Stoked: Vol. IV

Page 1


































Sara talked to a homeless man about The end of sadness. It’s coming said the man. Sara pointed out that Both of them were on ďŹ re And the man said mostly Screams after that. At that moment Sara knew they would spend the rest of their lives together.


BONES When Sara sat down for breakfast this morning she felt like she was sitting on the bones of her family. She realized that while she was home for the holidays she had spent most of her time fantasizing that she was in a room full of pleasant strangers who kept giving her pie.


Each year everyone is older and easier to ignore, which is a certain kind of vengance. All of Sara’s friends are learning to love their relatives and Sara is slowly killing her whole family with a flaming sword made of old age and natural causes.

She wants to see their funerals and put them inside her body and feel the wounds of her grandfather’s twenty-one gun salute. Pow pow pow pow pow pow pow pow pow pow pow pow pow pow pow pow pow pow pow pow pow.

Russ Woods lives in Chicago and edits Red Lightbulbs and Love Symbol Press alongside his wife Meghan Lamb. You can ďŹ nd a list of his publications at http://solar


3-D STARTS TO FIZZLE AND HOLLYWOOD FRETS BRANDI WELLS Analysts are concerned. The novelty of 3-D glasses is wearing off. Movie-goers are wearing hats. Glow in the dark hats, tall hats, hats made entirely of fruit. Theaters have tried selling fruit, but no one wants to craft their own hat. People say, I would have stayed home if I wanted to make my own hat. And they do. Millions of Americans stay inside and make fruit hats. Grocery stores cannot keep bananas stocked. They cannot keep apples and oranges and pineapples on the shelves.


People try making hats out of kittens and puppies and they wear these hats to action-thrillers, but puppies and kittens are scared of loud noises and Bruce Willis.

Bruce Willis releases a statement declaring his love for puppies and kittens but puppies and kittens remain unconvinced and refuse to be used for any sort of hat-making. Bruce Willis accessorizes with machine guns. Puppies and kittens carry smaller machine guns. People everywhere fashion machine gun necklaces and wear them to the movies. At the end of the movies they have a brawl. The oors and chairs are covered with tarps and bulletproof vests are for sale at the concession stand. Analysts are concerned. No one is paying attention to the movies. No one remembers to put their 3-D glasses on. In fact, no one remembers a time when there were 3-D glasses. Then trendy 27 year olds begin to accessorize with 3-D glasses. Puppies and kittens are passÊ. Bruce Willis and machine guns are an embarrassment. No one anywhere is buying or eating fruit.


Pre-teens beg their parents for a pair of 3-D glasses. Parents ask, If Bruce Willis and every kitten and puppy jumped off a cliff, would you? And every trendy 27 year old jumps off a cliff holding their passĂŠ puppy or kitten and you say, Yes, of course I would.


HERESY OF THE PARAPHRASE Of course, form and content are inseparable. This poem I wrote one time starts halfway down the page by introducing a group of rats who live inside a cabinet in a small apartment. It describes the apartment at length, concentrating on “s” sounds. The apartment seems unreasonably small. Like there isn’t enough room for both rats and people to exist. Text is italicized, but only when referencing edible items and not every time. The last and first line are the same except in the final line, “rats” is made singular. Rat. The poem doesn’t mention any other animal. It hints at human inhabitants but never describes them. Some lines are indented. One line is flush right of the page. That line compares birth and death in a way that makes you hungry but does not mention edibles and is therefore not italicized. “The” is not found in this poem. The poem asks questions about the rats’ ability to jump higher than five feet, but the poem does not employ question marks. Color is mentioned several times in this poem and always at the end of the line, except for where it is mentioned three times in a single line. The rats seem to be part of a collective. A collaborative. Their movements are plural, except for their deaths, which are singular. The next to last line of this poem is in Yiddish. The line above it is actually a drawing of a pie that may or may not contain fruit. The


picture may or may not frame the poem in a new way. There are no commas in this poem. This poem makes you think of rat murder in a spiritual sense. You have urges to eat bibles and have sex with trees and huff paint thinner. None of these things are in the poem. Much of this poem is blank space. Rats and blank space. This poem never describes rats. It doesn’t tell you directly how many rats there are, but you can glean this information through inference. The rats are described in terms of food. Swiss cheese, cherry tomatoes, whole wheat, sweet potatoes. There are 27 lines in this poem. None of them have exactly five words. One of them has 23 words. All 23 words are RUN. There are three lines that personify the house as a monster. Those lines seem to blame rat death on the house itself. None of the lines break on punctuation, except the final line. Two lines contain rhyming words. There is not a word in the poem that rhymes with rat. The poem does not explain the final rat’s fate. It doesn’t express empathy for that rat’s potential death or any other rat deaths. This poem ends but doesn’t conclude. This poem is like eating underwater. This poem makes more sense backwards.


Brandi Wells is an MFA candidate at the University of Alabama and her book, Please Don’t be Upset, was just released by Tiny Hardcore Press. Her fiction is in or forthcoming from Salamander, Mid-American Review, The Way We Sleep, and other journals. She blogs at




My daughter first brought home the iguana on a Sunday, which is when we usually have dinner together. He had on a jean jacket and seemed to smile at me in passing. It’s hard to say what he was doing actually. We’re just here to get something, she said. Her mother and I were at the table with a third plate. Our daughter stepped into her room for a moment. The iguana tilted its head. He stuck his tongue in his eye, said, smells good. She came out with a small purse I’d never seen before. I see her in the afternoons, sometimes. I used to see her at Sunday dinner, but then she stopped coming altogether, right around the first time I met the iguana. She’s very busy, explained my wife. She takes school very seriously, she said. I don’t want her hanging out with that thing, I told my wife. We were in bed together, books at our chests. My wife had on her glasses, which makes her look an awful lot like her mother. It’s unnatural, I said. You’ll only make it worse, she warned. The next time I saw him, he was shirtless and leaning a porch chair back against the front of our house, tapping a long claw on the slats and disturbing the dust. No shirt, no shoes, no service, Bub, I said. He laughed. My daughter appeared and said, we should go, and they went. In less than a month she was bringing him over all the time. They went into her room, tried to shut the door, but I told my wife to go say something. She poked her head in, asked if they needed anything, and left



the door open when they said no. Then I came home and found the two of them, my daughter and my wife, bawling on the couch. The way my daughter looked, I said, you can’t get one here, not in this town. People know us here, they know our car. We have a reputation. We’re good people. Her mother and I drove her to Santa Fe, nearly ten hours away. There were protesters at the clinic. One of them stopped my daughter, touched her elbow, and said, you can save a life today. They had big pictures at the ends of sticks. In not a single one was there a tiny iguana. Not one of them had claws. You ought to be ashamed of yourselves, I said. I put my arm around her. She tensed, but walked on as I did. She came out of the back room with her jacket over her arm. I had a bunch of flowers for her, sunflowers. I said I would carry them. We stayed in a hotel that night and didn’t say much. She pulled the petals from the flowers until I told her to stop. She took the phone into the bathroom with her and ran the water. Did you tell him? I asked the next day. My wife said it wasn’t our business. Our daughter fingered a peel of leather at the car’s armrest. How could I do that to him, she said. He showed up a few days later. He seemed drunk, staggering from side to side in the lawn. Don’t let him in, said my wife. Our daughter remained in her room. He just wanted to talk to her, he said. You need to let her go, I told him. I stepped onto the porch. He was raggedy - flakes of skin at his eyes, his elbows. He was missing a spine near the center of his long back. Just let her go, I said. He tongued the rim of his mouth, looked me dead in the eye. Did you do this, he said. I wanted to say, Fuck you. Fuck you and your jean jacket, and your shirtless eye-licking, and your midafternoon porch leans. Fuck you and get off our lawn, off our street, and out of our lives. Fuck you and remember, from now on, just how close you are, at all times, to losing everything. But instead I stood as tall as I could I stand. I loomed. I said, Listen to me. Listen to me right now. It’s just that time, I said. You need to let her go.

Colin Winnette lives in Chicago, IL. He has published one novel, REVELATION (Mutable Sound 2011), and two novellas, GAINESVILLE and IN ONE STORY, THE TWO SISTERS (Forthcoming with Atticus Books in 2013), and he was a Finalist for the 1913 Press First Book Award. The story featured in this issue is part of a collection of short prose entitled ANIMAL COLLECTION (forthcoming on Spork Press in late 2012). For links to more published work, or for more info, please visit


TITLES OF YOUR LIFE PETER SCHWARTZ new model buying one’s like eating, but this time you don’t have to stay in your stomach. monster orbit now go around without ever getting dizzy. plateau but never forget the day you forgot you were even bracing against anything.


rescue reflex sorry but i don’t think you should use my parachute as a napkin. dependency (flaw) but you can use my hair to make yourself less violent. adoption the you they love is small and can’t find his breakfast in the trees. symptoms sleep, poor sleep.


restraint but yesterday’s adrenaline smells like rain in a wishing well. recovery flaws sorry, i don’t think you should soak your feet in cough syrup either. proof your feet aren’t cold, you’re not anyone’s mascot, you’re not hypnotized. surface zeitgeist sorry, if there are more zoos than animals. texture and their fur is unquestionable.


arsenal signal but this distraction should be worth it. equator like finding a gold watch while being taken hostage. surplus your best blindfold and i still can’t forget. tomorrow is your best title. Peter Schwartz’s words have been featured in Wigleaf, Opium, and The Columbia Review. He’s also an artist, comedian, and dedicated kayaker. More at:



THE LORD’S WORK cannot sway anyone in a bullshitting, post-industrial gallows where the good hangman hath been rendered obsolete by a letdown of times when nobody aspires to heights because none care to get no heavens. See, the buds of young bodies are a dollar wad soon to be shot all wanton in the yellow light of a moon pausing to dip her owing tresses in a cartoon mouse mug holding teardrops


of I’d like to keep my animal body stroked, my little piece of land, my woman, my man warm in love. Alack, alack the heartbeat is a cesspool in Weed the Canadian Geese sorrow with the silence of their wings that loft their soft forms along like desires that give a person the will to live long enough to not, but the greatest of these are not fifty bucks; no the wad is only in dollars enough for a drink for a place to stand outside a cathouse where an entry sign flashes this is hell, and we are serving with such neon frequency it is okay to crane the neck away. Even if that means birdwatching a brief moment to forget life lumping into a globe at the top of the throat before all goes swallow.



KJ likes to sleep in and forget about what all of his poems are doing.



i go to File and Open A New Window & jump out the window into my neon green hovercraft i y in my neon green hovercraft to your house with an assortment of advance birthday cards i give you one birthday card for every remaining year of your life i offer to take you to dinner & dance for you while you blow out the candles


i like to curl up in my hovercraft because there i am in love with everyone & everyone is in love with me & you have never existed & i am ruler of everything the ďŹ rst time i try to say i love you i say let’s get a dog. how many days exist in the world & when i leave can i take them with me now that you are gone i sleep in the shower and no one is here to wash & rinse my vertebrae


Diana Salier is the author of Letters From Robots (Night Bomb Press) and Wikipedia Says It Will Pass (Deadly Chaps Press). She is also the poetry editor at NAP. She is wearing striped pajamas. Say hello at



ROBERT DUNCAN GRAY There is heaven and hell but there is also Birmingham.

and go to jail for being mistaken and eat and drink all kinds of shit.

There is North Frodingham where my grandfather is dying slowly.

My grandmother shot herself in the foot in Cyprus. It was an accident that still makes us laugh.

Heaven is behind the curtains but so are windows and dead ies. Hell is other people but so are orgasms and contagious yawns. Other people hang laundry like the enemy and watch television holding milkshakes


THE BUTCHER’S HOOK In Singapore business is booming. Men wearing cream-colored suits

the riot police, the rude boys, the lads. It’s difficult to tell the hooligans

drink fluorescent cocktails singing There’s Only One Team in London where

from the hooligans, I think we laugh. “It’s always the same,” he says. “Home games.

other men are wearing Chelsea blue at The Butcher’s Hook eating

That’s why I swear by Match of the Day. Safer on television.”

a pint of prawns, steak frites, a snifter of Ardbeg. It’s a celebration.

There are chicken bones all over the pavement. Everywhere we look, there’s a pub closing early.

A piss up over a table of old oak. A baby asleep upstairs. Taxi back to Adelaide. A nice Afghani driver takes the scenic route, chats, points out



Robert Duncan Gray is an Englishman who grew up in the Black Forest of southwest Germany and is currently living and working in Portland, OR. He is an editor for HOUSEFIRE PUBLISHING. He has an echap coming out with NAP in June 2012 and a novella entitled THE SON OF THE SUN forthcoming on HOUSEFIRE (tentative release date: Cinco de Mayo). Rob is perpetually stoked.





pheromones inch forward into one an in our lungs and i do not appreciate t now in the larynx the books of a pen when i saw the pile due for editing i b an anorexic whom i would later marr there would be “no 2031” i am not af you about where the installation is to there are pieces of my head still on m salt swollen thumbs on them and kno floor any moment think of that the offi on it coworkers trying not to step on head as we near happy hour which a nearly invariably turns to shit but ma see how that pans it’s unclear how s my mother’s home sitting at her kitch koala crisps trying to speak of suffer can be when their mother is at the w bringing up varied conjugal visits the women looking for work in time of va unending stream of piss pot poor ma

nother’s anus this is the midnight the roots the growth sits wild netrated childhood gone unsaved balked thorough into the arms of ry under the justification that fraid that i have lied to all of o take place because it isn’t my head but hardly i place my ow they could fall to the office fice floor with pieces of my head parts of me losing more and more almost never is happy i mean it aybe we’ll try going with no head stagnant i will be able to stay in hen table eating her glutenless but how suffer is one how one water slides and they are left ere is a series of extremely old ague wincing there is a seemingly anagement skills in the river we are

Joseph Goosey dropped or failed out of the MFA program at George Mason University. His most recent thing is called WE, THE INSTITUTIONALIZED and can be read at To cover living expenses like liquor and food, he reads court records.



EDWARD MULLANY Someone was tolling bells far away, and someone nearby was tolling bells too.



THE MEN WHO JUMPED TO THEIR DEATHS One night they met at the top of a cliff that looked out over a sea that had long been absent of boats or ships or other seaworthy vessels. They knelt together, and moved their lips in silence, each reciting the same prayer, before getting up and standing in a long line along the edge of the cliff.



You could go in them and sit by yourself in a blackened pew, and look up at the sky through the space where the roof had once been. Maybe someone else would be in there too – an old woman hiding her face behind a shawl, or a young man curious or bored. Sometimes a rafter that had been damaged but had not yet fallen would fall.


THE DISAPPEARANCE OF SHOPPING MALLS There is a kind of music that has not yet been written or that has been written but has not yet been heard.


Edward Mullany is the author of If I Falter at the Gallows (Publishing Genius, 2011).




Excuse me, Ma’am. Ma’am, are you the emergency room attendant? You are. Good, because I’m in a hurry-up type of emergency. Time-is-of-the-essence type of those. Ok. I’ll write my name down here, then, on this paperwork. Enough beating around the bush -- exactly how much garbage bag blood do you suppose doctors can put back inside you? How’d it happen is an interesting story. I know you didn’t ask, but it’s still an interesting story. I was seated in my apartment and drilling. My drill was going into the wall. This is not sexual innuendo,


though good innuendo were it in fact sexual. It was decidedly a-sexual, as much of my life has been to this point. I was literally drilling the wall with a drill. I was drilling to make room for a hook I’d embed in the freshly drilled hole as soon as I’d drilled to completion. But, wouldn’t you know it? At that exact same moment, something in the space-time continuum snapped or got frazzled and my drilling in effect opened a doorway to another dimension. The dimension was filled with all new sights and sounds, impossible to relate. There was a very old man who was evidently me from the future. He held a drill and had a bag, a garbage bag, slung over his feeble wrist. He drilled into me and then removed the drill bit, holding the garbage bag to the point of entry, out of which flowed a profusion of my own blood. What seemed unnecessary was the battle ax he wielded absently in his other hand. I say absently because he eventually dropped it, as he was returned to the starry alcove of his dimension. He took off his shoe and shook his head, revealing to me that he’d meant to indicate I should be wary of the battle ax. It was evident my foot injury was not a necessary, or even neutral, component of our intercourse. I’d held fast to the garbage bag, regardless. But I was bleeding from two openings now. I’m glad to know in the future there will be plastic garbage bags just the same as there’ve always been in my lifetime. The future bags hold an equal to superior volume of liquid or like amorphous syrupy substances. Another comfort. I looked down to see the ax had indeed severed a bunch of my toes. They’re gone, well, wrapped in another garbage bag. So that’s what happened to my toes. I didn’t have ice so I wrapped them up in


salt and lemon rinds. I hope that helps. I know doctors can reattach those, toes, but I wasn’t sure about garbage bag blood. I thought of putting it in a cooler. Then I thought, ‘I’m bleeding a lot and I probably should just get over to the hospital.’ But then I realized haste puts the blood in jeopardy because it could go sour or whatever happens to blood. I wasted a lot of time with my indecision, till it was too late to do anything but come here. Most of all I’m concerned that a garbage bag isn’t the proper receptacle for the stuff, blood. But I’d already wrapped my foot in a garbage bag to try and stem the blood flow, which didn’t work so well at all, but it did collect in there pretty good. I figured I better leave it be, too, or risk losing it, you know? So maybe they can connect the garbage bag to an IV or something and then put it back in me, you think? It’s a lot of blood, I know. I’m not a doctor. I can’t tell you why I’m still conscious. I was sort of hoping you could tell me. So should I just give the garbage bag to those nurses who are rushing toward us really fast? Listen, I don’t want anybody else’s blood inside me. Not when I’ve got a perfectly good garbage bag full of the stuff that’s my own. Is there a form to sign for that?


I’d like to end by proposing marriage, as I feel that the old me from the future met with me in the present so that I could find a bride in the process of my fixing my body and getting this blood back inside me. This is just a theory, yes. And sure, I’ve always loved drilling things with or without reason, in and outside my place in the space-time continuum. This is not sexual innuendo.

Matt Rowan lives in Chicago where he co-edits Untoward Magazine. His first story collection, Why God Why, is forthcoming from Love Symbol Press later this year. He also helps out with NAP chapbooks selection. And some of his work can or will be found in places like NANO Fiction, elimae, Fix It Broken and Emprise Review. He’d love a teaching job, if you have one to give.




We’re tracking down with the used mouth guards and teething rings you mighty Lansingites; spitting pink into your tooth-paste. Clutching phantom aches in your backs. You latch-key children up-ending lukewarm two-liters at the bus stop. The one with the yield lights blinking red off red off red. As Appalachians they suckle on the Mt. Dew. It’s almost school and here they aresmiling sticks of butter, but lo! another molar found in the shoulder blade.


And lo! The sun begrudges itself even herethese Lansingites will be waking up. these Lansingites will wake up.


Sick as day spilling the night in downward trajectory topside of a grocer’s car parked still not yet seven. Gearshift sticks to the green-lit P. Yes, here’s the shape of things. Now for the striped astro-vans bearing witness to the display. No? Lot replies thus: one woven metal shopping cart rolling mindless but heading. What and no tumble weed or cask? to cleave a reality lengthwise and only for thyself. Still, the stomach demarcated runneth over. The forehead with its latitudes buckles under the higher magnetics operating herelike a cauliflower cloud, but inhaled.

Zach Arnett is an undergraduate of Ball State University. He writes some poems and then from that sum come some good ones, presumably. That’s just sort of the dynamic of this whole thing.





like memories do not belong to me like shoelaces you can’t tie what i knew a lion could not become a bear then forgot where are the sierra madres when i accuse you of catchphrases and finally i said it clichés shock a lion don’t give an owl’s hoot about clichés or a turtle moan to get nostalgic over snapshots of construction or garbage at the marina take pictures of boulders birds mountains huanacaxtle where he couldn’t walk bare feet hot stones said have a berry i said why are they poisonous berries are sad in the way teeth are sad in the way new year’s eve is sad there is the feeling of trying too hard being overdressed waiting

Rose Hunter can be found at “Whoever Brought Me Here Will Have To Take Me Home, “ or Her book of poetry, to the river, was published in 2010 by Artistically Declined Press. Poems of hers have appeared or are forthcoming in such places as Diagram, Press 1, PANK, decomP, kill author, The Nervous Breakdown, Juked, and Bluestem. She edits the poetry journal YB, and lives in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.


SIX WEEK ANNIVERSARY IN THE BIOLOGY LAB Want to see my embryo? She said and I did not, but I followed anyway. It lay beige and stationary at the bottom of the jar. I didn’t stain it right. It’s supposed to float in the glycerine. She shook the container. Look at the others. Fifteen chick embryos, transparent and alone in their glass receptacles. Bones stained purple. I picked one up, only to have it slip from my fingers and shatter spilling skinless rubber chicklet flesh, stripped clean last week with hydrochloric acid, onto the sterilized laboratory floor. It’s OK she said, rushing for the paper towels, soaking away the stench of alcohol and alizerine. I’ll go get a broom. We have to sweep this up. Soon, the dustpan was filled with shards of broken glass and a clear little chicklet, waiting to unhatch.



Dave Snyder is a Junior at Hamilton College in Clinton, NY. He loves to read and write and occasionally rap.



SO CAREFUL THESE EDGES oh jumbled color and ush my favorite night gown your smoldering black so many galaxies abandoned there is collision and detour a mad dog tits to cunt you will sink me in pink marble with Christ’s blessing and a window grille ring my head with ash all these suspended pieces nailed and dripping with aluminum putty how best can I show you


bird-man all I want is a walnut cradle detail in the carving three faces and a rope mirrored and mounted I am that ancient swinging door

MORTUARY COUCH petals hug my skirt my base marble Buddha divine guardian Tang with polychrome traces what has worn down my colors? pebbles at my feet try to make a river of me still I am a Bactrian camel I bite my own knee until it is smooth and hinged and uncountable Huanghuali wood a yellowed owering pear I stand on a wooden turtle stone pinnacle

and am moved how like a woman to be jagged pitted by water my house my body my mindful joy



K.M.A Sullivan’s poetry has been published or is forthcoming in PANK, Potomac Review, Cream City Review, Gargoyle, >kill author, diode and elsewhere. She has been awarded residencies at Virginia Center for the Creative Arts in creative non-ďŹ ction and from Vermont Studio Center in poetry. She is the editor of Vinyl Poetry and the owner/publisher of YesYes Books.

I want, I want, I want to be something okay, with myself and the world! O how I hate my longing! How I hate hating my world and where it sits on me, with its heavy as hell horse-faced world self, sitting on me and making me barely breathe-y. There’s hardly anything I’m capable of. There’s practically nothing in terms of hope that I can weave through my very wooly hair. I’m shit out of luck. Like you, fucker. Go find some religion or something. Read some old dude or some new dude and try to think squarely about it. You’re lost man. It’s over. You can find a map or an atlas or whatever, but there’s no hope, man, and no situation will fix it.




A LETTER FROM THE PAST It is not good news to get bad news, especially involving words like “degenerative” and “chronic” and “analogy.” You have to adjust your ears in such a situation, so as to loosen the vibrations a bit, and allow them to trickle toward your innards. My innards are powerful lonely and my teardrops contain a little jewel of the past. To imagine the decisions of childhood matter! That there was never any house money! O, honey, I wish I was a new culprit of dawn! I wish I could dredge the dregs from this soupy mess. As a kid, you have eyes which you use to imagine and as an adult you have eyes which you use to re-imagine. The pattern isn’t perfect, but it’s close enough to remind you of home. And where is a home for someone from the future? In your bones, idiot. In the way they hold themselves in your body.


Peter Davis is the author of Hitler’s Mustache and Poetry! Poetry! Poetry!. More info at




Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.