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editor’s letter Dear Readers, summer is upon us and very heavy, piercing sunshine rays have shone upon the Issue 2 of “Suburban Witchcraft Magazine”. I adored assembling and crafting the words and the arts, even venturing out into the currently too short a night-time to photograph the flora of my suburbs - and I envision this issue as that weird, juicy read, lemonade in other hand, a little glimmer of light across these digital pages and out into a world that seems and feels as though it is darkening, in all the bad ways. I hope you will enjoy these poems, these artworks, these photographs and stories, and I hope they will inspire you - to speak and create and share your voices with one another; to think and to ask questions and I hope your mind will be moving, scheming and dreaming.
“Evening”, by Mirjana M.
between these pages you will find
Samuel Taylor Birgitta Lindsey Michael Williams Juleigh Howard-Hobson Mirjana M. Charles Elliott Denise C. Buschmann Clarissa Simmens Sarah Little
J. R. Barner Jovan Ducic (translation) Ivan de Monbrison (Russian & English) Stephanie Parent Yves K. Morrow Audrey Bowers
Photography & artworks by Michael Williams Mirjana M. Ylanite Koppens
STORIES by Jim Wicked Peter Nena Michael Williams
brought together by the EDITOR IN CHIEF Mirjana M.
Banishing Rituals I realize I am slowly drinking myself to death In the cosmetics aisle of a Duane Reade During the winter months, anyway, When the band’s not on tour; Before the money runs out, And we go out again. Coming back home Electric turned off Plants dead. It’s all too much To bear, sometimes. But perhaps this is My initiation, And my trial. My struggle, My savasana My death posture. My shot at immortality, My saving grace. There will not be another. I draw a sigil on the floor of the kitchen The only room of the apartment No one ever comes into And drip wax onto the linoleum, Sticking red candles into empty Heineken bottles And vibrating the words into the dank, empty air. This is my dream This is my desire This is my destiny Divining how at last to be free I know, this time, the sacrifice is me.
She swore she would only wait One. More. Minute. The second hand of her watch (A gift, she recalled, from her sister, Or was it an aunt?) Patiently maintained a pace She could never hold herself. Steady. Reliable, she thought. Yes. Reliable. This waiting, This watching Watching the watch, It was indicative of a pattern In her life, A symptom of something She wished, Right there on the platform, Would end. And it would end, If she could only Summon the strength To walk up those crowded stairs, Up to the awaiting bustle of the surface And all its ephemeral charms. This absence, though, Probably wasn’t anyone’s fault, Truth be told, or, at least, That’s what she started telling herself, Prolonging the minute into another And another. They had made the date in a rush, as usual. In passing. She hadn’t seen her Or even called To confirm. It was an easily forgotten appointment: After all, She had just remembered herself This morning And rushed the whole way here. She swore she was getting on the next train. It would be arriving, by her watch, In about a minute.
Rendezvous on the 8th Street Platform
Out There, Somewhere When I was younger a group of us used to go to this hill, just on the outskirts of our town. That was where I met her. Teenagers from 3 or 4 different schools had laid claim to the place, bringing six packs or forties, Joints crammed with skunk weed, ashtrays filled to sort out seeds and stems. We sat on the dried red clay that invariably stained our jeans, or on rusted car hoods. And told stories. Laughing at one another, or spilling gossip about the romantic lives of people we probably Secretly wanted to be. But she was different, and so were her stories. She talked about this place, the hill, and the town. She talked about history. How there used to be a graveyard nearby but a backhoe had pulled all the headstones down. And there was a sign that said there’d be brand new houses there next fall. She said that there was a tree where witches or cunning women, or houngans Hung the bodies of strangulated cats and then danced around a bonfire On the night of the equinox. Her stories sounded like things out of movies or comic books. But it was more than that, it was the way she told them. Her voice, and her words She possessed a better command of language Than I could ever have. A trajectory of knowledge that pulled us all in like a million tiny fishhooks. Out there, on the hill, our thoughts were syncopated, The rhythm of our fascinated minds could move things. We realized all too quickly what made her stories So different than ours: Strange as they were, they were true. But it meant more to me, back then, To try and cast her off, To dismiss her stories as fiction or lies, Eventually, she stopped coming to the hill. Her tales of the graveyard and the cat tree co-opted by others and changed Like a game of telephone, Gradually losing detail, bit by bit, Until they were something Unrecognizable.
“Starfall” by Mirjana M
And now, it doesn’t matter if I buy that hill today and scrape every surface of soil and sand, Down to the deepest and reddest of clay, Nothing of her presence remains. And although I can’t shake the feeling now that She was trying to tell us something important back then She’s gone, Out there, Somewhere.
Dark Rests Light moves, Dark rests: Thick, like scraps Of wet cloth That hang heavy On the back of the world’s Favorite Wingback chair.
Bruise Blood without blood Brokenness yet unbroken Dark enough To call attention To this Purplish Nebula of pain. I let my Fingers Trace its Circumference To take in The reminder To remember The motivation Lying beneath The skin.
a poetic tale by
J. R. Barner
“Friends Like These (VI)”, by Michael Williams
Erosion of Self It happened slowly A piece here
Her urge to help Eroding Who she was At first Those pieces weren’t missed She knew In her heart That ‘helping more Would fill the void’ Her mother Told her that When she was young A phrase oft repeated A mother that gave to a husband Who never noticed Always expecting more That was her understanding Women were giving That’s what you did So she gave And gave To countless others Often leaving nothing For herself It was fine It was expected It’s what is done It was fine, she repeated Until it wasn’t Sitting transfixed By her reflection She saw what she had lost
Not Authorized The day I refuse to drive into the mountains, it’s just not in the cards. A Tarot card foretells for me a potential conflict with authority, and I have not purchased the access pass required to enter the royal preserve – Angeles National Forest. So – instead – Marsha steers her rickety ’86 van up the sidewinding roads. At Wildwood Picnic Ground, we three walk out with our teacher. On a cliff overlooking a stream, under a tree, meditate. From somewhere deep inside me I reach up in bright sunshine, capture drifting seed, release it to blow whitely from my hand. Even then, though, in that sweet, airy, floating tranquility, I can’t let go of my authority anxiety. We pause there awhile longer. Magickal mortals know that looking is not always seeing, that there are rituals of the heart that can call things into being, incantations that may open a third eye or cloud the human mind. So we imagine our illegally parked van invisible to gendarmerie. Walk back. As the three women and I climb the crash barrier at the trailhead, we see the official green truck slowly circling in the parking lot. A U.S. Park Service ranger leans into his windshield to inspect every dashboard, scrutinize each for the long ticket that should hang like some regal letters of transit from every rear view mirror.
We think, with yearning, “Invisibility! Invisibility!” Chant it softly, let it go. The ranger slows to examine our van. Fails to see. Moves on without ticketing. As he pulls away, we climb into the vehicle. At a respectful distance, follow the ranger out. Allow his truck to obscure us in its dust. At the last, the Forest Service patrol signals, turns right, moves to the high road, guns it up the mountain. We rise to the stop sign, gently turn the other way. Unseen, start down the long hill home. Glide, shadows into twilight.
The Puppet / Марионетка The window is nightless. A lamp is still burning in the room. You’ve left your corpse there, or a memory, it’ the same thing. Each memory is a thread that holds you like a puppet. Without these threads you would fall, and your body would break apart on the ground. Each cloud in your head goes towards that other horizon, The one of your amputated memory.
У окна нет ночи. В комнате горит лампа. Ты оставил свое тело там или воспоминание, это то же самое. Каждое воспоминание — это нить, Которая держит тебя, как марионетку. Без этих нитей ты бы упал, и твое тело рухнет на землю. Каждое облако в твоей голове уходит к тому другому горизонту, твоя ампутированная память.
Only Smoke / только дым You look outside in the street. People going to work. It is summer. You don&#39;t work. You always stay home. You draw, you write. You have no friends. You don&#39;t really want to have some. The years pass by, nothing happens. Walking towards your artist&#39;s studio, you thought this morning, seeing a fat old woman smoking on her balcony, that drawing is just like smoking, you burn the moment that passes, after there is nothing left, but smoke, blown away by the wind.
Ты смотришь на улицу. Люди которые идут на работу. Это лето. Ты не работаешь. Ты всегда остаешься дома. Ты рисуешь, ты пишешь. У тебя нет друзей. Ты не хочешь иметь их. Проходят годы, ничего не происходит. Идя в свою мастерскую художника, ты сказал себе сегодня утром, увидев курящую на своем балконе толстую старуху, что рисовать это все равно что курить, ты сжигаешь миг, который проходит, после этого ничего не остается, только дым, который уходит с ветер.
Zero Reader / нулевой считыватель You thought a lot about one of your father&#39;s brothers. He smoked a lot, drank a lot of alcohol, he died young without children, he did nothing with his life. Well, actually... he wrote poems that nobody read. - And, in the end, Emmanuel, whether others read your poems or not, is really not that important at all.
Ты много думал об одном из братьев твоего отца. Он много курил, много пил, умер молодым, бездетным, в жизни ничего не делал. Нет... он писал стихи, которые никто не читал. - И, наконец, Эммануэль, читали твои стихи другие или нет, это, действительно не имеет значения, никакие.
3 poems by Ivan de Monbrison
Audux Repudiated, hunted, hated, some hide themselves away in shadows or in lies. Covering their tracks, their tattooed skin to pass as nothingness. They are welcome to their abandonments. But I will take my pale wicked self and I will spell my spells. I will walk in the dark woods. Tell my name to the sky. I will not re-make my numinous life. I will continue it. And the moon will shine. And the frogs will croak. And I will plant foxgloves on my hill and wormwood by my door. It does not do to be afraid, to renounce, to blend in and I will not spend my life pretending.
“Dusk for Two”, by Mirjana M.
Mhden-Sum The Greeks Called it A choice You couldn’t choose Where heroics Branded doters As acne can The cheeks Of old men Whether it be Leaving, Condition A, Slow death, An execution That even mothers call for I would never kill for money But for absence, And the fear of it? I’d in seconds I’d in fractions I’d in no pain At all
Sonata I wished my love to have a happy face, like a river nymph, whose long strands cheerfully redden; but it was sorrowful and her hair was dark, like in Sadness. I wished to sing a young dithyramb of marry, and me , I sang the saddest poem; I start to hope yet feel greater some long ago presage, asleep, mute. So a new desire followed by an old tear; so a new love in hours holy insensibly opens ancient wounds – so I fear to want, and I’m terrified to love.
, translated from Serbian by
The Perfect Tea Which one was it? Hanson thought as he looked at the boxes of tea. He had written it down but left the paper at home. All he could clearly recall was it was a tea with like 3 names on it and one of them was tea. He seemed to remember writing berry but that didn’t narrow anything down. There were strawberry teas, blackberry teas, wild berry teas, hawthorn berry teas, açaí berry, and that was just the types of berries not the various concoctions they stuck the berries with. How in the hell were there so many fucking teas? He decided to get the other things he remembered from the shopping list and see if he could figure it out while he shopped. He ordered the right pastrami, boar’s head, the kind he never bought because it was a few bucks too much a pound. Then moved on to the pumpernickel rye bread from the artisan bread section. He chose the most beautiful looking organic cucumbers. Then got the glass jar of expensive milk from local farms with happy cows. He knew that was everything he was asked to get besides the tea. Damn it, what was the flavor? If the tea section wasn’t so stupidly big he’d just grab all teas with a berry in it. That wasn’t an option though, because that would be like 40 different containers of tea. Seriously, what was with the tea section? “Sir, you seem overwhelmed. May I be of assistance?” Hanson turned to see a woman dressed in the store’s apparel. He didn’t think she could help but then an idea occurred to him. “Yeah, I’m supposed to get some tea with berry in it but I have forgotten the name. Maybe you could show me the most popular kinds?” His voice went very high as he ended this ridiculous question as did his shoulders. He knew he looked like an idiot. Instead of laughing she nodded. “Ah, well, tea is a tricky beast, as popular doesn’t always equate to the right one. But you seem to be in a pickle and I can definitely give you the information you asked for. Are you sure you can’t just call and check?” Said the lady with the name tag saying Pam, Tea Specialist. He made the face, the one he wasn’t supposed to make, and swore Pam frowned. “Yeah, you see. I can’t. That won’t go well.” He shrugged again and his face, still twisted in that rictus, turned a bright shade of red. She nodded but looked disapprovingly at him for a second, that seemed to stretch forever. “Very well. Blackberry swirl, Strawberry delight, berries on parade, vanilla berry pie, straw-cherry vanilla dream, and boysenberry patch are the frequently purchased berry teas here.” Hanson nodded, “thanks.” Then swept a canister of each into his basket. Pam was not impressed and clicked at him disapprovingly before moving away. He turned, lined up and paid. Then headed back to the set.
He maneuvered through the trailers until he found himself standing in front of her door. He knocked and waited. “Hanson, that has to be you, only you knock like that. Come in.” Came the exasperated voice. He entered and took off his shoes and slipped on booties before touching the carpeted areas. He put the bag on the little counter of her kitchen. “I almost sent a search party for you. Tell me you got the pumpernickel rye.” He nodded. “The pastrami with the pig on it?” He nodded again. “The caramel apple tea?” His face made that look again, in front of the person who forbade it. His mouth began to water as he felt his gorge rise. He started breathing and trying to relax. She stood up and walked to him. She got right next to his ear and hissed “Well what tea did you bring me, Hanson? You did bring tea right? The main reason I asked you to run this shopping errand.” He hated when she spoke like this. Quietly and directly into his ear, it tickled and always scared him. Which was his usual state around her. He felt sweat begin trickling down his back. He opened the bag and slowly pulled out each canister he had purchased. Every single can stacked in front of her and none of them were caramel apple. He looked straight ahead and wouldn’t meet her eyes. “You’re making that pathetic face again Hanson. And you didn’t bring me the right tea.” She was now in front of him and he let his eyes briefly check hers. They were completely black and he could feel the heat of her breath. It was way too hot, he tried to move his eyes up and away but couldn’t pull his gaze. He fell in, or maybe he was pulled. He entered the pitch black and felt the unending heat. He screamed but had no hope of being heard. He was wrong He heard a cluck of disapproval, and a familiar voice, “You asked the wrong question Hanson.”
photograph by Ylanite Koppens
The aim of abused cats I have been learning recently No more than I usually do, But it seems a change Last year There was this terrible fog That made every day Feel granulated As sugar does Trapped in silos Now though, It’s awfully lukewarm Like sheets Like spit Like the passing of family recipes To the wife that married in Rolling over Without a good morning Is getting old Fast To live without love is one thing To live apart from it, Is another
I Promised I promised Not to play in the mud And I had meant it But it was inevitable The day was a hot one My cousin and I wanted to swim But ended up with a sprinkler head Attached to the hose instead Our lawn was fighting the summer heat And the grass was sparse So water landed on grass and dirt alike I swore to stay clean Only to get wet Because I had ruined Several outfits already But then I slipped Landing in the mud My cousin laughed And told me I was in trouble So I threw a handful of mud at him A mud fight erupted Amid squeals of delight Until we heard our names Yelled from the kitchen window
We March Like Soldiers S h u ffl in g fo r w a rd W e m a rc h lik e s o ld ie r s In v is ib le c h a in s r a t t lin g T h a t o n ly w e c a n h e a r A ll c r a m m e d t o g e t h e r In t h a t b o x W e jig g le a lit t le I k e e p m y e y e s o n th e n u m b e rs In t h a t c r a m m e d e le v a t o r a n d im a g in e T h a t d e a t h a w a it s m e a t t h e b o t t o m L ik e a g a s c h a m b e r W a it in g t o s p it o u t it s la s t b re a t h J ig g le J ig g le D own we go To m e e t a c o lle c t io n o f m a n y t a b le s A n d g lu e a n d s p a r k ly t h in g s I d o n ’t d ie T h e re is a n e x e rc is e b ik e A n d a la r g e w o m a n r id e s A lw a y s g o in g N o w h e re T h e p ia n o m a k e s m e s a d I re m e m b e r o t h e r t h in g s A n d b e tte r d a y s B e fo re I fl e w O u t o f m y m in d B u t d o w n I s it M y fi n g e r s s t u m b le lik e a b a d lo v e r A n d I p la y t h e s o n g o f m y life W a n t in g o n ly t o c r y T h e s t r a n g e p e o p le lo o k a t m e T h e y a re s m ilin g I s m ile t o o - a t w h a t
“WE” by Mirjana M.
I do not know B u t o n w it h t h e s h o w ! I d o n o t u n d e rsta n d H o w I g o t h e re O r why I m a rc h o u t s id e a n d w a t c h t h e w o r k e r W a t e r t h e fl o w e r s In t h e b u r n in g h e a t A m a n w a lk s in c irc le s A n d c irc le s a n d c irc le s H e is p le a s e d t o b e t a lk in g W it h h im s e lf R o u n d a n d ro u n d h e g o e s A c u r io u s m a c h in e T h a t b r in g s A h e a v y v e rd ic t H e d is c u s s e s H e a v e n a n d h e ll A n o t h e r ju m p s u p a n d k ic k s t h e w a ll Is h e re a l? Is h e a n a n g e l? A d e v il? D id h e c o m e u p fro m a p it ? D id I s e e b a t s ? A re t h e y b ird s ? I w a t c h t h e m fl y a w a y U p a n d o u t o f t h e h ig h w a lls t h a t s u r ro u n d A ll o f u s h e re o n lo c k d o w n T h e s u n n y w o r k e r s in t h e fl o w e re d p a ja m a s A re c a re fu l t o s a y lo v e ly t h in g s So we know W e ’re s a n e I s w in g a n d s w in g Eve ry d ay O n th a t d a m n b e n c h T h a t n e v e r g o e s a n y w h e re
Up we go J ig g le J ig g le B a c k t o t h e h a lls a n d w a lls t h a t a re p la s t e re d w it h r u le s T h a t w e ’re s u p p o s e d t o u n d e r s t a n d T h e re a re s m ile y fa c e s T h a t t e ll u s W e a re p e o p le t o o H e re o n t h is s a fe fl o o r w it h n o lig h t e r s o r s h a r p m e t a l t h in g s A n d w e w a it W a t c h in g t h e n e w o n e s m a rc h in I a m u n c e r t a in If I a m d e a d o r a liv e I g o t o t h e b a t h ro o m S h u t th e d o o r A n d try to c ry N o te a rs T h e n ig h t b r in g s a n o t h e r s o le m n g a t h e r in g O f p e o p le s t a n d in g in lin e F o r t h e t h ird t im e To d a y To e a t A n d sn a c k s to o I a m a w ild a n im a l in t h e s e g la s s -w in d o w e d w a lls I d o n o t k n o w h o w to g e t o u t M y e y e s a re b la c k a s m u d in s id e A n d m y te a rs h a v e b e e n ta k e n B y t e r ro r (t h e m ir ro r d o e s n o t lie ) O u t I s h u ffl e W it h b a re fe e t a n d n o s o c k s In m y s p o t t e d g o w n D own T h e h a ll
A n d w e a ll M a rc h lik e s o ld ie r s A n d s t a n d in a s a d lin e To g e t o u r p ills W h ic h m a k e u s fe e l A t le a s t fo r a lit t le w h ile L ik e w e a re s le e p in g A s w e lie a w a k e in t h is p la c e F ly in g o u t o f o u r m in d s
“The Watchers”, by Michael Williams
Electrical Magician At first, the electric magician – the son of a rationalist electrical engineer – believes what he was told. That the only world that can reasonably exist is the one he can see and touch, a material plane with four quantifiable dimensions bereft of mysteries and unknowables. Then he is startled to discover that his hands know things that he does not, can often open a new book instantly to the exact page sought. Begins to realize that when he is under stress windshield wipers on his car activate suddenly in sunshine, sometimes cannot be shut off, as if trying to clear his field of vision – help him see farther ahead, past the meager downpour that even on the brightest days must fall into every life – to look to the wider plane beyond. Recognizes that, depending upon the polarities of his private moods, flickering streetlights wink on or off as he walks under them. Transfers the anger that he feels toward one co-worker to her computer. From one floor below her office, visualizes its failure. Hears later that the monitor suddenly goes wild, displays bizarre color schemes. Irrationally angry another night about all the time that his fiancée spends on Internet chat with others, later fears it is somehow his fault that the modem stops working immediately after that. Wonders why so many psychiatric social workers shop at an occult bookstore in his neighborhood. And why are they so certain that their patients across the threshold that we call madness really do see more?
Slowed in traffic behind an inattentive driver who is talking on a cellphone one afternoon, the magician tests his powers. He waves his hand at the car ahead, makes static noises in his throat, commands: “Get off the phone!” Never glancing in his rearview mirror, the driver up there suddenly looks perplexed, shifts his phone from left ear to right, then back again. Finally shrugs, drops it on the seat beside him. Just drives.
MY CAVE I met the love of my life in a place where I least expected to meet anyone at all. My friends and I were spelunking when it happened. It wasn’t the sort of serious subterranean exploration that people need hard hats and ropes to do. It was a tourist trap kind of thing. I wasn’t originally interested in the prospect of taking part in one of those roadside attractions, but I didn’t really have much of an interest in anything. I bullied myself into going by way of catering to a fear of regret. What if I didn’t have this moment to add to my miniscule collectionof memories? What if I’m on my deathbed, struggling to think of something that was worth living for, and I remember that time that I didn’t go on a cave trip with my friends? Wouldn’t that be awful? Regret is a hell of a drug. So in the middle of summer, I put on a pair of heavy jeans, old-fashioned and faded tube socks, and a fairy-green sweater because I was warned how cold it was going to be. Apparently on this tiny, mostly insignificant level, the closer to the hot core of the Earth that a person dares to travel, the colder they become. Caves are chilly and they’re dark, just as they should be if they’re going to be welcoming for fire-breathing dragons with a horde of treasure. And so it was that my friends and I parked our collective car, poked at the seams of the Earth, and had a tour guide lead us into her dark and uninviting orifice. It didn’t dawn on me to be afraid of caves. They’re huge on the television screen, but skinny and cramped in real life. The rock was cold, hard, and jagged, much like a rock should be. Fireflies trapped in electrical glass bulbs ignited so that their death rattles were converted to light. There were inky black bits of graffiti on the wall where ancient dead men hid from a scary God that rained on them and vomited lightning bolts with no explanation or at least a thank you letter. While the tour guide babbled about how you can hear the highway above us in the same way that dinosaurs heard the end of their world happening, I balled my fists up and crossed my arms. Not only was I cold despite the heavy garb, but I was in hate with myself for not realizing how claustrophobic a hole in the ground would be. I was terrified. I was a good sport for as much as I dared to be. I tried to run my fingers through my hair, but I had none. Like my desire to be in this place, it was nonexistent. Skin against skin. It felt mildly comforting, but only mildly. It wasn’t enough care to make it worth bearing this tour of ice-cold Hades. Terror bubbled in me like carbon dioxide in a sugar-infused diabetes-inducing beverage. The tiny bubbles popped in my brain dozens at a time in a rapid and agonizing fashion. What if the cave falls in? What if gravity stops working? What if I die in this hideous outfit and future anthropologists find me? What if I regret coming down into this abyss turned fairground?
E TROLL I slowed my pace and allowed the group to go by me. My friends didn’t notice that I was hanging back. I was thankful for that because they didn’t wear the mask that I did. I didn’t want them to take off my mask and see who I really was right then. Deep underground, I was a coward. When the tour group passed me, I backtracked, but then I discovered something; as the tour continued, there was light with them. Behind them, there was none. I guess it saved money on the electric bill, but what did money matter to these people that danced with Thanatos every day? I smiled to myself because I was afraid of a cold and infinite embrace I couldn’t escape, not the absence of light! I’ll simply backtrack, I told myself. How stupid and idiotic of an idea could that be to find my way out of a cave by myself? There is absolutely NOTHING bad about this idea! Just follow the tunnel. Keep your hands in front of you in case you bump into a wall, but keep going. The only wrong turn you can make is the one that takes you to an undiscovered world. It was nearly an hour before I admitted that I was lost. Oh, wait! I’m a child of the twenty-first century; my pocket-sized supercomputer has a flashlight! I’m evidence that depression isn’t strictly the domain of the genius. You can be stupid and still hate life. “Don’t!” If anyone could see me, I must have looked silly as I broke the sound barrier whipping around. What did I expect to see? There was a rapid sucking sound deep inside my ear; my pulse had become so fast that it was actually running backward. “Don’t what?” I asked of the darkness that had spoken to me. “Don’t turn on the light. I want to be able to see you better.” Another comical gesture in the dark. “What!?” My eyes were darting back and forth and back and forth like a pendulum in a grand daddy timekeeping device. How did she know that I was going to illuminate this place? “You see better in the dark?” “Yes. Yes I do.” It was then that the silkiness of the voice struck me. It was soft and gentle like a piece of fabric that has similar qualities to silk. Femininity is a difficult concept to define due to its fluid nature, but it was certainly a quality that her voice was saturated with. Her words were soft and smelled like the lingering vanilla scents in a funeral home. It was familiar with a hint of heartbreak. “Okay.” I put my phone back in my pocket. I don’t have a good reason for why I did it. It was an inviting voice, but it was still in a place and circumstance that shouldn’t have been as inviting. “Do you know the way out of here?” “No. I’ve never been outside of this cave.” I coughed a bit trying to clear the hairball of terror out of my neck. “Are you a cave troll?” Her laughter was like a cashmere blanket. “Of course not, silly. I’m not telling you that I’m going to grind your bones into tinder and set them aflame, am I?” “That’s oddly specific. Is that something that cave trolls do?” “How would I know? I’ve never met one.”
The whimsy of the woman’s words were welcoming, but they begged questions. “Is there anyone else down here with you?” “No. I only ever see the tour guides and their prey.” “Prey!? Are they cave trolls!?” She laughed again. “I like your comical nature. Is it intentional?” My hands were in my jean pockets and my fears were firmly lodged in a different set of pockets that weren’t as close to my chest. She really did put me at ease. “How do you know how to speak English so well if you’ve only barely been in touch with humans?” She shrugged. I can’t even begin to explain how I know that she shrugged, but she did. “Is it lonely?” she asked. I could feel it. “Funny, I was going to ask you the same thing. Yes, it is lonely. Whatever this thing I shroud myself in is called, it’s lonely. I’m tired of my skin.” “Give it to me, then. I’ll shoulder the burden.” And so I did. She held her hand out to me in the dark, and I took it into mine. Her flesh was like razors dragging against my flesh, a cold burn with a familiar warmth as the blood coagulated around her fingertips. We didn’t speak for a time as her fluidity embraced me in the black abyss. Her heart was all the light I needed, her gentle features pulsating in the glow. It seems so superficial to fall in love with a voice and a touch, but here we are. In this dark cave, we found ourselves. We didn’t even know one another’s name, but there we were floating into concentric spirals, souls ripped away like the smoke from a lit cigarette, swirling into the absolute and most treasured oblivion. It was just me and my cave troll. It sounds like poetry, but that’s what we were in that moment was the living embodiment of rhythmical rhyming rhetoric. Her spirit and mine rocketed through moments chained into each other. It was truly parasitic in the most aesthetically perfect way. She was the ember and I was the ash, tumbling onto the ground. I couldn’t let go of her because in these essences, I was her and she was me. In the dark, I wept. Hot tears trailed down my face and onto the ground, splashing into unknowable dark pools to nurture the dirt. Soulmates, twin flames, lovers, all of these were shallow titles for emotions I couldn’t fully express. She was my dream, and she came true, just for me. Suddenly the fireflies burned above me. “Holy shit! What happened to you!?” My friends asked. The tour guide looked on, her eyes so wide that they could have hosted their own tour groups where people would be lost in the dark tunnels. The lights were on, and she was gone. That’s why she could only see me in the dark. It was because in the light, she didn’t exist. My love was gone without a trace. True to my words, I let her have my flesh. My clothes weren’t the only things missing as I was curled into a dark crimson puddle on the ground. The cold returned as the air caressed the meat of my body; muscles and sinews glistened as they reflected rays from those tiny electric bulbs up above. Without her, the warmth had turned into fire, and god damn, did it burn. I shuddered and shivered, showing shock as the cave christened me as some new creature, one without flesh. “Please,” I begged. The tour guide had already run away, leaving her charges behind. “Please!” My friends inched their way toward me, afraid of me but wanting to know me. Without my skin, I couldn’t close my eyes, and my teeth shined with no lips. “Please, could you just…”
“Passion”, by Michael Williams
“What? What can we do for you?” The fear had overcome them. They wanted to help, but they were afraid of me, so this desire had limits “Please, could you just… could you turn off the light?” “What?” they asked. My love for her couldn’t be denied. I wanted to be with the woman of darkness, no matter the personal cost. Flesh. Body. Soul. None of it mattered. “Please, just do it! I’m begging you kindly. Find it in your hearts to disengage the lights and let me be with her!” And so they did. They didn’t understand my madness, but they were kind enough to acquiesce to it. Once again, I was in the dark. “Hello?” She didn’t answer. My friends didn’t answer. I was alone. Even so, I regretted nothing.
Communal living Like a sly, Cool, Stream Of shower water Kept in motion By a brother That passed himself Atop the drain. We call it ‘The Swamp’ (Until he leaves) The rotted stenchy Carpet ruined But it’s only ours a few Months more. So, it lodges In our socked feet. We keep it moving Often throwing All the trash Into vanilla-scented bags. Stacking it Aside the concrete lips Within the alley. There’s so much glass Plaguing our floor now. Our vacuum busted, So we keep shoes Always socked. Always socked. Our knees get cut up, But we still grapple Pushing faces Into carpet, Smelling mold, Feeling wet through.
i don’t want to be defined by my trauma i want to be defined by what i love — poetry — art — music & who i love — my mom — my friends — every perfect stranger who does not know i exist or my smile or the way i wheeze when i laugh or the way i show up for people even when they do not show up for me. i want to be remembered for my creativity, the way i wrote poems in spite of my mental illness, not because of it. i want to be known for my radiant joy & persisting hope. i want to be known for Audrey, not for the idea of Audrey.
Sour eclipse drips down the aerials the wind minces up some holy words; sticks them to a calendar, pinches the sweet misery, like keg powder over lily of the valley, seasons sleeping endings unravelled into erythrean sins, measured, spoken about, called to memory blue shame in the golden garden, the antellop’s tongue on the surface of the water, birds of a feather, shrieking - anapologetic, invoke it and call it a bedrom, call it a church, the stones rustle in the seed of sanctuary: come cold; do lonely every winter will soon root wet, (you too) in the yawn of light come bold, come sorry - all eternity’s ferocious prisoners wandering the path of night, (will count less and less) blankets of bloom eating the dusk warm (dots on the sky) by the dark cover of eden all the meadows naked and accounted of forget-me-nots
“The Two of Us”, by Mirjana M.
Equality Presumption In years past, one of my friends existed in a Stepford-wife lifestyle—her husband made the decisions instead of seeking agreement. Submission in her view equaled acceptance. My understanding of Biblical submission differed. Husbands are instructed to love wives as Christ loved the church. I have no proof a husband like that ever existed. None appeared in my sphere. To be ruled, to acquiesce like a child to its guardian simply because of male/female anatomy grates against sensibilities. It isn’t recorded that Jesus dictated to female followers how to dye wool or manage household finances. He treated them with dignity. Wealthy female disciples supplied sustenance to his ministry. He didn’t talk down or ask them to mask their intelligence. They shared mutual respect for what each contributed. In my own life, I never assumed a vacuous persona to hide my IQ, education, or wisdom acquired through life experiences simply to pad someone’s ego. At times critical glares still express biting disapproval of my equality presumption.
Denise C. Buschmann
THE INTE Galzu used a black hole to destroy the angel who had been pursuing him. He had hurled all sorts of objects at the angel. Stars, planets, asteroids, moons—all in vain. The angel had a way with them. He was unrelenting, undefeated. He was older, stronger, and wiser than Galzu had yet to become. He had deflected the stars and hurled them back at Galzu. He had destroyed the asteroids and returned the planets and the moons back into their orbits, stabilizing solar systems that would otherwise have collapsed. One of the stars hurled back at Galzu had been a supergiant in its last moments of existence as a whole. Upon impact with another star on its path it had exploded in a dazzling display of colour and force, spraying massive debris and fire in all directions. Its core had then collapsed under its own gravity and a neutron star had been born from it. It was then that Galzu had had the idea to destroy the angel with the most formidable weapon of all time. A black hole. It was forbidden to use a black hole in war. But Galzu was desperate. He mustered up all his energy and seized the neutron star. It was hot but the heat had no effect on him. He flung it at the angel. In his distress, he flung it in one sweep without paying heed to its gravity and magnetic fields. Let the angel deal with those. Deflecting a neutron star was too strenuous a task for one angel, no matter how experienced. The star gathered mass as it moved. It drew everything towards it at speeds nearing that of light, growing bigger and stronger. The angel could attempt to deflect it but the materials coming from all around it, some of them massive planets and other stars, gave no room for the star itself to be vanquished. Its gravitational pull could destabilize a solar system. Yet this was no ordinary neutron star; this was a magnetar, which meant that it would tax the angel a good deal of energy to subjugate its vast and ominous magnetic fields. While the angel prepared to counter the magnetar, Galzu seized a second neutron star— this one already cooled—from elsewhere in the galaxy and flung it at the first. Being the aggressor, he was quicker than the angel, more focused than gravity. The result was an explosion deadly in its intensity. A kilonova. It dwarfed the explosion from the supergiant star. It shook the galaxy. Galzu had never experienced such a scene before and he was for an instant overcome by its beauty and magnificence. Such fire, such brilliance, such power. The gravitational waves shook him and he had to flee before the black hole formed. He watched in fascination as the black hole emerged from the collision and pulled the angel towards it. The angel was trapped, torn, and crushed into a rock smaller than the smallest debris Galzu had ever seen. The angel disappeared completely as the black hole pulled more and more debris towards its centre and covered his remnants with them. Soon the black hole was tugging at everything around it, rearranging the galaxy, but Galzu was beyond its reach, beyond its event horizon. Satisfaction was his, victory his birthright.
ERUPTER Galzu considered all these events in silence. He knew why they wanted to bind him although he had done nothing wrong by his own will. He had come out of their music. They had formed him by their music. The music of the cosmos. While El and the elder angels sang in perfect unison and formed the cosmos, expanding and modifying it, Galzu had emerged from the song along with the new stars and galaxies and planets. Only he had not been expected. He had not been part of the plan. He had emerged like a stray variation in the perfect tone of El and the angels, a stray frequency. A harmonic. A noise. His presence had been felt immediately. He had interrupted the song. He had become the abominable Interrupter, the bane of the universe, and he had to be eliminated. The angel, Ae, one of the fiercest warriors, had been assigned to find him and bind him. # The death of an angel is one of the worst events in the cosmos. It sends out gravitational waves throughout the universe more powerful than those from the collided neutron stars. It is the second most destructive thing after a collision of black holes. It dents the spacetime curvature in the galaxy where it has happened and corrupts the reality there considerably. The spacetime curvature is the most protected phenomenon in the cosmos. Its destruction is the destruction of everything that the song has made. Any events that might cause interference with it had to be stopped forthwith. It was for this reason that black holes had been forbidden as weapons of war. A collision of black holes could rip apart the spacetime fabric and eventually cause the collapse of entire galaxies. Ea, the leader of the three warrior angels sent to subdue Galzu, paused and surveyed the damage Galzu had done. Ea was several light years away from the black hole but he could see it. Even more than seeing it, he could feel it. A warrior, his senses were enhanced. In the realms of the immaterial, of atoms and waves and light and all the unseen energies of the cosmos, Ea existed. Like all the others, he was. He could transform into any state of matter at will. Right now he was plasma. He had been a swift-moving cloud of gas but when he heard that Ae had been defeated and killed, he had transformed into a dense, supercharged consciousness with powerful electric and magnetic fields spurting all about him. He felt the message conveyed in the gravitational waves with all its disturbing details. He felt the devastating anguish of Ae. The tearing pain that had happened to him: the ripping apart, the crushing and the eventual conversion of the spirit into the densest rock the universe knew. An irreversible process. Ea was transported with rage. Ea and his companions set course towards Galzu and pursued him relentlessly across the universe.
They could sense him no matter where he fled. He left a trail behind him, a trail as abnormal as he was. He was an anomaly in the system, an unwanted vibration. His frequency was out of order with the cosmos. He had to be found and bound before he interrupted the song again. He was cunning and dangerous, and he had knowledge that had to be taken from him. Galzu was as quick as light but the angels were wiser. They formed bridges in spacetime and jumped across galaxies. They drove him towards distant, forgotten galaxies where the song was faint and the stars had died out and collapsed in on themselves, becoming black holes and neutron stars, galaxies on the fringes of the universe where light shied away and darkness and cold permeated every corner. Galzu would not surrender. He fought back with more neutron stars but the angels seemed to read his next move before he could make it. Together they deflected all the objects he hurled at them before any black holes could form. Galzu was driven towards a lone ancient galaxy with a supermassive black hole at its centre, a black hole of nearly the same size as the one that was used by El to store his memories. Galzu never saw the black hole until it was too late. He had begun traversing the galaxy thinking only of his victory against the angels. He found himself almost in the black hole’s event horizon, the point beyond which the black hole would have annihilated him. He surrendered. # The angels subdued him, and bound him, and stripped him of his strength and knowledge. He would spend the rest of his existence marveling at the universe, unable to comprehend what was going on. He would go from fighting with the angels, from manipulating neutron stars and forming black holes at will, to fighting with sticks and stones over food and sex in a useless never-ending hateful war among his new kind. They did not kill him. They would not kill what had come forth from the music of the cosmos. They could only bind him permanently and weaken him. The binding was painful. It was horrible. It was the worst punishment in the universe. The spirit attempted to free itself but could not. So it turned against itself and against others such as itself, destroying heedlessly, wantonly, yet still bound. Galzu was bound in an asteroid. One of the three angels was younger than the others. He had only recently been admitted into the rank of warriors and was even yet to be bestowed with the memories befitting his new rank. The memories encompassed the rudimentary beginnings of the universe to the present complexity. They were stored in the largest black hole at the centre of the universe, whose gravity held everything in place. They could only be extracted by El himself, who then allowed the highest ranking angel, En, to perform the ritual of bestowing them upon the new soldier. The rank of warriors required a specific set of skills that had to be supervised by an elder angel such as En or Ea.
“Sleeples”, by Mirjana M.
The young angel now looked up at Ea and asked: “What shall we do with him?” “There is a planet fashioned specifically for those such as him. We shall take him there,” Ea replied, and without further explanation, began the journey towards the destination planet. They paused just outside the planet’s solar system. They could see the planet. It was a small planet in a small solar system. The sun was weaker than some others they had passed along the way but it held all the planets and moons in place. “The Interrupters call it Earth,” Ea said. “What does ‘Earth’ mean?” the young angel inquired. “The Interrupters do not care for meaning,” Ea said. “They are a thoroughly selfish lot.” “It is so beautiful, though,” the young angel marvelled. He was amazed by the blueness of Earth. “Do not be fooled,” Ea warned sternly. “It is a prison for Interrupters. For liars and illusionists and the restless inharmonious. For the angry, the proud, the greedy, the lustful, the lazy, the covetous, and the jealous. The whole lot of them who have been exiled from the rest of the universe. They do not know the Music of the Cosmos. They are misaligned from the Order of El.” “Will not Galzu escape from there?” the young angel wondered. “Not a soul, not a spirit can escape from there,” Ea said. “It is a prison on various levels. The first level being that the planet binds those who are in it the same way a magnet binds metal. Its gravity is too strong for them, and it is surrounded by layers and layers of harmful radiation. The Interrupters there are bound inside physical bodies and they do as their bodies command. They are ruled by the demands of their own bodies. Yet their bodies cannot bear the pressures of extreme heat, radiation, or limited air. Their bodies are too slow and cannot endure hunger or thirst or loneliness. The third level is fear. Every Interrupter lives in utmost dread of the other and conjures up the most crude and extreme nightmares for the other. They are stuck in an everlasting cycle of hate and destruction. And the worst of it is that, their bodies deteriorate faster than you can jump through a wormhole. No sooner is an Interrupter born than he is old and withered and ancient-looking. They spend their existence fleeing from body to body, a tiring, tormenting ordeal.” Ea paused shortly before continuing: “But if they should escape to another planet, the new planet’s gravity would reject their bodies. If it was stronger, it would kill them; if it was weaker, it would cause their bones and muscles to wither away like debris from a burning meteor. Still, the fluids responsible for maintaining their bodies would circulate too fast, too slowly, or dry up altogether.
They cannot live anywhere else except on their accursed prison,” he concluded. The young angel was quiet and withdrawn. He could not imagine anyone living in such horror. It must be exceedingly excruciating to live there, he thought sadly. It must be like being repeatedly torn to shreds and compressed into a tiny ball by the gravity of a black hole. Only the black hole would kill you. This planet is the worst place in the universe, the young angel decided. Ea cast the asteroid carrying Galzu towards Earth. He cast it with enough force to elude all the gravities along its path. “Galzu will be welcomed there,” Ea said, watching the asteroid tear its way towards Earth. “He will enter into a pregnant female and be born with his new body, his prison. He will be welcomed with tears and joy and laughter and congratulations. Just another newborn son of man. A prisoner of the cosmos. An Interrupter with a potential for unspeakable things.” The young angel followed the asteroid with his gaze as it tore through the solar winds of the planet’s magnetosphere, through the electrically charged ionosphere, and then through the hot yet colourful thermosphere. He followed it all the way to the cities where the Interrupters lived. The asteroid blew up and lit up a city as it reached the surface. The young angel’s gaze focused on the city. It was a small place by the sea and totally chaotic. A pandemonium. Stray frequencies all over it. Hateful, corrosive energies emanated from the city and were amplified throughout the planet by the abundant magnetic field lines. So much hate there, the angel reflected. So much hate. His senses picked up a particularly unsettling frequency and when he followed it to the source, he saw a man crushing a child beneath him, his unclothed body stiffening and jerking almost simultaneously. There was so much anger in him, so much pain in the child. The childwas trying to yell for help but the man had his right hand around her slender neck. He was goingto kill her. The angel withdrew his gaze at once. He would never look at Earth again.
“Soft fuzz”, by Mirjana M.
Goodnight, Penelope Down by the river I step on a mollusk as he slurps on a reed; while utter nonsense takes the world for granted, a great silence wants to go to hell, myself an accident on purpose; it sees these organs, mine, sans me, scooped up by the wind, unhinged like scrumptious mothers on 8th floor balconies quenching the furies of their lips with long drags. Scurry with me, soul, a demented shaman kneels on his cobs; tranquility has the skin crawling for punishment, and belonging, for home. I shall unbutton the water to wake its dead, slice the scenery to profanities of sewed-up lilies. Above, Shiva bleeds like bergamot. Below, unrest grows into love.
In between, my hands like two funnels empty my chest like a gorge, give dysentery to the psalm, beer bottles and receipts and pocket dust to the smooth surface of the bed, made green and unknowing as I lay there, in war, like a bayou: dark, lonely, wet, an undecipherable blue, sliced through the middle, full by the trunk of the little boat that Death is rowing through.
trigger warning(bodily harm)
she loves you early and hard. learns when one of you is sick, severely so, and she learns: she never wants to let go. she tells you, early and soft. you learnt that when she says it, she means it, severely so, and you learn: she’ll hold on as hard as she can. the world underestimates her, she likes it like that. they never quite register what she can do. (sometimes, you slip and do it yourself) she underestimates the world. she doesn’t like that. she forgets, ends up surprised, taken aback and then you watch her unravel. you underestimate her still, and she decides to become a ghost. never underestimate the power of a girl willing to become a ghost, a girl whose hand has three bones broken so she couldn’t use it to hold yours. (she broke her own hand, showed you the damage, and you learned your way around the damage to hold her. she broke her own hand so it wouldn’t hold anyone else’s: she broke her own hand so no-one else has to learn how to hold it.)
Heartbreak in 4 Poems
Daybreak I wake early To watch her sleep, The rise and fall of her chest, Movement behind her eyelids, offers me a measure of peace. Feigning sleep when she stirs as the sunlight pierces the room.
Noon She won’t meet my eyes. Words fail to break through, She stares into the distance. Standing and shivering She refuses my coat. I can’t speak to her, She won’t hear me. I can’t hold her, She is out of reach.
Sunset We walk as dusk settles around us. The destination, only she knows. I follow, quiet since midday. Occasionally a pause, as I catch up The only acknowledgement that I should follow. Until we both stop and look out at the city, silent
Midnight I awake crying, And alone, The empty bed still smells like her. I grab her pillow, Cool from her absence. Cradling it to me. My face wet from grief, I remember, Until the dreams of her take me under.
7-10 Split It’ll be quite the day When I stop breathing out my ears The minutes might slow The eyesight might correct I live in these thoughts Too often The demands of limitude Have decoupled my mind from any matter I exist but miss the senses I exist but skimp on that fleece That swagger Of a proper living person Free to live Throughout things A second in person Is an easy two alone I’ve whole days gone But survive off decent memory What a lie?! What a gift?! I’ve tried to find the present But it’s lengthy
“Trusty broom” by Michael Williams
Read the Stars I was born on the cusp between Libra and Scorpio destined to desire balance and beauty darkness and danger the scales the stinger. Tight-roping imaginary lines between stars. Caught in the webs that connect constellations. I practiced perfection pushed back prickles of temptation. Straight As, college aspirations pointed toes in ballet shoes ribs ridged beneath tank tops evaluating equations of talent and sacrifice less of one required more of the other to tip the scales in my favor. The older I grew, the more midnight desires intruded ebony-encased I wished for a different type of dance, slink and shine beneath spotlights. To become a black hole, absorb men’s gazes in my gravity. I floated, weightless, angelic. I sank, sinful, diabolic. I divided— became binary stars fused of fire and lies cover jobs alibis
“I love yous” spoken through phone lines to parents in another galaxy who only knew the daytime me. My orbit swung tighter scales circling arachnids coiling limbs twisting round a pole slipping fighting the pull of gravity. Me, staring at stars, not knowing their flames burnt out light-years ago I looked heavenward while my dreams degraded body swung backwards tumbled and betrayed me. I was no ballerina, could not balance any longer I was the scorpion stung by its own tail.
Snapshots from Belg
grade’s Moon Gardens
The Shape of Adonis Loneliness pours sexy and voluminous into an occupied room. There’s nothing between my feet and the floor. I am tangible and ungoverned. I push my hands into empty pockets and stand abjectly between the meeting of two walls. The music has the sort of base that knocks bones together and turns hearts into fists.
There are faces in the wallpaper. I try one on but I cannot breathe in it and the strings cut into my skull. I remember that I am already a person and I wonder if I am giving off the right sort of vibe as one by one I am vacated. I see versions of myself in you. The burgeoning of legion as our multides reconcile to a singular intention. I put one foot in front of the other and you are there with darkened eyes and a sun-eclipsing smile. I am lying underneath you expectant as hunger.
Your hair spills forward into my face, and from somewhere above your words descend into me. Your tongue is shy, your lips as expressive as a sunset. Your touch unravels the nerves buried beneath my surfaces. I think I have found a vessel to empty myself into. It’s only in my dreams that we kiss to invade each other. It’s only in my dreams that I expand outward toward the horizon. I am asleep now but my eyes are open. I want to remember you sitting naked on the right side of my unmade bed like a child’s prayer.
Believe me when I say that my smile is as wide as the moon. If only I could make of the shadows something holy. My hands pull your hands to the shore that is us. I think it is necessary to love but that’s not why I do it. I surrender because it means that I am alive.
I was never taught to love only to fold myself neatly against the superior force of another body ravaged by sin. I wished for you and some days that is enough to love the you which is not yet crushed under its own gravity, the you which passes through me like a ghost.
I know that the distance between an inhale and exhale is determined by the amount of static within a given space. I know that my heart is never without friction. I know that your name is beautiful even though it doesn’t really define anything between us other than our boundaries.
I call you love but you could be an eruption of stars in the shape of an Adonis or a small fish flitting through the reflection of the moon as it bobs coquettishly on the surface of the water.
I promise to abide in love even at the risk of sinking. I long to feel our fault lines overlapping, the tectonic shift of two souls passing together and forming a savage, new continent. I hold you close. I breathe with you. You are lying there naked as a cat with your arm draped around me and in the cradle of your body I can feel all of me.
Yves K. Morrow
BATHHOUSE AT MIDDAY Walking through my next-door swamp One cloudy noon A small structure never seen Appears in the gloom Wood, blending in with the Live Oaks But there’s a door And a hose-like shower A ‘Bania’? Bathhouse? The Slavic DNA in me Tingles And I remember Gran’s stories About meeting fairies and yes, Demons to beware In the Bathhouse at Midnight So no, not adventurous enough To do a midnight romp But now the gloom gives way And it is midday Twelve hours before magical time Looking at the sky Sun bright and high Twelve post meridiem No shadows to see Why engage in word play It’s my eclectic bent New magical way What will happen, I wonder If I enter this bathhouse at Midday? This is the threshold To the other world I recall Moving toward the hose I trip and fall And my eyes close for a moment Suddenly a little old man appears The ‘Bannik’ I greet him respectfully Give him a gift of coins dowsed With the almost-finest vodka And ask him to help me with
Continued health “Do you need protection from the ‘Triasavitsy’ Herod’s Daughters number twelve Each fever demon is Responsible for a different illness Is it measles? Small pox?” More like Covid19 says I And he, a quasi-divinity Peers at me from another Century People then fought diseases now under control “Do you have the faceless dolls of Herod’s Daughters? If not, bake 12 pies and leave them at the Crossroads MIDNIGHT! Do this at MIDNIGHT!” Shouts he And I open my eyes Blinking at the empty ‘Bania’ Standing up shakily And, I confess, getting the hell out of there Back to my safe haven Of dogs and plastic flamingos Resin statues and even Roomie Cutting the grass While the cardinals call each other And sanity Such as it is Reigns…
Paper Cut Killers My neighbor’s kids created a gang they call the Paper Cut Killers where all they do is fill mole hills with sugared lemonade Their father (a kind man) Had all the moles killed Already In the spring With gas Or something like it And only their dwellings Remained They dump in sugar And then the hose Sugar Hose Sugar Hose Fill their yard with Sticky foamed debris
I came home And they had jumped me My lawn A mess of lemon murk A fleet of baby moles Drowned in it I buried them all Each a separate hole
Contributo Michael WIlliams is an artist and writer living in Shenzhen, China. His day job is art teacher. He spends
his free time writing, creating, roleplaying, and playing with his family. You can reach Michael through his blogs; 13thlayerproduction.com (for travel, photos, art, and random slices of life), and crazedlunatikdesigns. wordpress.com (for poetry and short stories).
Samuel Taylor (10-21-2000) is a student writer studying at the University of Dayton in Ohio. Raised in Cincinnati, his writing, primarily poetry, focuses on living with and overcoming eating disorders in a midwestern climate. His debut poetry collection, OAF, will be published in late 2022.
D.C. Buschmann is a retired editor and reading specialist. She holds a double master's degree in Educa-
tion. Her poem, "Death Comes for a Friend," was the Editor's Choice in Poetry Quarterly, Winter 2018. Her work has been published internationally, including Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library's So it Goes Literary Journal, The Adirondack Review, Tipton Poetry Journal, and Red Coyote. She lives in Carmel, Indiana with husband Nick and miniature schnauzers Cupcake and Coco. Her first book of poetry, Nature: Human and Otherwise, was published in February 2021.
Charles Elliott began as an impoverished Irish- and German-American kid in Brooklyn, New York. He
has hidden from Covid-19 for the past two years at home in Southern California, tended his Monarch butterfly garden, read poets he mostly admires, pondered the ways racism derogates even his privileged life, and flirted aslant with the Muse by other means : all too often at 3:33 a.m. The result is "Dangerous Ideas," a highly meditative unpublished manuscript. He is also ordained as a priest of Isis and Ra in the Ireland-based Fellowship of Isis, has twice been down the Tunnel of Light described by other near-death survivors, and has discovered he has some innate ability for electrical magic. His poetry previously was featured in The American Journal of Poetry, the Paris-based journal Levure littéraire, Synkroniciti, Chiron Review, Potomac Review, Aethlon, the New York Times, and two anthologies. Elliott reads his work at https://www.youtube.com/user/beautyseer and administers The Poetry Cabin and a related Twitter account, @ThePoetryCabin. Elliott also published three history books on Southern California topics and has won journalism and fine art photography awards. Email: email@example.com.
J.R. Barner is a writer, teacher, and musician living in Athens, Georgia. They are the author of the chap-
books Burnt Out Stars and Thirteen Poems and their first collection, Little Eulogies. They were educated at the University of Minnesota and the University of Georgia. Their work has appeared in online and print journals Flow, Anobium, and Release. New work is available periodically at jrbarner.tumblr.com.
Clarissa Simmens holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and various practitioner certificates in
Herbal Studies (first learned from her Grandmother), Traditional Chinese Medicine, and Gi-Jo Acupressure. She is the author of eighteen poetry books available through Amazon. Writing poetry led to translating words into song lyrics and learning to play the baritone ukulele. She makes her home on the edge of a small swamp in Florida where she dreams and sings to the calls of Sand Hill Cranes, the crackling of scampering animals, and the croaking of off-key bull frogs. https://www.facebook.com/RomaniGypsyBooks https://poeturja.wordpress.com/ http://t.co/JSvNROn15t (Amazon Author Page)
ors map When she's not browsing through stacks of books or watching mysteries, Sarah Little is a poet and sometimes story-teller. Her first poetry pamphlet was "Snapshots" (Broken Sleep Books, 2019) and most recently she's been exploring fairy-tale motifs while branching out into fiction. Her most recent publications have been pieces in tattie zine, The Tide Rises and Tree and Stone, among others.
Juleigh Howard-Hobson's work can be found in The Deadlands, Dreams & Nightmares, Eye to the Telescope, Polu Texni, 34 Orchard, Midnight Echo, Noir Nation, The Lost Librarian's Grave (Redwood Press), Under Her Skin (Black Spot Books) Vastarien: Women's Horror (Grimscribe Press) and many other venues. She has been nominated for "The Best of the Net", the Pushcart, the Elgin and the Rhysling Awards. Her latest collection is Curses, Black Spells and Hexes (Alien Buddha Press).
Ivan de Monbrison is a poet and artist living in Paris born in 1969 and affected by various types of mental disorders, he has published some poems in the past.
Stephanie Parent is a graduate of the Master of Professional Writing program at USC. Her first poetry collection releases August 2022 from Querencia Press.
Peter Nena is a Kenyan living in Nairobi. He is an electrical engineer by profession but a writer at heart.
He loves stories that excite his imagination and he reads a lot of them. He has published fiction in Kenya's leading newspaper, The Daily Nation, and in anthologies such as "Will This Be A Problem" (Kenya) and “Not What You Thought? And Other Surprises" (London).
Yves K. Morrow is an American living on a forestry farm in a tiny Swedish village in Jämtland. Her poetry deals with mental illness, PTSD, childhood trauma, Depression, Dissociative Disorder, spiritual dilemmas, social ineptitudes, love both sublime and dysfunctional, grief, obsession, and really everything and anything to do with being human/the human condition. You can view more of her work at https://mindlovemisery. wordpress.com/ and https://www.patreon.com/mindlovemisery; and check out her debut poetry collection: "An Alterable Void" on Lulu and Amazon.
Birgitta Lindsey is a fine art photographer and writer from Jeffersonville, Indiana. We March Like Sol-
diers is based on a true story.. You can see more of her work at https://monochromejunkie.com/ and connect with her on Instagram : @birgitta_lindsey
Jim Wicked lives among the rolling hills of Central Texas. A prolific musician, Jim has started stringing
together words in hopes of telling interesting stories about the world around us. His first novel, "In The Absence of God", was a story about gruesome murders throughout the history of a town in the American South. His second book, "Blue", tells a special kind of romance story that transcends the confines of mortality while exploring an afterlife that is both beautiful and grim. Jim hopes he can put together some words that you'll be willing to read one day. He likes words. More of his illiteracy can be found here: https://www.amazon.com/Jim-Wicked/e/B08B7GQ3VF/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1
Audrey Bowers is a poet & writer from Bloomington, Indiana. They are an mfa candidate at Butler Uni-
versity and the founder of "Brave voices" magazine. Social media links: twitter: audreylbowers and instagram: audreylbowers