Unbroken Journal Issue 5

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September/October 2015 Issue executive editor r.l. black layout editor dino laserbeam

Cover Art by Joyce Hart: Joyce Hart is a published writer and a self-taught watercolor painter. She loves using bright colors in her artwork and strong emotions in her stories. Š 2015, unbroken/Contributing Authors Unless otherwise noted, all accompanying photos are under a CC License, with the only changes being that some of the photos have been saturated, and they have been framed. Font used in cover creation, inside banner, and author titles by John Holmdahl

Contributing Authors Airika Goodpasture Bryan Verdi Brian Michael Barbeito Catherine Zickgraf Cathy Ulrich Charles Crowley Charles D. Tarlton Chris Milam Danny Adams Darren C. Demaree Dorian Rolston Everett Warner G.J. Hart Glen Armstrong Grace Black Hannah Seelman Janet Buck Jefferson Navicky Jennifer Todhunter Jessica Groenendijk Jess Mize Jessy Randall John Grabski Jordan Sanderson Joseph Buehler Julianne Neely Kate S. Parham Kathy Steinemann Ken Poyner Kimberly Nunes Kyle Nathan Brown Laura Madeline Wiseman Liùsaidh Mary Gilonne Matthew Schmidt Michael Lee Johnson Mimi Overhulser Myrtle Yvonne Okafor Emmanuel Tochukwu Peter Gleason Raquel Fontanilla Richard Fleming Santino Prinzi Sarah O’Brien Scott Thomas Outlar Shari Crane Thomas O’Connell

Tim MacGabhann Zebulon Huset

Contacting the Dead by G.J. Hart

I emailed him late one night, very drunk. Subject: Sorry. Content: I would tell him everything. The reason I hadn't visited, the reason I had left like I had when I had and how sorry I was. I blamed myself and when I had it straight I would contact him again. I pressed send. The email snapped back, unable to deliver. I deleted it and poured another drink. I rang him on the number his father gave me. A woman answered; her voice soft as rubber sole on carpet. He couldn’t come to the phone she explained. She sounded unsure and I wondered if he was sitting right there. I couldn't visit I explained, impossible due to the weather, snow had fallen and the roads were closed. But the snow had melted and the roads were fresh and empty that morning I drove to pick up breakfast. After eating I fell asleep and dreamed of nothing. I visited him in October: He opened the door. I was shocked, he was bald and nothing but bone. My waist had grown two inches, I felt huge. You look great, he said. Thanks for nothing, I thought. You look great too, I replied. He took me round. He'd emptied his account, the rooms were crammed with stuff he’d bought. I noticed the sweat, it enveloped him in its snide imitation and leaked onto the new things he showed me. With each step he grew weaker, his pain more irascible until it kicked against the opiates like some rear seat conniption. I have to sit, he said. We talked. At night the fear came to him in dreams disguised as familiar objects. He asked me what it meant, I looked down. They had to find a match he said, but the odds were slim. I couldn’t bear it. I stopped myself listening. I had to go I said, there was a party, a Halloween party. I was obliged. But I hate parties, fancy dress parties. I was never going to go. That night I watched TV alone, ate pizza and drank till my mind stopped. The next morning his words were waiting. Can't you stay, we left it so badly, I blame myself, tell them you’re with a friend, he's dying. No I can't, I'd said, they wouldn’t believe me. And that was true, I thought, swallowing two aspirin, they wouldn’t.

G.J. Hart lives in Brixton, London and has had pieces accepted at Spelk Fiction, Flash Fiction Magazine, The Pygmy Giant, Yellow Mama, and The Squawk Back. Accompanying photo by martinak15

Burden of the Child by John Grabski They died each other’s best and only friend. Fading echoes of parting goodbyes softly caressing their ears as they made their final descent. They died in each other’s eyes, hands clasped. The low whistle of rising steam, off in the distance a departing train. Bluebirds flying in pairs no longer frightened, no longer threatened. A single step to the velvet abyss, waves smooth, sixty-four years behind them. On the porch a boy in a woolen cap tugs at her hand. In her eyes the reflection of the sun scorched sea. “Mama,” he whispered, “It was me that broke Nanny’s glasses. I’ll never lie again.”

John Grabski is a runner, writer and poet. His work has appeared or is forthcoming at The Harpoon Review, Crack the Spine Literary Magazine, Foliate Oak Literary Magazine, Eclectica Magazine and Cyclamens and Swords. He is hard at work on his first collection titled Into the Vertex. Excerpts of his published work can be seen at www.GRABSKIworks.com or find him on Twitter at @GrabskiJohn Accompanying photo by simpleinsomnia

A Brief History of Squid by Glen Armstrong

She calls at midnight from an old-school rotary phone, from her small room with candles and a throw rug, wearing her itchiest sweater and nothing else, her lower half bare and ready should that libido return like a rubber monster. She needs to tell me about two squids, one on ice at the fish monger’s, another doing its best to strangle a whale in outer space. If I described her rituals as “witchy,” she would laugh. But she would understand. Outside my window a b-movie reveals its sequel. Shadows play tag with headlights. Motorists make wrong turns. The sky breaks into pieces. She is my squid.

Glen Armstrong holds an MFA in English from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and teaches writing at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. He edits a poetry journal called Cruel Garters and has a new chapbook titled Set List (Bitchin Kitsch,) and two more scheduled for 2015: In Stone and The Most Awkward Silence of All (both Cruel Garters Press.) His work has appeared in Poetry Northwest, Conduit and Cloudbank. Accompanying photo by United Geekdom of GNU/Linux

Dreamcatcher by Kathy Steinemann Insomnia haunted me, transformed me into a zombie with sallow face and bloodshot eyes. Grandma crafted a feathered hanging, her gnarled fingers fashioning knots on a hoop of willow. She said it would help me sleep, that it would only allow good dreams through, that it would capture bad thoughts. When the morning sun stroked my window and shone on the trapped terrors, it would burn them and banish them to oblivion. She called it a dreamcatcher. Every night, it fluttered and flitted in my window, locking away nightmares in its intricate web of laced leather and fibrous sinew. The wind waltzed with it, whirled it, whipped it about, and whispered through the curtains that I was safe. It promised that the demons of night would not disturb my repose. I slumbered and smiled, safe from fears and phantoms and nameless perils that skulk in the shadows. Then, one dark night in November when the moon loomed large, the dreamcatcher swelled and burst, scattering its denizens like shards of obsidian over covers and carpet, puffing fragmented feathers onto my face. I gasped in dismay. Understanding dawns: Morning sun never touches my bedroom window.

Kathy Steinemann has loved writing for as long as she can remember. As a child, she scribbled poems and stories. During the progression of her love affair with words, she won multiple publicspeaking and writing awards. Her career has taken varying directions, including positions as editor of a small-town paper, computer-network administrator, and webmaster. She’s a self-published author who tries to write something every day. Please visit her at KathySteinemann.com. Accompanying photo by Maria Grazia Montagnari

A Collection by Darren C. Demaree

UNFINISHED MURDER BALLAD: AT MY HEAD AND AT MY FEET I imagine nothing. I was already chosen. I can do no better than this. I am mostly shadows. I am not. I began in a drunk house. I became a temple of disregard. I wrote a bible of never will I…

UNFINISHED MURDER BALLAD: CARIBOU Rush the darkness. Bend your head down. Allow your crown to plunge through the urgency of the now. If there really was a person there, will it ever matter to you? It should, but then again it isn’t always about should. There are whole nations un-buried. They were faithful, intent on good, and it took only one ambition to render their poignancy moot. Sometimes you are in a forest of people. Sometimes those people carry no seed…

UNFINISHED MURDER BALLAD: BLANK LIGHT Sometimes the void is influentially bright. Sometimes there is no color, no desire, no imagery of self or the exploration of self. There are moments simply too vacant for human beings to handle. We tend to fill those moments one way or another. We tend to spill ourselves all over those moments. The cowards are shamed into spilling others. The cowards paint the whole world with others…

UNFINISHED MURDER BALLAD: STEAMER TRUNK A perfect example of a pretty girl with an axe, she devastated…

Darren C. Demaree is the author of "As We Refer to Our Bodies" (8th House, 2013), "Temporary Champions" (Main Street Rag, 2014), "The Pony Governor" (2015, After the Pause Press) and "Not For Art Nor Prayer" (8th House, 2015). He is the Managing Editor of the Best of the Net Anthology. He is currently living in Columbus, Ohio with his wife and children. Accompanying photo by 55Laney69

Reported Side Effects by Mimi Overhulser The Platte Murders: Lester Mankins, a man of little sentiment and much conviction, rose from bed, slowly and carefully clothed himself in four layers, the last – insulated coveralls and a winter duster topped with a wool scarf leaving room only for his eyes and mouth, his Stetson pulled snugly down, the band pressed and tilted on his forehead, picked up his Mossberg from the darkened corner, walked through the five feet of snow one-hundred yards to his barn and proceeded to, one by one, shoot his ten head of cattle between the eyes (it was February 22, 4 a.m., 1956).

One Human Fatality, 2000 birds: Janie Grant, a plain woman, except for her eyes, heard the creatures careening, diving in death throes, and with great trepidation but irrepressible joy, stepped into the carcasses, raising her hands as if to beckon them, opened her similarly sharp eyes to the cold, wet, and iridescent sky, and was pummeled to death (it was New Year’s Eve and night, 2011).

Serendipity: Two unidentified adolescents, one with a grey hoodie and a diamond glitter pattern on the back jean pockets, and the other with orange hightops and black t-shirt with what was described as a giant moth design on the back, threatened the clerk and unverified number of customers in the Bread & Loaf with what might have been a gun or other unspecified sharp object, shared 1 chocolate and 1 whole TruMoo milk pint, 2 jalapeno Texas size jerkeys, 1 14.3 oz. package of double-stuffed Oreos and 1 family size bag of Bugles chips, then was finally stopped by a customer, his name undisclosed as of yet, who offered to pay for the above food items if they would only leave, by which they did, but only after sobbing and profusely apologizing to the Bread & Loaf clerk, who remains unnamed, and the customers who refuse to be named, and then opened the door to the silent, starless night, and ran and ran and ran (no one remembers when this happened).

Mimi Overhulser earned her MFA at Virginia Tech. She has been published on-line in The Mississippi Review and 42Opus. She creates and performs evenings of poetry and instructs a series of poetry workshops, Accidental Acts of Love in New Mexico where she teaches at Luna Community College in Las Vegas. Accompanying photo by martinak15

Love Song of the World’s Tallest Man by Cathy Ulrich This is how you love me: Like a mountain. Like a flock of geese overhead, like I only exist in the sky above you. You lay me down on the ground and trace a line round my body. You trace a line over my body. You color me pink and you color me blue. You say does it hurt when I touch you here? You say will you be my secret man, the lie I tell the world? You say does it hurt? You bend my elbows; you bend my knees. You kiss my shins with your fluttering lips. You say: When you die, however will we bury you?

Cathy Ulrich always thought she'd be tall when she grew up, but she ended up right at average. Her work has recently been published in Apocrypha and Abstractions, Microfiction Monday and Potluck Magazine. Accompanying photo by Keoni Cabral

Old Pontiac by Shari Crane Your head is between the Pontiac’s hood and frame at the point of intersection where the hood would fall, if it fell, and I imagine an alligator biting a grape and the splash of it. You twist a torque wrench with your palm against metal and I know those fingers with the light touch and rough callous—a flush spills across my throat and crackles with oil. The wrench sings against cement and your hands mapped in grease circle my waist—your fingers almost touch if I suck in like a corset, and I’m wedged between you and metal like a mandarin slice and you have that buttery smell of sweat and oil and cotton that would sell for millions if someone could make it, but I’m glad they don’t because I’d skip class and sniff until I dropped silent as a glacier. I tip my face to the sun of the engine-light and taste your lower lip thick like piecrust, but the warmth is shellac over sleet—it’s here again, between us, sucking like a hemorrhage and I lean against the rocker panel as pallor gathers in your pupils constricted tight as a single mom’s wallet and you lick my ear too wet and I wipe spit on a sleeve and my glare is like final’s week as you drop blades of laughter and offer a smile diluted in cocaine. I’m the auditor of us before you hollowed and it pulls at me like song slipping through canyon in the exhaust of our summer when you pulled the Pontiac through curves with confidence I lack and we drove to the river with the widows down and Nazareth thumping in my chest and you jumped from the old bridge but I didn’t, and people clapped—but I didn’t. The season is turning, and part of me turns in a whisper like fennel—you spur the Pontiac to timberline and light a fire in an ancient cabin and I don’t help though I burn things more easily and you make coffee for me and pour it into a trophy mug—Best Friend—that someone abandoned to a cupboard and the steam nudges my face and I pretend to enjoy it for half a cup and half an hour. I turn 18 and find the burgundy rose on my windshield, stem tucked beneath a cracked wiper and I feel twisted because you used to bring a dozen gold roses and remove the thorns—but they’re here and you’re not, with your footsteps too solid and smile too sweet so I gag the memory of you and trap it in the crook of my arm until it stops kicking and slides beneath the engine block.

Auburn leaves scuttle over the bubble-gummed school sidewalk as I ask for help with words that melt like butter and sage—the high school counselor is a lesbian and only interested in lesbians so I ask your mom but she’s busy spending your dad’s sweat on liver pate and encounter groups with a garnish of ridicule, so I ask your dad but he only listens to your mom and she’s already sucked out all his opinions, and I’m just a teenager and—what do I know about addiction. I cover worry with a smile that fills my mouth like gravel and hope this pretense doesn’t portend life as a grown-up and the weeks move like cold honey and frost glazes the young bonsai growing green from a chunk of red lava rock near my porch and I wonder at its strength—I hold my face over steam from viscous coffee with the right amount of too much cream and worry I pruned the bonsai too late and I hope I didn’t kill it, and you’re fading like an echo. The afternoon is dressed in soggy grey and you’re late—I feel the Pontiac before I see it and I’m already in the driveway as you round the corner with a smile lacking feathers and lemon, and I look back as you stomp the accelerator—my coffee is on the porch and maybe I should’ve finished the cup because you’ve said you cherish me and you cherish the Pontiac—but the Pontiac is crying as you push her tachometer to red. A breeze scurries through the fissures of us and scatters bone petals across burnished ovary as you kill the engine in a seedy park with a smile like I should be grateful—but the smile isn’t from you and it’s not for me as you finger crystals that look like sugar nestled in delicate paper’s crack, and a layer of you is peeled off like paint remover and you don’t worry that your sniffing looks disgusting as I watch you like a silent movie. You offer the remnants like a gift and your muddy shadow mocks me and pushes gangrenous powder at my nose—you don’t hear it cackle—you’re too busy stealing yourself, but leftovers aren’t enough and I want to crush you scarlet like cochineal against prickly pear and filet you easy as elk beneath the scrimshaw handle of my thick-shafted blade and I’d remove your bladder before skinning you just so, because a bladder—like addiction, spoils everything when unattended. Our future is deboned and heaped in a pothole beneath the lengthening shadow of the Pontiac, and you pause as if there is one answer and your hand doesn’t pull away and I wonder if restraint shouldn’t be a virtue and study the Pontiac’s split headliner and write for help on a violet thread—pregnant clouds whisper an answer as they gather pleats into the overcast and I don’t like the answer but future’s canopy is shredded and it’s too late for rain. In a moment—silver—and dulling to grey, hummingbird flits past, and I worry about hummingbird flying alone on a cold—cold day but you don’t notice so I don’t point, and I cup a song beating warm against my collarbone—sometimes help is no help, and sometimes no help is help, and hummingbird is fragile and perishes if caged and the autumn breeze ripples dry leaves as hummingbird whispers— hurry. Life is a choice and living is a choice and dying is—another choice and sometimes a prerequisite, so I roll down the window with a knob polished to eggshell by hands before mine, and suck courage to my thorax because decision’s scalpel will split cord and tendon and bleed out hope’s raw edges tender as a kidney stone.

The inside passenger door-handle doesn’t work, but you can get out by using the outside handle so I reach over and pull hard because I’m not sure I have courage to pull twice and I need a boost like the nitro in your Pontiac to outrun our was—the door closes with a shudder and I strike the mirror because I always look back at wrecks and you assume we’ve—ended on staccato. Your Pontiac rests silent under a canopy of parched oak as the wake of us flattens too easily into the autumn hush, and I walk home along the river past horses sleeping on their sides—like turtles, and wipe my face on a sleeve so it’s not too blurry as killdeers offer a back-note, and I think about going away to college and pruning the bonsai when it’s time—and how nice it would be if the coffee on the porch were still warm.

Tiny bonsai pine Pushing life from lava rock Nourished by the rain

Shari J. Crane is a physician and author from Coronado Island. She writes poetry, fiction, and nonfiction, and will be a contributing writer for the 2015 A Room of Her Own writer’s retreat. She has 14 publications ranging from Coronado Lifestyle Magazine to Academic Radiology and Gastroenterology, and forthcoming publication in The Beechwood Review. Accompanying photo by Phil Whitehouse

Pant Pant Pant by Peter Gleason That sound you hear is the crunching of leaves and my shoes pounding against the ground where they sleep. I would normally not disturb their slumber but, you see, I am being pursued by wolves. Their mouths are open with tongues rolled out and blown back like flags flying from the bows of approaching warships. We've been running for days, these wolves and I. Shoes, don't fail me!

Peter Gleason lives in New York City, where he enjoys writing words and music in his free time. Some of his fiction has been published in Writing A Thousand Deaths and In-flight Literary Magazine. Learn more about his other work at Crumpled Kingdom (CrumpledKingdom.wordpress.com). Accompanying photo by Phillip Hirst

The Harvest Season by Bryan Verdi

O how it shifts and moves, the free flow of Life, here then there, but always everywhere, like the schizophrenic who can’t decide which part to play and so plays them all, brilliantly; like deep, intoxicating love radiating with the glow of ecstasy, immeasurable, possessing the ineluctable power to burn every field in the flammable heart of man. “Don’t play with fire,” or so it is said; up in smoke the crops, the fruit, the juice so laboriously worked to the odor of ash and burnt dreams.

Bryan Verdi currently lives in southern California as an aspiring wordsmith and world-traveler, hoping to establish himself as a human of value. His interests and hobbies include: philosophy, literature, biking, nutrition, culture, permaculture, and hearty laughter. Accompanying photo by 林 慕尧 / Chris Lim

Ex by Mary Gilonne Pubs are loud with forgetting. You say the Pinot stinks, and Bourgogne’s mouthwash for the blind and in ’91 we met but you’ve no clue of where. It was a ruthless August, thick with dog days heating streets and a stone-sere need of fall. Someone’s cat, sill-bound counted stars all night and Aix was tipped on its axis stifling south. We drank the wine as warm as blood, it locked us tight with bolt and nut, shattered your eyes, flooded our shuttered ceilings striped like butchery. Is that enough? Don’t touch my lips. You know how juice ferments darkly, brooding the loss of summer, remembering grapes.

Mary is a translator, living in France near Aix en Provence for many years but originally from Devon UK. She has been shortlisted for the Bridport Prize and Teignmouth prize and has recently won the Wenlock International Poetry Prize. Her work can be found in several online publications Snakeskin, Word Bohemia, The Screech Owl, Clear Poetry , I am not a Silent Poet ... and is forthcoming in The French Literary Review. Accompanying photo by Brendan DeBrincat

Main Street by Airika Goodpasture

Sitting at the bar on Main Street, you tell me that my hair looks pretty. Thank you, I say. You smile and grab my hand, I grab yours back. I always did love your hand in mine; you know that. We watch the people walk down the street. You say how everyone seems to be in such a hurry. I sip on my bourbon and you ask me how I’ve been. I’m good, I say, I also say that it’s been hard since you left, that the apartment and bedding still smells like you, and that my mother came and took all of your things to a second hand store in Fulton, except some shirts, I wouldn’t let her take your favorite shirts, I say. You smile a somber smile and say, I’m sorry, I say that it’s ok, but that I don’t exactly like to be at the apartment alone, although, I think it might be getting easier not to remember. I’m not looking at you but I can feel you staring at me. You want to forget me, you ask. I look down at my drink and say, No, I don’t want to forget you. You tell me that you love me and that you miss me. I love you too, I say but when I look up, both your hand and you are gone, and I am sitting at the bar on Main Street alone. I take a sip of my bourbon and think, Why are the people moving so fast?

Airika is a current journalist for The Weekly Sun in Sun Valley Idaho. She has been a freelance writer for more than 10 years. She is also an avid fly fisher and wine drinker. Accompanying photo by David Figuera

The Clawfoot Tub by Jennifer Todhunter In a room wrapped with rose-studded wallpaper, on cracked linoleum stained from vomit and piss, sits a copper slipper clawfoot tub, and it’s here where I come when he’s finally dismissed me. From his company in the kitchen, where he’s cooking up something that isn’t to eat; he became irate and berated me, deflated, debated me, when I interrupted and asked for a bittersweet treat, or a taste of the paste he was baking. Cold water floods out of the faucet, rippling in the bespattered bowl below, its drain clogged with rice, my dreams and my rights, one step and it’s all overflowed. So I sink down the side in my nightie, the one he bought me when we were engaged, as he told me he loved me, then he gloved and he shoved me when I was only teenaged. The razor in the soap dish is rusty, its blades jammed with thick hair and his skin, and I work up the strength to cut the whole length but I don’t even know how to begin. To find my way out of this place, this terrible, hideous, drag-me-down space, where I’m trapped by the highs, by the lies I despise. To everyone I'm just a disgrace.

Jennifer is a number nerd by day, word fiddler at night who enjoys dark, salty chocolate and running top speed in the other direction. She has previously been published in theEEEL and has a publication forthcoming in Pidgeonholes. Accompanying photo from WikiMedia

Trek by Grace Black

Word of mortal man has become useless in its governance, a sentry stand-down. Stories, histories, flutter and find their way to hallowed ground. Nature’s death, a soundless sound of lost and oft destroyed. What once stirred emotions of many, now lies dormant, anesthetized, discordant notes, unspoken heaves. There’s an exposition in the trees as they lose their colorful leaves, but not much else speaks to me during these days between eves. When time comes to forever fade my last breath, my heart, and ache will carry his words and his name. I’ve faith though he’s forgotten and no mind for shame as I take this trail through autumn’s veil—blind. blood moons seasons squabble death remediates

Just another writer wearing down lead and running out of ink, one line at a time. Coffee refuels her when sleep has not been kind. Grace Black writes poetry and flash fiction and has been published in Three Line Poetry, 50 Haikus, 50-Word Stories, 101 Words, and 101 Fiction. More of her writing can be found on her blog http://graceblackwrites.com Accompanying photo by Brenda Clarke

A Collection by Myrtle Yvonne

Recovery I let you peel off my skin, walk the chaste ground of my flesh. But you dig too much I had to curl up to cover myself.

You Deserve More Earlier you joked about how the person I was talking to was your mom and how you committed suicide and I felt a huge thump in my heart like horses raced on my very being and I thought I knew what it feels like, even for a moment, to be shot with a bullet without it leaving a hole – a mark, a scar, a proof of the battle I partook in. Give me the wound, the ache, the tremble, I want to show everyone what aggressive love you have – what tenderness you are capable of. Give it all to me. I will show you how gentle a graveyard full of blood can be.

The First Step in Taming a Fox Let’s skip the pleasantries and obligated polite remarks, I want to know you. I want you to tell me the things that you are afraid of, the things that you are angry about, the things that you think of when you take too long to exhale the smoke of your cigarette. Tell me. Curses don’t work on me. I don’t believe in bad luck either. I won’t tell you to leave and not look back for I will turn into a pillar of salt like the others have done before. I have been burnt more than I could count so don’t hold back, I will open my door for all your burning meteorites and offer them warm blankets and hot tea. Tell me. I will cherish your secrets, weave them into flowers, tuck them into your hair and say, you are more beautiful than your mistakes and flaws. Tell me. I am not afraid of your ghosts.

Myrtle Yvonne Ragub is a medical student who writes in her spare time. She believes that The Turkey Farm can’t accommodate us all. Her blog is at: theegreywolf.tumblr.com Accompanying photo by zeitfaenger.at

Night’s Serene Embrace by Danny Adams Death was an irrefutable sleep; a gentle seducing coma from which the soul could never wake, yet so subtle was this purgatory welcome, that the fading of the aqueous surroundings was therapeutic. It were as though the intrinsic enigmatic essence which resided in his physical form, desired to exist on another plane –in another realm– far beyond the irreconcilable reality which his body bound it to. And so he accepted the night’s serene embrace; the enclosing darkness, a black velvet blindfold which removed the burden of sight. A darkness that weighed like leaden linen, sinking him below human emotion, and into the comforting abyss of the cold, quiet night; into a secluded silence, where the noiseless void smothered tenderly, the unquiet dying pulse which occupied his being, while the immanent smog which his lungs succumbed to, graciously suffocated his mind; its dusky fog, a shrouding cloak of deathly hue which enveloped him entirely, deluging his entity and removing him from reality.

Danny Adams, 18, is currently a student in his first year at the University of Portsmouth. He is studying for his English Literature and Creative Writing degree and contemplating whether to continue on to do a Masters in Creative writing. Accompanying photo by Brenda Clarke

This String by Dorian Rolston ‌ hair-strand thin, extending one end, burying the other in the earth, waiting for you, this string, hairstrand thin, extending vine roots, dog bones, foot prints, grass stains, picnics, hideouts, one end, burying the other in the earth, waiting for you, this string, hair-strand thin, extending into your hand the last inch, a well-thought line reeling off your vine roots, dog bones, foot prints, grass stains, picnics, hideouts, one end, burying the other in the earth, waiting for you, this string, hair-strand thin, extending and extending you, pull and, weight leaning back, pull and, resolve firming up, pull and, onlookers crowding round, pull and, gathered friends and family letting go, pull and, cloud-rolling regrets and grass-snake concerns and sour-key delights filling into your hand the last inch, a well-thought line reeling off your vine roots, dog bones, foot prints, grass stains, picnics, hideouts, one end, burying the other in the earth, waiting for you, this string, hair-strand thin, extending ...

Dorian Rolston is writing, including, but not limited to, other things. Accompanying photo by martinak15

Newborn Bat by Jessica Groenendijk

I heard a soft plop. At first I thought it was the husk of a spider. But I picked up a newborn bat instead, dead, umbilical cord still attached to its pinched belly. The bones of its meagre chest were translucent, tender. Its sheer crumpled wings spread like an inky film on my skin. The hind limbs splayed, thumb nails like pale splinters. But it was the limp, lolling head that moved me. The naked face, whisker pores like pin pricks. Blind, dark eyes. A maze-like nose, the folds and crevices damp and delicate ... A gremlin. So ugly. So perfect.

Jessica Groenendijk is a Dutch biologist turned conservationist and writer. She was born in Colombia, has lived in Burkina Faso, Holland, Tanzania and England, crossed the Atlantic Ocean twice on a sailboat between the ages of 6 and 10, and worked with black rhinos in Zambia and giant otters in Peru. Jessica is an adventurous traveler and amateur photographer of people, wildlife and landscapes. Her website http://www.jessicagroenendijk.com/ - centres around her wish to reconnect children and their families with nature.

Accompanying photo by LiCheng Shih

Now That I am a Bat by Thomas O’Connell

I do not want to drink your blood. I do not long to be tangled in your hair. What I have sacrificed in eyesight is more than made up for in hearing. I have come to appreciate sleeping upside down. The Schaefers, whom I have never really gotten along with, now love to have me over, especially in the early evening. They have even built me a house, affixing it to the side of their garage. I may decide to live there, since I am angry with the zookeepers. They play practical jokes on me and my fellow bats, keeping the lights on all night to trick us into sleeping so that we will remain awake during the day, darting about our cage to thrill and terrify the groups of third graders that pause by our glass on their way to the monkey house.

A librarian, as well as three time Pushcart Prize nominee, Thomas O’Connell’s poetry and short fiction has appeared in Elm Leaves Journal, Caketrain, NANO Fiction, The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, and The Los Angeles Review, as well as other print and online journals. He also happens to be the 2015-2016 poet laureate of Beacon, New York.

Accompanying photo by USFWS - Pacific Region

SUSTENANCE by Ken Poyner

I tell the leprechauns to keep a lower profile. The green suits, the shoe bells, must go. The felt hats must go. The talk of rainbows has to be put by. No more stereotypes. No more slaves to the myth. In the beginning, our conversation is civil enough. Close to parlor talk. We swap points of relevance, the mannerisms of meaning; begin to see each other less as caricatures, and more as characters driven by caricature. As my neighbors look in through my large, picture window, I call out to them, advocating with them in their domestic duty, shouting that these leprechauns are not for eating: there is not enough to them to make a proper meal. But then there is a little rain, a return of sun, a rainbow. And, when one leprechaun mentions gold, I think: a knife, a fork, a pot, the smell of boiling appetite hanging in the air like yesterday’s laundry. I imagine my neighbors following the little, happy prey unknowingly to riches. Onward: and what would it be for me to snatch one silly, delicious leprechaun loitering at the end of that rainbow bound line?

Ken Poyner has lately been seen in Analog, Café Irreal, Cream City Review, The Journal of Microliterature, Blue Collar Review, and many wonderful places. His latest book of short fiction, “Constant Animals”, is available from his web, www.kpoyner.com, and from www.amazon.com. He is married to Karen Poyner, one of the world’s premier power lifters, and holder of more than a dozen current world power lifting records. They are the parents of four rescue cats, and an energetic fish. Accompanying photo by Konrad Förstner

Swallow It or Spit It Out by Janet Buck Every layer off every bygone bloom from buds of every rose deceased or coming very close, deserves some brand of wonderment. I slowly pull each petal off, as if I’m lifting scabs from wounds, assume I’ll gulp down every touch of withering, skip the juice of oranges, grinding only stringy pulp and giant seeds between my teeth. I eat what’s on the countertop: twenty specks of chia there, dry ends of bread, crumbs of old potato chips, a few stray sprouts that once were green, but now are brown like laces in an army boot that’s seen the mud. Since death is part of living’s threat, you either swallow all of it or spit it out. The latter is so cowardly, like driving past an accident, not slamming brakes and backing up in breakdown lanes. I’m wearing black; I have for years to don respect for endings always imminent, ever since I almost died and learned too much. My family turned to sheeted ghosts on Halloween. They didn’t punch two holes in white so they could see the feeding tube, the mask I used for oxygen. Off they went with butterflies that land upon a pretty flower.

Janet Buck is a seven-time Pushcart Nominee and the author of three full-length collections of poetry. Her work has won numerous literary awards. Janet’s most recent work is scheduled for publication in forthcoming issues of Offcourse, Mistfit Magazine, Antiphon, Boston Poetry Magazine, and PoetryBay. Accompanying photo by Soumyadeep Paul

Two Prose Poems by Chris Milam

Residue A splash of you paints my skin in breathing saffron. Flakes of an estranged sun illuminates my mental tomb, like a blinking candle in a butchered pumpkin, exposing crevasses gouged by hands of brutal glass. Your captivating sulfur match contorts the darkness into a face of sweet torment; melting cheekbones and pools of mascara. Submission crawls from my mouth, a gasoline marionette dancing and crackling in your perverse fire.

Glass Noise He eyes the half-empty jar with a kind of dark affection. It’s to be opened only on the most paralyzing of nights, when memories puncture his mind with an abstract stiletto. Resistance is an illusion, abstinence a frail notion. He craves her soprano noise and charming, southern melody. He lusts for the taunting pause before the roar of throaty confection. Weakened, he lunges for the keepsake and unscrews the lid with a homicidal twist. Her laugh slithers from its glass prison, gutting the air with a symphonic, violet jubilation. Strands of feminine sound crawl between his fingers like wisps of harmonic thread before curling around his shaved head like a pulsating halo. He joins in, his baritone cackle an eruption of isolated, maniacal distortion.

Chris Milam lives in solitude in Hamilton, Ohio. He's a voracious reader, a baseball junkie, and a self-proclaimed gallant. His work has appeared in Maudlin House, the Molotov Cocktail, Firewords Quarterly, DOGZPLOT, and elsewhere. Accompanying photos by Doug Bowman and Andrew Huff

Under the Skin by Everett Warner

If I told you to cut me open, would you? He gave her a knife and shrug of his eyebrow. A few minutes later they were in his bedroom, on his bed, and she was biting her lip, excited and afraid of her excitement. Her mouth tasted like heated iron. She took the knife and split a shallow slant from his clavicle to waist, his hands on either side of him, holding the sheets of the bed. Now you have to lick it closed. She looked up at his half eyes and, holding his gaze, trailed her tongue like a salve over this old new wound, this digging, ending somewhere near his ear and taking a breath there so she wouldn't do it again. He rolled his shoulders back, in time his eyes, too, rolling. He took a shower and in his absence in the room, she slipped into herself and used her other hand to rub in circles what she only let girls touch. When the sound of water ceased, and he reentered the room, she was reading Nabokov and her white knee-high socks had returned. Underneath his towel, blood was still flowing. Outside, the night didn't have a moon. The night that night had a heartbeat. The moon was in the room. You could see it if you knew where to look: in the long line of the shadow’s knife, in the drips of skin’s dark night. Soon, the whites of their eyes and the curves of their spines aligned. The lion laid down with the lamb and the lamb smiled a wolf's howl, then shrugged back under her sheepskin like the night curling into a nightmare.

Everett Warner is an octopus living in a bucket in your basement. He is going to ink soon. Accompanying photo by Holly Lay

The Dream Inspector by Jefferson Navicky I am sleeping in a cabin at the Institute. All my cabin mates are people I do not know. We snore together and make body noises in our slumber. All four of us have nightmares. Somehow, the Institute senses this and sends its Dream Inspector to visit our cabin. The Dream Inspector arrives as we are still in bed, groggy from sleep. He wears a trench coat and his head is so thick that he hardly has a neck, but his voice is kind. He takes down our nightmare statements in his small, spiral notebook. Of all the nightmares we tell the Inspector, I only remember one: a woman describes the overwhelming fear that the Institute’s tennis courts are not used as Spiritual Base Camps. The Inspector nods his head in understanding, and says, now I am going to help you tally your dreams. Like a mathematical equation, he begins to interpret our dreams, doing his calculations with a fat, felt-tipped, quill pen the size of a dill pickle. However, the inspector can only start the equation. You must finish it, he tells us. The Inspector hands the quill pen to me, but when I attempt to write, the pen only scratches and scores the paper, impotently, leaving no trace of ink.

Jefferson Navicky's work has appeared in Smokelong Quarterly, Quickfiction, Hobart, Birkensnake, Stolen Island and many others. He teaches English as an adjunct at Southern Maine Community College, and lives in Freeport, Maine with his partner, Sarah. Accompanying photo by 55Laney69

The Ant Hill by Joseph Buehler

The ant hill is still there, red and swollen, under a tall pine tree. I had poured ant killer granules and water over it some weeks before. Do the ants still live? I find a stick and poke it into the large stiff Georgia-red mound. There is no trace of life. They’re dead, all right, but they have left their ugly home behind, their graveyard, their mausoleum. The October sky above is a pale thin blue bowl. Green leaves stir in the tree above me.

Joseph Buehler is a retired deputy property appraiser in Sarasota County Florida who now lives in northern Georgia with his wife Trish. He has published poetry in Bumble Jacket Miscellany, Defenestration, Common Ground Review, Theodate, Mad Swirl, The Write Room, The Tower Journal, The Stray Branch, Turk's Head Review, Two Cities Review (New York and Chicago), and Indiana Voice Journal. Florida has two seasons, beautiful and hot; Georgia has four and retains its own beauty. Accompanying photo by craig Cloutier

Shapeshifter by Laura Madeline Wiseman As a girl, I climbed into a fountain and became a fat worm, a puddle, a fairy, a red zip-up hoodie damp with wet. I hid in a closet and became a chocolate egg melting in a hand, a clasp of purple eye makeup, a shadow, a thief. I pressed myself into bushes against a stone wall below windows and became rose quartz, twig, amber drop of resin pooling around a wasp. I could pull moss from stone, eyes from husks, a ponytail from scissors that clip. If I held onto a leg, I became it. When songs played, I was chorus. Upstairs, I wrapped mantles, cloaks, scarves around my body and became engineer, secretary, student. Outside, I was hammock, breeze, seawater crossing.

Laura Madeline Wiseman is the author of twenty books and chapbooks and the editor of Women Write Resistance: Poets Resist Gender Violence (Hyacinth Girl Press). Her recent books are Drink (BlazeVOX Books), Wake (Aldrich Press), Some Fatal Effects of Curiosity and Disobedience (Lavender Ink), The Bottle Opener (Red Dashboard), and the collaborative book The Hunger of the Cheeky Sisters (Les Femmes Folles) with artist Lauren Rinaldi. Her work has appeared in Prairie Schooner, Margie, Mid-American Review, Ploughshares, and Calyx. Accompanying photo by Pat David

Destruction Chimneys Shit by Hannah Seelman

In the heart of destruction they came out of the filthy gutters, forsaken woods, and lullaby streams. Deer, robins, rats, and more polluted our yards they had nowhere better to be. A way of protest they stained the grass crimson. Without words they spoke the loudest as they shit in our gardens, attics, and expensive patio furniture. What overwhelmed us was the realization that the bullied may rise as easily as a sheet caught in the wind.

Hannah Seelman is a student at WMU. She enjoys writing about nature. She has many pets including, two rats, a chameleon, and fish. Please check out her blog at hannahseelman.weebly.com! Accompanying photo by Gidzy

A Collection by Jordan Sanderson

The Butcher’s Sister’s Kid The butcher keeps dreaming of himself as a stone lion carved into a pillar. When he wakes, he can hardly move. His knife has started slipping more than usual, but the blade never reaches the bone. In the dream, a crack appears in the pillar for every cut. Shadows have started to show on the other side. His sister fishes for a living. She knows better than to stick her finger in the mouths of certain fish. No one knows what possessed her to shove her fingers down the throat of a giant black drum. She said it felt like a flood light snapped on in her mind when the fish crushed her fingers. She did not faint. When her son was small, animals tortured him. One afternoon, he fell off his tricycle, and a squirrel buried an acorn behind his knee. The doctor said it was too dangerous to remove it. There was little danger, the doctor said, of germination. When the boy was afraid, he would roll the acorn from side to side. Just as it started to snow, the squirrel came back to retrieve the acorn. The fisherwoman never forgot how its muzzle glistened as it scampered through the winter light. The boy turned out to be quite the dancer. Every note twanged in his leg like shrapnel.

A Doll People weren’t sure what to do when the first baby was born with a paralyzed forehead. It wasn’t so much what to do as how to react. She was all screams in the beginning, but once she learned to conceal her voice, she would have no expression to betray her. But as her grandmother noted, she would never suffer wrinkles. Then, doctors noticed a high silicone content in her blood, but they decided to take a wait-and-see approach. She seemed to bond better with bath toys than her parents, neither of whom could be proven to have had any procedures. For comfort, she poked out her lips like a duck and smooched a plastic sun she had yanked from her first mobile and stowed in her pillowcase. It looked like a sun swamped in clouds, but it still played part of a song, a melody that she would hum at various times in her life without being able to recall the exact source. Sunlight fell on her like spray. She turned slightly orange. Her hair had natural pink highlights. Strangers said she was a doll. They said she was a survivor.

The Marriage During the half hour it took her to take the blood test so that they could marry, he got lonely. When she returned and sat next to him in the orange vinyl-covered chair with a metal frame, holdovers from the decade they were born, he got even lonelier. When she clasped his hand in hers, he was lonelier than he had ever been in his life. He thought maybe it was his inability to express how much he loved her. His chair scraped the tile floor when he slid it closer to her and wove his arm around hers. “I can never get close enough to you,” he said. It wasn’t a line. She knew their marriage would be like the marriages of fish. In his loneliness, he purred and hissed alternately. In his loneliness, he grew claws so that he could not touch her, fangs so that he could not kiss her, fur, which he battled with razors and wax. In his loneliness, he could stomach only fish, but he scavenged for anything blood-temperature. When he missed her, he’d roll in the first carcass he found and scamper into briers.

Jordan Sanderson earned a PhD from the Center for Writers at the University of Southern Mississippi. His work has appeared in NANO Fiction, Fiction Southeast, Caketrain, and other journals, and he is the author of two chapbooks, Abattoir (Slash Pine Press, 2014) and The Formulas (ELJ Publications, 2014). Jordan lives near the Gulf of Mexico and teaches at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. Accompanying photos by Jim Alsup , Karen , and xploitme

A CAR CRASH AT THE END OF THE UNIVERSE: noise, everything always ends in so much noise. by Charles Crowley Metal winding. Flippant grinding. All while you slip from behind god’s twin-sized mattress—spindle fibers like the strings of tires bent in burnt rubber, catatonic—in rubbing alcohol, we smother. We smother. But these sentences don’t make sense. These sounds all run together. The shifting tone is implicitly recommending that you disengage. Your legs are gone. Your stomach is full. Full. Full. Full. Lipstick smudges run from collarbone to power line. Tent poles all prick the fabric of space & time and space & time. Weaving, woven. spiders weaving web of life. The great monsters, speaking tombstones into graveyards where the hands of mothers worship their carcasses, end their sentences with whispers—end their fingernails in rogue. But I’m still alive. I’m still alive. My memories contort and flourish well. They spill a bold contusion and I swear I’m concerned again, once more, with the end of life and the end of the world. Everything is so near. Everything is—crinkling, one finds the curtains on the windows of Apollo’s living room are red. The weaving writhing spiders in— This is the end. Static en concrete; sprocket en suspense.

Charles L Crowley lives in Pasadena, California. His work has previously appeared in the West Wind literary journal and The Los Angeles Review of Los Angeles. When he's not reading or writing, he's watching Hesei era Godzilla films or playing shows with his band in dive bars and clubs. Accompanying photo by jeronimo sanz

Two Prose Poems by Santino Prinzi

Stuck There is nothing I can do. I spot a dead wasp dangling from a spider’s web. Yellow and black stripes are still vibrant, still alive with colour but empty inside. Slowly it twirls, stuck in its rotation. I am almost reflected in its translucent wings. I try to move on, try to accept our shared hollowness, but I can't.

Caught You were in my dreams again last night. We were walking through the park. For a moment our fingers touched. I made the first move and grabbed hold of your hand. Oh there they are, you said. Where what are? I asked. The butterflies, you replied. My smile stretched. The butterflies filled our stomachs, elevating us both to something higher than we had been before. The skin on your neck was glowing; you pulled on your collar. I watched the butterflies from your stomach fly up your throat and flitter from between the lips I yearned for. They twirled towards the autumn moon like a murmuration of starlings. Mine stayed inside, pushing up against my skin with such force I was almost floating – but you were grounded. When your butterflies left, we had nothing. The world around us erupted into black spiders. A crescendo of scuttling swallowed me. My pupils dilated in search for peace amongst the arachnoid anarchy. You were gone. I fell into a lonesome nightmare. Now I’m falling awake.

Santino Prinzi is an undergraduate student at Bath Spa University studying English Literature with Creative Writing. His flash fiction has been published both online and in print, including the 2014 National Flash Fiction Day Anthology Eating My Words, the 2015 National Flash Fiction Day Anthology Landmarks, FlashFlood Journal, Short Story Sunday, and others. Check him out atwww.tinoprinzi.wordpress.com Accompanying photos by badgreeb fattkatt and

The Dying Angels by Kyle Nathan Brown The dying angels settle my unsteady heart. I have come far and intend to go further. But my legs can’t carry me much further on. They’re so sore and burning. Burnt out; only now and next remains; the past, blackened cinder and a coat of grey dust, has no home for me. But still I see those days as a kind of haze mist, through which images play and replay and animate my memories. The dying angels are there and they comfort me in my parting moments; just before I am escorted to my present, the dying future. These angels are weak from their travels and tired from their faith. And dying, slowly. Falling slowing into the abyss of my past. Whilst desperately grasping onto my fleeting dreams, all coated in a fine grey dust. Ill and no longer savvy. Dying and no longer craving God, but void.

Kyle Nathan Brown is a UK-based writer and artist. With a degree in fine art, his work primarily focuses on mini-narratives and prose-poetry. His work examines; identity, self-destruction, reality, obsession, and other intense emotional connections. Accompanying photo by Dalma Szalontay (or Szallonntai)

This is Why They Come by Raquel Fontanilla

A wall of miracles: crutches, canes, draped as offerings, photos, scraps of paper, tucked into crevices as if the clay might absorb their petitions. My left hand maps the way to a votive-lit room so small I have to stoop to enter. In the cracked heart of the stone floor el pocito, an eternal well of red dirt, exposed like a womb, or wound. I have nothing to dig with. Taking out a plastic baggie, crumbs in the bottom, I get down on my knees lean forward to scoop fine cool soil, my cupped right hand funneling a fistful into the bag’s open lips, careful not to lose any. In Japan I once used chopsticks to transfer cremated bones to a porcelain urn the color of young bamboo. If it is true that a tiny bag of dirt can heal anything I will kneel here on this floor until my knees bleed I will dig with both hands until my nails blacken I will eat this dirt.

Raquel Fontanilla is a freelance translator with a PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of Tokyo. A native of New Zealand, she lives, hikes, and writes in the American Southwest. Her work has appeared in Paradise Review, Passages, Outside In Literary & Travel Magazine, Cecile’s Writers Magazine, and is forthcoming in Jabberwock Review, where it was a Finalist for the 2015 Nancy D. Hargrove Editors' Prize for Fiction. Accompanying photo by Roger H. Goun

Two Prose Poems by Michael Lee Johnson

Witches and Cream I love the walk of the isle into your brain cells. I’m rolling heart ache in a lover’s night. I stand on solid ground. You preach to me, I find you there: you scream out, “I’m witches and queen.”

Mindful, Mindless, October Date Mindful of my lover running late, as common as tying my shoestrings; I'm battered as an armadillo shell; I put my rubber band around my emotional body, hold tight, armor my manliness, walk like a stud in darkness. I am sealed with dismay. Though everything in October has a bright side, a shade of orange, a hint of witches and goblins. In the leaves between my naked feet and toes, I pace my walk feverishly, trying to avoid adjectives and soured screams, in the parking lot. I count them- color charts, fragments, bites, anything of matter: hickory leaves golden, sassafras greens and yellows, maples of scarlet, shades of pink, even purple. The landscape is turning turf brown. Barefooted I break into tears, the year-fragmented. I am male discolored in this relationship, tested and declared void of my testosterone no sexual rectification or recharging of my batteries. I lie limp, native within myself, my circumstance- mindful of my lover running late. She finally arrives; I quickly transition myself.

Michael Lee Johnson lived ten years in Canada during the Vietnam era. Today he is a poet, freelance writer, amateur photographer, small business owner in Itasca, Illinois. He has been published in more than 850 small press magazines in twenty-seven countries, and he edits nine poetry sites. Author's website http://poetryman.mysite.com/. Michael is the author of The Lost American: From Exile to Freedom (136 page book) ISBN: 978-0-595-46091-5, several chapbooks of poetry, including From Which Place the Morning Rises and Challenge of Night and Day, and Chicago Poems. He also has over 73 poetry videos on YouTube as of 2015: https://www.youtube.com/user/poetrymanusa/videos Accompanying photo by Donnie Nunley

SPIDER REGAL AGAINST THE BEIGE by Brian Michael Barbeito It’s a tree with a rounded top but naturally rounded not cut or shaped like a domestic artifact. It’s a thing that sits with a twin, outside in the practically barren fields that look flaxen in the day and juicy thick dark colored in the long shadow night. Its branches are arms reaching up and up and up like a spider and there is something regal about the arms- confident and purely doing what they are doing. Before the dusk, in the late afternoon, if the clouds are full of rain it makes the air turn a peculiar color. It’s like beige and you could swear it was already raining but no and no and no. Where are the coyotes people speak of and the deer and rabbits? Everything has run away or hid away or simply gone away. Maybe for the storm approaching. Perhaps they and their kin followed some inner mechanism that brought them away to the deeper thicket and glen and to a river nobody has ever seen or heard. But there, for now and then, the tree, a royal spider against the pre-storm beige sky, - still. It’s real but like a picture-snapshot-painting. Then the eyes go down back to the horizon line and the tree line and remembers the regal spider arms in the air.

Brian Michael Barbeito is the author of Chalk Lines, (Fowlpox Press, 2013, cover art and design by Virgil Kay). Recent work appears at CV2 The Canadian Journal of Poetry and Critical Writing and is forthcoming at Fiction International. Accompanying photo by Barb

At the Party by Charles D. Tarlton Anything becomes interesting if you look at it long enough. --Flaubert A thing of ponderous disinterest--where the edges of oriental carpet uniformly intersect the hardwood floorboards at both acute and obtuse angles. A mixture of colorful wool geometry emblazoned with stylized nature, with flowers and golden urns, and mythical animals, on the one side, and variegated parallels of sawn and varnished oaken boards, on the other, faintly evoking vanished forests. Is there a story here? Does any of this add up? Are you at all interested? Her head slowly nods, words roll forward lazily over torpid lips and thicken the air around her in their indifference. Her shoes are handmade alligator bought with lives; her blink is languid toward the people she prefers tiny laughs through cotton wool. A thin patina of sweat reveals her effort, makes you notice her jaw, the muscles in her neck, the strain just to stay upright.

Charles D. Tarlton is a retired university professor who has been writing poetry and flash fiction since 2006. He lives in the Pioneer Valley in Massachusetts with his wife, Ann Knickerbocker, an abstract painter. Accompanying photo by AnEternalGoldenBraid

Two Prose Poems by Jess Mize

Sick Muse She loved the bright vermillion flushings of the fresh blood. The pleasant release sent euphorics tingling along her nerve endings. Her hysteria subsided in warm, gentle waves as the blood streaked along her wrist and mingled with the very hot water of the bathtub. Metric was playing on her device on the edge of the sink. Fantasies. I’m not suicidal, I just can’t get out of bed. These days she liked to listen to Metric or Lana Del Rey. Really nothing else did it for her any longer. She kept her left wrist submerged in the water, so the blood would not clot around her freedom. The hot water had become a peppermint mess, a white blood cells bath bomb dropped in and spreading around her naked body. She let out a deep breath, feeling the endorphins travel through her blood stream and spark up her heart like a sizzling telephone wire. She let her head slide back against the wall and closed her eyes. For a few seconds she could annihilate herself, her mind lucid, her exhausted body soaking and reveling in the scalding, soporific water.

Cult of Suffering Dropping out. Tuning out. Dreaming about a blonde-haired suicidal, surfer girl. A connection and a glimmer. The release of desire left you weak and unsatisfied. How to achieve a moral perspective? Pile on the sentimentality. Irregular stained glass. Elements of suspense and a closed perspective. The sunlight streamed through. The day was hot. The languid sun sparkled in the crystal waters. It takes forever. Cult of suffering. Golden laughter. I don’t go outside any longer. My sadness comes in waves. It is almost soothing.

Jess Mize is a blonde-haired surfer girl from South Carolina. Joe Hill has become her favourite writer in the past few months. She loves to drink and she loves her man. Vampire Weekend three albums in stores now. Follow her on twitter @jammasterjess Accompanying photos by Valerie Everett and Joan Sorolla

Tree by Liùsaidh I sought Tree out today, for Tree has ambition. I go to Tree when the dreams come back to me, when the hunting haunts my sleep. I lean back against the rough red American bark and listen to his soulsong, drawing the strength from his roots. Tree loves Scotland. In his sap there beats a story-song of some foppish fool of a nineteenth century aristocrat bringing him from the Americas, thinking that Tree and his brothers would look beautiful on the estate. Tree doesn’t think much of Men. The sap rises and sings, as I breathe my nightmares away. He sings to me his plans for expansion. Coast to wild coast. He sings to me of conquest. Scotland. Britain. Then Tree—creep by inexorable creep, season by season, one sapling by two, needle by needle, cone by cone—will take the whole of Europe. Yes, Tree has ambition. Leaf-bud to Leaf-fall time alone hinders my plan: world domination

Liùsaidh is a poet and author from the West of Scotland. Writing from a crack-ridden council estate, the poems are always strange. You can find them online and in print, most recently in Unlost Journal, and The Ghazal Page. Accompanying photo by Mike DelGaudio

Harmattan by Okafor Emmanuel Tochukwu

I. What Nature Told Her Harmattan steals everything. Flecks of brown-layered dust sneak in, cover each interior and gleam a furtive sparkle. Beware of her handshakes and stave her smiles off. She can hit your nostrils with a fist and suck your throat to dryness. If she catches you, anticipate of making kettles whistle, of sunlight bathing, of getting snug in thick duvets of menthol breathing inside you. Listen: remember that all can be conquered, that everything mollifies. II. The Strange Visitor Shows Up She wriggles into city like a rat: totally guided, and chokes the sky with unrefined gusts. Granddaughter of the north-east wind and Sahara desert, her mouth is stuffed with the cadavers of mottled leaves; her

arms are sturdier than gnarled raffia trunk, breath weighted as a boat anchor. The street dogs sniffing her feet shine their canines and growl. Her gaze shifts and locks on a small figure.

III. The Enticement Just one peck and I’ll sing light upon your soul, take you to foreign lands, wipe out every hunger your mother dished out, every smack your father gifted you. Away with this confine where cockroaches flank all sides and ants dance through crevices. Follow me. I promise beautiful sceneries with clear skies, cotton clouds of dust for your fantasies, a kingdom where nothing moistens, nothing extinguishes, nothing ever heats. Draw nearer, darling child.

Okafor Emmanuel Tochukwu was born in Lagos, Nigeria. His short fiction and essay have appeared in The Kalahari Review, Bakwa Magazine, African Writer, Naija Stories, StoryMondo, Uniben Talking Drum, and 8th Annual Ships & Ports Communique. He is an editor and writer at Uniben Talking Drum and the Uniben Blog. A participant in the UNIBEN ENL Creative Writing Workshop, he divides his time between Lagos where he resides, and Benin-city where he studies Electrical/ Electronic engineering at the University of Benin. An MTN and Etisalat scholar, he won the Comptroller Charles Edike Prize for Outstanding Essays (2014). Most recently, three of his short stories made it to the shortlist of ten for the 2015 University of Benin Literary Prize for Poetry and Short Stories. Later this year, at the SWAG-V International Conference, he will be honoured a World Student Essay Writer. When he is not writing, he is happily making many square children. Tochukwu is currently working on a full-length debut novel. Accompanying photo by Michel Craig

Visiting Grandma by Sarah O’Brien Here lie rubber wrappers beside a vodka bottle. Gin suited her better, but her bones will have to settle. Dying carnations consigned to headstone; my brother’s stoned, or at least that might explain ceaseless potato chip munching. Took us a while to find her, again. We all had to spread out and search. Uncle Lou finally said it: “Found the old bat!” It was cousin Lucy last time, she’d said just: “Right fuckin’ there.” Good thing Grandma overheard us often as snowfall in hell, as she wouldn’t be fond of Lucy’s language. Nor of Nina’s new girlfriend, biting her earlobe three sites over, against a slab marked Wonderful Wife, Mother, Woman. But we’re lost together only now: by request, her day of birth. And we’re in high spirits, for what it’s worth. “Hey, Birthday Girl, gotta new tat,” I sing to an engraved name of someone once living. “You’d hate this one, too.”

Sarah A. O’Brien earned her B.A. in Creative Writing from Providence College in May 2015. For the past year, she has served as Managing Editor of The Alembic. Sarah’s work has appeared in Every Writer, The Screech Owl, Snapping Twig, Copley Hall of Art, and Hunt-Cavanagh Gallery. Follow her adventures: @fluent_SARAcasm. Accompanying photo by Pavlina Jane

Two Prose Poems by Catherine Zickgraf

Gallon of Milk When his fingertips slip out of hers, when he pockets hands in the dripping white afternoon—the trees all twisted up as skeletons and frizz, he leaves her breathing fog on their front porch and descends his way down the wet cement, sifting keys, overlooking his last time looking back at her.

Pacify They show up noon and night to wipe her, place her back in her pulseless cage, unclick bulb of sun from fishing line sky, leave her hoarse and blind, pray for her to die—and locking tunnel mouth, just block her out. Thin wood whips bands on her bareness. She’s warned: move hands, by God in His fairness. Paint stirrers crumple tiny fingers. She fears feeding hands, betrayal lingering in Godly pain. She cowers in a crib corner, hides in horror where she knows they’ll find her. She will learn to tend the child in her mind. Fend for her, fold her close. She needs all the hope she can get.

Catherine Zickgraf has performed her poetry on stages in Spain and Puerto Rico—yet homeschooling her boys inspires her the most. Her writing has appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association, [Pank], Bartleby-Snopes, and GUD Magazine. You can find her at http://caththegreat.blogspot.com Accompanying photos by Liz Poage and Don

Lava Man With Ruth, Dancing by Kimberly Nunes This is a picture of Lava Man dancing with Ruth. They met through a mutual checker at the hardware store. She could see he was hot, at first winced at the thought of it, but his gaze held her. She smiled, he blew hot ash, and that was all it took to seal her imagination. She liked that he was confident. He likes that she’s a woman with European sensibilities and does not mind his past. Ruth became a grandmother at the young age of twenty-six. She knew she had a good amount of time ahead of her for love and disillusion. And despite the responsibility of raising a grandchild, she embraced Lava Man with an almost self-destructive abandon, knowing how a relationship with him might age her. And it does. Gossip about her swirls each time he burns her, but she is immune to both injuries. When they dance, Lava Man holds Ruth like snow. He’s careful not to squeeze her hand or they sizzle together and drip onto her shoes. In the past, the drops have burned small brands into the leather making her shoes look like they are made of ostrich skin. She mitigates this small annoyance with a wardrobe of footwear made from the skins of exotic animals. You can see how carefully he touches her. How their embrace happens in the space where their gazes meet in air. This type of connection naturally led them to the study of tantric lovemaking and transcendent pleasure. It’s best (for her anyway) for their climaxes to initiate through their minds, and the electric impulses to then travel to their groins, something that can be done anywhere, however less convenient for him. Lava Man is a clotheshorse like Ruth. He has several suits of the finest feathers. Most attribute this style of dress to flamboyance, but it’s because this fabric can take the intensity of his heat without catching fire. The tiny grey plumage (a kind of downy refuse) comes from the underside of Toulouse geese. These waterfowl are mostly bred for their fatty livers, but once slaughtered, if removed skillfully, before the quills lose the enzymes that withstand extreme temperatures, the down can be used to fulfill this rare sartorial application. The fatter the geese, the more heat-resistant the feathers, but the price is dear, commanding many thousands of French francs per ounce. That is one reason why Lava Man is a workaholic. And Ruth understands. She likes her men busy and slightly unavailable anyway.

In fact, they are each preoccupied to such an extent their time together is infrequent, yet, precious. They mostly go to the opera—their favorite, La Traviata—and after, out dancing in seedy subterranean nightclubs. Their gift to each other: Lava Man will recite Rilke, Keats, Baudelaire, and other big-time poets while he and Ruth cover the dance floor. And she listens. They depend on it, the lilting lyric of verse. Gaiety transfiguring all that dread, he begins. Who is that, she asks, but she’s no dummy. This is part of the routine. Yeats, he says. And she shivers. They drift like this, oblivious to how night turns to morning, carefully holding each other, alone now, pretending to ignore the miniscule flaming drops of ochre-colored lava that sometimes splatter the orchestra when they twirl.

Having lived a life from farm to city, and a lot in between, Kimberly Nunes holds an MFA in Poetry from Sarah Lawrence College. With a bachelor’s in French and three master’s degrees that span business to fine art, she has taught courses at the college level, worked in business in New York City, raised her children and volunteered for myriad philanthropic projects. Born in the Salinas Valley, she is committed to place, people and “these spirits who inhabit our spaces.” Kimberly’s writing expresses the frailty of a flower juxtaposed with California lux, New York detachment, and the unsentimental reviews of a woman on her own, now realizing her sensual powers and emotional savoir faire. Memoiresque, infused with surprising images and well-dressed characters, she embraces that which is mercurial, spiritual, and therefore, a little dangerous. Accompanying photo by Orin Zebest

Two Prose Poems by Julianne Neely

The Pyramid 1 A calm block in the suburb, between two cookie cutter townhouses, sits a pyramid. As if lifted out of Egpyt, dropped Menkaure, Kafre, maybe Khufu. The mothers tell their children to stay away. Teenagers throw beer cans, body parts, hoping someone resurrects out. Nobody ever does. Legend tells of man and wife who raised a river for a son. A daughter was left lying on rock when the water lifted. They put her hand in their hand; it was too small to hold onto. They put her lip in their teeth; it shivered. They put her heart on their sleeves; it was a fashion faux pas. 2 A pyramid is a tomb. Cats won’t cross the street. The stockbroker with X-ray vision sees a painting hanging inside. It says L O V E, the O a peace sign lying on a leopard background. A sphinx is a sphinx is a sphinx until one calls it simply human. Then it’s a monster wrapping shrink-wrap around its own head. Police megaphone at it every Sunday morning. It is disturbing the neighborhood’s day of rest. They scream “If you’re going to make love to the town optometrist, at least us see.” We know you’re in there, daughter girl sleeping in mother’s lung hoping she coughs you up. Step outside, man with half a high school degree, we believe in you somewhere is the name of a ghost son tattooed. Wife, leave the edifice, don’t you want to be in a forest when fault slips. 3 Listen carefully. Sometimes when sun disappears people have pressed ears to sand heard the daughter bringing waves. Touched fingers to stone felt scarabs made of glue. Sometimes rain falls up and miles away a five-year-old girl kneels in mortar matches lines in her palms. Asks why farmer’s plant seeds with eyes closed then destroy the crops when the seeds resolve to be strawberries.

The Machine I am trying to break a code on an older locked machine. The apparatus seems to have been doomed from the start with its nicks and knife-edges. It wears its childhood like a war medallion. You can tell a boy or two has lifted the contraption above its head and let it go. You can see discoloring from the lack of air when its original owners stored it in a dark closet for years. I have heard they bought it with halo intention then realized shortly after they didn’t want it. Unfortunately, there were no returns. Crowds have gathered around the machine, dampening lips with their tongues, waiting for it to do what they heard it can do. I don’t care. All I want is to hold it in the air see its furrows sparkle in the sun. For there is something inside the apparatus I can never learn even if opened. I don’t care. Maybe my lungs hold the key and if I let out a loud enough sigh, a queen bee will fly out of my mouth in a cloud of air, sting the machine until it notices the doting bee. I see it humming a tune, me stamping my foot. I see its hair on my pillow. I want it to die how it should have lived—with its lips between my teeth.

Julianne Neely, 22, is a recent graduate from CUNY with a degree in Cinema Studies and English Writing. She is an intern with VIDA: Women in Literary Arts, as well as, has freelance worked for Sesame Street! She plans on pursuing an MFA degree in the fall of 2016. Accompanying photos by Adam Baker and Doug Bowman

Whistling Dixie by Scott Thomas Outlar There is chaos in my mind these days, and though I’m sure it shall pass at some point as do all things in this temporary world, such knowledge doesn’t help in the moment to assuage the confusion and manic moods that are rising and falling day to day, hour to hour. Sometimes I just wish that I was normal, but then I realize that I’ve destroyed every chance at normalcy that has arrived in my life. I know that dwelling on the negative aspects will not help to reshape how I feel, and that if I consciously change my attitude to a state of Holy Spirit Vibration the positivity will flow like a state of grace from heaven directly into my heart. The only way to balance my lows is to rage with a fiery passion when I get up or else it’s all just whistling Dixie and that simply ain’t good enough. I seek to embrace my shadow so that the completeness of my psyche can emerge, but sometimes I feel like the shadow is too dark, too deep, and too powerful to be reined in, and so I just continue to drown in chaos.

Scott Thomas Outlar survived the chaos of both the fire and the flood...barely. Now he spends the hours flowing and fluxing with the tide of the Tao River while laughing at and/or weeping over life's existential nature. His words have appeared in venues such as The First Line, Harbinger Asylum, Yellow Chair Review, Dissident Voice, and Belle Reve Literary Journal. Links to his published works can be found at 17numa.wordpress.com. Accompanying photo by martinak15

A Collection by Jessy Randall All Over the Ground the Old Woman Rolled All over the ground the old woman rolled. She scolded her husband for six reasons, counting them off on her fingers. Then, to frighten the man into submission, she hung herself. That showed him.

Grannie Greybeard, Without Tooth or Tongue Grannie greybeard, without tooth or tongue, cannot be understood by anyone, nor can she eat, nor bite, nor smile prettily, nor French kiss, and we learn that “the significance of this, if any, is not apparent, and is not made clearer by four additional lines found in Nancy Cock’s Pretty Song Book.”

There was an Old Woman Who Rode on a Broom There was an old woman who rode on a broom. What a view she had! She looked down on everyone. Her child went up there with her but wanted to get back to land immediately. For him the question was how to get to the bottom of the rainbow. But the old woman went right over.

Jessy Randall's poems, poetry comics, and other things have appeared in Painted Bride Quarterly, Rattle, and Sentence. She is a librarian at Colorado College and her website is http://personalwebs.coloradocollege.edu/~jrandall/ Accompanying photo by Alexandre Dulaunoy

A Collection by Richard Fleming

FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLF MAN I took my imaginary friend to the store. She came along quietly, or I would have had to call the police. Suddenly, alarms went off, and the clerk locked himself in a back room. A pyramid of soup cans toppled over, scurrying across the floor like frightened mice. I was afraid to open the freezer door. Through the frosted glass, I could see the Jolly Green Giant's face. I asked my friend if she wanted to lick the frozen dessert.

THE MUMMY It was a beautiful day, blessed with sunshine. I told my mummy to go outside, and play with other children. It's unhealthy to stay cooped up in your room all the time, playing doctor. But, he didn’t want to. He was too slow, like he was stuck in quicksand; and his body parts kept falling off. None of the kids would ever pick him for baseball or football. “Why not put a curse on them?” I said.

ALL HALLOWS EVE 1 It wasn't just the fantastic cornucopia of candy, but a forbidden pleasure. Smashing something; even if only Old Smiling Jack, the pumpkin on someone's porch. There was also a .25 caliber Beretta in a bag of burglary tools abandoned on a nearby lawn. I hid it in the basement amid boxes of comics and electric trains. One more toy that lost its charm to the enigmatic magic of girls. 2 It was all an act. The ritual mask with feathers, the trance dance around a fire, the swooning virgins. I saw an old woman levitate like Simon Magus. She was speaking in tongues. On an alternate channel, the voices of malevolent spirits advertised for lost souls. We kept beating on the skin of tin drums, until the dead woke up. 3 Zombies were strolling around the cafe, spilling coffee; making gruesome faces. They weren't wearing any shoes. They had left them at the door like Tibetan monks. They still tracked mud all over the parquet floor, but otherwise, acted as perfect gentlemen. We were standing around with our hands in our pockets, looking over our shoulders, fumbling for words over lattes. Meanwhile, masons were busy, bricking shut the only exit.

RICHARD J. FLEMING is a survivor of three Chicago blizzards. He graduated from Mundelei College of Loyola University, and has degrees in Fine Art & English Literature. He has recently had poetry published in Right Hand Pointing, The Rusty Nail, Inkwell Mag, Curio, Otoliths, Rain, Party & Disaster Society, One Sentence Poems, Poetry Super Highway and Rattle. Right Hand Pointing published his first Chap book, “Aperture�. You can read it here: https://sites.google.com/site/richardflemingrhp/ Accompanying photo by Insomnia Cured Here

Two Prose Poems by Zebulon Huset

I Had a Wonderful Dream of Cocooning That morning I woke up a centipede. Which isn’t a cocooning insect. My shoes wouldn’t fit. I hadn’t nearly enough shoes. But I didn’t need my house key as I slithered under the door on my way to work. Without opposable thumbs I devised a way to utilize my array of legs like fingers and my productivity soared. I was immediately promoted, as true businessmen don’t need to speak, and married the boss’s daughter, Sorority Sue. One morning Sue blew up into a Tapir. What a pair we were, centipede and Tapir zagging around Westwood and Burbank like a pair of lovesick dolphins. Caesar retired and the company fell into my capable feet. “I’ve seen the glean of change in the workforce these last years,” I said in my inaugural speech. The Zebras and Emus of accounting threw their heads up in approval, the security stallion stomped his hoof loudly twice, then eyed the copy mice who always seemed to leave with fuller fanny packs than that they’d come in with. “Troughs at alternate water-cooler areas, Gerbil races in the rear lunchroom at four sharp—” the roar of excitement interrupted my speech and the stampede began. Every desk demolished, pencil snapped, I was ruined. But Sue sidled up to me, tears bouncing against the tiny coarse hairs of my face. She didn’t have to huff anything. I crawled on her back. We walked calmly through the wreckage and the moment we saw the nude blue of day we flew away.

Well Laid Plans Or, thought-through maybe. He’d even said “Acai berry,” before making her smoothie. The whole room heard. That way even if someone suspected, he would have plausible deniability. He could see himself already, tearful on witness stand. “I mean, who calls a tree nut a berry, right?”

Zebulon Huset is a teacher, writer and editor in San Diego. He is obsessed with the netherland between flash fiction and prose poetry, as well as the haiku's 'murican brother the American Sentence. He posts near-daily writing exercises at his blog Notebooking Daily, he moderates a private subreddit for serious writing workshopping and although he was once nominated for a Pushcart Prize, he is the recipient of zero Pushcart Prizes. He did receive an honorable mention for the Glimmer Train Short Story Award for New Writers in 2015 for his story “Being Memorable.” His writing has recently appeared in The Portland Review, The Southern Review, Harpur Palate, The Roanoke Review, The Cortland Review, Spillway, Westview and Third Wednesday among others. Accompanying photos by Matt Reinbold and Joanna Slodownik

Mansion Garden after Ovid, Metam.XIV.566-70 by Tim MacGabhann Deep within the fog light pulsed: sourceless, directionless. Stars’ cold fallen shards shone and crunched like dead light bulbs underfoot. Our skins glowed sallow. Another pair of Guinnae tugged from the ice-bucket, like the tint of our skin might flood with a healthier color. We put holes in the drinks. The six-shooter pipe fired smoke dum-dums into all thought. Carl alone immune, wired. He told the circle of a cult where Christ and the Devil are brother bureaucrats who nudge along history, take notes, sift the dross, debate the nature of the heart God made. God’s role is to watch, tug his beard, try to keep a poker-face. The Devil does the pictures. Christ does the words. Their tension is professional. The Devil wants the plug pulled to let history wind down on repeat like a toy with low batteries. Christ is convinced the heart is worth the bother but is too plain-spoken to be much use with images. God hears the cases and either decides to pull the plug or let things go on.

Trouble is how do you know the plug hasn’t been pulled and this isn’t all the fadeout of the lights?

Christ and the Devil in the ruined dream city built by a lame architect, says Carl. They dream of beach road trips. Pink deserts. After history they break a way. Burst a road. To the beach. Meanwhile God does sad cat eyes at his tapes until the signal goes scotched and fuzzed with static lines and we all end with a smush. If the Devil wins he gets the heart. On a chequer-tiled path tapers out of sight through grey mountain desert Christ peels the heart into jaws hat yap and snap for the blood membranes dropped to his mouth pane by pane. Blood sunset. Red tacks to dog fangs. Perhaps if we suffered better, says Carl, they might make God stop. Frost dawn. Saturn’s wink and glitter far gone in the fog. Mid-shin in a lake’s mercury spill, a heron, eyes ash-blanks. Fired-out irises aimed way off in search of the cindered nubs and femurs that were his people now. Carl’s voice mumbled and numbered on through our sleep.

Tim MacGabhann edits the literary magazine and press Mexico City Lit. His fiction, non-fiction and poetry has appeared in Entropy, gorse, 3am, and The Stinging Fly. @TimMacGabhann Accompanying photo by Jes

A Prose Poem by Matthew Schmidt

The Magician forgets his childhood. He can’t remember when frames were invented. Dreams in the empty car of pulling his hat over the audience. Hands never empty. When he walks down a hallway he sees how it was constructed, in reverse. In shadows, in mirrors, secrets pass. Protégé cane at his touch; spoke the words in his mouth. Breath magic. As the year is ending, the frost setting in, near a fireplace, on a farm, inside a house, an old man sits with a pipe, smoke coiling. A screech-like sound on the window. Inside of the glass moisture streaks wipe away as if by fingertip. Two words appear, disappear.

Matthew Schmidt holds an MFA from the University of Arizona. He will begin working toward a PhD in English at the University of Southern Mississippi this fall. Recent work has been published in Down in the Dirt, The Missing Slate and Small Po[r]tions. Accompanying photo by telly telly

Painted Apocalypse by Kate S. Parham

Let’s begin with the toes which are pieces of broken street chalk all pastel and hard and tipped with toenails like seashells and sea glass and such, everything twisting together, intertwined, the roots of some gnarly pale tree at your feet, are your feet, sinking into the bloody mud with every slow limping step; sometimes falling but catching yourself with colorful legs that still remain strong, and jagged gashes running up shins, roads on a map leading to dirty scratchy knees with wounds that shine in the sunlight like ripe plums dripping red delicious juice down your shins shins shins which gulp in the nectar with savory delight; thigh skin melting ice cream, maggot-flavored, falling into the red and black ground mush; jutting hip bone breaking free from flesh prison, a shark’s white dorsal fin rising up from the waves to a leech-like stomach full of blood, ripped and torn in various purple places, constantly morphing shapes as you move about, creeping closer towards me; lines sometimes smiling, sometimes frowning on your chest where your heart lies still and calm, an apple full of worms, for you are an ecosystem; more bony branches curl out from your palms, often snapping off, fingertips dripping occasionally like a faucet which you put your open cracked lips to, smudging the thick liquid around your mouth like lipstick and that color really stands out on you since you have such a pale complexion,

makes your eyes pop, literally, right out of your skull; gazing through eye holes, a hollow white jack-olantern, a stupid beautiful headless horseman with no horse; ears like those mushrooms that grow on tree trunks and the flesh on your sunken cheeks is chipping off like lichen; there is an interesting design where your nose should be, it’s the inside of a pecan half, all intricate and skeletal; wiry frame like a greyhound, permanently open fish eyes and a broken jaw, hair like random weeds sprouting from a cracked sidewalk scalp, growing in all directions, body full of holes and bugs like a rotting wooden house and I can see your insides, I can see all of you; most people have secrets but not you, you just exist, just you exist; a lonely wandering masterpiece and I will let you eat me now.

Kate S. Parham is a poet from Beaufort, South Carolina. She has recently received her bachelor's in English but she is not going to be a teacher. She will, however, move somewhere soon where more people like poetry. Accompanying photo by Eddy BERTHIER

We hope you've enjoyed our Fall/Halloween Issue of Unbroken. As always, a huge thanks to our Contributors. We love you! Special Thanks to Joyce Hart for the beautiful Cover Art. Until November, Happy Reading! Be sure to follow us @unbrokenjournal for updates.

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