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Table of Contents

Pg 4. - STOLEN BINDINGS, Laura Grace Pg. 7 - SANGUARO, Kelsey Dean Pg. 8 - THE EATER, C. Noel Carson Pg. 9 - BIG FUCKING JOKE OF LIFE, Dmitri Bailey Pg. 10 - WHAT WE HUNTED, Dylan Weir Pg. 11 - AMEN, Howie Good Pg. 12 - DINNER (FOR ONE), Roberto Carcache Flores Pg. 13 - PARODIES OF LIFE, Sunita Prasad Pg. 15 - CODA, Valerie Hamra Pg. 16 - RIVER AT NIGHT IN DECEMBER, Dmitri Bailey Pg. 17 - THUNDER, LIGHTNING, Charles Bane, Jr. Pg. 18 - ROCK, Nate Maxson Pg. 19 - FLOWERS FOR HER MOTHER’S FUNERAL, MD Marcus Pg. 20 - HE IS ON HER WALL, Laura Grace Pg. 22 - COSMIC ANATOMY, Joyce Chong Pg. 24 - IT’S A DOG’S LIFE, Jim Ross Pg. 26 - IDENTITY POLITICS, Gregoria Petria Pg. 27 - YOU’LL FEEL UNSTOPPABLE, Trish Hopkinson Pg. 28 - A FRIGHTFUL NIGHT ON THE BEACH, Dmitri Bailey Pg. 29 - SEVERAL MOVED COLORS, O Mayeux Pg. 30 - RETROGRADE, RW Lang Pg. 32 - MANY, MANY HAPPY RETURNS OF THE DAY, Vimeesh Maniyur

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Pg. 33 - EDITORIAL STAFF Pg. 34 - CONTRIBUTOR BIOS

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STOLEN BINDINGS
 Laura Grace

"

1975. desk.
 The poempages flutter down her spine. She picks them up and watches the ink pour into her night eyes.
 She is an expanse. She is landwords and skylines and she is the world.
 She walks along her edges and fingers a possibility. She lets her words pass her boundaries and she does not reach for them back. 
 She is a turning. # 1976. basement.
 He dives inside and pulls out her flowered heart. Her flowered heat. Her.
 In pieces she finds his eyes; they shroud themselves with heavy lids, fall out of sockets too big for words that burst from her mouth. # 1976. chapel.
 He expands to fill her bookideas, her philosophies of page and time. He thumbs through her and crawls inside, blinking at this new born light.
 She spills into him, spiraling away from her own twilight beginnings, into his stolen bindings; she sleeps in him: where there is wait and decay; where she will be forgotten, a page of his past, once written on his heart.
 Not even the space remains between them. # 1977. apartment.
 So many times he has reached into her for his muse, fingernails scraping at her insides, clawing out each grain of sand, each glass masterpiece. He swallows them and makes them his own. 
 She wishes her empty. 
 They are pieced together with bits of silent cacophony, their lives sewn with wooden needles. They are old fabric laundered and ripped away, they are faded to a bluejean touch; they are one and two and many and none. 
 She opens her eyes to a morningless sky and it finds her lost. Words itch at her bones. He cracks her open. Later that she sees the newmade scartattoo; it hides the thievery. Lines stretch across the years. She traces them on neverdays. She wills a meaning to be found, but she finds only fingerprints of him.
 He once kept her tight, his nightprize, his fluttering bird. He held her, grabbing at pieces, mind exhausted by her flightless wings. But now he trusts her collapse. 
 She is his empty piece # 1979. sidewalk.
 Time wraps the moon in backlit agony. He looks up at her foreignsmiling face and discovers his voice is

4


a silent wind at the back of her too-full mind. She has stolen away, escaped his web of words. She has destroyed the shrine and is building a new form. 
 He had met her as a sun, her roiling light blinding in its ferocity. He turned her into a moon, a pale piece to illuminate his silenced corners. Now she is a starspeck in his darkened eyes, out of his orbit and far from his wants. He hears her voice echo off the cavernous sky. 
 She is new without him. # 1987. shelter.
 Freedom is just an unbound prison. Mother pieced this together for me when I saw her lay down and crawl into an empty book. She let the pages bind her, let her letters sweat into the leather and ink. # 1987. house.
 She let him take her. 
 He closed the door but I watched through the walls as he ripped each page and laid her on his bed. I watched as he dipped into his ear and rescribed each line. I watched as she came back to his eyes, as she coalesced into someone he could write, as he pushpinned her to his wall and softly kissed her cheeks. I watched as she exhaled relief and inhaled a knowing smile. I watched and she saw me. 
 I watched and she would not die. # 1993. bed/room.
 She told me I was her wishing star. She promised I would come true. Held up to the light, you could see her letters float through my veins. I hid my hands. I wanted none of her words. 
 He wanted me for a moon. He scooped me out and hung me in his sky, looped around a hook and fastened with twine. The knots were careless; he thought I would shine willingly. # 1995. roots.
 I am a forgotten mirror of home.
 I burn out her words, but the scars have stories of their own, and I am a prisoner of her as well. 
 He distills her blood into moonshine and drinks his fill nightly. 
 She says she is content. 
 She tells me to leave.
 


I have grown into your ground. I am hanging in his sky. 
 I cannot leave.
 


She wraps herself in his need. She does not want to be freed. She finds happiness in his hands. 
 She says I will too. #

5


1997. sometimes.
 He weaves a net of intentions. He makes it vast and tight. He makes it wordproof. He makes it me.
 I sit at a desk of glass he shaped from my forfeited future. I type into his hands, letting my words fall away to keep them. I do not stop to breathe.
 I do not stop to remember.
 I sleep in his net of intentions. I pull his woven blankets over my face and dream the world of unknowing. 
 It is now we who are bits of fabric sewn into a skinquilt of sorts. It was no foreign hand but my own trembling fingers that pulled each needle through the wasted limbs, drowning out my words with each stitch. # 1999. away.
 I ran away once. I slipped through the keyhole while they slept, her eyes open and watching. I took the hand of a passing stranger.
 His eyes traced my wordscars. He said I taste like empty.
 I stayed away forever. I stapled my ears against the voice of the father and snapped off my fingers so my words were no more. I lived in a tower of with my perfect lover, tangled in sheets of my misery. I drank the wine of his pictures and watched my words turned sour. 
 But freedom is just an unbound prison and the silent voices were deafening. I put down my glass and dug up my limbs, stretching into old prints. I opened my hands and bled on the walls and drowned the tower in my piercing need. 
 I killed my bluecold lover. I poisoned his picturewine with my words. I burned down the tower. # home.
 Nothing had changed. 
 They were waiting.
 I give him my words. He will not leave me a set of scars to make into a shroud. I give him my words, whole and perfect, so I can stay.
 I do not hang in his sky. I am no one’s moon.

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SANGUARO Kelsey Dean

"

Red, so red. Every time, the redness blooms like poppies into the cotton linings along our cunts.  We are like paintings—but ones that are not pretty enough for museum walls, not pristine enough for admiration.  We are saturated with mud, with red, like flooded Arizona deserts.  But I learned long ago to wear black.  Black can swallow everything, even rusty redness.   Every month, a wasted beginning leaks red tears along my thighs, and I wipe each trail away like yesterday’s mascara.  I smile at the emptiness between my hips, the blackness between my legs.   a cactus blooms below the waxing moon

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THE EATER C. Noel Carson
 


People say honesty is the best policy
 like truth is a dotted line 


to endorse and file on paper.


But I don’t think I’d better sign--


unless you want to hear
 how love is not enough
 (love is never enough),


how I fuck what I can’t love
 and love what I can’t fuck,


how I burn for the bones of that one’s hips
 and ache for this one’s smoky breath,
 and I still want you for the rest.


The nasty that comes to and from my lips--
 no one should know what I’m capable of--


(stacking up hearts like a lecherous miser,


the way I thieve people’s old inside-out sweaters
 and carry my sins on my back like a spider)


how I want to be true 
 but my faith is as raw


as a valley of fallen embers.


(How I care just enough to wrap you up
 like a leftover under the covers.)


I’m no one’s good luck, and that’s all right--
 this friction is passion’s serrated point.


It’s how ink from my pen sticks to paper.


Be honest with me if you like, little fly,
 but I’m saving my regrets to eat later.

8


BIG FUCKING JOKE OF LIFE Dmitri Bailey

"

   So I sit in my bedroom by my desk, chamomile tea and quilt o’er my shoulders, longing for warmer months and nights when I can lay lonely ‘neath the starry sky sorting my thoughts and chuckling at the big joke of life.  And what a joke it is!  We say the river is wise but all it does is gurgle and spit.  We say the river is nothing more than water running through a rut but she will accomplish more in one human lifetime than you ever will.  How fucking silly it all is but we take it so seriously!  What, prithee, has seriousness brought us?  Seriousness made religion, salvation and security for all, and we’ll pillage and plunder until you can have it too!  Seriousness made business, technology, and depression is an epidemic as we are on the brink of blowing up the entire planet!  Seriousness brought us language, but oh! how often words get in the way.   Silly, no?  Here I find myself laughing and smiling like a loon, all wrapped in my quilt.  No I am not some nihilist finding humor in the end times; I am merely one who appreciates irony.  How ironic it is that this seriousness that society is enforcing is exactly what will be society’s downfall.  When we take things seriously we hurt one another.  Nobody gets hurt over the big fucking joke called life!  I’ll tell you, friends, it is the biggest fucking joke there is, but, indeed, it is the most beautiful gift you will ever receive.

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WHAT WE HUNTED
 Dylan Weir Every summer, my best friend and I went with our fathers on our annual guys’ trip. A respite from the suburbs of Chicago, the city’s lack of green, a chance to scratch at some savage itch, we’d return from these trips thick as thieves. The four of us indulged during our slips from civilization and came back carrying the common knowledge of our evil sides. In 2008, the summer after my friend and I graduated high school, we all snuck off on what would be our last of these trips into the wild. One more test of our masculinity. At first it seemed more refined than the places we’d been: a quail-hunting plantation in Alabama run by an old boss of my buddy’s dad. Dick Cheney had been there when the quail and deer were in season. It was offseason when we were there. No one was vacationing in these parts. Offseason is when the locals spend their days killing wild boars, an invasive species that eat the quail eggs. See, they explained, wild boars ain’t native to North America; they was brought back from ’nam to be fenced in for big game hunting. Along with severed ears, massacred bodies, and unparalleled mental illness, the savage pigs were brought home as a war trophy. The boars eventually broke free and have since spread across the southeastern United States. Neither my friend nor I had never held a gun. We had met in first grade. I still remember it. He walked up to me, asked if I’d like to be his best friend and from that day forward we were inseparable. We were not good kids. We got into a serious amount of trouble; we were both tiny for our size but could lead the whole school in an uprising. He was the prototypical ADD kid to schoolteachers, though I’ve never agreed with the diagnosis. When he wanted my attention, he would pull so hard on my collar that my shirts would rip apart. As I write this, I am wearing a shirt of his. Half of my closet’s occupants are his – replacements that he would have to give me after tearing through my entire wardrobe. Neither of us had good relationships with our fathers back then. His father was always suspicious of my friend’s sexuality. My father and I kept our family up all night fighting - arguments that always devolved into matchups of masculinity. But these father-son trips were an exception. We had no need for logic, no reason for reason; we always got along. We’d go hiking, kayaking, whitewater rafting. We’d leave the suburbs and see nature. We’d all be boys, if only for a weekend. We’d get along. That trip was different. We never saw the owner of the plantation. Guys who looked like they were straight out of the film Deliverance showed us our cabin and said to be up at five o’clock in the morning. We woke to a Hummer, outfitted with automatic weapons which only seemed appropriate for war (and even then registered the total brutality of war) and a herd of dogs. There were two types of dogs: the bay dogs and the kill dog. Bay dogs are all breeds, shapes, and sizes. They hunt the scent of the boar all day until they can corner it up against something – a tree, a barrel of hay, a log – and bark for us hunters, at which point the kill dog is released. Boar hunting is a lengthy and arduous process. We spent most of the day avoiding conversation with the gun nuts, instead cuddling and petting Milli, a beautiful white-coated pit bull. We would later learn that Milli was the kill dog, bred to murder any animal in her path (she could not be let near horses, for she would, despite the odds, go after them). But she was a beautiful dog. She was hungry for attention. I scratched her belly under the Kevlar bullet-proof vest she wore for protection from the boar’s tusks. I thought about how my dog loved being scratched under its collar.

10


When the bay dogs sounded their success, we all began running. Milli was a mile ahead of us within minutes. I could hear the death rattles, a 400-pound boar gargling its own blood, from half an hour away. When we finally reached the boar, Milli ripping apart its throat, one of the locals handed my buddy a nine-inch knife. He asked my friend if he’d like to kill the animal, which, to be honest, seemed the most civil thing to do. But my friend said no. I did too immediately after. Though the boar looked us in the eyes, asking, pleading, to be put out of its misery, there was something that held us both back from being able to finish it. When it was all done, the local having cut the boar open and hog-tied it, I asked my friend why he didn’t accept the offer to kill the beast. He said, Why didn’t you? And I explained that I feared for my life. I’d like to believe it was the boar’s tusks, thrashing with the last ounce of effort to pierce straight through my torso. But the boar was ready to die. The thing wanted to be put out of its misery and I couldn’t muster the courage to steady my fist. When I forced my friend to respond, he stared at me with the most serious countenance I’d ever seen on the perennial clown. He said, I didn’t want to know what it would feel like to kill something . . . I’m afraid that I would’ve liked it. That was the last trip we all took together. My buddy and I rarely talk anymore. We’ve both spent the better part of the last six years struggling with serious addiction issues. I got sober on October 22nd, 2012, and last I heard he had strung a few months together. Though I can’t bring myself to answer the phone when he calls. There’s too much to say. I have too few words. After he was arrested for killing a dog with his bare hands while strung out on crack, I thought about Milli. I was afraid. Now he knew what it felt like to take another life. I wondered if he enjoyed it. I thought about how glad I was we didn’t go on the trips anymore. I guess we grew tired of reminding each other that we were boys.

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AMEN Howie Good

"

Angels dressed all in black have accompanied me all my life. It’s hard work for them, being interested in what can’t be measured, the woman with soft full hips and tired eyes lying on the rumpled bed. The air in the room grows iridescent. We’re going to die anyway. Why do you think I shouted so angrily? And suddenly something opens, and we can see far, far. How quiet it is in the forest.

"

11


DINNER (FOR ONE) Roberto Carcache Flores

"The numbing ebb


of headlights,
 superimposed
 metal tables,
 fried chicken platters,
 hair net traffic
 -stuck in place-
 like closing credits
 on repeat.

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12


PARODIES OF LIFE Sunita Prasad

"

Two for tango
 Two times flat
 Flat on their knees
 Flat on their nose
 Nose bleeding
 Nose burning
 Burning with fumes
 Burning with aches
 Aches the guts
 Aches the soul
 Soul scarred
 Soul personified
 Personified dreams
 Personified pain
 Pain revisited
 Pain inborn
 Inborn grit
 Inborn faith
 Faith falters
 Faith reigns
 Reigns the flesh
 Reigns the desires
 Desires umpteen
 Desires unfulfilled
 Unfulfilled wishes
 Unfulfilled summers
 Summer times
 Summer joys
 Joys abound
 Joys rebound
 Rebound life
 Rebound love
 Love betrays
 Love dismays
 Dismays beliefs
 Dismays truth
 Truth is love
 Truth is gospel
 Gospel words
 Gospel thoughts
 Thoughts sync
 Thoughts weave
 Weave words
 Weave parodies
 Parodies in life
 Parodies lies


13


Lies exist
 Lies hope
 Hope…
 Exist…

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14


CODA Valerie Hamra

"

When we were hashing out the means
 of being too attached to a lover we
 start to make a list of the ways 
 that sex is sometimes silly
 


and bodies even sillier.
 The wormholes of the conversation, as usual
 contort and he thinks I am exploring
 new depths of my sexuality with him. 
 


I indulge for a bit, but swiftly, precisely,
 ask him to take a picture of himself.
 No, not just your cock.
 I want to see you pose.
 


And in facing the thing directly, 
 our theories dissolve (the silliness doesn’t).
 The lasciviousness of 
 A screen’s partition bright,
 


I see you looking at you
 I forget for a moment we aren’t
 special outside of
 my screen, pleasure, walls
 


an embryonic cushion to forget
 everything besides the way you tilt your head
 and the light’s glare
 plus the expectation of ugliness.
 


Neither of us seek clarity
 and so I send one in return, and forget
 about my face. Which is to say the arrangement
 of it. Because in that moment I
 


am allowed fascination with myself.
 and can indulge the thought that
 you might be fascinated with me, and the possibilities
 as I pass it on to someone else.

" " " " " " "

15


RIVER AT NIGHT IN DECEMBER Dmitri Bailey

"

   I stood beneath a streetlamp next to water’s edge pondering.  I’d been doing this for quite some time and, though I can never be precisely sure, I have come to believe it had something to do with an illness I felt manifesting in the city around me.  I stared into the murky spaces between the shining crests of the water and sighed a tiresome cloud of smoke—too exhausted even for any sort of purposeful exhalation.  I tilted my head back and watched the bitter smoke dissipate into the sky, painted a deep blue reminiscent of exotic perfumed inks.  I smiled to see it clear away so quickly and easily, as if nothing had ever been done.  Just a few seconds, silent save the beating of a heart and a light breeze, just a few seconds and the air is clean and pure.  Still, behind me and within me I knew, lingered a viscid residue that would not easily be blown or washed away.  And soon I would have to return to the bustling streets, the empty pockets, and cardiac arrest of this reality.  So soon would I have to return.  So soon, I thought, as I stepped into the icy river.

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16


THUNDER, LIGHTNING Charles Bane, Jr.

"

Thunder, lightning appear
 on the sea and we slip to
 Lesbos to be islanded and
 enclosed.
 


Thunder, lightning. You roar
 as I strike between your sandy
 legs and we weep for the
 banishment of emptiness
 on the returning ship to
 Athens streets.
 


Shall I lay my legs on
 yours as we impregnate
 the other eternally, 
 and birth from our lips
 as we destroy our single
 being, a crying child?
 


Thunder, lightning. I flash
 behind your steps, unable
 to describe on papyrus
 the instance you slipped
 into my menstrual flow 
 to heal small cuts and make my
 heart beat longer for you
 or your baths in the
 sea that stirred me to compose
 in the dark. Thunder
 


and lightning. I do not hate
 men but how can I be tender
 when every animal seeks out its
 kind? Shall a bird love
 shells or make nests for
 hawks designed for doves?
 


Thunder, lightning are hammer
 and necklace and we will never
 return to any avenues but
 their skies.

" " " " "

17


ROCK Nate Maxson

"

I’d rather wait for a stone to fall
 In fact,
 I’d rather bomb-death
 Hit me/ spice things up
 Death, how boring a conceit/ familiar as a station wagon with fake wood paneling
 I don’t believe in it
 It hasn’t happened to me and every time one of my childhood pets was put to sleep my mother was the one to take it in, I was too delicate 
 According to quantum suicide experiments there is only one death
 All the others, you just walk away/ the gun goes *click* or the rope breaks
 You
 Walk away
 I however would bear witness
 It’s a hard experiment to perform
 Though every time I’ve tried, I’ve walked away
 All the death I know comes in car crashes in today’s world
 A boring
 Way to go,
 We’re all impressed at how clever you are
 But don’t stop pushing now
 Whatever you do
 Don’t stop now

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18


FLOWERS FOR HER MOTHER’S FUNERAL MD Marcus

"

she fusses and coos
 over each little baby 
 making the frustrated new mothers 
 in the benefits’ waiting room 
 smile 
 and feel lucky to have ‘em
 instead of what they might’ve 
 been feeling just seconds ago
 


she sits up straighter 
 adjusting in the hard plastic chair
 brags that her youngest 
 is holding his own spoon
 and can even walk up the stairs
 tho he’s still in diapers
 and is 22 years old now, 
 can you even believe 
 how time flies?
 


she doesn’t complain
 bout any of this
 tho there’s plenty more
 and there’s no end to see
 still I don’t feel pity 
 cause the crinkles and kindness 
 permanently creased round her eyes
 makes me recall 
 only hopeful things
 even when she can’t talk 
 as fast as the world is taking
 


catching up from the gap of years
 between us 
 and our younger selves
 her voice turns into a long steady note
 pulled from the gut of a violin
 as she recounts her mother’s death 
 just months before
 and how she had to sell leftover 
 underpads and ass
 to give her mom the white casket 
 she picked out 
 right before she died
 


she made sure her mother had lots of flowers too

"

19


HE IS ON HER WALL Laura Grace

"

There were snakes in her head. That was what she would say most of the time when she woke me up in the middle of the night. Other nights I would find her frantically packing her bags. Sometimes she called the police on me and showed them her black eye. Once I found her in the bathroom, slicing her skin with my razor. Scraping it off and trying to reach inside. She’d forget in the morning. She’d be certain that the mess was from the cat or the bandages were from falling in the rose bushes. She would always talk it away, there was always a reason. She was protected from herself.     But that was before. When we could keep our lives partitioned like a cabinet. But moments came through no matter how hard I tried to keep them back and questions started to circulate. And when she stabbed a client in the eye with a letter opener, there was no more hiding.     There were white rooms and sanitized walls. There were doctors and clipboards and a rainbow of pills. One day there were electrodes and silence but that didn’t last for long and the wheelchair took her to my waiting car.     Life became an endless spiral. I dreaded the days she was lucid more than the others. They taunted me. They were our honeymoon and our first date and her failed pregnancy. They were our first house and drinking champagne and making love on the living room floor.     I knew that I’d never get them back. That a switch had flipped and no amount of drugs would turn it back and sometimes I thought I should leave but who would I see in the mornings and who would I cook for and who exactly would I be if I wasn’t this?     Her doctor wanted to tell her everything. “Why ruin the few days she can enjoy?” But he was determined and I held her hand and her told her every incident, every mistaken identity, every violent act. And she cried and I cried and the next day she told her doctor there was a ghost living in our non-existent basement.     The ghost stayed for over a year and the consistency brought a horrific sense of comfort. Then she thought she was possessed and convinced that priest to drive over seven hours and her imagined exorcism threatened to shatter her skull against our concrete flooring. I wanted it to be the last straw but I thought I might need her as much as she needed me.

20


I met someone at a support group. We drank coffee and her eyes were bright and clear. We fucked twice in a dingy hotel room. The second time, I heard her crying in the bathroom afterwards and I hailed a cab before I could button my shirt.     The breaking point did come and it was stranger than I could imagine. Somewhere a corner was rounded, a switch was flipped. One day of sanity turned into two turned into a month turned into a new world. My wife: waking smiles and dinner together and sleep-filled nights.     Farmer’s market Sundays.     Friday night dates.     The house was calm, the sunlight softer. And I thought that we could do this, we could be us again. She would kiss my cheek and tell me she loved me. Even bad days were good because when she cried it was real and I would hold her and tell her that lost time didn’t matter and that it would be ok. I didn’t lie.     But it left as quick as it came and when the switch broke into a million pieces I broke with it. It wasn’t a nightmare and she wouldn’t stop screaming and when she coughed up blood the ambulance came. I followed but I passed the exit. I passed a hundred more. I cleared my eyes and I had put five states between us but it wasn’t enough. # she hung him on waiting pegs. His eyes went on hooks and his wrists snapped at the joints. She walked back, back to his front, back to his eyes, and felt his pieces throw themselves at her feet.   Unhook our fingers unlead our toes and let us back inside you.   But he is on her wall.   #

" I hope they pull her world down around her. I hope they lock her up and make her swallow so many pills she can never destroy anyone ever again.    But mostly, I miss her.

" "

21


COSMIC ANATOMY Joyce Chong

"

i.
 you see,
 I was a match:
 sun & splintered plasma,
 heavy in the palm of your hands,
 but I did not want to be there,
 bottled by gravity and soaring,
 shattering still.
 


ii.
 they say recollection
 is a process of building
 & collapsing; every memory
 a re-creation of the last, so
 to me, you are ever-changing
 & you don't even need to be here; 
 how far are you now
 from this orbit?
 


iii.
 in a dream I was a meteor,
 and you couldn't figure out
 how to stop me how to stop
 gravity from colliding me in
 this inevitable crash course
 ashes factory waiting to be
 made / I 
 was waiting to be me
 when I emerged 
 from the rubble.
 


iv.
 kin
 net
 tic
 the
 ory.
 we are collision,
 are made unmade
 in flask and flame.
 


v.
 how is it up there?
 how is it without air
 pressing in on you
 from all sides? how


22


is the quiet how is
 the blood in your
 head how is the
 atrophy are your
 bones hollowed
 bird bones & will
 you fly with me
 when you come
 back down?
 


vi.
 if we were two knots
 in a rope, would I be
 frayed at the edges &
 would you be twisting
 in on yourself? the vast
 supercoiling of your DNA
 coming undone as you drift
 farther off; I am eroding &
 you are extending, 
 infinitely
 


farther 
 


from 
 
 
 me.

" " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " "

23


IT’S A DOG’S LIFE
 Jim Ross When I came home that night, my wife, Ginger, was absorbed with a phone call and didn’t even notice me walking past her. After I carried in the groceries, I spied some pancakes on the counter. My wife knows how much I love pancakes. I walked over and took a piece of pancake before putting the groceries away. Then I went back over to the counter and finished half a pancake. 


A while later, Ginger got off the phone and walked into the kitchen. "Have you been eating the pancakes?" she asked, somewhat perturbedly.


"Yes," I answered innocently.


"You're kidding, right?" she asked.


"Why would I kid? Yes, I was eating the pancakes," I said.  


"Why? Why would you do such a thing?" she asked


"Because they were there. Because they looked good. I don't know. What’s the big deal?"


"BECAUSE THOSE WERE BUDDY'S PANCAKES," Ginger exclaimed, a little bug eyed. Buddy was our elderly white bishon habanese, on whom we’d lavished more in medical expenses than we usually spent on ourselves.


"What do you mean, 'Buddy's pancakes?'" I asked. "Is there Buddy food in there?"


"No, that's for his medicine. His medicine is in there," Ginger answered.


"What? You've got to be kidding. Why did you let me eat them?" I sort of screamed.


"I can't be blamed if you eat everything in sight," Ginger said.


"What do you mean, 'can't be blamed'? If you leave something out, it's fair game," I said. "It's there for the taking."


"You should have asked," Ginger said.
 24


"Ruff," I said, loudly. "Ruff, ruff, ruff, ruff, ruff."


"Lower your voice," Ginger said. "You might upset the poor dog."


"Lower my voice? LOWER MY VOICE? You just fed me dog medicine and now you tell me to lower my voice? Any minute, I might turn into a werewolf." 


"I think you already are," Ginger said. “You wanna call poison control?”


 "I've got to go call Emily," I said. Emily, our nurse daughter, was about to catch a plane to Rio en route to Buenos Aires to perform an emergency medical transport. I caught her right before she boarded the plane.


"Did you really eat Buddy's pancakes?" she asked, laughing, but sounding half worried.  


"Yes, I really ate Buddy's pancakes. I'm calling to tell you that you've been a really great ruff daughter in case I've gone to doggie heaven when you ruff get home," I said.


"You'll be fine," Emily said. "You weigh nine times as much as Buddy. You can handle it. Look, I gotta talk to Matt.  He's kind of disappointed I'll be spending Valentine's Day with a spicy old lady from Queens who broke her hip at a beach 700 miles from Buenos Aires instead of with him."


"That's rough. Well, have a great trip. Have a steak when you get to Argentina," I said.


"Everyone's told me that," said Emily.


"Could you bring me back the bone?" I asked.


"Bye dad. Stay hydrated. Buddy’s lasix are gonna make you pee all night," Emily said, and hung up.  . I went into the kitchen and drank a quart of water and a bag of chips.   After downing another quart of water, I called my son Alex. While I was talking with Emily, my wife had called Alex and explained the goings on.   

25


“Heruff,” I said when he answered the phone.   “Mom said you ate Buddy’s pancakes.  Did you really?” “Yeah,” I said,  “But, you know, if you stop fighting it, this being a dog really isn't so bad,  After you get comfortable by the fireplace and lick yourself for a while, it's really not half bad."


"Is that all you called to say?" asked Alex.


"That, and I wanted to say, it's a rough life," I said.


"Good one, dad. But I gotta run to the Y," Alex said. "Catch you later."


"You'll never catch me," I said. "Not at this rate.”


"Stay hydrated, Dad," Alex said. "It’s gonna be a long night.”

" " " " " " "

IDENTITY POLITICS Gregoria Petria

"

i’m not a poem, i’m not a word, i’m not a book, i’m not a device, i’m not a comma, i’m not a dot, a sign, a mark, i’m not a question, i’m not an answer, i’m not a reply, i’m not order, i’m not chaos, i’m not stellar, i’m not planetary, i’m not music, i’m not death, i’m not bipolar, i’m not dual, i’m not singular, i’m not a voice, i’m not noise, i’m not somebody, i’m not nobody, i’m not glam, i’m not goth, i’m not rock, i’m not pop, i’m not opera, i’m not rap, i’m not a princess, i’m not a queen, i’m not a slave, i’m not crucial, i’m not a funeral, i’m not a negation, i’m not an essence, i’m not a cube, i’m not a circle, i’m not fresh, i’m not rotten, i’m not black, i’m not yellow, i’m not white, i’m not khaki, i’m not colorful, i’m not colorless, i’m not perfect, i’m not flawed, i’m not an anarchist, i’m not a socialist, i’m not a corporate, i’m not a farmer, i’m not a feminist, i’m not a radical, i’m not an equalizer, i’m not a father, i’m not an atheist, i’m not the virgin mary, i’m not the holy trinity, i’m not one, i multiply. i’m not innocent, i’m not dirty, i’m not the devil, i’m not a lamb, i’m not sexual, i’m not asexual, i’m not bisexual, i’m not gay, i’m not queer, i’m not a gender, i’m not male, i’m not transgender, bigender, i’m not a crowd pleaser, i’m not forever, i’m not now, i’m not blank, i’m not full, i’m not a label, i’m not a segment, i’m not a pattern, i’m not a dollar, i’m not a song, a sound, an echo, i’m not a commercial, i’m not an ally, i’m not a terrorist, i’m not suicidal, i’m not life, i’m not a hero, i’m not a worker, i’m not a player, i’m not a spirit, a body, a mourning soul, i’m not.

"

26


YOU’LL FEEL UNSTOPPABLE Trish Hopkinson

"

Offer into your creek and make to what is winding. 
 You bend leisurely rolling about a hike.
 You follow a wooded hill and it begins down.
 Climb a section to head this area.
 You’ll see tremendous.
 


See into your canyons and ascend to what is emerging.
 You take here turns painted about an alcove. 
 You offer a tremendous trail and it ends closely.
 Make an alcove to go this trail.
 You’ll wind red. 
 


Bend into your day and follow to what is finding.
 You begin slightly day climbs about a season.
 You head a rock trailhead and it sees steeply.
 Wind a hike to bend this respite.
 You’ll follow rock.
 


You are offered leisurely.
 You were ending rolling.
 You can make lush.
 You could go wooded.
 You dare winding tremendous.
 You do bend red.
 You did follow rock.
 You have found shaded.
 You had begun cool.
 You may climb nice.
 You might head hot.
 You must see high.
 You need ascend hard.
 You ought emerge old.
 You shall take long.
 You should turn occasional.
 You would paint dramatic
 You will offer enormous.
 


--a homosyntaxism poem found in The Salt Lake Tribune 24 April 2014: e-edition

" " " " " "

27


A FRIGHTFUL NIGHT ON THE BEACH (IN WHICH A STRANGE SPECTACLE INCLUDING AN ORACA AND A DEAD PIANIST OCCURS)
 Dmitri Bailey 
 


I sit against a small rise in the dirt watching the waves ebb and flow in unison/union with my breath. My feet lay in the sand still warm from the recently set sun as the most disgusting shapes and sediment wash ashore.  A twin-sized mattress, burns a few yards off filling the air with a foul aroma as the natives dance ‘round the all-engulfing flames, intoxicated and vulnerable—Oh he’s swimming!  Straight thru the air and all ‘round the flames!  All ‘round the flames as a pianist giggles and rolls in a pile of seaweed and bile and age-old forgetfulness—We Will Not Be One—not today… anyway, I gargle salt water, choke, swallow, keel over and vomit.   Sharks and an orca with luminescent bifocals emerge from that surging inkwell as a storm begins to take form.  The natives look frightened and quickly disperse but I am too weak to follow.  The giggling pianist is dead.  The orca is advancing—                                                           advancing—                                                                                    advancing—

" " " " " " " " " " " " 28


SEVERAL MOVED COLORS
 O Mayeux 202 Bay Street, Staten Island, New York A several moved color, wrestled
 to the ground color and taken ri
 ghtly tightly at the neck with grip At this moment cervically an interr
 uption: gentle convex-forward arch
 jugularly decided violently garrotted As if by law a just complete occlusion
 of the carotid arteries, call up skyward,
 remembrance of the market at Badagry Appeal to authority that it might descend
 and find a sense when callous shades cut
 at each other: urbanized, raw & jealously Attack attack attack the walls and raise
 the bloodied flag, the flag which looks 
 down starry-eyed from high as a kite Allow streets to heave with sweaty
 misunderstood or bad-mannered
 bodies to rut against the Column

" " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " "

29


RETROGRADE RW Lang

"

Those eyes that glisten, that magnificent lunette
 echoing off diffracting opals, 
 with windows hung behind - 
 a libation to Saturday’s iridescent glare.
 


Her sweater, blue dyed in the wool
 as unwavered as her father’s watch-chain.
 
 
 Gaping at the sidewalk grey
 littered with tales of stress and cynicism
 the wind howls with eroded teeth,
 as bitter sighs of Sisyphus circle his pace.
 


Stepping on her icy block -
 high street now just a lazy metaphor.
 
 
 Walking insomnia's staircase
 with skeleton Jack offering and drawing from his finger:
 a dim-lit hall casting negative light on each passing figure.
 


The windows lay bare
 she sat beside her phone
 listening to her heart beat along the dial-tone.
 


Her sweater has faded blue
 almost an off white,
 speaking from an absence of colour: 
 


“You walk without direction
 speak in circles strung around your scarf.
 Your notions mumble, just doldrums sliding off your shoulders.
 …Constant ambivalence isn’t fun to be around Charlie.”
 


Charlie stopped.
 His heart moved from anger,
 discarding a doctrine 
 which enshrouded that lunette over seven long years:
 


“…If you're really spelling it out to me
 I guess the problem is that I can't read.
 So this is not surprising, just your fleeting apathy.”
 


Welling in his eyelids was a sense of serenity, born of acceptance:
 


30


"Hang a wind chime outside your window so you can listen to the wind.
 I’ll drop you a line sometime, Ada.”
 Drafting his line on the F Train 
 a colorless gust trailing his pen along the rattle:
 
 
 “ One night in misty rain
 I chose the deep end
 diving unscathed and bruised
 looming along the floor I found you.
 


The rain is heavier now
 you looked different back then.
 You’re thinner now
 from your drunken aging.
 


Those nights
 swaying on hollow legs
 dancing until our shoes bled,
 bitten by tarantella.
 


I dressed you with wine
 so you lit up like a Christmas tree.
 As each glass detached ourselves 
 from whom we were meant to be.
 


We look the same but stand miles apart -
 you still haven’t stood anywhere that I’ve walked.
 


But I’m hopelessly hopeless and hopeful for you
 so I hope the universe loves you today.
 My thoughts for you will still glisten,
 even in Retrograde.”
 


An allegiance encapsulated in a father’s hocked watch
 muddled with grand statements of what it means to be a human being.

" " " " " " " " " " "

31


MANY, MANY HAPPY RETURNS OF THE DAY Vimeesh Maniyur

"

I called her Buddha today
 Her face,
 Nose,
 Looks,
 Sleep,
 Everything reminds me of his silence
 


If Buddha was a girl
 I would like to call him her name
 Buddha, my lady
 Many, many happy returns of the day.

" " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " " "

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"


Editorial Staff

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Jordan Rizzieri is the 90's-loving, extremely tall founder of The Rain, Party, & Disaster Society. After a having brief love affair with Western New York, Jordan now resides on Long Island, NY. She holds a degree from SUNY Fredonia in Theatre Arts (aka lying before an audience) with a minor in English (aka lying on paper). Jordan briefly experimented with playwriting (The Reunion Cycle  - 2011 Buffalo Infringement Festival) and her mother's primary caregiver for over two years. She has been running a caregiver's blog on her experiences since 2011, as well as publishing essays on the topic.  Now, Jordan spends her daylight hours arguing with her boyfriend's cats and at night takes on the identity of Pyro & Ballyhoo's sassiest critic, The Lady J. When she's not watching pro-wrestling or trying to decide what to order at the local bagel shop, she is listening to Prince and writing letters to her pen pals. Feel free to contact her with questions about the Attitude Era, comic book plot lines involving Harley Quinn, The Twilight Zone and the proper spelling of braciola.

"

NON-FICTION EDITOR Jennifer Lombardo, Buffalo, NY resident, works full time at a hotel in order to support her travel habit. She graduated from the University at Buffalo with a B.A. in English in the hope of becoming an editor. When she isn't making room reservations for people, she reads, cross-stitches and goes adventuring with her friends. She is especially passionate about AmeriCorps, Doctor Who and the great outdoors. Ask her any question about grammar, but don't count on her to do math correctly.

"

POETRY EDITOR Bee "Internet Coquette" Walsh is a New York-native living in Bedford–Stuyvesant. She graduated from SUNY Fredonia in 2010 with a B.A. in English Literature and a B.S. in International Peace and Conflict Resolution. Reciting her two majors and two minors all in one breath was a joke she told at parties. The English Department played a cruel trick on her and pioneered a Creative Writing track her final year, but she charmed her way into the Publishing course and became Poetry Editor for the school’s literary magazine, The Trident. Bee has spent the past three years trying different cities on for size and staring into the faces of people in each of them who ask her about her "career goals." An Executive Assistant in high-fashion by day, you can find her most nights working with the V-Day team to stop sexual violence against women and young girls, eating vegan sushi in the West Village or causing mischief on roofs. Run into her on the subway, and she'll be nose deep in a book. She holds deep feelings about politics, poise, and permutations. Eagerly awaiting winter weather and warm jackets, she’d love to talk to you about fourth-wave feminism, the tattoo of the vagina on her finger, or the Oxford comma.  FICTION EDITOR Adam Robinson is an aspiring writer and barista languidly skulking the wetland void of Western Michigan. Following acceptance in 2012 to Grand Rapids' Kendall College of art and design in pursuit of an education in graphic art, his love for language and literature was made priority. Now, an English major on sporadically perpetual hiatus, you can most often find him pulling shots of espresso, keying long paragraphs in the dark, secluded corner of a local café, or taking lengthy walks through the dense Michigan woods conveniently placed in his own backyard. Monotoned, fond of the semicolon and existentialist literature; listen closely and you can sometimes hear him beseech advice from the ghost of Dostoevsky (who tends not to reply).

33


Contributors
 Laura Grace is a Californian who longs to flee for more tumultuous climes. She holds an MFA from California Institute of the Arts and she is finishing her book, Alabama Crossing. Laura spends her time searching for the consummate playlist and mourning the death of the mix tape. This is her first publication but your can find her musings on feminism, pop culture, and instability at chaosandgraceblog.wordpress.com

"

Kelsey Dean spends most of her time dreaming about mermaids and training her hands to draw the pictures in her head. Some of her writing and/or artwork can be found in 3Elements Review, Glint Literary Journal, Neutrons Protons, Haibun Today, and Arsenic Lobster, among others.  You can view her artwork here or here, and you can read more about her in this Artist Spotlight.

"

C. Noel Carlson studied creative writing at Western Michigan University, where she learned how to be a snowman and edited for Third Coast magazine and Her Campus. Her work has appeared in The Swan Children and the Rain, Party, & Disaster Society. She lives in Colorado Springs and endlessly contemplates Edgar Allan Poe tattoos. Find her on her website and on Twitter.

"

Dmitri Bailey is a 17 year old aspiring writer, who currently attends school in Baltimore, Ohio. Dmitri is greatly influenced by a variety of writers from Walt Whitman, to the early French surrealists, to the Beat writers of the 1950s. His writing tends to be spontaneous prose/poetry and stream of consciousness.

"

Dylan Weir is a Chicago poet. He is completing his M.A. in English at DePaul University and was a semifinalist for the 2014 Gwendolyn Brooks Open Mic Award. His Poetry appears (or is forthcoming) in Mobius: The Journal of Social Change, H_NMG_N, Literary Orphans, Chicago Literati, Red Paint Hill, and others.

"

All proceeds from Howie Good's latest book of poetry, Fugitive Pieces (Right Hand Press, 2014), go to the Food Bank of the Hudson Valley. Visit: http://www.righthandpointing.net/#!e-chapbooks/c1qi1

"

Roberto Carcache Flores is a writer from El Salvador who draws inspiration from the contradictions of his homeland. His work has been featured or is forthcoming in places like Potluck, Blotterature, the Legendary, and the Eunoia Review. Links to his writing can be found on his Wordpress site.

"

Sunita Prasad is born and brought up in the beautiful paradise called Goa on the west coast of the Indian peninsula. Married to a sailor and settled on the east coast of Andhra Pradesh. A teacher by profession and a poet when the moods take hold of her thoughts. Many of her poems are published in national and international anthologies Page a day,INKLINKS(Where she is sharing space with ExPresident of India, Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam, Writers Ruskin Bond,Vikram Seth and famous Poet and Lyricist Gulzar)a few poems in the online magazine WOW. The other anthologies where her work is published are Ah! Poetry,Family Matters,Anthesis,Persona( An Indian Institute of Management Calcutta intiative) and many more on the way.You can catch her at her blogs alcove and musings.

"

Valerie Hamra lives in Brooklyn by way of the Bay Area California. She works in book publishing, is an editorial assistant with the Brooklyn Quarterly, and founded the design and poetry publication BULK. She has read her work on the Howler podcast. This is her first poetry publication.

"

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"


Charles Bane, Jr. is the American author of "The Chapbook "( Curbside Splendor, 2011) and "Love Poems "( Kelsay Books, 2014). His work was described by the Huffington Post as "not only standing on the shoulders of giants, but shrinking them." He is a current nominee as Poet Laureate of Florida."Thunder, Lightning" is the closing poem of his WIP,  "The Ends Of The Earth."

"

Nate Maxson is a writer and performance artist from Cleveland, Ohio. He discovered poetry as a boy the way other people find religion or drugs. He has had poems appear in Eunoia, Toe Good, Empty Mirror and Cultural Weekly as well as many other publications. He is the author of several collections of poetry, most recently "The Age Of Jive" from Red Dashboard Press. He lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

"

MD Marcus is a freelance writer and poet living in the distant past. Recent work can be found in Salon, Calliope Magazine, In-Flight Literary Magazine, and the Red Dashboard Publishing anthology, “dis-or-der.” Please read everything she writes and visit her on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, or at mdmarcus.com.

"

Joyce Chong is a university student living in Ontario, Canada. Her latest publications include work in Cartridge Lit, After the Pause, Black Heart Magazine, and Wyvern Lit, among others. You can find more publications on her site or follow her on Twitter. Jim Ross is a recently retired health researcher currently engaged in resuscitating his long-neglected right brain by meeting strangers on pilgrimages, getting lost in the woods, and writing creative nonfiction. He's recently published or has work forthcoming in The Atlantic, The Sun, Friends Journal, Pif Magazine, Up the Staircase, cahoodaloodaling, Drunken Odyssey, Dirty Chai, and South 85. He and his wife split their time between Maryland and West Virginia. They aspire to be grandparents and to spend more time in Southern France.  

"

Gregoria Petrea is an American Studies graduate from the University of Bucharest, Romania. She has published “LGBTQ Rights from Stonewall to Glee” and an interview with photographer Daniel Nicoletta in [Inter]sections, and has participated in two conferences with pieces of creative writing. She has also published a short story entitled “Cherokee Rose” in the online literary magazine Howl. Her main interests are gender studies, creative writing, and music.

"

Trish Hopkinson has always loved words—in fact, her mother tells everyone she was born with a pen in her hand. She has two chapbooks Emissions and Pieced Into Treetops has been published in several anthologies and journals, including The Found Poetry Review, Chagrin over Review, and Reconnaissance Magazine. She is a project manager by profession and resides in Utah with her handsome husband and their two outstanding children. You can follow her poetry adventures on her website or on her Facebook page. RW Lang is a graduate of the Hartt School of Music at the University of Hartford. Bronx bred, he stays in his happy place rambling prose with aspirations of an MFA in Poetics.  Robert tweets and tumbles everyday cadences.

"

Vimeesh Maniyur is an established bi-lingual poet, novelist, and translator from Kerala, in India. He has two volumes of poetry and a children’s novel in his credits. He has also penned stories and dramas. He has bagged many prestigious awards such as the Culcutta Malayali Samajam Endownment, Madras Kerala Samajam, Muttathu Varkki Katha Puraskaram etc. for young writers in Kerala.

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Vol. II, Issue II - January 2015  
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