch the final episode into a miniseries.
Time rummages through my hair, Leaving a salt and pepper storm. Just like rocks, I succumb to weathering, And face nature With her exacting demands. My youth jolted By spams running Through the muscles. I interrogate the mirror. My reflection laughs And blows kisses at me. I turned off the light and Boarded up my youth. Patrick Sylvain
At Fourteen Weeks Orlando
is belly up and battering the wooden bead we threaded on a cord. For a cat it’s all about the pauses in between. How stiff the air is. Sits up on her haunches, forepaws tucked, whiskers pricked – there must
be something there – she re-launches – loose bound to tumbled somersault, orange as a cave painting violently striped wildly feline very young. Jean Atkin
Contributors Jean Atkin has published Not Lost Since Last Time (Oversteps Books) also pamphlets and a novel. Her recent work appears in Magma, Agenda, Ambit, Poetry Salzburg, The
North, Earthlines and The Moth. She has held many residencies in both England and Scotland, and works as a poet on education and community projects. www.jeanatkin.com @wordsparks Richard Barrett lives and works in Greater Manchester. His previous poetry collections include u make me laugh in a different way (Dostoyevsky Wannabe, 2017); LOVE LIFE! (Stranger Press, 2016) and HUGZ (Knives Forks and Spoons 2014). He is currently editing his first book-length prose work. William C. Blome writes short fiction and poetry. He lives wedged between Baltimore and Washington, DC, and he is a master’s degree graduate of the Johns Hopkins University Writing Seminars. His work has previously seen the light of day in such fine little mags as The Alembic, Amarillo Bay, PRISM International, Fiction Southeast,
Roanoke Review, Salted Feathers and The California Quarterly. Suzannah V. Evans is a poet, editor, and critic. She was born in London and studied at the universities of St Andrews and York. Her poetry, articles, reviews, and interviews have appeared in the TLS, Eborakon, The London Magazine, The North, New Welsh
Review, The Scores, RAUM, Tears in the Fence, and elsewhere. She is Reviews Editor for The Compass and an AHRC doctoral student at Durham University. Megan E. Freeman’s debut poetry chapbook, Lessons on Sleeping Alone, was published in 2015 by Liquid Light Press. She has been published in literary anthologies and journals, and her poetry has been selected as texts for compositions commissioned by the Los Angeles Master Chorale and Ars Nova Singers. Megan holds degrees from Occidental College and the Ohio State University and lives near Boulder, Colorado. www.meganefreeman.com G.K.M Goddard is a secondary school headteacher in London who has previously had poetry and short stories published. His interest in visual art began when he decided to take his own pictures as illustrations for his written work. While writing remains his main interest he will continue to develop his interest in other art forms. Anita Goveas is British-Asian, based in London, and fuelled by strong coffee and paneer jalfrezi. She attends a writer’s group in Bromley. Her stories are published and forthcoming in the 2016 London Short Story Prize anthology, Word Factory, Dodging
the Rain, Pocket Change and Haverthorn magazine. She tweets erratically @coffeeandpaneer Laila Halaby is the author of two novels, Once in a Promised Land (a Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Authors selection; named by the Washington Post as one of the best 100 novels of 2007) and West of the Jordan (winner of a PEN/Beyond Margins Award), as well as a collection of poetry my name on his tongue (Syracuse University Press, Spring 2012). Dennis Herrell lives in a 1920â€™s bungalow in the old historic Heights of Houston, Texas. He writes both serious and humorous poems about his life in this civilized society. (Poking fun at himself is almost a full-time job.) He especially likes to look at the small things in everyday life that make us (him) so individual and vulnerable. He has had about 500 poems published in various magazines since July 2000, plus 3 books. 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. Ali Jones is a teacher and mother of three. Her work has appeared in Fire, Poetry
Rivals, Strange Poetry, Ink Sweat and Tears, Snakeskin Poetry, Atrium, Motherâ€™s Milk Books, Breastfeeding Matters, Breastfeeding Today and Green Parent magazine. She has also written for The Guardian. Her pamphlets Heartwood and Omega are forthcoming with Indigo Dreams Press in 2018. Artist, poet, and freelance writer, J.I. Kleinberg is a Pushcart nominee and winner of the 2016 Ken Warfel Fellowship. Her found poems have appeared in Diagram, Heavy
Feather Review, Rise Up Review, The Tishman Review, Hedgerow, Otoliths, and elsewhere. She lives in Bellingham, Washington, and blogs most days at thepoetrydepartment.wordpress.com. Emma Lee's most recent collection is Ghosts in the Desert (IDP, 2015) and she co-edited
Over Land, Over Sea: poems for those seeking refuge (Five Leaves, 2015). She reviews for The High Window Journal, The Journal, London Grip and Sabotage Reviews and blogs at http://emmalee1.wordpress.com Al McClimens is a soon-to-be-unemployed graduate of a creative writing degree. And that's not even a metaphor. But then if you allow your pet crow to write your dissertation by walking randomly on the keyboard what do you expect? Meantime the
pair of them watch the moon and dream of the perfect sonnet. If the crow learns to type you might get to read it. Christina Murphy’s poetry is an exploration of consciousness as subjective experience, and her poems appear in a wide range of journals and anthologies, including PANK, La
Fovea, Dali’s Lovechild, and Hermeneutic Chaos Literary Journal, and in the anthologies Let the Sea Find its Edges and Remaking Moby-Dick. Her work has been nominated multiple times for the Pushcart Prize and for the Best of the Net Anthology. Dan Nielsen is a fulltime open mic stand-up comic. His flash manuscript Flavored
Water was a semi-finalist in the Rose Metal Press 2017 short short chapbook contest. He has flash in: Bird’s Thumb, Minor Literature[s], Cheap Pop, and The Collapsar. Dan has a website, Preponderous, and you can follow him @DanNielsenFIVES. He and Georgia Bellas are the post-minimalist art-folk band Sugar Whiskey. Hank Nielsen is an American photographer, who learned the craft through a variety of elective courses taken at Syracuse University during the early seventies. After shooting on the street for many years, Hank has recently taken to incorporating NASA images and Photoshop graphics into his imagery. Khaya `Khalypso` Osborne is an 18-year-old poet and actress born in Berkeley, CA and currently residing in Elk Grove. They are the Social Media Manager of Black Napkin
Press and Poetry Editor of Cerurove Magazine as well as Culaccino Magazine. Their work centers primarily around charting the complicated existence of being colored and non-male and alive. Their work has been published in or is forthcoming in The
Columbia Review, Crab Fat Magazine, Vending Machine Press, and Black Napkin Press. Alan Price was born in Liverpool and now lives in London. His poetry has been published in The Morning Star, Envoi, Orbis, Poetry Monthly, The Interpreter’s
House and Poets in Person. His debut collection of poetry Outfoxing Hyenas was published by Indigo Dreams in 2012. The pamphlet Angels At The Edge (Tuba Press) appeared in 2016. Alan's latest chapbook Mahler's Hut (Original Plus Publications) was published in 2017. Simeon Ralph is a musician, writer and lecturer. He is currently studying for an MA in Creative Writing with The Manchester Writing School. Originally from Essex, he now lives in Norwich. C.C. Russell lives in Wyoming with his wife and daughter. His writing has appeared in such places as Wyvern Lit, Rattle, Word Riot, The Cimarron Review, and The Colorado
Review. He is a Pushcart prize nominee. In the past, he has also lived in New York and Ohio. After attending American International School, Kabul, Nidhi Singh did her BA English Honors at Delhi University. Currently, she lives with her husband in Yol, a picturesque cantonment, which was a British POW Camp housing German and Italian soldiers during the World Wars. More than 50 of her short stories have appeared internationally including work in A Lonely Riot, Mirror Dance, Body Parts Magazine, Military
Experience and the Arts. She has also authored several translations of the Sikh Holy Scriptures. Matthew Smart lives in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, where he works as an information technology analyst. His writing has appeared in Vestal Review, Cheap Pop,
Queen Mob’s Tea House, Unbroken Journal, Smokelong Quarterly and elsewhere. He serves as Assistant Prose Poetry Editor at Pithead Chapel. Michael Grant Smith is at various times a musician, writer, live sound engineer, marketing associate, carpenter, automobile mechanic, and rancher. He wears sleeveless T-shirts, weather permitting. His writing has appeared in elimae, Dime Show
Review, Ghost Parachute, Longshot Island, and others, and is forthcoming in The Airgonaut. Michael resides in Ohio. He has travelled to Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Cincinnati. Patrick Sylvain is a poet, writer, social critic, and photographer. Published in several scholarly and creative anthologies, journals and reviews, including: African American
Review, Agni, International Journal of Language and Literature, Human Architecture and The Oxford Book of Caribbean Verse. His academic essays are also anthologized in several edited collections. Patrick has taught at several universities, including Brown UMass/Boston and Harvard. He is pursuing a Ph.D. in English at Brandeis University where he is the Shirle Dorothy Robbins Creative Writing Prize Fellow. Jennifer Todhunter's stories have appeared in SmokeLong Quarterly, Necessary
Fiction, CHEAP POP, and elsewhere. She is the managing editor of Pidgeonholes. Find her at www.foxbane.ca or @JenTod_. Louise Warren’s first collection A Child’s Last Picture Book of the Zoo won the Cinnamon First Collection Prize published in 2012. A pamphlet In the scullery with
John Keats also published by Cinnamon came out in 2016. Her poems have appeared in magazines including Ambit, New Welsh Review, The Rialto, Poetry Wales, Picaroon, Strix, Stand, Three Drops in a Cauldron. She was a prize winner in the Troubadour International Poetry Prize (2013 and 2015)
Jon Wesick is a regional editor of the San Diego Poetry Annual. Heâ€™s published hundreds of poems and stories in journals such as the Atlanta Review, Berkeley Fiction
Review, Metal Scratches, Pearl, Slipstream, Space and Time, Tales of the Talisman, and Zahir. As well as being nominated for a Pushcart Prize, his work has won and placed in several competitions. Jon is the author of the poetry collection Words of Power, Dances of Freedom as well as several novels and most recently the short-story collection Arugula. http://jonwesick.com Akirah Williams loves girls, corgis, 5-hour naps, and staying up late, but absolutely hates the number of unfinished things they have to do. They also donâ€™t know how to use punctuation properly. You can reach them on twitter @dipbrow and instagram @kirahstagram.
`Dream Progression 2â€™ by C.C. Russell was previously published on SnappingTwig.com in 2015. Sadly, this website no longer exists.
ISSUE #6 COMING FEBRUARY 1st 2018
Welcome to the fifth issue! Riggwelter keeps rolling on. This issue contains poetry, short fiction, visual art and experimental media by: Je...
Published on Jan 1, 2018
Welcome to the fifth issue! Riggwelter keeps rolling on. This issue contains poetry, short fiction, visual art and experimental media by: Je...