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Working on this Issue has been the most inspiring challenge yet. Getting to feel the words and soul fragments mingle with the heat sizzling into an autum nal drizzle was felt by me every second as the emotion of it all threaded the digital canvases of these pages. This third issue of the magazine also had the most contributors to date and so many more submissions that I felt really hon oured, not only because I get to work with my contributors, but also because I got the first dibs on seeing their heartfelt creations. I always dreamed of this magazine growing to become a soulful pocket, one could reach into and feel, and I do hope that you who are reading this will find in it some inspiration, an echo of a forgotten dream or a conversation - and that you will Breathe. And Create.
by Mirjana M.
between these pages you will find POETRY by
ARTIST FEAUTURES from
Bent by the weight of time
She fights to see beyond the words of others
Some call her ugly
Some call her useless
Some do not call her anything,
For they only see what is of use to them
And she is not.
She still sees herself
As she was long ago Maiden,
When she was formed by the expectations of others Mother,
When she needed to be all things to all people
But what is she now?
She is free.
Allison Walters Luther
What you’ve hidden in your mind Isn’t yours anymore
For I saw and felt it
While you and I were asleep. Shadows which haunt you Are after me now
Vague fears and sorrows
Capture our eyes
And sometimes there are Rising waves of insecurity
Tossing us like an anchored boat in the rough sea. An oak tree grows from your head
And your acorns fall on the birches
Growing from my shoulders, Our branches dance in the breeze
And we get closer, hug and kiss. The breeze turns into a storm
And we are tangled Never to be unraveled.
OF WATCHING MERCURY FLOWERS
She remained expressionless, devoid of life, the ghost of a ghost in a milk-white shell, drifting through life as I drifted through death. And still, I loved her. The barrier between worlds shiv ered an intransigence, one I shared.
I made my plans as the April rains touched her cheek. This was long before her immobility when she roamed the woods in careless abandon. She felt not a drop even then. Rainwater pinged off the lobed leaves like divers off a diving board. The same recycled liquids that once touched me graced her. It brought us closer, or so I imagined. Never had a creature looked more at home in the water, no swimmer, nor mermaid, nor fish. It was almost as if drowning in plain sight. I would come to her, be close, though, as yet, I knew not how.
Life as a ghost is one of resignation, an acceptance of fate, but beauty has a knack for finding a way. I’d watched the woods grow around her home, acorn to oak, primrose to generational offspring, from long before the land had a title. I'd seen the distant mountains grow and crumble, the meadows come, and the rivers go, never expecting more, only ever content in the greens and ochres and sapphires. Well, for the longest time, anyway.
Beauty was, of course, not unknown to me. Creatures of my particular intangibility lose nothing of their will, their passions. Some might say we feel most of all, it is just those feelings never manifest to others. Our desires and hopes remain internal, contained, stewing like entro py’s mists, churning. This is how Death renders all equal, always watching us from her obsidian dais, looming from her throne of gloom in case said mists diminish. Her gaze is constant, felt behind one’s eyes.
I dreamed her before I found her, imagined her tinkling laughter waking the budding flow ers, her eyes sparkling through the enforced darkness like fallen stars. There was never an inkling that such a wonder might actually exist. I was just bored. One suffers eternal boredom once a ghost, for aspiration plays no part in the existences of the dead. But then she was there, and everything changed.
She quickly grew, passing from childhood to young flower to more. For some reason, I never saw it all at once. It was like observing a film from behind your fingers; sometimes they were open, and sometimes they weren’t. This only made our time together more precious.
I did not see what set her smile to misery, nor what stole the lustre from those unusual mercury orbs. Neither did I see the others leave, her mother, father, and the boy who was her younger sibling, the one who laughed when he threw his suitcase on top of his fathe’s to a vigorous shake of the head. One day they were there, and the next, not. This was the day the rains came.
She sat each day in a chair I’d watched her father cut, carve, and fit together, nothing
elaborate, but sturdy. When one sits all the time, sturdiness counts. It became routine, she with her sitting and me with my watching her sit.
I suspected something wrong when crocuses crept from the floorboards and bluebells adorned the porch. Wild roses proliferated. Clovers and snowdrops made purple and white carpets wherever those others failed to touch. The slow-moving oaks encroached upon her space like time upon a clock. She continued with her sitting and her ofttimes weeping as though nothing odd had occurred.
It was a Friday when she disappeared. At least, that’s the day I assigned it. Her chair stood empty, enwrapped in ivy and tangling briars, just recognisable in the wilderness that was her home, poking out like a headstone from an ancient cemetery. I searched, scoured the landscape with unblinking eyes over and over again. Each petal, I peered beneath, every leaf, branch, and limb. There was not a stone left unturned, nor stream or river dredged. She was gone. The girl with the mercury eyes had vanished. Two stars lost forever.
I found her later, much later. The wood that had become a forest was lost to humanity’s in satiable lust for energy, the flowers flattened, and the grasses trodden underfoot. As the biting, snarling machine crunched into her buried bones, I screamed. Death noticed.
She took me by the arm and led me from my berth. This was the first time I’d ever moved far. We passed countless others who all stared down, though sometimes up — not a one looked our way — and so made our way through eternity. She said nothing, her features, as always, obscured by deepest night. In time, if that was the right expression, we happened upon a glade made bright by a silver light. At its centre stood a small cabin bathed in mercury starlight: Death’s home.
There were flowers of every monochrome shade. Some stood proud of the fogging ground in neat rows, others from baskets and troughs. They were everywhere, and it gladdened my soul.
She invited me in with a swish of her scythe and sat me at a table like a long-lost friend. On said table was a rose in a vase of quartz, one of glistening mercurial silver.
Death opened her maw to a maelstrom wind, one of foul air and pollutants. She recognised this by the dipping of her cowled head. I think it embarrassed her, that unmitigated stench, and I pitied her. Thus, her words came as a brief barrage of devastating effect before sealing her lips shut and never speaking again.
“I loved her more.”
I don’t remember the journey back.
Richard M. Ankers
“False repetition ( Visual poem )”, by Laszlo Aranji
(Tarot, Major Arcana II.)
Cobweb-veiled, white colored lunar meat: she unfolds her open chalice for pleasure as she pulls a child’s hand onto her slimy thighs. The Ghost Sister spoils you, her serpent grip ordains you to become her priest. The flower of a flower, rear cheeks of the world, abdominal cramps stooped, bloated suspects Hungary as a dogcatcher.
Where everything that’s intact and whole – starts to decline. The Savior’s been conceived by an inbred wedding, deformed gives birth to excellence, madness’ purified to knowledge. Only the narrow minded can find what’s hidden.
Boar brother, did you loot Inanna’s sanctuary, or you stole a virgin drop-wort?
Below us the honey textured afflatus whirlwind of Charybdis, above us is Scylla in gas mask, The Savior’s been conceived by an inbred wedding deformed gives birth to excellence, madness’ purified to knowledge. Only the narrow minded can find what’s hidden.
The spinning veil of delirium, the otherwise is stretching and expending. Cramped bow string plus a popped-up lid. The flower of a flower, rear cheeks of the world, grunting shame on its four.
(Tarot, Nagy Arkánum II.)
Pókháló-fátylú, fehérlő Hold-hús: kéjre-nyílt kelyhét kitárja, kölyök-kezet húz nyálkás öléhez. Kísértet Nővér megront, kígyó szorítása papjává szentel. Virágnak virága, világnak valaga: hasgörcsbe görnyedő, felfúvódott, sintérgyanús Magyarország…
Ahol minden ép, egész – hanyatlik. Testvér-nászból fogan a Megváltó, torz szül tökélyt, téboly tisztul tudássá. Rejtett csak a beszűkült számára van.
Inanna szentélyéből egy aszott, szűz kórót raboltál, vaddisznó testvér?
Alattunk Kharübdisz méz állagú sugallat-örvénye, fölöttünk a gázmaszkos Szkhülla, testvér-nászból fogan a Megváltó, torz szül tökélyt, téboly tisztul tudássá. Rejtett csak a beszűkült számára van. Önkívület forgó fátyla, nyúlik-tágul a máshogy.
Görcs íj-húr, felpattanó fedél. Virágnak virága, világnak valaga, négykézlábra ereszkedőn röfögő szégyene
We fell together like words on a page.
Breath caught; in the margins between our bodies. The biggest moments in our lives can only be conveyed through a whusper or a SHOUT. My heart says it all.
In my mouth a hint of oyster, tears half-salted. I can’t breathe.
My fingers dance through your hair and I find a rhythm and I think maybe you instigated
the whole thing but it’s still music. The kind of music that makes you, fall in love.
Heart to heart. I exhale. Bodies breaking gently, pressing and decompressing like waves. I hold my breath. We cling lips, fingers, tongue pausing to steal a breath. Your skin touches my skin. It’s too hot to think.
DON’T THINK. Just smile and float.
There’s something stuck in my heart, to feel is a blessing
and a curse.
We are all the people in the world when we are tangled up together. We are magenta.
My feelings feel infinite. I push you away. I inhale deeply. The air is cold without your breath inside of it. It’s not enough. There was no before because I am sure that I didn’t know how to breathe until you kissed me. You were my first breath, I am alive
because of you.
Yves K. Morrow
in Your Dreams
Steph hasn’t been sleeping well. She gets to sleep and then wakes again soon after with the feeling that there’s someone there watching her. She says it’s something that no number of nightlights can take shake. The hairs on the back of her neck stick up, and if she wasn’t sure that the doors were triple-locked and the curtains thick enough to be used as blackouts in the middle of an air raid she’d swear that someone had got in and was sitting on the chair next to the bed watching her intently.
She’s not slept well since she got famous. You could say that, despite all the good things that come with fame, like adulation, money and an endless stream of interesting things to do on TV, Radio and the stage, York’s Got Talent was both the making and breaking of her.
She says that the times she feels that she’s being quietly watched are not the worse ones. Those are quite bearable compared to the other stuff. Imagine that you're in bed in your skimpies and someone turns over in the bed next to you and so you half wake up and mutter something about them bouncing around on the bed and so they stop. Then you wake up properly and realise that there’s no one in bed with you and hasn’t been since Tom left taking his guitar, two cats and a carrier bag full of various toiletries and clothing. Then you sit up in bed with your heart pounding in your ears and realise that you’re sweating like you haven’t since that night your babysitter let you watch Nightmare on Elm Street when you were five and a half. There’s never anyone there. There never is. But part of you can still feel the susurration of hot breath against your cheek.
I remember watching Steph on YouTube, singing her little heart out in front of a crowd of screaming kids on a wet afternoon in June; live and direct to their hearts and streaming to the rest of the world via her mobile phone. It’s an early video from before her career really took off. Before the stadium tours. But you can see it all there: Steph in that short skirt that all the girls copied, and all the boys craned their necks to peer up. Blonde haired and white booted, Steph was every teenager’s dream, even back then.
I used to know her well. Not that I would ever take advantage of our friendship, even though there were moments, mostly when we’d both had a few and we were sharing a laugh that took us way inside each other’s personal space. You know what I mean. You’ve seen the movies where he looks up and finds that her face is inches away from his and she’s staring into his eyes like all the secrets of the universe are written there. That’s the moment when he can either lean in and kiss her or fake like someone he knows just walked into the room and break away without breaking anyone’s heart.
The thing is: when we were out and about there was always something standing over her shoulder and so it wasn’t hard to pull away; to break the mood. Her fans were everywhere and every single one had an insatiable desire for an autograph, not always on paper. Guys with clean-cut smiles, indelible markers and ... whoa, buddy, that;s waaay too much skin!
She didn’t seem to mind back then. Everything went with a giggle, a grin and the flash of a smartphone in selfie mode. It got darker later, but by then I was gone; swept away by a tide of new friends who were equally famous and almost as rich as Steph.
Six months went by in which I remembered the good times every day. I’d miss her and regret our distance, but then I’d remember the fire in her eyes on that day when she told me that she was done with my whinging and whining. Said she was a big girl and didn’t need so-called friends like me.
Then a day came when a year had rolled by without a word from her and I woke up that morning to find that I’d got other things on my mind: I’d published a book that, surprisingly, considering how close we'd been, was not about Steph. I remember I’d just got home from a book tour where I got my own share of adulation, albeit of a more muted, literary kind than that which Steph was used to when she called me.
I almost didn’t pick up. But by then, like I said, I’d mostly forgotten the hurt and had tucked my feelings away under the carpet of my own, modest success.
“Hello,” I said, in a kind of deadpan way.
“Hi, Ethan,”; she said; lightly as if she was calling to order pizza. Then nothing. Silence.
I’d always had trouble with reception in that part of the house and so I thought I lost the connection. I got up and walked to the front room. Halfway there she ... well, I guess you could say that she let out a hideous sob. It sounded just like she was being choked and I kind of panicked, to be honest.
“Steph, what is it? Are you okay? Do you want me to come over? I’m coming over.”; All in one stream. Then I breathed and found that I was putting my boots on with my phone tucked under my chin and the car keys already gripped in one hand. I kept her on the phone the whole way over; hang the police; frick Boris.
Seven minutes later I had my fist raised to bang on the door, which was stupid because I could hear her rattling the chain through the door and over the phone. I cut it off and slipped it into my pocket as she opened the door and fell into my arms.
She was hot as if she was running a temperature and she fitted into my arms so beautifully. Her shampoo was intoxicating. Apple blossom: the same one she’d used since she was a kid; since we were both kids that rough ‘n’ tumbled through muddy football matches, picnics on the backies, karaoke Barbie parties and everything in-between. I closed the door and just held her there, in the hallway, until she stopped shaking.
Then, over yesterday’s pizza and a bottle of last decade’s wine, she told me about her dreams. “This is going to sound stupid;” I said.
“Tell me anyway,” she said with eyes as big and shiny as the backs of new silver tablespoons.
“It’s happening to me too.”
She nodded once, never breaking eye contact. “When?”
“Since I started the book tour. I’ve published this ...”
“I know,” she said softly. “That’s not why I called you. Promise.”
“Yeah. I just ... I just needed someone that knew ... I mean, you’re the only one that knew me before. That knew me properly, you know?”
“So, what are your dreams like? Are you frightened?”
“No,” I said, “not exactly.”
Her face twisted into a smile I knew ... that I know so well. She’s going to say something that quietly mocks me. I’m a big guy and I work out. She says that I’m ... how does she say it? She says I’ll be more man than I think I am when I just be the man that I am. Except that when she says it, it sounds cute.
“Tell me,” she says.
“I stayed at my nan’s house once. On my uncle’s bed. He was away for the night, and she needed someone in the house.”
She nodded. She’d known both before they ... when they were alive. Yeah, I know; she could hardly have known then after well, anyway.
I continued. “When I woke up in the morning, someone was lying on top of me. Someone heavy. I couldn’t breathe. I was being crushed. I couldn’t move. But then, somehow, I knew that I was asleep and dreaming. Both my nan and my uncle were big people and, you remember, I was skinny when I was a kid. A real light weight.”by Mirjana M.
I pull myself back from my memories and search her face for ... something. I don’t know what, but I find it. She is here with me. Totally in the moment. Engaged.
“So, I struggled to free myself. Not from the weight, because I know that it’s not real. My nan couldn’t have made it onto the bed; she was all crippled up with arthritis and my uncle wasn’t in the house. No, it was the dream I was struggling to free myself from.”
I lock eyes with Steph. “And that’s what I’m doing now.”
She smiles. “Now?”
“Well, not now now.” I return her smile. “I mean that I’m having these kinds of dreams since ... since the book tour. Since the fans, y’know?”
“Yeah. The fans.” A soft, sad tone to her voice.
“And I’m struggling to free myself from the weight of them. It’s as if they are smothering me somehow. Like they’re thinking about me. Trying to be with me. Sleeping in my bed. Crushing me. The only way I can think about it is that their thoughts somehow have weight.”
“And you think this is what’s happening to me?”
“Yeah, I do. But not just to the two of us, but to everyone that’s somehow in the public eye. Everyone that’s been googled and thought about and maybe obsessed over. What do you think?”
“Well ...” She looks at me with the kind of expression twisted around her mouth and eyes that tells me that she wants to believe but just can’t quite make the leap.
“I mean, what about your friends. The famous ones. Do they sleep?”
“Drugs,”she says. “Not all. But most of them. They say that it takes the rough edges off. Maybe bad dreams are one of the rough edges, but I’m not really close enough to ...” She catches a micro-expression flit across my face and stops. “Listen, you pushed ...”
“Not pushed. I never pushed. I just didn’t ...”
“;... let me in,” she finished for me. “You didn’t let me in.”
“And listen, it’s okay. I know we’re best friends ...”
I feel a burst of something colourful that hurts my chest when she says that we are best friends. Present tense. Still there.
“;... but that doesn’t mean we can’t be more. This isn’t a story. We don’t have to be a cliché.”
“I know,” I say. But I don’t. I’m as far out of my depths here as I’ve ever been. Lost in her eyes. Lost up my hairy armpit. Ever as always.
An idea lights up my face. “Hey,” I blurt, “maybe we should sleep together!”
Her face. Blank as a new canvass. White. Pure. Empty.
“Not like that!” I say. Almost a shriek.
“Like what.” Not like a question. Monotonic.
“Like, for sex” I silently kick myself inside my mind. Then I do it again.
“Like, why not?” Her face suddenly becomes alive. Not in a good way. Not with happiness. More like with a suppressed rage.
I feel control slipping away from me. This story is taking a strange turn; one I wasn’t expecting. “Listen,” I say, “ I just want to protect you, okay? I just want to be there for you. Make sure you’re alright?”
“You know what, Ethan? That’s about the most sensible ... no, scratch that ... the nicest thing anyone’s ever said to me.”
And with that, she closes her eyes, lays her head on my chest, snuggles in and murmurs, “is it time for bed yet?”
Robert C. Day
witches be like/burn it all down/then kiss me
I map you out / beneath the falling stars we know our way / we didn’t get lost at all on the overgrown riverbank / the candles burn all night I would let you /take me/down
maybe we can find your places here / at the bottom of it all we can turn each stone/skip the surface /watch each other / dance in the ripples of this / alluvial mirror /
it was not the end.
maybe we could move /to the City of Lights /or the edge of the forest the end of the world /so bewildered in your depths/ask me again how I would liberate you /on the left side of my bed how you would free me /entangled in your pain
crushed and suffocated /against the bedroom wall I’ll bring you coffee/when you breathe again
I am not catching feelings I am catching fire
sometimes we spell / love revolt.
Kate MacAlisterphotograph by Thorsten Dettlaff
We are a wilderness.
A thousand fires burn in our wolf-moon hearts.
Breathless and unpunctuated we grapple with the shadows.
Our tide driven blood surges and howls beneath the surface of our skin as if we were the sea, wind goaded and reckless with interlocking tempests.
Together we roam, our feet scorching the earth, our spirits unbound and audacious.
A perfect dream, unfolding under the stars.
Yves K. Morrow
Do you know the feeling As if smothered In your own clothes?
When you can’t breathe; Looking up just to see Blue painted gray And the collar tightening.
Asking for a smile
Under soft press
Printed over and again
Same issues in different suits; Smoothing the panels
In this plexiglass escalator.
One drop to ruin it all Dye my hopes red.
As I am lifted: Higher I get More I lose
The right To call myself Of flesh and bone; A soul.
I’m not sorry
To live, To grow, To awake.
a study in Longing
“The feelings that hurt most, the emotions that sting most, are those that are absurd - The longing for impossible things, precisely because they are impossible; nostalgia for what never was; the desire for what could have been; regret over not being someone else; dissatisfaction with the world’s existence. All these half-tones of the soul’s consciousness create in us a painful landscape, an eternal sunset of what we are.”- Fernando Pessoa All photographs made in Belgrade, Mirjana M.
Belgrade, August 2022, by
The No Makeup Makeover for Pandemics,
Three car payments are on a trajectory to the landfill. Or one month of rent. Some breathing room on the student loan payments, car payments, inevitable medical costs. $1,200. If you conceptualize it outside of itself, this is a lot of makeup. It should be more than what’s on the floor in front of me, this sad collection of shattered glamours that promised to cover up uneven complexions, and instead concealed me.
To the “toss” pile I add the year-old skin cream ($68). Dusty mascara ($70). Guerlain lip stains, three years old, assorted: I won’t admit how much. All prices plus tax. Muttering curses, I begin an assault on the moldering blushes. They retaliate. Orange? Girl, really? On your pink undertone?
Guilt rises from my pores like a badly matched foundation. These failed cosmetics are privileges layered on thick: access, disposable income, credit card points, plastic wrapped in glossy cardboard wrapped in more plastic. At the time I bought every item, I needed it, in the suburban DINK sense of need. This lipstick was for my wedding. This eyeshadow was for a ladies’ night out. This blush was for my husband’s cousin’s wedding. I remember with fondness the occasions in the Before when I could go out and be physically close to other people. When I would put these things on as a spell meant to add depth to my personality.
As early as junior high I wanted to weave the enchantment these cosmetics prom ised to draw dawn, to physically possess cheesecake x Elvira glamour with bewitching doe eyes (stuck open with mascara) and red lips (dazzled with the blood of subtropical bugs). I had to trial-and- error how to be close in social situations without leaving a trail of lipstick stains on collars and cheeks. Then, in an eighth-grade locker room, I learned I was not even supposed to perspire when the popular girl said, “Ladies don’t sweat, we glisten. And when we glisten, we use our compacts to powder it down.” Hello, acne.
By college, I had learned that the situations in which it is appropriate to go bareface overlap the situations in which one may go barefoot: the beach, the pool, the backyard. One must apply cosmetics for all other situations appropriately: a date is not a professional meeting is not an Event. But I never learned how I was expected to apply it where I am now, an elder millennial, self-employed, mired in a pandemic that has given me a new label, high risk, which I wear with the unsteady enthusiasm of my first coming out. “Hi, I’m high risk. That’s why I’m still wearing a mask. Yes, that’s a to-go order, please.”
My nails were the first thing to change. They started this journey in a sparkly pink gel polish, salon-applied on February 7, 2020—barely a week before the first lockdown order. Sheltered in place, I had to let the gel molt on its own. It was a relief when Valentine’s Day finally ended in late May, the last heart-shaped chip of polish releasing from my thumbnail into the warming garden soil.
The roots of my hair grew out of that summer soil until they would no longer be de nied. This new hair is not bright auburn, but an alien dark, shot through with elemental silver threads that wink like the moon shifting behind October clouds. I find my hair grows faster left wild. As that first quarantined autumn slipped into winter, my canine familiar Beau stopped climbing the stairs to bed. His elderly bones, gnawed by frost, gave up long before his heart. I
Pandemics, Quarantines, and Every Day Looks
slept near him on a futon in the living room. It seemed like a lot of work to move all my potions downstairs, and so my 20-minute bedtime skin routine collapsed into five. This new routine, composed of necessity and a dash of sorrow, left my skin as clear as the cloudless April day Beau and I said goodbye.
I step out of the shower one slow Saturday morning as the world begins to reopen like a geranium warming under the June sun. My eyes fall across shelves of cosmetics. It has been almost a year since I applied a full face of makeup, a ritual I once enjoyed. But hand extended towards those elixirs, I hesitate. In the dragging months of pandemic neglect, the foundation has separated, the mascara has fragmented, and the lipstick tubes, though they still shield the lipsticks within, are lightly dusty.
Barefaced, I sit on the floor, casting circles of makeup and skincare products. These to toss. These to friends. These, unopened, to the women’s shelter. I discard it all like the tropical snake sheds for a fresh rainbow skin, and I glow with a brilliance that has been biding its time, waiting to emerge.
The Witch House No More I
Listening to grass blade the present as if house’s still stood. Yonder: a barrow barren neon.
In Spruce City the sisters own everything. They own the day, they own the night, they own who wakes up and those who never dream.
* Althea Witch-Crown. Unmarred, 18 and hearty fool for Snow/Fire synth-crew of choice, she’s eager to challenge real life in the E-womb. No dead, no street cred.
The alt-glam-post-doc mags pose questions to Althea. Storm-drain-answers. Like September spit in a bottle they never ask her about him.
Under a sigh of neon a boy grows, twisted as elm branches in a prison meant for life.
* Natalie, scar-tissue-spine. An unquenchable raison d’etre: ruin everything straight within eyesight.
The city calls her Twig.
No body guards her, no one dares. It’s as if for generations she held blades of grass cultivating a bastille.
Year buried upon year the boy wondered when it would be his turn to stop having sons imprisoned in their tower. His father had told him his father’s last breath was when it’ll end.
The secret: father to boy, man to son. Never give the sisters a girl. Never give them Apple.
Spruce City houses empty rooms waiting for dark flowers to bloom, to eclipse their dead-tree lives. Will the sisters allow the screaming root a voice, will rot cross the barrier.
What is a house but a promise. At night the moon kisses an apple tree, moves its silky cheek against burning barn doors.
Sister spruces growing in a clearing. Their neighbors: a crab-apple tree in a field of goldenrod and asters, black-eyed susans and lupine. An abandonment of glacial rock dropped in rows like heralds, and beyond, a thick stout elm surrounded by shinning white wild carrot, yarrow and feverfew.
One of the sisters bends, bent as if her spine fought time.
The older sister, plank-straight-proud and crowned with a hexenbesen.
During moon-full the two play night games, each shadow branch a galaxy on the backlit field. They’d call the distant ones reaching, the close ones, waiting.
Slumber comes at daybreak but the elm doesn’t choose to close his eyes; the brother plots and plants ideas deep.
The Witch House stands and commands the clearing, root and foot inch underground. Two stones shift skyward sprout toward a bleeding sun.
In the soil worms scream: Cross the barrier!
Grass, long bladed and green as morning parsley, fields a barrow. At its base a home claws prison root.
Sister spruces bow and bend in relentless August wind. They’re as green as old copper sheets
bleached by a soft sun’s hands. And there’s a boy in the field in the shape of a slim tree elmed,
closer to shade than shadow. In a real way, he’s a brother made from hardwood and cool streams.
The witch house stands quiet and alone on the knoll across from night-moon and apple-tree playground, siblings
cross the rock-walled barrier on tiptoes and laugh out loud grins, never knowing how they got caught or who last froze on spot. Yet when the witch house woke its windows wore the worried color of patience, absence
like a brother and sister’s small bond at birth. Inside the witch house the spirits
call mater and pater, they call memere and pepere, they call ma’tante and mon’oncle,
yet Elm and Spruce, Apple and Beech answer in their child-way, growing as saplings do under sky and storm.
Two billow in unison and bite the jealous winds; the one follows swift and soaring as a lone kite.
Where will he go when the witch house won’t play the same games sisters do. Siblings as old as hilltop rockflower.
The sister spruces leave the knoll, leave him quiet, moon-tired and sun-struck. Lineage. The first hue-mans break the barrier, gather heat, stretch the meadow. Propagate. Bend trees into new naked houses, kith and kin to a fist-thrust home.
The boy elm saw his sisters run away to the fields yonder. Could he cross the glacial barrier, hawk his way out.
A great passivity welled in him, a restless passive voice murmuring both take flight and stay root.
The spruce house still stands as both barrier and barren land. Two sisters, breathing morning grass recite the poems of Prison, At Last!
I did not know you lived here. I did not know you had a dour mouse guarding your doorstep. For if I did I would’ve walked backwards into each of my footprints away from your farmhouse. Woman in mayflower white, hear me out. I had nothing to do with your sister not coming home. Untie me please. I’ve done nothing.
The woods watched one sister gather berries, crush them with her thumb, whispered:
A stranger approaches.
He steps around a dead twig. You cannot hear me. He bends her magic behind an elm’s spider-branches.
Sister please! I did not know these were your woods, your farmhouse, nor that dour mouse on stone steps whiskering warnings. I have told you the truth, no more confine me…
Oh dear brother, don’t you know: It’s a cheap truth to lie to a sister.
a poetic tale by Jonathan Pessant
“Gathering” , by Sadee Bee
“I make digital, multimedia art using collage elements. I take these elements then warp element I chose (photobashing). I am inspired by strange dreams, magic, and creepy vibes. from poems I’ve written or songs I’ve listened to; Death Call and Gathering were both
warp them, add my own color ideas, and create a scene based off of the original vibes. My artwork is, in a way, a digital diary for me and I often draw inspiration inspired by Florence + The Machine’s new album Dance Fever. “
“Death Call” by Sadee Bee
Enjoy the colours
SAME TUNES, NEW RADIO
there comes a time when the memory is so vivid it turns a double truth the grape pain meds and the stinging burn when it goes down dulled by time it all comes back when the music plays. remember when it was only words? the noises and these pitches have since become us every sound now who we are I’’m crying, never sure if they’re happy or sad tears. Or both.
Maybe it’s both.
The music brings me back to where I was. When we were scared, and alone. The
nostalgia only seeing itself as a wish for what has been. If there was a chance should I have taken it?
The song, as every song will, ends. Whatever vividness that used to burn here has faded. The present is my reality. This moment. Crying to the songs and stories that raised me. Now given a whole new meaning in the context of what I have become. What we have lost, and had to find again.
With every song there is that pedal into nothingness, in the gaps between sound where I can finally find my thoughts again, after all this time of listening.
So many things I could have done, back when I was young. Do we still have that time?
written on the inside cover
Discovering What It Means to Be Human”
Weeping Willows; weep, weep, weep. Standing tall, while silken leaves sweep. A melancholic beauty; roots that run deep. Slip inside the swinging vines, under the cover of the Weeping mother. Her shaded sorrow shall envelop you, an embrace from the wind between. A Willow does not weep to mourn; only to protect. Speak to her in whispers, in her silence she listens. Deliver her your worries, your grief, perhaps even those lost hopes and dreams. Your pain, your shame, and all inbetween. Let her leaves that flow like tears, send them down the stream.
A balanced lie
Dancing on itself Dressed in sparkling Chiffon
Is a perfect
And perfect thing Whereas a lie
On top of a lie
Is a complete delicious Exquisite ballet
A site even Moscow
Has never seen.
Walking down Down the sidewalk
Looking back to see if The bus is beating me To the bus stop. It’s a hustle and
A shuffle Walk faster Drink water No one knows
Well almost no one Except those of us Who ride the bus.
Whereas And furthermore
Just remember Everything is Fruit. Fruitful Fulfilling
Apples and Apple pie Cucumbers ...
Cucumber salad Bank robbers Have no place In this.
Marc Isaac Potter
His wife is going to try and leave him. He does not know this for sure. Certainty can never be a hundred percent, but in this instance he is correct.
How is he supposed to understand an immigrant’s experience? His own family has put in immeasurable effort to assimilate. Because of their investment, their native language is erased from their lineage and the cuisine is now Bennigans and shopping mall food courts.
His wife misses Minsk. There is nothing about America that reminds her of her homeland. She feels a hollowness familiar to him, but yet completely incomprehensible.
Everyone told him being a real estate agent is easy money, especially in this market. No one told him about the 80-20 rule. Around eighty percent of home sales go to twenty percent of agents.
He needs to sell this house. That’s the only way he can keep his wife from leaving him. His fate lies in the hands of getting this one disregarded home off the market.
He tries to straighten the “For Sale” sign planted in the lawn. That is the real problem, he tells himself. It has nothing to do with the black bear that lives on the roof of the house.
It’s a remote property, full of character and surrounded by lush hills. The garden in the back is full of gladiolus flowers in perpetual bloom. The lateral white wood leads the eye up to the most gorgeous Wallaba shingles that have gone undamaged despite a full grown black bear walking all over them.
His client’s car pulls into the driveway. She is a television actress who Simon has never heard of. She only does commercials. He does not understand how a single woman who occa sionally acts in commercials can afford to live on her own. The royalties pay well, apparently. Who knew?
She dresses as if she is a Hollywood golden age star. She even has the polka dot head scarf and sunglasses. This is her ninth property walkthrough with Simon and quite possibly the
last. He approaches to shake her hand and showcase that salesman smile he taught himself.
“Ms. Desmond, good morning. I’m looking forward to showing you this property.”
“It has lovely curb appeal,” she says.
The black bear is on the other side of the roof and out of their sight. Simon leads her to the front door and begins the tour. The home, with its isolation, has a cottage aesthetic but with modern amenities. There is a chandelier in the dining room and built in maple bookcases in the guestroom. The display furniture conjures the image of children playing quietly and a father walking through the front door after a work day.
“What do you think so far, Ms. Desmond?” he asks.
“You say there is also a garden?”
“There is, with trimmed hedges and flowers that don’t need tending. A perfect patio for your romance novels and cocktails.”
“I’m excited to see it.”
He leads her to the patio and the garden is magical. The flowers are alive and thriving. Flowers that don’t need a green thumb to care for them is a remarkable selling point.
They take a seat on the patio furniture. He wants her to envision a fantasy of what every day could be. The black bear is still out of sight and he assumes it rolled over to the other side of the roof because the black bear loves to roll on his back.
She is going to ask what the catch is. The sellers are asking way below the market value for similar homes in the county. That is suspicious for a buyer.
He knows she is going to ask if the home has a faulty structure or shoddy repairs (it doesn’t). She’ll ask if there is crime nearby (there is none). There is no way she is going to ask if a bear is living on the roof (there is) so he will have to come clean.
He is going to sell her this property, damn it. She loves this home and he knows that. There is only one more hurdle and his marriage is saved and he can afford to provide a nuclear lifestyle for his wife.
Unlike past showings to former clients, he has his talking points ready. He knows what to say and what not to say. Since this is his last chance, he knows he may have to tread in a gray area where honesty is not entirely absent but deception oversees the domain.
“Okay, so I give. What is the drawback?”
“Well,” he begins. “You see, the seller inherited this property from their grandmother, a twenty year widow. They have been having difficulty selling the place because most buyers can not get past one . . . blunt . . . detail.”
“And what is the blunt detail?”
At that moment, as if on cue, the black bear crawls into view. The black bear sits down and begins scratching his belly with long claws. Ms. Desmond raises her manicured eyebrows. Before she can inquire, Simon begins the partial disclosure.
“You see, this black bear comes with the home.”
“Comes with the home? What are you talking about? Isn’t there someone you can call to get rid of it?”
“I’m afraid not. The county has gotten it off the roof a few times and took it into custody. Yet,the bear always escapes and ends up back on the roof exactly three weeks later. There is no explaining the phenomenon. When they first built the house back in 1888, the daughter left a jar of honey outside her window. Since then the bear has stayed.”
Ms. Desmond stares at the black bear, who is now rolled over on his back to soak in the sun while he naps. She is perplexed and who can blame her. She proceeds to ask a reasonable question.
“I imagine it makes a lot of noise, no?”
“Oddly enough, no.” Simon is going to stick to his practiced talking points. “You can’t hear the bear from inside. He was on the roof the whole time while we were inside. It is silent, as if his paws are made of feathers. And he has never crawled down, so you and your future family will never be in danger. Unless you are looking at him, like now, it will be as if he is not even there.”
He leaves out the fact that the black bear will sometimes hang from the gutters, swaying back and forth. The black bear only does this, from what anyone can tell, as a way to play some kind of silly game. Still, the gutters somehow won’t break (a testament to the construction). This would be another selling point he would use if asked, but he keeps quiet for now.
She thinks for a moment.
“Doesn’t it need to hibernate?”
Simon shakes his head. He is not entirely sure, but he sticks with what he rehearsed. “So the bear is completely silent? No noise at all?”
This is the question Simon prepped the most for. Of course a black bear makes noise. They are not quiet animals. The one caveat is that this black bear makes noise in an unconventional way.
“Well, it does sing. But only on rare occasion.”
“I’ve never heard a bear sing. What does it sound like?”
This is the moment he rehearsed with obsession. He tells himself he is being no different from his client. She is a commercial actress, and that profession requires being the spokesperson for products while not being entirely honest about their quality and convenience.
“It has a beautiful voice,” he tells her. He compares the voice to Sting. This fib determines the moment he has convinced himself will restore his marriage, because what else can he do?
His client says yes. She requests he submit an offer to the seller at the asking price. Simon does all he can to not leap in glee right there.
He quickly escorts Ms. Desmond to her car before the off chance the black bear decides to start singing. Nothing is in ink yet. Until agreements are signed, his marriage will not recover, so he must keep up the facade until all contracts are finalized and notarized.
The papers are signed and his client now has the keys and deed. He deposits his commis sion check and runs home to the bedroom. His wife is on the bed, flipping through a family recipe book passed down to her from the time her family lived under the Tzars.
He tells her about his accomplishment. He explains to her that this means they will be able to go out and shop more. His wife gives him a sad sentiment and says, “I still feel dead inside.”
He begins to berate her with a boiling face and veins pulsing in his clenched fist. “
What do you have to feel so miserable about?” he screams. “Why do you cling to a fantasy of that piss-poor country of yours? What did I pay for?”
She turns her back towards him and sinks into herself, clinging to her knees. Simon’s pity is gone and an authoritarian rage consumes him.
“False advertising! That is what you are! An ungrateful whore from a sleazy catalog. Where would you be without me? I know. You’d be in some breadline or sucking some grocer off!”
She begins to respond but not in English. Her words are slow and simple, deliberately for him. Yet, despite her time in America, her husband has rejected, unconsciously or otherwise, any knowledge of her language.
“I’m doing my best to give you a better life,” he says, lowering his voice.
She responds again, still mastering her own language. He prays for her to stop and to submit to his explanation. “Why do you still barely know English?” he asks her, infuriated again. “Then you would understand everything I just achieved to save our love.”
She responds again on her own terms in her own tongue. She gets up and walks towards the bathroom. Simon notices she is walking taller, as if she just recovered from whatever sor row she experienced just a few moments ago.
The bathroom door slams. The shower runs and he hears her sing a hymn from her moth erland. All he can do is listen. Not only is he unable to comprehend the lyrics, but he is unable to absorb the culture.
A cheap motel is not much of a home. Still, a hiding place is better than no home. His employer can’t find him here, so he lives off the side of the highway knowing they are likely calling his house to get him back to work.
Unbeknownst to Simon, he is missing critical calls. But he needs to sulk in pity. Too bad this civilization rotates with no regard to his hopes and intentions.
Ms. Desmond is bringing a lawsuit against the Realtor company. She claims damages from what Simon intentionally did not disclose to her. Mainly, the black bear has caused mental dis tress and is affecting her ability to put the home back on the market.
The black bear sings every night. It has the voice of a screeching baboon doused in gaso line and lit on fire while mid-orgasm. The sound leaves all of Ms. Desmond’s suitors running from her home with flaccid cocks and deters any developer from constructing real estate nearby to raise the property value.
This is unfair, he tells himself. He is an honest man with honest intentions. “Even honest men lie and I have nothing to be ashamed of” he says in a smudged mirror under a flickering light. His job terminates him and his real estate license is suspended. He figures this is for the best. For all he knows, the next property in his portfolio could have a mango tree that shouts bigoted words every time a fruit is plucked from its branches.
Last Stand Simon.
The severity of the situation does not hit him until he sees the dollar figure Ms. Desmond is suing for, including his personal liability. Even without the lawsuit, he is out of work and near financial ruin. Life is a lie, this is what he tells himself as he sips his coffee in a McDonald’s parking lot.
“It’s that fucking bear,” he mutters into his roasted coffee. “Or that little 19 th century twat who gave a fucking bear honey.”
His job won’t save him, the way it didn’t save his marriage. The court of law won’t save him, the way it didn’t save his job.
And his civilization, or its laws, won’t save him,
He drives through the valley of empty green lots where developers once envisioned con structing lucrative estates and complexes. As he drives, he can hear the black bear and it’s deaf ening songs. He thinks of his wife and her hymn in the shower. He presses more weight onto the accelerator.
“The Woods Are Dark”, by L.M.Cole
The tires scratch against the curb as he pulls over to park. He sees the black bear laid on its back and howling as if he’s giving an encore at Madison Square Garden. In the trunk, Simon pulls out two pans that he had previously used to furnish a kitchen in one of his properties.
A ladder is beside the house on top of the grass. He balances it against the gutter and be gins to climb, using his armpits to keep possession of the two pans. With astonishing balance, he steps onto the wooden, unscratched shingles and grabs the two pots and begins banging. “Get the fuck off the roof!” he yells. “You ruined my life you miserable fucker!”
He steps closer, banging the metal louder, creating an agitating noise. Simon escalates the noise and the black bear rises to his hind legs. He stops singing and roars with the fury of a beast in the wild. The black bear does not budge or cede ground.
Poor, Miserable Simon.
Inspiration strikes Simon in that moment. “Stay here!” he directs the black bear. “I’ll be right back.” He figures he can jerry-rig a flamethrower from a blowtorch and leaf-blower in his garage.
The alchemy of emotions can make any man deranged. There is no way he has the capa bility to create any such contraption and there is no possibility the black bear will heed Simon’s demand. Before Simon can head back to the ladder, the black bear mauls him and throws the corpse down into the bed of gladiolus flowers.
Black silver clouds follow wherever you go, a flood of misfortune if you should chance repose . The unfortunate hollow you chose a year ago, for one night of romance, everyone knows, became a lake replete with zombie mermaids; its drowned population by devastation remade without their feet, inessential. Legs made transformations to tails — the decomposing flesh quilted in semblance of scales. Devoured all of the tourists who chanced a dip in a gilded swimming hole they are convinced used to be a town. Bed in a carriage is where you sleep.
If you keep moving, trouble never gets deep.
ARS AB ANIMA with VOX ART
VOX is a writer and digital artist of fashion design and the weirder things in life - inspired by a love of 70s and 80s horror films, vintage clothing, cyber punk, along with a lifelong fascination of collecting old paperbacks. Get a glimpse into their their creations and the heart behind it.
M: Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you found your self expressing through creating?
V: I’m a digital artist and graphic designer from Denver, Colorado, and ba sically, I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t expressing myself through some form of art, whether it was pencil on paper and painting (when I was young) to constructing 3-dimensional assemblage pieces and the digital art medium that I primarily work in today. I also like “weird,” which to me, translates to surrealism. The surrealistic approach of combining dispa rate elements to create new meaning has influenced me, and dreamlike imagery is the common theme that runs throughout my work. I’m drawn to the idea of looking past the outer layer of our awake consciousness to reveal the unique ideas underneath.
M: What are the tools that most inspire you to create and why, compared to emotions and interactions? Do you think the Digital age helps the two work in synergy?
V: Currently the tools I use to inspire me to create are things like reading my large collection of graphic novels and art books by various artists, watching films, music, and of course, Photoshop and the different filters and effects I have access to. Each form of physical and digital media con tributes to the technical aspect of creating and generating new images, but it’s my emotions and everyday interactions that contribute to the soul of the art which is what connects with a viewer. The Digital age definitely helps these two sides work together, especially in social media as it allows your art to be accessible to a worldwide audience.
“Weave Me Through A Dream”, by VOX Art
“Leaving The Cool Shadows To Feel The Sun’s Kiss”, by VOX Art
Do you think artists and creators need more objective criticism or creative understanding, in today’s world?
This is an interesting question because while objective criticism can be helpful to refine an artist’s work or bring attention to it, criticism can also become a limitation if the artist allows it to influence their creativity too much for the opinions of others. I feel there’s a balance that artists have to navigate for themselves between accepting criticism and their own artistic freedom.
M: What influences your creativity the most?
V: Music tends to influence me the most, as I usually put on a record when I’m ready to work on a new piece. It sparks ideas and can help me tune into a lost memory, emotion, or dream which influences where I’m going with my art that day. Some favorites that I listen to include Siouxsie and the Banshees, Concrete Blonde, and Patty Pravo, as well as movie soundtracks by Goblin, Angelo Badalamenti, and Ennio Morricone,
M: Which creative style do you find under-represented to day?
V: Art Nouveau as interpreted by the 60’s psychedelic look and done the OG way, through hand-drawing and painting with no digital techniques to embellish it…with trippy color combinations, decorative meandering borders, curly/barely legible lettering, and the rawness and organic energy that comes from an artist hand drawing it. I can’t get enough of this, and I’m incorporating this style in some of my current work.
“Starring into the Orb of the Crimson Hex”, by VOX Art
M: What is the story behind the artwork whose creation you hold most dearest?
V: The piece titled, “We Met Under A Blue Moon With an Echo Playing in The Background” was both bittersweet and cathartic for me to create. I was listening to the song, “The Killing Moon,” by Echo and the Bunnymen, and I wanted it to reflect the sad and hopeful aspect of the music. It echoed the end of a relationship for me, and the deep blue color of night, contrasted with the simplicity of a graphic profile, represented everything I was feeling at the time in a stark and poetic way.
and words by
Zigzagging south through farm hills toward Wooster Old barns. Streams. Sparse woods. Crossroad towns. Many churches. I’m not Christian so those are not for me. The hills are mine, too, though. My childhood. Deep summer greens set in. It is so pretty, like a secret.
The sun is easing down. The latest detour angles us west. We make a drama of this, loving the hills, holding out on dinner til Wooster, hanging on to each green turn and each barn. We top a hill.
The valley opens. The skylight dims. The fields are lush with fireflies. Field after field. The fields keep opening and they are full of multitudes. We slow. This is wonder. The valley is generous and stretching, more beautiful than the Grand Canyon under moonlight. Swimming in layers and reaches of fireflies. Dayenu.
ANGELS FLYING INWARDS
withered wings clipped and frayed still flourish with last rays of day precarious fragile lives under hardened skies the lies, the lies spew from our beautiful lips question marks of desire sunsets sweep across sorry lands severed wings tell no lies silent as twilight twisted delights soft winds over cemeteries blow whispering of dreams and snow histories and loves we know the gates creak weary slanders gossip lasts even after death shadows lengthen and darken black cat slithers and slides graves hold no meaning feline sleek and svelte as ice the living and the dead murmuring muttering retreats as memories linger listen and breath beating hearts a shimmering and shining life so clear and vivid dancing amongst the gravestones lovers hearts of fire and ice still dance like Fred Astaire lit by luminous full moons imagining our time forever whispering longing and memories and you always you the radiant beginning and the shimmering end
LOST is bringing together Faroese folklore with digitally altered photography. The Huldufólk (eng. of the islands. They are supernatural and live in the mountains. Some even say they lure lost travelers On the pictures of LOST you can see cairns, a kind of landmark that is supposed to lead the way form and variance it is easy to misinterpret them as a person in foggy weather. LOST plays with the
byTheresa Kohlbeck Jakobsen
(eng. Hidden People) are said to wear only gray and bear a resemblance to the stoney landscape travelers away from the village paths. Therefore they often get blamed for the death of people. way when walking from village to village. These cairns are man made stacks of stone. Due to their the idea that every cairn might or might not be a hidden being.
One of the crash test dummies had the name John, written on a yellowed piece of tape and stuck to his back. Sometimes his back was his front, his left arm was sometimes his right. Only his head always faced forward. His faded Sharpie moustache acted as a guide. He was an old mod el. Joints loosened by years of accidents. Audis. Volvos. Mercedes. He had crashed them all. Sometimes he would be swallowed whole by the metal beast, other times he would fall apart on impact and then be put back together again by one of the sighing mechanics.
Today John was testing a new BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer in jet black. His test companion was a dummy labelled Stacy. He had never worked with Stacy before, she was a new model that was unpacked just a couple of days ago. The newer dummies were sturdier. Harder plastics and stainless steel joints meant they could withstand more crashes. Like him she was long and lean, but she was smaller and had little mounds on her chest. Although Stacy was new to the facility, they had already drawn crude blow-up-doll lips and big eyes with a lot of lashes on her face.
John and Stacy were buckled into the front seats of the BMW. John was the driver. He was always the driver when he tested with a female dummy. Sometimes they gave him kids, but not often. One man in a lab coat and one in blue overalls circled the car with clipboards, checking the final details.
John used this moment to introduce himself.
‘I don’t think we’ve met. I’m John.’ ‘Nice to meet you, John. I’m Stacy.’
‘I was there when they labelled you. In the cafeteria? We all hang out in there most of the time.’
He paused. The man in the lab coat and the man in the overalls were now conferring in front of the car. ‘Stacy is the name of Mike’s ex-wife, in case you’re wondering. Mike is the lead engineer here.’
‘Oh.’ Stacy reflected.’And who are you named after, John?’
‘I think John is just a generic man’s name.’
‘I see,’ answered Stacy.
The two men in front of the car gave a thumbs up to the control room and walked to the back.
‘So this is your first test?’
‘Yes,’ Stacy confirmed. ‘Yesterday I was supposed to test with a dummy named Bruce, but then something went wrong and we just sat in the car for hours before they took us out again.’
‘You have to have a lot of patience on this job,’ said John. ‘Things get stuck and then you don’t move till they work it out. A few weeks ago I was strapped in a Volkswagen Tiguan with my friend Harry for three hours. Then we stopped halfway down the stretch because of some kind of malfunction.’ He paused again, then added: ‘But that’s not to say it isn’t fun.’
‘Well I’m just really glad to be a part of the team,’ said Stacy.
Their conversation was interrupted by a nasally voice that cracked on over the intercom. ‘Alright then, let’s start this off slow. Let’s just double-check the mechanism. We don’t want a fuck-up like yesterday.’
The intercom clicked off and the engine of the car was turned on. The red light on the wall ahead of the car flashed yellow, then green. The car jolted, then crept forward, rolling until it came to a gentle stop a few inches from the wall.
‘Okay, all good, roll it back,’ said the intercom voice. Slowly the cords began pulling the car back into starting position.
‘That wasn’t so bad, was it?’ asked John.
‘Not at all,’ Stacy agreed. ‘But that wasn’t the real test?’
‘No, no. They needed to check something in the mechanism. There’s this outside force, not sure what they call it, that has to propel us forward. Since I’m not actually driving, you know.’ He laughed. ‘You really have only one chance to get it right. Once the car hits the wall, it’s to talled. So it’s important to have all the nuts and bolts set up just so.’
‘Funny,’ Stacy noted. ‘All that for a totalled car.’
John thought about it. ‘It is funny,’ he agreed.
The car arrived back in the starting position. John and Stacy waited while the test was set up.
‘I heard they film these things?’ Stacy asked. ‘
Yup. It’s so they can show to the manufacturer how we crashed. You know. To understand what went wrong. What to improve.’
‘You’d think that having tested so many cars, they would have a general idea of the pitfalls.’
‘Sure, but every car is different.’ John fell to a whisper. ‘What’s really sick is that people like to watch our crashes online.’
The intercom clicked on. There was static and a faint mumbling. ‘Yes, yes I know. Well, talk to Steve about it.’ Then the voice became louder and clearer. ‘Alright guys, let’s ramp it up to 60 miles per hour. Real event. Final test.’ The intercom clicked off and the light changed yellow then green.
‘I don’t know if I’m ready,’ mumbled Stacy.
‘Don’t worry, the airbags will deploy. Worst case they have to screw your parts back to gether later.’
John and Stacy were launched back into their seats as they accelerated. The BMW rushed down the stretch and collided head-on with the wall. The front of the car scrunched up like an accor dion. The hood folded up and back into a tent, shattering the windshield. The front seats crum pled and the safety belts stretched. Steam rose from the ejected airbags and John and Stacy were thrown over the dashboard and as the roof of the car caved in. Their bodies collided headfirst with the wall. Limply they fell on to the crushed up hood. John’s arm came off before he slid down the side of the car. Shattered glass snowed down in and around the vehicle that was now half its original size. Muffled cheering came from the control room.
‘I don’t know if I like this,’ moaned Stacy. ‘You get used to it,’ said John.
“Dawning”, by Mirjana M.
I need a break.
The club’s dead in January. Bills that would otherwise line our ankle purses are allocated for kids, wives, mistresses. When New Year’s rolls around, belts are tight, wallets tighter.
Besides, that thing happened in November.
I never thought it would happen.
I never expected to do what I did.
In want of an overpriced getaway, I log on to that overpriced getaway site.
Where are you going?
Check In Right the fuck now.
Check Out Never? Guests
Just me. Like always.
I tell the search engine I’m “flexible” (less true now than at twenty-two), and peruse Cabins.
I want somewhere I can be someone else. Maybe even be myself.
Cozy A-Frame with Sleek Modern Interior
Our home is perfectly situated for all your adventures!
Maintaining a classic, cozy feel.
Complete with twinkle lights!
$449/night. Worth it. ~
Self check-in is great when the keypad works.
I’ve been catfished!
The cabin abused filters, aerial angles and an inviting nighttime ambience to reel me in! Irl, it’s a triangular sylvan stack on a teetering butte with a bumpy parking spot and one of those annoying ovens that beeps too loud.
Worst of all, the twinkle lights are MIA.
At least there’s a lake view.
The guest book corroborates:
Ad nauseam, ad infinitum.
I almost puke.
I tiptoe across the silence.
Didn’t Edith Wharton write about how loud quiet can be?
Stunning emptiness. I’m in a black hole made of oak.
Is this what people want when they “get away”?
Maybe silence feels different when there’s someone to share it with.
Couples have demeaned these couches, counters, the first and second queen beds. This place is a tribute to the desperate fuck.
No matter where I go, work follows.
I stock the fridge with (my) essentials: wheatgrass juice, overnight oats, CBD oil.
My yoga mat unravels for some bad bitch poses but I opt instead to stroke spines of books no one reads.
I think of The Beast, as he’s dubbed in all the parlours and clubs. You’d think I’d heed the warnings of other dancers (ie, “Watch out for him.”) but they tend to be prejudicial bitches.
I trust the universe, and customers by proxy.
There’s never a problem.
Until there is. ~
The Beast haunts me.
I read, stretch, walk nowhere (great idea, renting a cabin in January.)
I’m stuck in my head with him.
My fifth reading attempt is doomed to be DNF’d in the loft on a stodgy mattress under red and white wallpaper. Who decided to dress up a lodge like a peppermint stick? It’s enigmat ic in all its ugliness. I intensify my gaze of the unbecoming stripes, hoping to uncover the mean ing of life beneath. If I can’t figure out life in general, solving my own would be nice.
The sun is cold and white, perfect for highlighting stretch marks and cellulite. It’s even worse for the wall. Every kiss, slip, bump and handprint is made visible as a viscid, shiny streak.
Bathed in sunlight, I see what shouldn’t be seen.
Handprints. Scratches. It suggests a language born of evil intelligence.
All symbols converge into a paralyzing pentagram.
Fucking great. The cabin lacks twinkle lights, but comes with a built-in ouija board.
I rest my hand on a stranger’s print. One touch and my body’s juiced.
I see their terrified faces. I hear their terrible screams.
I’m manic, panicked. This cabin hosts parades of paranoia, breakdowns and battlegrounds.
Bad things happen in this house.
The guest book deserves further investigation. I angle it into the light, and hate what I find.
There’s that same sticky shimmer underneath what is easily seen.
“Amazing view (of the hell dimension!)”
“Great lake (to drown yourself in!)”
Ad infinitum, ad nauseam.
This time, I vomit for real.
Fight or flight manifests differently in everyone. The coward (aka survivor) in me wants to GTFO ASAP. My inner fighter (aka fool) is game for an exorcism. I bet they have tutorials on Youtube! I could chant, read tomes, smoke out this place…
It’s one thing to think a fear.
It’s another to feel it.
There’s something here.
Atmosphere thickens. Oxygen becomes electric. The more I breathe, the less air I get. My terror is palpable enough to push walls.
I wipe my mouth of its swill, too scared to turn on the faucet, let alone wash my hands. Every move is scrutinized.
I’ve been watched this whole time.
I thought there was nothing worse than loneliness, but that’s not true.
The worst thing is being alone with someone you don’t want to be alone with.
I’m halfway down the loft’s stairs when I hear it behind me.
I don’t want to see, but ignorance is worse.
It’s seven feet tall: head scrapes ceiling. Mangy musk conjures up a possessed puppet from a church’s nursery: matted, brown hair glued onto an abominable sock. It only has two teeth, but that’s enough: one sits at the middle top of its gaping, red maw, while one resides at the bottom, curled the wrong way, impacting infectious gums.
It’s The Beast.
Men like him are monsters in disguise.
When he entered the club (in human form), girls scattered like moths. He looked like a bowling ball with legs, like anyone who sees strippers on a Thursday.
Why would I refuse him a dance? We don’t get an hourly fucking wage. Our income relies on our charm, our ability to listen and laugh. We don’t sell sex. We provide connection.
Only the rarest want something more: something that isn’t theirs, and never will be.
Nearing the song’s end, I had yet to remove my panties. His belly made for a little lap, and I struggled to bounce intimacy off his leaden eyes. He grabbed me, flipped me over, held me down, and shoved a finger inside. He raped me with his hand, put me down, and left.
What did I do?
What could I have done? Cause a scene, make a fuss? Why? He paid me the twenty upfront. I faced down The Beast, like every Beauty must. Next time I’ll avoid him, maybe warn the new kid to look out.
The human mind is powerful. What you focus on is what you create. When imagination is amplified by a bedevilled space, watch out.
Most of us have no idea what we’re wishing for.
I wanted this.
I wanted the chance to make it right.
“So, you followed me? I reckon you ain’t here for the view.”
He rarely spoke in human form; I don’t expect eloquent expostulations now.
His jowls ooze hungry fluids. He’s had a taste of my fear, and wants more. He feeds on it.
I retreat backwards down the steps, tiptoeing across the screaming silence. It’s only my breath and his, louder than a thunderstorm on fire.
No matter where I go, he’ll track me down. My fear leaves a perfume.
I only have one weapon, and I will wield it well.
“LOVE.” I cry.
The Beast slows its descent. Encouraged, I elaborate.
“LOVE IS BETTER THAN YOU. LOVE IS STRONGER. LOVE IS LOUDER. LOVE. LOVE. LOVE…!”
I scream the most magical word in the world until it fills the room, fights the fear and almost wins.
Love is all I have to give or keep.
He can never take it away from me.
Love can’t kill monsters, but it does disorient them. He falters long enough for my escape. I ditch all my worldly bullshit except wallet and keys.
Fuck this horror haven! It doesn’t even have twinkle lights!
I slip on the crackling snow in bare feet. I run like Roger Bannister, like Tyler Durden, like Forest fucking Gump.
I literally run for my life.
I’ve run like this before: from crazy roommates, drunk lovers. I’ll run as long as it takes.
To hell with holidays.
I can’t wait to get back to work.
C. E. Hoffman
After Between a Hard Place by Kate Gilmore
Step 1, put on some yellow pumps the exact color of sunflowers overbrimming desire with despair, like unfair hope which knows the story before it wrote that each shoe sticks to the feet like gum on a soul, taking with it every path that you have yet to take, every wall you kick down.
Step 2, scrape it off like a quick mistake with broken pieces of drywall sterile as surprise they fall and crumble easily under your yellow heel, a spear first thrown, which knows not how far it can go, and somehow dreams of landing midflight just to grow slow like a sunflower piercing the sky for a better homeunconquerable.
Lying face up on the grass, pebbles digging into my back, this is what I keep telling my self as something thick as chocolate syrup oozes down my right elbow that’s tucked under my head. I don’t dare move. Eyes shut tight against the brightness, I can feel the substance caked behind my right ear in a big clump. My arms and legs are stiff from keeping still for so long, what seems like hours.
The day was not supposed to end like this. Classes let out early at Elkhart High for a pep rally on the football field, so play practice was cancelled. I’m playing Torvald in “A Doll’s House, Part 2,” and my best friend Barb is playing Nora. Sometimes we have a hard time keeping a straight face during the arguments, but Torvald’s anger wells up easily. We met up by my locker and decided to run lines anyway during the rally. All around us classmates were grabbing coats and slamming their lockers shut. Excited shouts echoed down the hallway, the clamor of a couple hundred kids.
Barb and I were carried along outside in the flow. I blinked my eyes. The sky was crystal blue, the field across the street backed by flame-orange maples. The air was so crisp it almost hurt to inhale. I gasped, and Barb laughed at me.
“What, what?” I asked.
“You’re such a wuss, come on.” Barb took off, and I ran after her. She vanished in the throng, but then I caught sight of her red scarf halfway up the bleachers on the 50-yard line. I clambered up the metal risers to join her.
She gave me a serious look. “If you ever wanted to get married again, haven’t you ever wanted that?”
I sat down. “No.”
“Not even the possibility?”
“No, Nora, I haven’t. You sorta killed that for me.”
These words were hard for me. I’d had a crush on Barb since freshman homeroom but never let her know. Without her, I’d be lost.
Behind me, a jock kneed me in the back sitting down, and I half-turned to give him a scowl. I hate myself for letting myself get harassed. Barb caught my elbow.
“Wow,” she said, “the whole town’s coming!”z A line of cop cars and fire trucks had just pulled up in front of the school, lights flashing, their sirens half-drowned out by the marching band spilling out onto the field, blasting out “Thriller” with its throbbing bass line and stabs of horns. Somewhere a megaphone blared, “There’s a shooter outside the school!”
That’s the last thing I remember. From my place on the ground, I can hear terrified screams and cries of pain. I force myself to stay completely still, play dead. An ant crawls across my cheek. I recognize Barb’s voice shouting frantically from somewhere nearby, “Two of my friends are hurt, and no one is helping them! You have to do something now, you hear me? Do something!”
She must have volunteered to play the part of Panicky Student.
I can feel a string around my neck and a card on my chest. I guess it says something like “Patient. Life-Threatening Injuries”; or “;Victim. Low Priority.”
There’s the whomp-whomp of a copter setting down on the field, its wash knocking into me. I imagine making myself sit up, brushing my lumpy hair out of my eyes, and surveying the scene that must look unreal, like a horror movie unfolding in the sharp sunlight, under a few white puffy clouds. Medics and cops rushing around; students strewn here and there across the yard lines, with friends wailing over them; a clutch of angry parents held back behind yellow tape. There are backpacks and books and bright pieces of clothing scattered everywhere, as if a plane had exploded overhead. A tuba and a couple trombones lie gleam ing.
I feel like I’m about to lose consciousness. My head is weighing heavier on my arm, and I can’t feel my legs anymore.
I know I must be one of the lucky ones. With a warm washcloth, a nurse will swab me clean. I’ll be examined and released. On my own I’ll walk the few blocks home, down the middle of the street, with a light breeze ruffling the leafy elms overhead. On either side, the too-neat lawns and shrubs and Colonials. No one outside because they’re sheltering in place. My usual contempt will ease into a kind of serenity. I’ll go up the front walk of our ranch house, and my mom will rush out to hug me, thankgodyou’realright, our spaniel Buddy nipping at her heels, then lead me by the hand to where my dad and kid sister have already sat down at the kitchen table to meatloaf and mashed potatoes. They will lower their forks and flash me big smiles as I let myself down to join them, still a little shaken. Outside, the sirens will sound far away, like they’re from TV news that’s playing in the next room.
My eyes won’t always be dancing kaleidoscopes, they grow duller by the day.
These lips won’t always be as sweet, my mouth will sag under sorrow.
This complexion will wither, the dewy glow on these apple cheeks will turn sallow. Eventually, you’ll trade in my face for another.
I know my looks will not maintain, that’s why I give you these poems. Beauty fades, but the pen remains.
My frame won’t be firm much longer, it’s morphing every day.
These legs won’t carry me confidently, I’ll have to take many breaks.
The beating of my heart will slow down, until there’s no more rhythm to keep.
Ultimately, you’ll trade my body in for another.
I know my health will not sustain, that’s why I give you these poems.
Life fades, but the pen remains.
If I write it well, my words will become your home.
God willing, I help you grow, cradle you when you feel alone.
If there’s one thing you remember of me: it’s these verses came from my veins.
I gave you these poems, knowing…
When everything else fades, the pen remains.
words and artwork by Gina Maria Manchego
Seance For A Protaganist
The clairvoyant was part Sage, part Seer not yet incorporated. I asked him if I would ever achieve success, the only one who had not prone to abject worthlessness. He gazed at my plaid trousers stirred his martini with a jewel encumbered pinky, said he saw a tailor in my future. Suggested several, softening my many hovering anxieties. Knew I had arrived by taxi alone boring the esoteric driver sharing some spoken-sung abbreviated lyrics, candleled by the wind. Predicted I would phone another taxi soon while not re-experiencing the original driver. Assured me Morocco is gorgeous in September, all of us except the clairvoyant barely into June.
Here’s to the Nerdy Girls
The girls who went to Bronx Science for high school
The girls who have their heads in books
The femmes with rhinestones above their eyebrows
And short hair and earrings, those femmes
The women who wear sports bras and Natori panties
Because who can be bothered to match, those women
The enbees who thrift the flowered blouses
And write and perform their writing to music
The pretty nerds who eat M&Ms while proving theorems
High on math-travel in the clouds and sugar
The women who carry their inhalers in their purses
The women who publish weird poems
The trans women who move from working at NASA
To teaching science at an art school
The women who go to that same art school
And then create new, anti-racist worlds in A1
The women who go on walks to get new ideas
For writing, and who read, read, read
The retired science teacher who leads
A sewing ministry at her church
The girls who do online shopping and Then keep the clothes that don’t quite fit
Because the colors are beautiful.
The ones who love to swim and make up Stories in their heads, while In the cool, welcoming water.
“Gathering” , by L. M. Cole
Leave no trace of this pain
Only ashes for the curious
No phoenix to rise again
No resurrecting the destroyed
No heart mended
No love saved
Bridges run both ways
Better to burn them all
And let the flames of Hell
Light our way
Allison Walters Luther
Hot Dog from
There was much debate about what to call the flying object in the sky.
“It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s. . .” Dad was a Superman fanatic, so, of course, he would try to relate it to the Man of Steel.
“It’s a UFO,” Mary said decisively. She was the oldest, the tallest, and she was used to being right. Also, she was going through a Beetlejuice faze, so, of course, she would try to come up with some alarming explanation.
I looked at the sky carefully. It wasn’t a UFO though because it wasn’t unidentified. “It’s a hot dog,” I said.
Mom, who was trying to pretend like she didn’t need glasses, squinted at the object.
“Julie’s right,” she said. “It’s a hot dog. Now can we go back to eating our dinner?” Mom took a big bite out of the corn on the cob on her plastic picnic plate, as if she was ready to move on. The rest of us just kept staring up.
“But why,” Clare asked, “is a giant hot dog flying through the sky?”
“She does make a good point,” Mary noted.
I, too, kept looking at the giant weenie. For once, the three of us were in agreement: This was weird. And Dad was probably still trying to think of a way to relate the hot dog back to Superman.
We weren’t the only ones to notice the flying hot dog. The other families at the park were also looking up. There were lots of families out there since the weather was nice for late summer/early fall, and people wanted to enjoy the moderate temperatures while they could. Mary began to look concerned, as if she wanted to say something.
“Okay, what?” I finally asked.
“That thing seems to be moving awfully fast,” Mary said.
“And?” I said knowing that Doomsday Mary wanted to say more. I fiddled with my baked beans. I was never a fan of syrup covered food or farting, and I wondered if, while everyone was looking up, I could sneak my beans into the closest public trashcan.
“Speed,” continued Mary, “is distance over time, and force equals mass times accelera tion.”
I was getting impatient. “So what are you trying to say, Einstein?”
“Actually, I was thinking of Newton’s Second Law of Motion,” Mary explained, as if I knew what she was talking about or cared. I was seriously considering squirting the bottle of mustard on her. Exasperated, Mary finally said, “An object that big going that fast is going to cause some serious damage.”
“Why didn’t you just say that in the first place?” I asked. She looked at me as if I was a moron, so I said, “You know it’s really too hot to be wearing so much black in summer.”
“OMG, Julie, focus. We have to prevent that object from hitting the earth at the speed it’s going, or,”
“How?” I asked, as I tried to see if Mom still had her eyes on the trash can. She was digging into a second piece of corn and watching that thing like a hawk.
“Could we squirt it with mustard,” Claire asked, “to slow it down?”
“If only we could shoot laser beams from our eyes,” Dad muttered. “Give it a rest, Frank.” Mom said.
“According to Newton’s First Law of Physics,” Mary began. We all gave her a look. “Okay, fine, we can slow it down by speeding it up in the other direction.”
“So we could shoot at it?” Dad said.
“Yes, but,” Mary said.
“With what?” I asked.
“Anything we have,” Claire said.
Dad ran to the Jeep to go get his pistol. Claire grabbed her water guns. Mom told the other families in language plain enough for them to understand, “We need to shoot that giant weenie to stop it from hitting us.”
They agreed that no one wanted a weenie shiner.
Other families grabbed what they could: Barbeque sauce, nerf rockets, BB guns, sling shots, tennis ball blasters, paint balls, some guy with a Don’t Tread on Me license plate even pulled out a Remington R15.
Mary got out a piece of paper and started writing down calculations, which, in my opinion, wasn’t particularly helpful at the moment. But I just let Mary be Mary. Besides, she had a terrible throwing arm. I gathered up all the balls I could find: Soccer, football, base ball, even a dodge ball or two. Claire helped me fling them. Mom threw some chicken bones, and, inspired by her use of food for ammo, I threw the rest of the baked beans including the ones still on my plate. Mom looked horrified because she had made those nasty things from scratch.
“What?” I shrugged. “I’m doing my part to save the planet.”
“Just don’t throw the pudding dessert,” Dad said, and Claire nodded agreement. We kept on shooting at the hot dog, everything we could, and, finally, the thing began to break apart, and small bite sized weenie pieces began to rain down from the sky. The ones that hit us felt like hail, and somehow Mary, lost in calculations, ended up with a golf ball sized weenie knot on her head.
Thankfully, there wasn’t as much damage as there could have been because, once the hot dog bits started falling, dogs showed up from all directions to snap up the delicious treats. Then they rolled around happily in the grass.
Once most of the weenie debris had settled, Mom unwrapped the pudding dessert, and we all dug in. The pudding and the cream cheese were wonderful, but shooing the dogs away was a little annoying.
“This is heavenly,” Claire said.
Mary just rubbed her head while I ate without talking.
“I’d say,” added Dad, “that it’s out of this world.”
“For once,” Mom said, “we’ll allow it.”
We all nodded as we devoured the pudding dessert and watched the dogs begin to scatter back to wherever they had come from.
“Anywhere”, by Mirjana M.
Art, for the people, and as with James Diaz
James Diaz (They/Them) is the author of This Someone I Call Stranger (In dolent Books, 2018) All Things Beautiful Are Bent (Alien Buddha, 2021) and Motel Prayers (Alien Buddha, 2022.) They are the founding editor of An ti-Heroin Chic. Their work has appeared most recently in Orange Blossom Review, Wrongdoing Magazine, and The Hyacinth Review. Their artworks are emotional, compelling and thoughtfull; a real creative extension of the heart itself. James were kind enough to let us glimpse their creation pro cess.
M: Your artworks give out a sense of ongoing snippets of continui ty; could you tell us a bit about how and where your idea for a new artwork begins?
JD: I tend to begin each work not really knowing where it will lead me un til that very final moment. I am always surprised by the work. I feel like a conduit for something, mostly emotional experience that I am trying to translate/transmute into something larger than its raw form. I should say I create mostly to heal old wounds, and a lot of that is about trying to tell old stories in new ways. It’s my hope that if I can really feel the work (feel my feelings) then someone else will too. That it might be useful, you know. Not just visually pleasing.
I begin with images, usually trying to set a scene, whether it be a bedroom, a town, a roadside, train yard, gas station etc. Than I drop characters into that world. Sometimes I add three dimensional objects; marbles, pins, nee dle and thread, cotton, leaves. Then I look for the words to tell the story. In many ways that’s the hardest part of the piece and can take a while. How do you find the right words for an ineffable feeling? I can only come so close. It slips my grasp. But it feels like just enough.
The pieces mostly explore trauma through the lens of a child’s fiercely per ceptive eye. As a kid I found imagination to be salvation. Growing up poor in a dysfunctional, volatile and unpredictable environment I think a sense of magic and creativity became an open window for me to climb out of and onto so many imagined roof tops. Maybe it’s as simple as my “inner child” trying to remind adult-me of how far we’ve come, how hope is hidden in every moment. A lot depends on waiting a feeling out. I think that’s what these peices try to do. They’re emotional way stations for me to wait out my storms in.
as a part of every day
“Can you hear me, friend”, by James Diaz
“Give everything away”, by James Diaz
M: Which sphere of senses would you say accompanies your creative process the most?
JD: I think for me it can be a lot like music. We have no way to keep sound out, it enters us everywhere. We’re often un prepared and overwhelmed for all that we hear. Music tries, I think, to hone this wild process of sound. When you hear a piece of music that really hits you you can’t really explain to someone why it does what it does in the ways that it does. But because we all have this experience with sound, and es pecially music, we also know exactly what each other means when we say a sound moves us to tears and shivers. That’s the feeling I have working with collages. Trying to hone and contain the influx of so much emotional sound-music. I don’t know if one can see with the ears, but it certainly feels like I’m being led somewhere by a kind of sound.
M: Do you think, in today’s creative world, we should strive more to follow forms or challenge them?
JD: Probably a bit of both. We need a form to challenge after all. And then that new form created through challenge be comes someone else’s form to bend and scramble and sift through. I think it’s probably about taking what you need from an old form and leaving the rest. I love the cutting and lead ing edge of a wild new creation. But there are just as many old forms I love also. Most of all I think you should create what you’re compelled to create, in your own way. Don’t let anyone tell you how it must be done. If someone demands art should be done a certain way they’re no longer really talking about art. The most seemingly conservative of artists are probably just as much of an anarchist. Art seems to be a balancing beam between form and formlessness. A lot can happen in that place.
M: If there was one place to choose to have one of your artworks dis played, from places old and new, where would that be and why?
JD: Well, probably not in a gallery. I always love seeing art out in the wild, graffiti painted on walls, or chalk art in the park, or an odd piece of street performance, saxophone on a subway platform. Art for the people and a part of the everyday. I’d love to display it on a street corner or in a park and just have conversations about it with everyday people (of which I too am one.)
M: Who would you say is your most useful critic?
JD: My heart. It tells me when a piece isn’t right, when it isn’t emotionally true. The heart says: “you didn’t get out of your own way enough on this one.” Or it says: “Can you feel that? It feels true and just right.”
The best guide, and not just in art, but in life, is the human heart.
M: What is the biggest benefit and what is the biggest challenge that the rise of the Digital Era brought to you?
JD: The ability to share my work with others on social media and to be able to find marvelous publications like this one to share art with is an immense joy. Art is meant to be shared and it’s really nice to have an easy way to do that. As with anything there’s a downside. It’s important to keep per spective when something doesn’t get engagement. It’s not about you or the work (though it might feel like that) algorithms often decide the fate of what is seen and what is not. Trying not to take it personally is important. But that’s true for most things in life, of which the internet is still a very new part of. It takes some getting used to. But ultimately it’s wonderful. It brings together people who never would have found each other otherwise. How cool is that?
“Just give it some time”, by James Diaz
“Daughter on the lawn (x)”, by James Diaz
“All copper and quasrter moon”, by James Diaz
M: Someone is getting their creative sparks jolted this very moment: should they start now, or wait for a suitable moment?
JD: Start now! Write the poem, paint the scene, sing the song. No one can quite do what you can do. The world needs your spark. It offsets the dark. That spark. The only suitable moment is right where you are at each moment in your life.
M: Tell us your fondest story of creativity behind one of your pieces. JD: It was a recent piece I just finished called “I have a mother like that too.” It was a peice I didn’t know I needed to make until I made it. And when it was finished I had a really good cry. It’s really beautiful when art touches the most painful parts of us. Sometimes we need help getting to the source of something. The piece was about having a difficult parent who withholds love as a punishment, whose love comes and goes and can be as cold as it is warm. That’s a very confusing kind of love. The piece was trying to say to others who have known this special kind of heart ache that I understand, “I have a mother like that too.” You’re not alone in that. It’s my hope every piece I make can do something like that. Simply say: I understand. You’re not alone in it. And to hold on. Because there’s good stuff working it’s way to you.
Diaz, interviewed by Mirjana M.
Today was my 10th birthday! I only invited Katie and Maria from my class because they’re the only ones I play with usually. We had loads of cake and sweets and played in the garden. I love the tree house daddy built for me. He says I’;m a big girl now and I can have big girl things, but I need to get rid of my small girl things like my night light. I don’t like the dark, but he said I can keep the door open a little bit.
Goodnight Diary. Sophie x
6th of October
Last night I couldn’t get to sleep for long because I kept hearing a noise from the basement and thinking about monsters and ghosts from a scary film I once saw. I went to mammy and daddy’s bed and daddy told me I just need to remember it’s only the wind blowing and monsters aren’t real. I was still afraid but I went back to bed anyway and finally got to sleep. I want my night light back.
Goodnight Diary. Sophie x
I didn’t write anything last night because I kept thinking of the monster and forgot. I’m sorry Diary. Daddy said the monster was just a nightmare but I know I wasn’t asleep. I was trying to sleep and heard more scratching from the basement and when I looked at the vent that goes downstairs I saw its eyes, so many eyes I couldn’t even count them. I screamed and closed my eyes and daddy came in to my room and I told him but he just said I had a nightmare and I needed to be brave. I asked him can I have my night light back but he said he gave it away to a small girl because he thought I was a big girl now. I want to be a big girl but I’m so scared. Last night I thought I would see it again but I didn't. Maybe daddy is right I guess about the bad dream. I hope he was.
Goodnight Diary. Sophie.
Please please please I need help. I don’t know what to do anymore. The eyes came back last night and I tried to be brave and wake up or something but they came so close and I was terrified. I couldn’ see the monsters body but I know it was horrible, I could just tell. And it talked to me. It told me lots of weird stuff I didn’t understand about how the world was going to end and something called the fay will soon return to the surface. I couldn’t even breathe until it left, I just kept trying not to move. Today I told my daddy about the monster but he doesn’t believe me. He just called it an overactive imagination and said that change can be hard some times. I don’t want to see the monster again Diary. Please protect me. Goodnight Diary. Sophie x
The monster didn’t come back last night, but the scratching in the basement is getting louder now. I had weird dreams last night of the monster and loads like it. Shadow creatures with hundreds of eyes, leaving the shadows to come back to the surface world. They are coming now I think.
Goodbye Diary. Sophie x
The Girl in the Corner
My mother was in the room with me, morning to evening, in the weeks following my open-head surgery. I’d had a tumor removed, one we discovered I’d had since birth.
I know what you’re thinking. It sounds implausible to hear that someone lived with a brain tumor their whole life—in my case, 40 years—but, I’m proof it can happen. Born with it, it now makes sense why I limped since childhood. Why my eye crossed overnight at age four. Why I developed nonstop hiccupping, dry-heaved bile, had a left foot and calf that felt like ice. My tumor was classified a cavernous angioma. It was on my brain stem, the three-inch long, tube- shaped mass of nervous tissue that controls breathing. Heartbeat. Consciousness.
Complicating matters, it bled.
That was the bad news. The good news is that my doctor, Chief of Neurosurgery at a Boston hospital and lecturer at Harvard Medical School, removed my tumor in a daylong operation. While recovering at the hospital, and later at a brain injury rehabilitation center through the month of October—where I re-learned how to swallow and progressed from a wheelchair, to a walker, to a cane—my mother left only when visiting hours ended. I got used to waking and seeing her, reassuring me from her chair.
One time I woke and she wasn’t there. I lifted my head as another headache slammed my temple. I scanned the room. Empty. Soon though, I saw people congregating at the door and spilling across the threshold. I couldn’t see their features and no one spoke to me. Their laughter rose. Music started, a rush of thumping chords. I called out that I was trying to sleep. No one listened, nor looked at me. I closed my eyes and pulled in a deep breath. I’d need to yell. When I opened my eyes again, the room was empty. The lights, dimmed.
I saw movement in a corner. Was Mom back? I looked again. That person didn’t move like my mother. I peered, but shut my eyes when fear knifed my gut. I wanted the crowd of people back. I peeked again. The figure was rocking in a chair, back and forth, back and forth. I squeezed my eyes shut as pins pricked my arms and scalp. I looked again and she stared back, a young girl with a pale face. She had large eyes, dark-circled and mournful. She wore a shawl, and seemed plucked from the pages of a Victorian novel. I looked away. And back. She was gone.
When I woke again, it was morning. Mom was sitting in her usual place, in a chair by my bedside. I told her about the girl. She said I’d been in extreme pain the previous day and had been given Percocet. I should mention that months earlier, I’d named my tumor “Angie,” an abbreviation for angioma. The nickname made what I had sound less clinical. I could fight something named Angie.
Had Percocet caused my hallucination, I wondered? Or, had I empowered the angioma by naming it, by giving “her” an identity—the tumor I’d lived with all my life? Could my tumor stare back, outside of me?
Angie was no longer in my brain but I believe she was with me, still, in the room that dark autumn night, deep into the season of the witch. It was she, my tumor, incarnate. This I believe.
Ann Kathryn Kelly iscurrentlyquerying.Itseemsfittingtoincludeitinourautumnissue,especiallyasAnnmakes referencetotheseasonofthewitch.
UndertheworkingtitleofOUTLASTINGANGIE,Ann’smemoirisastoryaboutadiagnosis40 yearsinthemaking.It’sastoryofduality—twoforcesinonebody,battlingfordominance.It’sabout controlversushelplessness,howquicklyindependencecanbetaken,andhowlovedonesareasvitalas medicalspecialistsinsavingus.Intheend,shedoesoutlastAngie.Yet,40yearswithherbraintumor bringsanawarenessthatindependenceandlife’strajectoryalwaysdid,andcontinuesto,balanceon athinedgeofwhatisinsideandoutsideofanyone’scontrol.Thisflashsceneisexcerptedfromacompletedmemoirmanuscriptthat
The door opened before Chris could even ring the bell. He put on his biggest smile, because this was the only house within miles with lights and decorations. His Trick or Treat bag was pitifully empty. It was his first Halloween when his big sister Fiona didn’t have to chaperon him like some little kid. She thought she was so grown up, that only babies go Trick or Treating because anyone could just buy candy at the store. He wasn’t going to give up and go home so easily.
“Trick or Treat!” he said, wiggling his handmade spider legs that his mom had spent too much time on.
“Oh, my goodness!” the woman said. She was decked out in a pretty standard witch’s costume: black dress, pointy hat, green make-up. From inside the house, Chris heard cheesy haunted house music with the usual banshee shrieks, spooky noises, and ghostly cackles. A strobe light nearly blinded him when he looked straight at it.
“Darling, come look!” the witch called over her shoulder to someone in the house. Chris shifted from side-to-side, eager for candy. His smile tightened with impatience as he thrust his bag towards her, waiting. His legs hurt from walking all over town. Instead, she turned away to let a man share the doorway with her. He looked like Dracula, down to the red ringed eyes and slicked back hair.
“You’re the first spider we’ve seen. In what, twenty years, Darling?” “Yes, my love,” Dracula said, in a fake Transylvanian accent. Chris’s face was starting to hurt, holding the smile for so long.
The witch reached out to touch one of the spider legs and Chris noticed that her hand was liver-spotted and wrinkled, unlike the youthful face smiling at him. The smell of mildew wafted from her sleeve.
“Thank you. Happy Halloween!” He shook his bag. Get with the candy, lady. “Won’t you come inside?” The couple stepped back, allowing the door to open all the way to invite him in. The sweet stench of rotting pumpkins filled his nostrils. “There are other children here. We’re having a party.”
Chris was confused—there were no cars in the drive.
“I probably shouldn’t. It’s pretty late and my parents are waiting…”
“We’ve got king sized candy bars.” She said the magic word. Mom would kill him if she found out he went inside a stranger’s house.
“Okay, just for a minute.” He held his breath and stepped inside.
The stench was so overwhelming that he could taste it. His stomach churned. A machine in the corner belched chemical fog, mixing with the rot. The strobe light hurt his eyes so he focused on the couple’s backs, leading him towards a back room. Kitschy Halloween decora tions were tucked into every corner. Some of them looked quite old, faded as if they’d been there for years. Fake tombstones covered in cobwebs, ghostly projections, and noisy skeleton animatronics lined the hallway. The haunted house shrieking grew so loud that he felt his teeth vibrating as the bass traveled up through the floor.
The party room was thick with fog; Chris could barely see the other kids standing in small groups or perched on the furniture. He waved but none of them responded. The woman was now stooped over, playing the part of the spooky witch. She gestured towards a table set up with food and drink. Dracula’s pale face floated in the haze, his eyes seeming to glow whenever the multi-colored lights passed over him. Had he gotten taller? Chris decided it was an effect caused by the cramped room and weird lighting.
Chris found a bowl, filled with king sized bars as promised, and grabbed a handful, stuffing it into his bag. This makes up for the rest of the night. He reached in for another only for his hand to squelch into something wet and warm. He pulled his hand free with a horrible sucking sound; his fingers were coated in a syrupy goo that dripped onto the floor. Ugh!
He wiped his hand on a napkin, realizing then where the odor came from. Flies landed on rotting sandwich meat and moldy fruit. Backing away from the table, he bumped into the leg of one of the other kids, almost falling in their lap.
“Sorry,” he mumbled as he righted himself. The kid wore a Batman costume with a mask that covered most of his face. When Chris touched his leg, it had given under his hand, like it was stuffed with paper. Nausea rose in Chris’s stomach, the reek filling his nostrils. Sweat prickled on his brow as panic set in.
He heard the door slam and saw the couple standing in front of the only door in the room. His heart pounded. Something was very wrong. No one knew where he was. For the first time in his life, he missed his sister.
The woman smiled at him with jagged teeth; she was bent over almost double, her face now lined with wrinkles. The man seemed to have grown, his head almost brushing the ceil ing. He took a step toward Chris, the motion shaking the floor beneath him, making his teeth rattle.
Chris bolted for the heavily draped window on the other side of the room, tripping over the legs of the children. They fell on top of him, their bodies weighing almost nothing.
His hands brushed against dead, papery skin as he pushed them away. The man loomed over Chris reaching for him with long twitchy fingers.
Chris lunged for the curtains, opening them to find bars across the window and a black abyss staring back at him. Dracula’s fingers grabbed at the back of Chris’s costume, trying to gain purchase. He ducked away, scrabbling on hands and knees towards the door—the only way out. One of the children fell heavy to the floor, her cat mask falling away to reveal a rotted white face with dead gray eyes. Maggots spilled from her mouth. A hand grabbed his collar as the witch’s nails scraped against his neck. Chris jerked away, hearing the cardboard spider costume rip in half. He fell to the ground and ducked under Dracula’s legs, tripping him. The witch screeched, throwing aside the empty costume. He ran for the door, his hand reaching the doorknob.
He ran through the hallway, dodging the skeletons that reached for his ankles with bony hands. Sticky spider webs gave way under his thrashing and ghosts rose from the floorboards, shrieking in his ears. Dracula’s pounding footsteps grew closer. He could smell the witch’s rank breath and feel her scraping fingers.
He lunged for the front door but it was locked. He ducked away from the witch bearing down on him, her shrieks ringing in his ears. There was a small window in the next room and he could see the street. Grabbing one of the fake gravestones, he found that it was actually heavy stone. He swung it at Dracula, hearing the man’s fingers crunch under the blow. Chris threw the rock towards the window, shattering it in a spray of glass.
The witch grabbed onto his ankle and he kicked himself free, losing a shoe. The glass scraped against the sweats he had worn under his costume as he scrambled onto the porch, knocking Halloween decorations out of his way. Falling to his hands and knees, he took great panting gasps of sweet autumn air.
Chris sprinted all the way home, where his sister awaited him. He’d lost the king size candy bars when he fled, but Fiona had already gone to the corner store and bought enough for the two of them to share while they watched old horror movies.
Dancing with Pain
Inspired by the Rick Bartow work “Dancing with Pain”
He holds me like a bird with broken wings but my talons dig into his flesh resisting this slow embrace, something still far removed from dance and grace until I notice tears that mix with blood and paint innocence like salt in the Oceans, iron in the Earth. We keep dancing in reverse Pain and then rebirth, and yet as we dance I no longer wish to fly away.
“What’s wrong with your door, Kev?” You ask as I climb over the passenger’s seat and settle behind the wheel.
I try not to catch the dip in your jeans, the flash of your crimson briefs as you take a seat, but I can’t help it. I can’t ever help it.
I welcome you into my car with a smile and say, “if I opened it, when I closed it, the window stays sticking out.”
You stare, squeeze your plump, rose lips, and scrunch your amber, deep eyes. You never believe my stories.
“I’ll prove it, Noah,” I say, setting my hand on the plastic remains of the handle, acting like it wasn’t broken.
But you stop me. Your brown fingers land on my arm, tickles the few hairs that bothered to grow, and my muscles constrict.
“No, don’t. We’re late already,” you say. “Pepe is going to kill me if I miss this test again.”
I start the engine and pull away from the towering Fiji fig palm, which guards my family’s house.
“I can fix it when we get home,” you say as I turn the bend, passing the neighborhood park smothered in strangler fig trees, heading for the main street to connect with the expressway. “Pepe taught me this cool hex last night. Should work on a window?”
I hit the gas and race to the intersection just before the yellow light turns red. I clip the red light. No big deal. No cops. No one’s mad.
I calm my grip on the wheel, lean my body toward you, and say, “I don’t think hexes are a good thing, babe.”
You snort and as you try to adjust the air vents, learn the plastic is broken, you say, “for people, but to fix this junk, it might work.”
“You know it’s the best I can do right now,” I say. “I’m working on it.”
When my mother criticizes the window, I seal myself in my room for a few days, leaving her alone in the silence of our broken house, as punishment. It’s a shitty car, I know that. It takes me to my shitty job everyday, brings me to my shitty house where I’ve got to live in the shitty shadow of a once happy family. But I can go anywhere I want in this car. When the shit gets too high, I can climb in here and run away. It’s my new home. It’s all I really have beside you.
I crawl to the next intersection lined with palm trees and the truncated, modern-style ranchers of suburban Miami, and let the silence descend between us. I need to finish school before I can get a new car. You know this. Why are you beating me up?
“You’re doing great, babe,” you say as your fingers stroke my curls. “Did you call that guy Pepe recommended you to? Sounded like a great job.”
I sigh and say, “I can’t do it. The jobs in another state. I’d have to leave you, my mom, everything. I’m just not ready.”
“Of course you are,” you scoff, “this place isn’t for you. You’ve got a talent for magic I’d kill for. Don’t play it safe here. You’ll die if you do.”
“But I can’t leave you,” I say.
Your hand falls down the back of my neck. I want to let you bring me into your body, to let you catch my lips with yours, to reassure me that I will never lose you. But that doesn’t happen. The light changes to green and I can’t move. Static pricks me. It sends a tingle down my spine, spreading down the nerves throughout my body, filling me with life. My eyes widen and watch a lilac haze fill the world. The passing, honking cars, freeze solid in chunks of pink ice. The fog rolls in and covers the windows.
“We could all use a little push, babe,” you say and smile. “Pepe will understand if we take a quick detour. It’s for a good cause. Come on. Get out.”
You tap my thigh and roll out of the seat. You hold out your arms, offer me the chance to climb out through your side. I don’t have the heart to tell you using the driver’s door is fine, it’s only getting in that’s the problem, so I go through the passenger door. You grab the flesh between my neck and shoulder for a massage as you guide me toward a wall of rolling fog.
By the wave of your hand, the clouds part. Where the ranchers once stood, brick houses, tall and connected, and where the palms could once be found, there are trees, thin and bare. A breeze sweeps by; the cold stings my face. This place is strange, but it feels more like home to me than Miami ever did. It was a feeling; a magic in the air.
“Huh, so this is where you’ll move,” you say, stepping onto the stoop and looking up at the porch and three-pane, bay windows. “Rowhomes, I think is what these are called.”
“How do you know? You’ve never been out of Miami in your life,” I say. I examine the window by the steps and wonder if this is a basement.
You laugh and say, with a mocking attitude, “you don’t know where I’ve been.”
“Yes, I do.”
“Just ‘cause we met in middle school, doesn’t mean you know everything about me.”
I climb the steps and from the porch, I look out at the frozen cars and the lilac haze, and think how a swing would be nice here. I could grow here, but not without you. You stroll to my side, rest your body against me, and throw my arm over your shoulders, welcoming you in.
“Twenty years,” I say, burying my face in your plush, gel-stiffened hair, siphoning the scent of the strawberry conditioner you love. I lift up my nose and continue, “that’s how long we’ve lived in the same house.”
“Yeah,” you say and look down. I know talking about your family bothers you. I’m not going there. “We grew up as best friends, graduated high school, started dating girls and shit–”
“Til we got drunk that night in college,” you laugh and finish my thought.
“When you took off your shorts and we went skinny dipping in Maria’s pool.”
You inhale deeply. I wonder what your memory of that day looks like. I remember the checkered button-down on the lounge chair, the jeans flopped on the concrete, and the hiss of the navy briefs as slipping off your pale, perfectly peached ass. I remember the drip of your face after I jumped in and came up for air. I remember the bitter taste of the beers you’d been drinking. I remember your smile, the one that broke our kiss. I wish I could know that day from all angles. I want to relive it.
“I can’t leave you,” I say quietly. “What am I supposed to do in Maryland alone?”
You poke my side, make me twitch and pull away and say, “you study and become the best fucking brujo alive and you come get me from this shit hole of a city.”
I can feel trembling in my body. “I can’t do it by myself,” I say and throw my arms around my gut trying to settle my nerves. You know what to do. You rub my skin, feeding me your confidence.
“I’m not going anywhere,” you say. “You know where to find me. Someone has to take care of your mom. Call me when you need me. I’ll come visit when I can. You’ll come down, I’m sure when you get tired of those boys you’ll meet up there and want some of the good stuff,” you stroke my cheek and lift up my chin to catch my eyes, “you can do this. I promise.”
Your touch usually helps, but not this time. I try to draw my attention away from the subject and examine the porch some more.
“The wood is worn and the paint is faded,” I say, looking at the floor and heading for the front door. “Where are we anyway?”
“The future,” you say without turning around to face me.
“Obviously, but when.”
“Open the door.”
Without question, I heed your command and step into the living room. There on the sofa, huddled together is you, watching an unfamiliar actor, and strolling down the hall, wiping his hands on an aqua-blue dish towel is me. I can’t hear their discussion, but I don’t need to; I can feel the energy of their exchange, the love.
I turn around. You stand on the edge of the stool, hands tucked in your jeans, and you grin. “You’ll be okay, Kev. We’re both gonna be okay.”
You hop down the steps, each cheek bouncing, and as you walk toward the car you shout, “move your ass! We’re gonna be late!”
I follow. He holds open the door as I climb into the car. Once you’re settled, you grab my chin, draw me closer to you and say, “I want that life with you,” you point to the house, fading into the fog, “it’s your choice of course, but when we get home, you’re calling that guy back, you understand me? And it’s not gonna happen if you don’t get out of here.”
“Okay, babe,” I say. You kiss me, hard and deep, and I lose myself in your love. I don’t even notice the wave of your hand until the blare of car horns knocks me back into reality.
You lick your lips as you pull your seatbelt across your body and say, “now fucking drive. Pepe’s waiting for us.”
Kevin M. Casin
cut me deeper as we hide beneath the floorboards creaking with your strange rebellion it is centuries old my hunger is a shapeshifting oath a castle of rage and sand a home full of silver scales a tidal wave pouring moon songs out of my hair into your hands a wishing well a prayer holy from the waist down at sunset the long shadows become blackened pages tangled in seaweed where you and I are sea serpents sirens enchantingly calling for Death to all men all that is left for the ritual is to collect the husks and shells please hold my sea glass between the small wrecks and reefs of your scarred porcelain fingers don’t wash me out tomorrow please hold my heart in that vast ocean of your calling cast on the dark legged sky
witness the rebirth of Venus in a storm of salt in my mortal eyes
I don’t care about the broken things we leave behind
“Eternity”, by Mirjana M.
The witch gazed at the sunny sky without a word clouds covered the sun’s face and the day got dark like the witch’s blood, she sighed and slow drops of rain dripped to embalm with odours cracked soil and her soul’s core. Grateful for quenching her inner thirst, she blessed everything the rain touched.
Jonathan Pessant is a Maine poet. He is a graduate of the Stonecoast MFA program. His works have appeared in Pedestal Magazine, Goose River Anthology, Warm Milk Publishing, and others.
Allison Walters Luther is a story-crafter and poet who defies strict genre classification. Believing that no story is ever really over, she frequently leaves her pieces open-ended and doesn't feel the slightest bit bad about it. You can find links to her published works and read some unpublished stories at allison waltersluther.com She resides near Seattle with her husband, three children, and a grouchy parrot. She is currently working on her first novel, THE OTHER SIDE OF WINTER. You can follow her on Twitter at @ AllisonLuther.
Robert C. Day : I live in York, UK where I work as a data wrangler for The Man whilst secretly planning my next career as a World-Famous Author. You can find me on my blog (https://robertcday.wordpress.com/) most days so please pop in to say hi. I also have a show on 5 Towns Radio (moving soon to York Hospital Radio), a podcast called Sklugoo Speaks and I make really good vegan pizza.
"When we share our stories, we realize that we are not alone with it. We begin to see the system that is behind violence, injustice, and exploitation. Telling our story is the connecting moment to take action and to initiate change."
Kate is an author, feminist activist, and founder of the multilingual community arts and literature project Stimmen der Rebellion/Dengê Berxwedane/Voices of Rebellion.
Her works have been published in journals and anthologies all over the world. Her poems are stories of hu man connection and the dreams of revolution. Coffee, her cat Bella, the occasional romantic disaster, and, naturally, her feminist friends are particularly important for her creative process. Find Kate on Instagram at @kissed.by_fire
Sadee Bee uses her work to shine a light on the hidden parts of mental illness and the effects of trau ma. Sadee Bee is ever-evolving as living with mental illness is never a straight line and hopes to be a voice and advocate for those like her. She uses art as an outlet as well, creating whatever comes to mind, and is heavily drawn to speculative and out-of-this-world elements. Twitter @SadeeBee Instagram: @sadee__ bee
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
Milan G. says he is 'the age of Jesus, but does not feel like Jesus'. His favourite atmosphere for writing is the commute to and from his day job as a Q & A analyst. You can find more of his writing in Serbian and English on his blog ikarusilluminus.wordpress.com
Marc Isaac Potter is a writer and creative, using technology to get his work out there. For contact or to reach out use: firstname.lastname@example.org
Laszlo Aranyi (Frater Azmon) poet, anarchist, occultist from Hungary. Earlier books: (szellem)válaszok, A Nap és Holderok egyensúlya . New: Kiterített rókabor. English poems published: Quail Bell Magazine, Lumin Journal, Moonchild Magazine, Scum Gentry Magazine, Pussy Magic, The Zen Space, Crêpe & Penn, Briars Lit, Acclamation Point, Truly U, Sage Cigarettes Magazine, Lots of Light Literary Foundation, Hon ey Mag, Theta Wave, Re-side, Cape Magazine, Neuro Logical, The Daily Drunk Mag, Unpublishable Zine, Melbourne Culture Corner, Beir Bua Journal, Crown & Pen, Dead Fern Press, Coven Poetry Journal, Journal of Erato, Lothlorien Poetry Journal, Spillover Magazine, Punk Noir, Nymphs Literary Journal, Synchronized Chaos, Impspired Magazine, Fugitives & Futurists, The Dope Fiend Daily, Mausoleum Press, Nine Magazines, Thanks Hun, Downtown Archive, Hearth & Coffin Literary Journal, Our Poetry Archive (OPA), Juniper Literary Magazine, Feral Dove Magazine, Alternate Route, CENTRE FOR EXPERIMENTAL ONTOLOGY, Bullshit Lit Magazine, Misery tourism, Terror House Press, Journal of Expressive Writing, APOCALYPSE CONFIDENTIAL, WordCity Literary Journal, Wilder Literature Magazine, Roadside Raven Review, Death'sDormantDaughter, Rasputin, Amphora Magazine, Dope Fiend Daily, THIN SLICE ANXIETY, Dark Entries, FLEAS ON THE DOG, Dumpster Fire Press, DON'T SUBMIT!, Horror Sleaze Trash Magazine, Outcast Press, DOGZPLOT Magazine, All Ears (India), Rhodora Magazine, Arc Magazine, ShabdAaweg Review (India), Utsanga (Italy), Postscript Magazine (United Arab Emirates), The International Zine Project (France), Swala Tribe Magazine (Rwanda), The QuillS Journal (Nigeria). Known spiritualist mediums, art and explores the relationship between magic. https://www.facebook.com/laszlo.aranyi.3 https://twitter.com/azmon6
VOX is a writer and digital artist of fashion design and the weirder things in life - inspired by a love of 70s and 80s horror films, vintage clothing, cyberpunk, along with a lifelong fascination of collecting old paperbacks.. VOX's work has appeared in Dreams & Diversions, The Evening Theatre, The Horror Zine, Dimension 9, and other publications.
Petar Penda is a professor of English and American literature (University of Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina), literary critic, and translator. His translations have been published in renowned journals in the USA and the UK. His poetry and flash fiction have been published in "Fevers of the Mind", "Lothlorien Poetry Journal", "A Thin Slice of Anxiety", "Trouvaille Review", " Amphora", and other journals.
Richard M. Ankers is the English author of The Eternals Series and Britannia Unleashed. Richard has featured in Expanded Field Journal, Love Letters To Poe, Lothlorien Poetry Journal, and feels privileged to have appeared in many more. Richard lives to write. Website: richardankers.com Twitter: @Richard_Ankers
L.M. Cole is a poet and artist residing on the US East coast. Her poetry has been featured with Roi Faineant, Unfortunately Lit, and others. More of her art can be seen in the upcoming Musing Publications zine: "The Nuances of New-Age Feminism." She can be found on Twitter @_scoops__
Benjamin's stories have been featured in New Plains Review, East by Northeast, Prometheus Dreaming, and has an upcoming flash fiction piece that will appear in On The Run. Previously, he was a member of the The Washington DC Comedy Writers Group. He lives in Washington DC, where he was born and raised, with his wife, Dana, and their 80-pound dog, Appa.
Sophia Cosby studied German and English Literature in Edinburgh. Her poetry has been published in the bilingual literary magazine The Transnational. She currently resides in Berlin, Germany. Visit her newsletter "The Belletriste" https://sophiacosby.substack.com/ and connect on Twitter: @@shmlophia
Laura McPherson (she/they) is a writer based in Chicago. Her creative work has appeared or is forth coming in Night Picnic Journal, Downstate Story, Cosmic Horror Monthly, The Hyacinth Review, and else where. Find her online at https://lauramcphersonwriter.com/ and on Twitter @silversatire.
Hazel J. Hall (she/they) is an emerging disabled-queer writer and poet based in rural New Hampshire. Right now, she is pursuing an English degree while working on her first novel. More of Hazel's work can be found in Scribes*MICRO*Fiction, Wishbone Words, and Beltway Poetry Quarterly with other pieces forthcoming or visible at their site, hazeljhall.com.
Kristin Garth is a Pushcart, Rhysling nominated sonneteer and a Best of the Net 2020 finalist, the author of a short story collection You Don't Want This ( Pink Plastic Press), The Stakes (Really Serious Literature) and 20 more books.
Zhenya Yevtushenko is one of the sons of the Russian poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko. Zhenya currently lives in Tulsa, OK where is studying to become a teacher and a literary translator. When he's not walking his dog, scribbling down some poems, or working at a museum, Zhenya likes to travel and listen to jazz music. He owes his inspiration to his brothers, his mother, and to the love of his life, Olivia. His work has recently been published by the Tulsa Review and eMerge Magazine at the Writer's Colony in Dairy Hollow, and his work is forthcoming in an anthology. Updates on his work can be found on instagram @zyevtu
Maud Lavin lives in Chicago where she runs the READINGS series at Printers Row Wine. She has published recently in Roi Faineant, Funny Pearls, Red Ogre Review, and Chicago Artist Writers. Her book Boys' Love, Cosplay, and Androgynous Idols was nominated for a Lambda, and an earlier book, Cut with the Kitchen Knife, was named a New York Times Notable Book. She is a Guggenheim Fellow and a person with disabilities.
Peter Devonald is a Manchester poet and screenwriter. Over 50 poems published in anthologies/ zines/ galleries including in 2022: Artists Responding To…, Dear Politicians: Ecopoetry Anthology, Forget-Me-Not Press, Dirigible Balloon and haus-a-rest Deconstruction/ Tiny/ Dada. Heart of the Heatons best poet ry winner 2021. Appeared in Tender Stems group show and Chronically Online/ Culturable/ Layered Onion group show. Featured in The Poetic Map of Reading. Screenwriting: Children's Bafta nominated, Gold Remi WorldFest Houston winner and formerly senior judge/ mentor Peter Ustinov Awards (iemmys). www.scriptfirst.com IG: @peterdevonald FB: https://www.facebook.com/pdevonald Twitter: https://twitter. com/petedevonald
Lori D'Angelo's work has appeared in various literary journals including The Bakery, Drunken Boat, Gar goyle, Gravel, Hawaii Pacific Review, Literary Mama, Potomac Review, and Word Riot. She is a fellow at Hambidge Center for Creative Arts and Sciences, a grant recipient from the Elizabeth George Foundation, and an alumna of the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley.
Gary Duehr has taught creative writing for institutions including Boston University, Lesley Univesity, and Tufts University. His MFA is from the University of Iowa Writers Workshop. in 2001he received an NEA fellowship, and he has also received grants and fellowships from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, the LEF Foundation, and the Rcokefeller Foundation. Journals in which his writing has appeared include Agni, American Literary Review, Chiron Review, Cottonwood, Hawaii Review, Hotel Amerika, Iowa Review, North American Review, and Southern Poetry Review. His books include Winter Light ( Four Way Books ) and Where Everyone Is Going To (St. Andrews College Press)
Gina Maria Manchego is a multi-medium artist and poet. She has been penning since childhood, her goal is to create dynamic scenes with the written word. Gina lives in the wild mountains of Colorado, USA. To connect on Twitter : @GiUknit
Theresa K. Jakobsen (they/them) is a German creative, who after spending the pandemic on the re mote Faroe Islands re-entered the colorful streets of Berlin city. The special challenges of living in another country as a chronically ill person were a propulsion to their creativity. Theresa creates mixed media art, photography and writes multilingual pieces. Their works recently got published in Variety Pack Mag, Alien Buddha Zine and The Gamut Mag.
Luke Hannon is an aspiring author and poet from County Meath, Ireland. In 2022 he received first place in the Macra na Feirme Creative Writing Competition Poetry Section with his poem 'Altar Man'. He has pre viously been published in the Irish Farmer's Journal, Agriland, Wingless Dreamer, Tiny Seed Literary Journal and Black Poppy Review. He is soon to be published in Nat1 Publishing's 'Elderly Ones' and 'Black Ink on a Blank Void' anthologies, Wingless Dreamer's 'Sea or Seashore' anthology and the next issue of Running Wild & RIZE. He enjoys genre fiction and writing about the themes of mental health, nature, love, and loss. Find him on Twitter @lukehannonpoet and Reddit u/lukehannonpoet
James Diaz (They/Them) is the author of This Someone I Call Stranger (Indolent Books, 2018) All Things Beautiful Are Bent (Alien Buddha, 2021) and Motel Prayers (Alien Buddha, 2022.) They are the founding editor of Anti-Heroin Chic. Their work has appeared most recently in Orange Blossom Review, Wrongdoing Magazine, and The Hyacinth Review.
Ann Kathryn Kelly writes from New Hampshire's Seacoast region. She's an editor with Barren Magazine, a columnist with WOW! Women on Writing, and she works in the technology sector. Ann leads writing workshops for a nonprofit that offers therapeutic arts programming to people living with brain injury. Her writing has appeared in a number of literary journals. https://annkkelly.com/
Kevin (he/they) is a gay, Latine fiction writer, and cardiovascular research scientist. His fiction work appears (or forthcoming) in Idle Ink, Medusa Tales Magazine, Pyre Magazine, and more. He is Editor/Publisher of Tree and Stone Magazine, an HWA/SFWA/Codex member, and First Reader for Interstellar Flight Press. For more about him, please see his website: https://kevinmcasin.wordpress.com/. Please follow his Twitter: @kevinthedruid.
Rachel is a filmmaker, writer, and artist living in the Florida panhandle with her husband, two children, and two black cats. She's bi-racial-Indian and Caucasian-and has recently ventured into prose after over two decades of producing indie horror films. Rachel loves directing, editing, screenwriting, and cinematography and likes to assemble miniature DIY dollhouses and jigsaw puzzles with her kids, when she's not tending to her garden. To view Rachel's films, visit agirlandhergoldfish.com
Colin James has a couple of chapbooks of poetry published. Dreams Of The Really Annoying from Writing Knights Press and A Thoroughness Not Deprived of Absurdity from Piski's Porch Press and a book of poems, Resisting Probability, from Sagging Meniscus Press.
Mirjana M. are a digital artist and writer from Belgrade, Serbia. Their work focuses on exploring the jux taposition of various elements through mixed media of photography, double exposure, textures and light. Their work most often explores concepts of duality and has appeared in 'Gulf Stream Literary', 'The Good Life Review', 'waxing & waning' magazines and other places. You can see more of their work at their blog olorielmoonshadow.wordpress.com, https://ello.co/oloriel, get in touch on Twitter (@selena_oloriel); they are also the creator of Suburban Witchcraft Magazine (https://suburbanwitchcraftmagazine.wordpress. com/)