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Vagabonds Anthology of the Mad Ones 2016 Edition


Vagabonds: Anthology of the Mad Ones 2016 Edition EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: Weasel EDITOR: Emily Ramser EDITOR: Valdon Ross Copyright Š 2016 Weasel Press Cover Š Erin Crowley All written and visual works remain the sole property of their creators. They are free to use their works however they see fit. Vagabonds is an independent anthology that is published twice a year. It is published through Weasel Press. If you would like a copy of the magazine, you can order one at http://weaselpress.storenvy.com Vagabonds: Creative Arts Anthology runs solely off the support of its readers, authors, and artists. To find out how you can help keep Vagabonds going, email the managing editor. If you would like to be considered for our next issue, please visit our website to see when we open up again. http://www.vagabondsink.com http://www.facebook.com/vagabondwriters http://www.twitter.com/vagabondwriters


To the Traveler Holding This Book,

We started four years ago. We spammed tumblr, twitter, facebook, and anything else we could get our hands on, inviting everyone to trickle down into our madness. When you’re an artist, you leave pieces of yourself in your art, in your writing. It’s simply our nature. Each year we collect and create a community we’ve dubbed The Mad Ones. We’re all mad here. We all have some sacrifice to offer here. We drink the same kool aid and dive off into off-beat art vibe and wrap it up in this little book you have your hands. Sometimes, when you’ve done something for some time, you forget what you’ve done. You get wrapped up in the new, wrapped up in ideas to keep your vibe spinning. But often we forget to stop and look back. I’m writing this for our 2016 issue and all I can think about right now is “Holy Fuck, we’re still here!” We’re still here. You’re holding us right now, about to turn the page and start your journey (or some form of cliché reading adventure) into the pages of our drunken offerings. We are merely Vagabonds, drifting around out there, riding the same caravan, waiting for an audience. With the indie publishing world the way it is today, most


would think that running a print journal is rubbish. It’s insane. The world wants Kindle. And that’s cool. E-publishing is just a part of the business now, but Vagabonds isn’t a business. We don’t make money, or rarely do. Sometimes we get generous folks and we’re thankful for that. We are a stage, a venue, and we can’t make it out there without the readers we’ve accumulated and continue to gather each year. We continue to be grateful of your support and readership. So here we are. 2016 with a new issue. And here you are, about to take a bite into the gritty meat of this book. Well traveler, are you ready? It’s a cluster fuck out there, but goddamn is it beautiful. It’s raw. It may leave a bad taste in your mouth, but these are our moments we share with you. So open up, hitch a ride. The fun starts now...

Weasel Editor in Chief Vagabonds: Anthology of the Mad Ones


Contributors

Ironoak Art Carl Boon Katarina Boudreaux Adrian Cepeda Eric Cherrie Sue Clennell Matthew Corey P.W. Covington David E. Cowen Erin Crowley Sage Curtis Claire Davon Winston Derden Liz Desio M.J. Duggan Kellie Duran Jack Granath Claire Ibarra Strider Markus Jones Kristin LaFollette Linda Lenhoff Julia Rose Lewis Donald McCarthy

Alyson Miller Gabrielle Montesanti Sarah Frances Moran N.O. Moore Nada Joseph Nardoni Scott Thomas Outlar Dustin Pickering Rayn Roberts Benjamin Robinson Frank Roger Gregory Ross Tufik Y. Shayeb Roger Bernard Smith David Stallings Lulynne Streeter Yvonne Strumecki Susan Summers Hannah Sward J. White Lynn White S. Scott Whitaker Keri Withington


No babe We’d never Swing together but the syncopation would be something wild ― Diane di Prima, Revolutionary Letters


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Show me the night Show me that the night has no edges, that it’s a god’s five o’clock shadow, too prickly for embraces. Show me the squeeze box of villains that come out with the dark, white teeth ready to play like piano keys over the bodies of nice girls. I want to see the city shed its skin like a snake, gin and vodka coursing through its throat, hooded boys turning trains into pumpkins, in homage to Dali and Lichtenstein. I want to smell the mustang heat of erotica, cocaine and coffee filled back-ways. Hear the devil’s trumpet jazzing through dens, tongue ice blocks of promise and doubt. Then you can tell me there’s a happy ending. That when patchwork cats are yawning, and empty bottles clink into dumpsters, angels return to yellow the earth. Gather up the detritus. —Sue Clennell


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Power Source He calls at 3 a.m. to tell me it’s time : where, I don’t know, or from whose car. I love you. I’m sorry: his phone chokes and dies. I wonder where his next power source is : it’s 40 degrees too cold to plug in George Foreman style to a utility post. He’s not that kind of homeless, anyway just houseless, a different city every night : I always love men who have to say sorry : sorry I’m leaving, sorry I left, sorry, I came back early, because a conscience is delicious. Saying I love him is as honest as saying I love night instead of day, I sleep through most of him. But I do love night : it’s when my eyes open on the inside. This time, it’s a fever that flattens my body into a hard sleep : until I wake up damp with sweat, my bed frame


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already in its last vibration. I watch the words appear, and fade : I thought he had forgotten, and I am too weak to reach for the phone. I need real arms to lift me, to press ice into my temples and reassure me that I’m not dreaming anymore. —Liz Desio


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For Charlie So many people marching and waving, waving pencils and pictures of pencils. Millions and millions marching with pencils, asserting their values, showing their power, paying their respects. But it’s not what it seems. say the sideline snipers, the underminers, the false flag wavers, the pencil baiters, the Je Suis Fuck All-ers. They’re pencilled pawns, just part of the plans of the Old Pretenders, the liars and haters, the manipulators, the plotters and schemers, the money makers. The bullets were blanks and, the dead, aren’t dead. Say the sideline snipers, the underminers, the false flag wavers, the pencil baiters, the Je Suis Fuck All-ers. just look who’s leading from the front line. It’s the Old Pretenders, the liars and haters. It’s proof enough What more do you need. But it’s not what it seems. It’s a trick of the camera, another pretence


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to diminish the distance between them and the leaders behind them, the pencil wavers, the movers and shakers, the history makers. Not so say the snipers, the underminers, know better than you-ers, the Je Suis Fuck All-ers. They say nothing of Gaza, those pencil wavers, or climate, or oil, or this or that. And if they can’t speak for all things, it won’t matter if, tired by the baiters they go home and draw cats till their pencils are blunted and the spell has abated. and smiles back on the faces of the Old Pretenders, the liars and haters, the leadership fakers, the Je Suis Fuck All-ers who love to look at pictures of kitties. —Lynn White


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Tea Cup At the café, one of those days so cold it creeps under fingernails and across collarbones like a parasite, searching for warmth. Her duffle coat is beaded with rain; the odor of the wet wool reminds her of the animal that once carried it, now stripped naked and tenderloin pink, its skin stamped. It’s crowded, the meaty smell of fried bacon mingling with an oniony hint of bodies and the acrid smack of vomit; a baby in the corner, its head moon-round, not willing to digest a spoonful of yellow puree. She hunches over her tea, breathing in the steam and searching for the lost half-biscuit dunked for too long. As if by notice, the café empties; the time for tea is over. By the door, an old woman, tweed-wrapped, her face small and furry, dozes, leaning forward on an angle so steep her hips and ribs kiss. There’s a doughnut on the table, her nose poised as though to dive into its centre. The waiter touches her arm, leans her gently back into the chair, then hurries away—she’s not asleep. The girls watches, fighting the urge to stroke the woman’s hair, to pat down her eyelids, and tidy away the tea things; she sees the holes in her coat and shoes, imagines the skin beneath them, tugging away from the world. In the night, she dreams of a small brown mouse trapped between walls, scratching and scratching for the light. —Alyson Miller


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Against Horses, Against Writing I suspect I am guilty of confusing writing with life. Of believing that as the writing was good, so life was good. But writing always fails to imitate life. We are defined by our failure to imitate those who we admire. Writing is showing not telling or only a little telling. One shows a horse that they love it; you are more than a centaur. The truth about love stories is that they must be told. I must tell you in person; I love you. I love this life with you. Yes, writing is an important part still. I love the smell of roast chicken because of you. I love waking up so close. I love your love of zucchini, all things green. I crave you like avocado. In all the concrete details, we are told are important, it is easy to forget to tell. I let myself be derailed from telling you. Well lived and well loved are only a letter apart. What I love about you, are all the things I can not show to others. That place where we two meet, serendib, Sri Lanka, remember the frog poem. You are there. There is adventure in depth as well as breadth. The distance between start and end points, building. All relationships end in death or break up. Before, every year is a new year. Every day is different as a fjord. Every day is unpredictably lavish and challenging. Against horses, against writing; there is our life. It is terrifying to give up control of oneself, one's life to another person. Insecurity comes in the form of difference. Insecurity gives rise to distance. We think, yes we, they are too different. I can not trust another with my life as they will not make the decisions I would. That is the rub, the friction is that which gives rise to heat. I want to keep you warm. I love your differences; they will grow me. You will grow me, if I let you. I will grow you, if you let me. —Julia Rose Lewis


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Vague Shot — Kellie Duran


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Stranger Moments —Gabrielle Montesanti In July, I climbed into bed with a stranger. The bed was the first of seven, which were all positioned on a serene hill in upstate New York. The white sheets were delicate and so was the stranger. As I sat down to remove the shoes from my calloused feet, hot wind blew against my back. Silently, I stretched out next to the woman. We were so close I could feel her breath against my exposed neck. But we did not speak. We just lay there together, listening to the birds calling out and answering. Calling out and answering. On that day, I got into bed with a strange woman because I appreciate art. That is what I told myself, at least. It was a performance piece by an Argentinian artist named Fernando Rubio, and I paid five dollars to get into bed with an actress who was supposed to tell me vivid childhood memories. The prospect of taking off my shoes, lifting up the sheets and being treated to a stranger’s memory was appealing to me for its strangeness and intimacy. Furthermore, my curiosity was unrelenting. I wanted to know exactly what she would say. What would I say if a stranger got into my bed? Would I lean over to warn her? I’m fucked up. Just so you know. I’m a little fucked up. After several minutes, the woman finally spoke to me in a barely audible whisper. “There is a moment in time,” she said. “When you are sprawled out in the back of a car.” I was seven years old and lounged in the backseat of a car older than me. Following her brown eyes in the rearview mirror, I listened as she belted country lyrics and sporadically jammed the clutch in to shift gears. She sung about heartbreak, cowboys, and feeling like a woman while I envied her trendy circular sunglasses and her freckled shoulders. Watching my mother always felt as though I was invading something private. It felt like walking in on two lovers entwined in bed together. It felt like reading a love letter intended for someone else. Did she even remember I was in the back seat? Did she care that I was listening to her overpower the radio with her strong alto voice the same way she did at church? Did she know that the same wind blowing back her short black hair was whipping around my own? “There is a moment in time, when everything changes.” I was twelve years old and clutching a book I had found in the adult fiction section of the public library. No one monitored the books I ravaged and this was the first one that included multiple graphic sex scenes. Shamefully, I dog-eared


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the sections I wanted to read again later. The act of sex was foreign to me, and this work of fiction presented a romantic and explicit version that I lapped up eagerly. I did not stop reading until I reached a passage that involved two women scissoring in a college dormitory. Suddenly I felt terrified. The fear was new, raw, and unrelenting. I was terrified, at age twelve, that I was like the women depicted in the book. That I was somehow unfit to receive love from a man, or worse, that I would willingly trade it in for the love of another woman. I closed the book and laid paralyzed with fear well into the night. “There is a moment in time, you think happiness is gone forever.” I was eighteen years old when I called my mother to tell her I was involved with a woman. I did not use the term homosexual. I rejected the label ‘gay.’ It was a relationship and nothing more. It would fizzle out and end the way everything ends. After the conversation, I skipped calculus to cry in a graveyard. Nothing seemed more miserable to me than crying in a graveyard, so I sat on a tombstone and sobbed. It was snowing, but not the kind of precipitation one would ever call beautiful or poetic or peaceful. This kind of snow was harsh and tragic. The fear that sprouted years ago while reading the library book was back and stronger. It weighed down on me, pushed me against the tombstone, and told me that I was becoming a woman I no longer could recognize in the mirror but that I somehow knew was inevitable. The stranger in bed stopped speaking to stare at me. She waited for me to stare back. After several long seconds, I looked at her. Although half of her face was sunk into a soft, white pillow, the half that was visible to me was breathtakingly beautiful. Her eyebrow was delicate and blonde, and she had freckles on her nose and cheeks that reminded me of my mother’s shoulders. The only eye I could see was blue and it watched me shake. I shook though the air was warm, and I shook though the past was over. I shook though I had almost reached peace with myself and I shook because I craved love. The woman reached out to touch me. She ran her fingers over my bare skin and down my arm to my fingers. “See you soon,” she whispered.


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A Simpler Kind of Speech I am the queen of don’t-give-a-fuck desperation where the sex is always fast and slightly less than gratifying. A little to the left doesn’t quite hit the spot it used to, and anyways, my mouth is better suited to a simpler kind of speech. Silly me for craving conversation without innuendo, polite rapport over coffee or a drink to pass time. I am hungry for hello as just a simple greeting, where a question about your age isn’t answered by your height, weight, and dick size... doesn’t really matter to me. Well, almost. Face it--fucking only for sex is great when that’s the only special on any single’s blue plate. Just make sure that you’re useful, perhaps a little more than enough for me to handle-A handful, a mouthful, a who-gives-a-damn full of five minutes or five hours, whichever comes first. I’ll take it like always, willing and quiet. Waiting for the look that will lead me to like whatever it is you want to give me. So put me out of my misery. Don’t say a single word. —Yvonne Strumecki


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Hey Rube It’s no fuckin’ use you got to me. Look, right here, under my treasured chest where all of their lies that try to wear me out, will never win, what they can’t see. The sound of your invisible beats drenched in shots, holed up in the part of me that burns like invisible smoke with your immoral effigies; Tattooed from above. With my last spit to the sleaze on the hill, I will avenge thee with these poetic lines like scripture, fists of ferocious resistance on these pages of infamy rolled and smoked exhaled as an ode to your honor. It’s no use you’re inside of me like a shot of your favorite gin this is where you end and I begin. As I swallow in excess chaser this palace of wisdom of your whiskey shot like a canon blasting your favorite grin. I follow with my fist tattooed to immortalize you, I am loving your stinging glow, inking eternally under my fragile like skin. —Adrian Cepeda


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Poetry Pressing That night that they cut me out of the wreckage And, it will be night; Out on some rural highway Some desert crossroads Some place with mountains On the star-filled horizon That night I want to feel the blood Gushing Rolling Staining the scenery Like poetry Stomped by bare feet Before Dionysius —P.W. Covington

Sun Worshipper She sleeps in the sun, A toad, a lizard. Sky so blue it hurts. Out there in the white sand, She doesn’t hear anything, Only the water as it flows Away from her. —Lulynne Streeter


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Yes Yes Ok People say poets talk too much of death I will not, not at 7 am. I'm already feeling like going back to bed. I lead such a hard life; breakfast is going to kill me. Elegant things I put on eBay will be the end of me. I gotta get pics of all of them then shop for more. I gotta do the legal work against discrimination at a job I really don’t want any more ~ I’m a serious mess, worn down to talcum powder But out I’ll go, late in the day, for God and eBay To get Good Will stuff idiots use plastic cards to get So glad to get to be happy for a while, get, get, get Happy for a while, ok, maybe longer. I’m learning detachment from things that come and go People that live and pass away Weather that changes from calm to chaos, a world at war Rumors of war, floods, famine and genocide as my body falls Back to where it came from ~ I’m so serene... Right, Some jerk on the freeway cuts me off I forget I’m a Peace-nick and wanna fuckin’ end him, But I can't, I love peace, and besides, I said no talk of death WTF… AM I …talking about… seriously?


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Last week I walked Green Lake sharp nails cutting into toes I shoulda clipped them before but stood the pain Because I knew the pain would stop and it did – That’s pretty much it, standing pain, numbing it With the ecstasy of sunrise, dope, booze Keeping big Pharma fat and happy, loving sex on E… Whoopi ~ When I got home from the lake, one white sock Was bloody at the toe, it didn't matter I threw it in the wash and clipped my nails. I'm doing a reading tonight for a coffee shop crowd… Big WOW~ Tomorrow I'll drive through the Alzheimer haze To see my Mom before she too forgets who I am. Then I’ll walk the lake again; that's about the size of it. —Rayn Roberts


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Angel — Claire Ibarra


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outside at barbara’s cathedral an imbroglio salesman sold sexual climaxes right under tourist’s noses as they complained about taxes preposterous when you think of it steering the stream of awed revelers with logical stories of how during the war the cathedral had been an airplane hanger where rosie gave riveting sermons in the mount and prepubescent boys strolled naked in the choir loft where tenors would normally be pitched but they were flying airplanes in some sky they were told was really theirs’ while those of us at home prayed heavily for the moment when god would steer us clear where grandmothers murmured god help us where truth was a teenie-weenie emperor in the elsewhere and satisfaction was practically guaranteed —Roger Bernard Smith


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Sometimes Sometimes more ectoplasm than bone, I might drip from the frame, unless you are there to help keep it

together.

—Matthew Corey


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Ouroboros — Nada


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In Some Northern Neighborhood —S. Scott Whitaker Invitations to the christening came before the holidays. The Trashman killer, who hunted downtown that winter had already gutted the sorority house, his masterpiece, in terms of terrorism, and we longed to see holiday lights, listen to nostalgic songs, and be warm together; Mrs. Charlotte Downs’ invitations were a welcome distraction. “I’m so glad her daughter, Trish, came around,” our mother said over dinner, her fashion glasses fogged with steam. My mother never waited for her food to cool. Father shrugged. Near the end of their contract, both sides were snippy with each other. I could read it on their biometrics, but back then didn’t understand the subtleties of reading a feed. “It will be nice to see a family tradition,” mother said. “I haven’t seen one since I was a child. Charlotte has been scratching at the bit for this baptism. Trish was dead against it.” “Really?” Father asked, sliding a large blob of mashed potatoes into his mouth. “My parents didn’t participate in western faith based traditions.” Later, we tried to put the events in order. My sister would bring up mother’s insistence that Mrs. Downs was driven insane out of fear of the world falling apart. Mrs. Downs was part of the old world order. She didn’t belong in the stream. Our mother was plugged in as anyone to Mrs. Downs feed. If she knew something she did not say. Not then, or since. Dad kept his stream to the legal minimums. He left his wife be the know it all. It occurred to us much later that our own mother was unhinged in a way Mrs. Downs was; controlling variables and manipulatives. Charlotte Downs kidnapped Trish’s baby. We would see Trish, after the arrest, before the trial, on the feed and remember how she babysat us, and remember how at the christening she thrashed through many emotions before attacking her mother. During trial, Charlotte kept swatting the stitches on her face as if they were worms crawling on her cheek. Her face scarred from where Trish made her bleed for her crime. We witnessed it. We prepared refreshments for the christening, an old formal event. When we arrived at the church, the incense, the pale light


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through the stained glass, the choir warming up, the bells chiming, it all hit our senses, and we became immersed in the ceremony, even if it was only for a few minutes. Trish stormed in from the back, her contracted husband trying to keep up. Both were crying. Six suits followed, at least three civic lawyers, a magistrate of the court, and a notary. Not to mention the jack robbers, with their rifles, assault gear. When they breached the doors of the church, their feed took over our feeds, and the information we received suddenly went black, a thick noise of static, like a thousand voices calling your name at once. We later discussed it, over dinner, politely describing how we froze in place. My sister grabbed my hand when the team entered; she said the last thing she saw on her feed was how everyone’s root suddenly blinked out, as if the stream had been broken, for a just a second, before it went haywire. Before we froze with fear. We heard Trish clearly say “She stole my baby.” Her voice a clear bell over the black stream of the jack robbers feed. The organ music came to a jarring conclusion. The whole church strangely slow to react. Charlotte Downs mumbled, shaking as her daughter screamed. That was when it came into focus. We had brought cakes and cookies. We had congratulated Charlotte before the ceremony. We had agreed to attend because it was winter, because the world was hopeless and distracted. Because the trashman had murdered a building full of young women. Because he beat the stream, and the DNA filters. Because we didn’t want to think about death in our neighborhood, the dead in the south. Because we had hope. Because we had the stream. We should have known. Before the ceremony, we saw Mrs. Downs, a widower, hold the child as if it were her own. We had failed to ask where Trish was. Charlotte looked so happy. Her biometrics confirmed it. We should have known. Charlotte prepared the christening without her daughter’s knowledge, and took the baby from daycare down-city. Hid baby Alice away for almost twenty four hours. The jack robbers learned about the christening through the stream. Just like us. They honed in on our feeds, and networks, and mobilized. Later Trish explained that she knew her mother had done it. That it had taken every fiber of her being to keep from going crazy


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with grief. I bet her root shows something very different. I’d like to be close to her long enough to search her root, to fill in the pieces of the strange weekend. Watching Trish twist, and seethe, and cry, and whimper, and shout was stunning; to see a woman come apart, and come back together in short violent bursts. “It was like she was speaking in tongues,” my mother later said, another old tradition she explained to us. Trish cried and lashed out, became a fury of arms, legs, spit and venom. The suits held her back but not before she gouged her mother’s face. We let out a collective gasp. They took Charlotte out the front, news crews already in place. We wanted to look away but could not. Over the years we collectively remember Charlotte’s glassy eyes, her dehydrated skin. Her unwashed, but tidy clothes. How she refused food. Her insistence that the Lord spoke through her about the ceremony. The lawyers found a sketch of the daycare center in her journal. Madness. In her medicine cabinet dozens of untouched prescriptions. Someone should have seen it coming. The clues were in her stream. Was it love or devotion that turned Charlotte’s heart upside down? We’re still stitching it together after all these years.


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On Your Own ’Bout the time you’re shittin’ yourself and screamin’ for Jesus, all that’s goin’ to show up is the Death Angel with his pointy sword to pierce its blade into your heart — the real one, not the purported seat of your emotions. Death Angel don’t work for nobody. He’s just another figment of your imagination that anthropomorphizes the final transformation into terms a human mind can grasp, death being a somewhat enigmatic experience since no one has come back to explain what’s on the other side or in the great beyond, two more concepts lifted from human experience to explain something for which there is no evidence to describe. Death Angel don’t do no ’splaining neither. He just shows up and takes his toll, then moves on to the next one, nothin’ said, because he’s not really there. You’re on your own with this one, like comin’ into this world, ’cept this time, you’re leaving. —Winston Derden


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Repressed Just because I’m Fat doesn’t mean I can’t fuck —Yvonne Strumecki


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Domestic Disturbance in D Major D E F# G A B C# D Slam! Aluminum frame cracks against door. A grunting young mother pushes into home. “Wait! Can you not cry! Not with all this going on! Why did you hit your sister?” Over the pass, the town drunk fucks up his girlfriend, knocks her back into shelf, her front tooth on a bloody string. “Has anyone seen my belt? Has anyone seen my belt? Has anyone. Seen. My. Belt!” D E F# G A B C# D Angry mother stomps kitchen floor. She rips open a bill, beats fists against her chest. Baby cries on cue. “Don’t hit your sister. She doesn’t know what she’s doing. She’s only four.” Girlfriend takes beating like she takes sex; it’s easier to submit. When she doesn't resist he finishes in minutes. Beating a shadow, sex a sour joint. “No! It’s the belt with the black buckle, you know the one for court? The black one!” D E F# G A B C# D Pain races up her spine, juggling child with twisted hips as she plunges the toilet for the third time. “I hate her, Mommy! She wants what I want. And it makes me jealous.” The drunk, after ruckus, goes into a guilt hole so deep he weeps to love, to be saved; a quick, rare flower dying before dark. “I can’t show up looking poor, honey. Money pulls the trigger, baby, that’s what lawyers are for.” D E F# G A B C# D Brooming the house a task, a task! The mother's neck is a spring heel jack. She swings down spring clothes from the crawlspace. “Don’t say hate. You don’t mean it. You don't mean hate.” Girlfriend puts on her mask to go shopping near the angry church, a meeting that might give relief. “I’ll have to go straight to court without stopping. I hate it when you move my stuff. You always move my stuff.” D E F# G A B C# D If she keeps this up till the baby can walk she will buy herself something big and fancy. She deserves something other than grief. “Don't tell me lies about your sister. I've heard you being cruel.” He will never get sober. If she leaves him it will be a small stone falling down a steep hill. If she leaves him, she must move or be buried. “Don't wait up for me. My job is complicated. Long hours are part of the gig. I'll get something to eat on the way home. If you love me you won't wait for me. You won't.” —S. Scott Whitaker


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You’ve Got a Problem —Linda Lenhoff You refuse to notice the little internal warnings, the ones in your mind vaguely recognizable as your mother’s voice—something about knowing better. You certainly ignore the external warnings: You’ve been scratching your left arm for twenty minutes now—a blotch of burning red stretches down toward your elbow. A bottle of lotion and a quick juice glass filled with wine will help take care of that, you know. It began in your weekly evening poetry class, the one that took you two years to get the nerve to enroll in. The one where your face turns bright red as you read your poem, your right arm desperately reaching for the sore patch on your left arm, yearning to scratch some more. You begin the second stanza sitting on your right hand, hoping no one will notice. Your left hand raises the poem to cover your face, so that no one will see, although you’re sure they’re all staring. You’re sure they’re all frowning. As your worst fears come true, the class shreds your poetry, showing a complete lack of understanding, sympathy, and humanity. After they demolish every word, every comma, every pause, and a malicious silence fills the room, a male voice strikes you from the corner. “I don’t agree at all,” it says. “I think this is beautifully written, that it shows tremendous, painful emotion,” he says, his voice gaining strength as you shift your right hand from under you, hoping that the sharp needles of sleep that pierce all five fingers will subside. You gaze up and notice him for the first time, his lank hair a bit too long, his faded clothes washed once too often but not recently enough, his young hands firmly placed on the desk in front of him, framing your poem. It is the longest week of your life, waiting between classes, and your poetry comes out mushy and adolescent, although you refuse to admit why. You maintain your strength by making up a life for him. You guess that he has been unhappy yet is capable of great happiness, but only with the right person, someone very much like you. Something in his hands told you this much. He likes small animals and has trouble killing spiders. He could listen to you for hours. You could listen to him for hours. You remember that in class, the tone of his voice burned a hole in your chest just left of center. It didn’t hurt a bit.


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When your husband asks you what’s wrong, you say you have a headache, you’re getting your period, you have heartburn, your mother called, nothing’s wrong. He nods. At night while he works on other people’s taxes, you read poems from your favorite book, imagining that wherever he is, your poet, he’s reading them too. He’s reading them to you. You arrive late to the next class, as you had a small accident involving a pine tree that you’d really rather not think about. You have to take a seat off to the side where you watch another woman sit beside your poet, leaving you with an obstructed view of him. You try not to stare. The woman obstructing him catches you looking at her, and she moves one side of her mouth in what could be a smile or a grimace. You have no idea, and this week, you don’t care. The instructor calls for a break, and your poet dashes from the room. You go out for air, and the cold causes a sharp pain in your face. You trace little circles with your right index finger around the itchy spot on your left arm. You manage not to touch it. He comes back late, after the class has already resumed, holding a bag of chips. He opens the bag with a whup sound, and for some reason this makes you think about hitting that tree. The burnt smell wafts around the room, reminding you of family picnics gone bad. You notice when he offers some chips to the woman next to him. She accepts, and you reach for your left arm and rub it hard. You just happen to be near him on the stairway as the group leaves class, although it meant stepping on one or both feet of the grimace woman to get where you are. You find yourself next to him, which is to say that he finds you next to him, and you sigh and smile, a simple “class is over” smile. He smiles shyly, then nods a few times until you hear a slight crack in his neck. You want to thank him for his speech, his saving you, his unwashed shirts. You say, “When did it get so cold?” When he looks back at you, you notice that his eyes are the color of a crayon you think was called Midnight Blue. He looks around, and his eyes seem to land on the one star visible in the sky, then they come back to you. “I liked your poem,” he says. He waves quickly and hurries off toward the parking lot in the opposite direction. You feel as if he’s being torn from your right side as he heads away, looking nowhere, leaving you. When you get home, your husband is asleep, with large, thick bound books on the bed. You push one book over and get into bed, curling up near the edge to avoid the pressure of the heavy volumes.


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You do not sleep. You arrive in class the following week thirty minutes early, and change seats nonchalantly three times, anticipating where he will sit. This makes your heart beat unhealthily, you think, so you take secret deep breaths, in through the nose, out through the mouth. You forget all about breathing as he takes the seat next to you, the other woman with the grimace problem on his left. You realize that her facial tick may be genetic and feel bad that you stepped on her feet. In class, the heavy man across from you reads a blatantly sexual poem. He carefully enunciates the correct names of genitalia and the coarser ones as well. At one point, he looks directly at you and lifts one eyebrow. You look down quickly and try not to laugh, then turn your head toward your poet beside you. He playfully rolls his eyes at you, then crosses them. You know each other now. Afterward, he gets away from you again. You keep an eye on him and, sliding into your car, this time in the right lot, decide that you are not really deciding to follow him. You follow at least three car lengths behind, remembering some TV show where Columbo or was it one of those guys in Hawaii did this. You are not doing anything wrong, you think, neither legally nor ethically. You are simply driving. Driving in the direction of an unkempt young poet. You watch him go into an apartment you might have lived in years ago. A cat sits in his window, a sleek gray cat, a cat that may have eyes of Midnight Blue. You imagine the cat pawing at his legs with her little feet, wrapping herself up in his lap as he writes a poem about evening, about the stars, about you. You turn on the car radio to the most obnoxious station you can find to rouse you and drive home. In the collection of classmates’ poems to review that week you find one of his. You berate yourself over and over for not seeing it sooner, then turn it over when your husband comes into the room. You chew on the side of your cheek, waiting for him to leave. You read the poem quickly, then you read it seven more times before picking up your pencil to comment. You write on it words like ardent, intense, compelling, instead of your usual good or nice. You erase any negative words from your mind when they come to you. You realize that he is a better poet than you are, by far. This thrills you. You drive by his apartment one morning and watch two blackbirds in love fight on the front lawn. You drive by the building in different lights of day, noticing the sadness of dusk falling. You stop by the local 7-11, you get gas at his neighborhood station. One day you


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venture to his post office, where you see him holding a little yellow pick-up note. You slip into line two people behind him. With your thoughts, you manage to bore a hole into the neck of the man in front of you, and he suddenly realizes he forgot something in his car. You think your luck is changing. He finally turns and notices you, and you appear startled that it’s him. His eyes are deeper even, and ringed with lack-of-sleep darkness that makes you want to reach out to touch his face. You find, in fact, that your arm has risen in its desire, so you place your hand on your left arm, the one that so badly needs scratching again. “Oh, you live around here?” he questions you reasonably, his breath hitting your earlobe. “No, but the lines here are always shorter,” you lie, having no idea what the lines are like here or even how you got here. You think about telling him you loved his poem, its intricate levels, its clever use of language, but instead you say, “She’s ready,” as you point to the next available window. After his transaction, he holds up a little package in your direction and whispers “Parents” with a shrug. Then he is gone. You would be amazed at how long it takes one person to sell you five stamps if you weren’t so damned ecstatic. It is the last class, and you have changed clothes five times before coming here. You feel that you are about to fall into a deep, murky sadness, but also as if you are trying to push it away with both hands. He sits beside you and you say, youthfully, “Hey.” He cheerfully greets you as the instructor begins. There is never time, you think. After the break he returns with a bag of fried potato sticks that smell of salt and plastic. He pours some out for you and, yes, offers them to the other woman, but you feel magnanimous now. As a woman in a red hat reads her poem, you and he arrange and rearrange the bits of potato into peculiar stick figures and undecipherable letters. Your skin has never felt quite the same way before. Leaving class you feel something like hysteria rising within you, but you are walking zombielike slow. But there he is. You say, “Well, it’s been—” but he interrupts with “I have to hurry” and seems ready to take off straight up into the sky. He hands you an envelope and says “bye,” and heads off as you stand in your zombie state and wonder who you are. You walk to your car clutching the envelope and thinking nothing more than walk, walk, walk until you can get inside and turn the little overhead light on. You open the envelope to find a handwritten poem. You are so blinded by it that you cannot read it at first.


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Finally, you read the poem. It is more than you could have hoped for, and you feel that someone has been watching you, may even be watching you now, and that you want him to watch you more. You fold the poem and hide it in your coat, able to remember only the line about your eyes. He has written about your eyes. Your tears fall onto the cold steering wheel and you imagine his face in front of you. You mouth the words, I know where you live.


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Sometimes— dedicated to Pablo Neruda on his birthday Listen, carefully— the lessons taught by moon’s glow are understood in breezy oblivion. Sympathy is dark and twisted by a heart’s gleam, an ocean of virgin night. Cold sea, turning the gems awry, deep as a magic trick; yet honesty is the birth of tenderness. —Dustin Pickering


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Dream: May I Cough, Sky? I starved the goat & now I’ve got his horns. Where I can’t say. But to remove them would be to murder all that I’ve lived for. From self-torment arises instigation, spiritual prodding, & there are two sides to all things spritual. So pick your direction, split your fury, & trudge off into the wasteland to unearth the primordial discretion of our ancestors. Bury it again! Deeper! There is no such thing as discretion. To march through this desert full of cares & admirable aspirations would be fruitless. There will be no dainty frolic, no pussyfooting, no suicidal


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halfstep! There will be boots filled with sand! Scorched flesh! & for meals, we will eat the thorns of cactus. & if, by some fortuitous glint, we should stumble upon roseate buttons, we shall eat them & enter into a prophetic world of panoramic nuance. We will redefine opulence & sip from Lethean mirages until our eyes bleed with understanding, until we’ve found exactly what it is that we’ve never been looking for. & whatever this ‘something’ is, if it can even be called a ‘something’ at all, will, from then on, be used as our toilet. Indefinitely. —Gregory Ross


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Bardo — J. White Welcome To The Machine somewhere across an improperly fathomed distance a woman that I call mother fears the idea called love she’s very good at prayers before bedtime and all the Amens needed before the first bite of salad, but love that faith is broken – lacks a mustard seed none of those men were ever going to be Jesus and Jesus was never going to be a lover. she remembers hands and songs cringes at certain beats cowers at thoughts of touch because she knows where the hands have been and how the mind plays soundtracks in its head welcome my son, welcome to the machine He was in pieces and she spends her days on jigsaw puzzles and 3D puzzles


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and puzzles upon puzzles because she never could solve the puzzle that was him. pieces were always missing. Now I call from a distance and he calls from a distance and those phone calls wreak of distance‌ Like the space between belief and doubt. What do you mean he touched you? What are you saying? What exactly happened? Like the gap between fear and love He was my soulmate. She was my favorite. What exactly happened? Like the dash between revelation and regret He was abused I was abused You were abused How exactly does this happen? Welcome everyone, Welcome to the machine. —Sarah Frances Moran


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Dying for Jesus If you send your Bugatti Veyron -after three hours in the VIP room at the local flesh haven finding heaven in fifteen shots of scotch flesh released from the poles to grind into your crotch-into the pole holding the 70 foot neon Jesus blinding drivers in the Houston fog will that special glow flow into you will your body find a soul carried to the celestial reckoning will you see your grandmother waiting with the smiling bearded white skinned savior Hawaiian lei loose around the neck umbrella topped mai tai in hand welcoming you to the party will the charged words on the sign now draping your frame “all who seek shall find me” be the one truth of your moment or will it just be irony that you gave your life for the Lord

—David E. Cowen


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Perspective — Erin Crowley The Grocery Store —Claire Davon I turned my head away from the selection of packaged meats in the refrigerated deli section and looked to my right, unsure if I had seen correctly. I moved slowly, trying not to draw attention to myself. The wheelchair shopping cart was already several feet ahead of me. Its lower viewpoint ensuring that a shopper would have to look up to meet people’s eyes. The driver’s gaze was focused ahead, appearing to be contemplating a turn from this section to the next aisle. I froze, the shock of seeing her stopping my hand from completing its grasp of the ham I’d been about to pick up. I looked at my cart, already half full with the week’s groceries. Should I ditch it? Run from the store? Put my provisions back and slip out? I did none of those things. Cautiously I made my way down and peered in the direction she had vanished. I saw the cart with its burden disappear into an aisle some rows down. Without thinking, I dashed down to the diapers and school supplies lane, wheels flapping at the hurried speed. It was a safe place, neither of us having a need to visit this part of the store. Beads of sweat gathered on my upper lip as I took several deep breaths, trying to decide what to do next. It was remarkable she hadn’t seen me, something I could only


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attribute to the height difference. If she had I knew the market would be ringing with loud declamations and ugly words. My choice to break off contact had been one of necessity, but that didn’t make my current situation any simpler. Mentally scratching this particular store off my list, I crept down the aisle and peered around the boxes of cereal and energy drinks, looking for the telltale cart. None was in sight. I reviewed the groceries I had yet to buy. Foolhardy or brave, I decided to continue. My heart hammering loud in my ears, I braved a turn into the granola bars and rice cakes section. Snatching up my needed items, I tossed them in the cart and hurried down to the end of that aisle and looked out into the common area. It was safe, for the time being. At any time, that could change. Here there be dragons, I thought ruefully. Peering out again I caught sight of the cart again, this time moving back the way it had come, as if my mother was doing concentric circles in the grocery store, without a coherent plan. I was an aisle completist – first one, and then the next, going methodically from one side to the other until I was done, the exact opposite of what I was witnessing. Her nonlinear movements had given me the opportunity to get what I needed to complete basic grocery shopping. I zoomed down the soup and coffee aisle, grabbing for my favorites, the last of the necessities that had compelled this weekend trip. The checkout aisle loomed in my future. Slinking like a scared cat, I looked again for the wheelchair cart, any evidence that the woman who had called me such foul names and wished out loud that she had never had children was at checkout. Once again, my luck held. I surveyed my choices of lanes, all crowded on a busy Sunday afternoon. This was the biggest risk of all. I could choose carefully and still get stuck behind someone who moved with the speed of a tortoise caught in molasses. Instead I opted for the self-checkout. A clerk offered to help me and we began unloading the cart. Then he got called away just as a balky item refused to register, leaving the checkout monitor to inform me “attendant has been notified to assist you.” I wanted to scream but clenched my teeth around the impulse. I rocked from one foot and back to the other, my eyes darting nervously around, expecting to see a cart heading my way. Fortunately, the attendant returned, unlocked the magic access, and I was on my way again. My groceries bagged and loaded, I faced the parking lot. Was


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it possible she had already checked out and was even now getting a bagger to help her load the bags into their old wagon? I saw no sign of the car but did not know if they used handicapped plates or not. She would not know my new car, but it was the same model as the old one. I walked to the automatic doors, which opened with a whoosh, and peered out. The coast seemed clear but I couldn’t be sure there wasn’t a driver lurking behind an unfamiliar car, just as mine was new to them. Peering first one way and then the other I picked my way across the lot, at any moment prepared for a loud shout of my name and a string of angry words behind it. She would have no compunction about starting a scene; she had proven that many times in the past. My boundaries had been set, and breached, and set, and breached, until the split had been inevitable. The beep beep beep of my trunk lifting seemed to work in slow motion. Even before the lift gate had cleared halfway I was ducking under it, handing groceries in with haste. My mission accomplished, I took one final look at the tableau from the safety of my SUV. Seeing nothing, I clambered into the driver’s seat and pressed the on button. I had done it. I was safe for today.


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Beauty Parlour Step inside my parlour, my pampering parlour. You will be remade, reborn, stroked and smoothed, petted and prodded, cosseted and curled, given the attention you deserve as well as a new face and shiny new hair. In Pampers Parlour we’ll recreate you. We’ll reboot your confidence and give you a new chemistry as we gloss your hair and lips. As we shape your face with new shadows and glows. As we apply layer upon layer of chemical shit topped by nose retching fragrances. You won’t know yourself when you step outside dolled up to perfection, protected in your new mask. And what then? Will you go home and comb it all out and wash it all off, preferring, after all, the person, with the old skin and fresh air colour to the new robotic doll. The pampers product is designed to be disposable, after all.


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Or will you keep it as long as you can.. Try not to move your new face. Try not to upset your new hair. Place a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign on your forehead. Keep it as long as you can. Even if stinky and crusty, you’ll still have your face on. You feel so bland, so pale, so wan, exposed without it on the journey back to the beauty parlour. —Lynn White


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Canceled Check The taste of temptation drips violently in waves of acid from your wicked tongue, seeping with sinful saliva, teasing out the passion that burns with an uncontrolled rage in the back of my eyes. Lay your kiss of death upon my weary lips and release the Beast within my heart that must be set loose to tear at the seams of this plastic reality while ripping apart the fabric of creation. Time and space have become existential enemies to the theory of evolution, and absolution can only be established by rendering entropy unto this broken system. Anarchy is not enough, and chaos only goes so far. The state which must be sought at all costs can only be born from the seed of pure white light that ignites the very core of consciousness into infinite nothingness.


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An implosive force wherein life itself is sucked back to the empty space before the Big Bang to be rendered once and for all null and void. —Scott Thomas Outlar


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Cookie Jar I stand empty here in the sanctity of my own kitchen just these crumbs remain the oats with raisins, chocolate chips, sugar icing all licked by your greedy tongue consumed by your needy mouth. Still you twist my head put your hand inside searching with spit-wet fingers even for these few crumbs. —Susan Summers


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Anxiety A man in a retro brown suit seething coffee stained teeth inhalation of red oxygen, losing control of his mobile device smashing it as the last blink of battery dies. In the remoteness of village WIFI free town a middle-aged woman is on the verge of collapse she can’t check her tweets or her Facebook status on the anti-social networking apps, where false idols become small time masters popularity is a favourite or a retweet; Yet in this actual reality - the virtual rarely meet. A man cracks up at the local super deluxe retail mall frozen he stands with an empty shopping trolley, Paused, in the grasp of a psychic sauna watching the rats and shopping reapers scurrying; Anxiety Superficial Empty Vessel All Washed Up! —M.J. Duggan


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To the Drunken Lady on the Microphone -After Lucinda Williams “Drunken Angel�

Words kissing kissing on metal I want to tell you how I can never Wear your leather my whole world on your blues songs. My grandfather's harmonica would look good there kissing the way you love on a rhythm, on a microphone. You know who you look like like metallic feedback kissing buzzed ladies in dark corners Tell you how I revise our story of a drunken lady. City neon, all the neon feeds the energy I want to tell you I live for the buzz of how my faux-leather wore out and flaked off and we threw a trash-can funeral for it. How I stole your feathered belt and gold disco queen halter top to be loud and kissed. This is important, persona all grata. all glitter all grand lobby hotel


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Have our bare feet hanging hanging over How I tell you I can't fake or feel or try not to lie. These words kissing kissing past red lips, unashamed I want to tell you, I can always. —Sage Curtis


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Thank you, Tennessee I am lucky to have a job.

I am told

I must choose between my mortgage and paying for the endoscopy for my eight-year old. This is the american dream: living paycheck to three days before paycheck scrounging in sofa cushions counting change in terms of bread slices, miles driven, hours of air conditioning.

—Keri Withington


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Probation Shell Game They hope he will miss a payment because, of course, he can’t find a good job with a record. Random drug tests, for an additional fee, they hope for a positive result. They pull him over repeatedly and search his car each time any excuse to revoke probation, lock him back up, and say, “We gave him a chance.” People stand in judgement, speak dismissively, “Well, he did something wrong,” and forget that they were young once and did something wrong perhaps worse things. The system sets them up to fail, justifies massive budgets by doling out more punishment, longer probation, a self-feeding cycle and the young man pays, and we all pay and pay and pay. —Susan Summers


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A Numbing Blow of Fresh Air —Frank Roger

That Wednesday started out like any other day. Paul Bloomfield, CEO of major bioengineering company Cyborganix, rose at six a.m., showered, got dressed, had breakfast, kissed his wife and son goodbye and left for work. He got into his car, switched it on in auto-pilot mode as usual and sat back. The gates opened and the car left for its default destination, as on all workdays: the Cyborganix Headquarters building, about a forty-five minute drive from home, unless traffic jams were worse than usual. As the smartcar drove all by itself, Paul could relax, take a nap or work on his laptop. As a rule, he opted for the latter – after all his time was precious and it would be unwise not to fully exploit the advantages offered by today’s smartcars. As he was working in concentration, it took him twenty minutes to discover something wasn’t right. He shifted his eyes away from his laptop screen and stared out of the window trying to recall a detail from a past meeting, as he noticed the landscape was not the one he usually passed through. He checked the car’s control panel and saw to his dismay that his destination was now listed as “Surprise”. This was unheard of. What was going on here? He tried the manual override, but in vain. Cursing under his breath, he realized his smartcar’s operating system must have been hacked, even if it was supposed to be foolproof. He reached for his phone to call for help, but found there was a message on the screen – “Please wait – reconfiguring” – and that none of its functions worked. Had it been hacked as well? That was quite incredible. All his hardware and software were equipped with state-of-the-art firewalls, regularly updated and checked. Apparently the hackers were still one step ahead. As he wanted to continue work, he noticed his laptop screen also showed the “reconfiguring” message. He was no longer surprised. They had him by the balls. No doubt it would quickly become clear what they wanted from him – whoever “they” were. Sighing, he leaned back and waited. There was little else he could do. The car seemed to be leaving the city altogether. Paul Bloomfield cursed again. He threw a glance at his watch: he should


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have arrived at the headquarters already. His staff members would be worried and try to call him, probably unsuccessfully. How would this nightmare end? More than an hour later, the car came to a halt. Paul Bloomfield looked around him in wonder. Where had the car taken him? He had never been here before. He had to be far from the outskirts of town. All around there were only trees and bushes, waving in the wind. No houses or other buildings could be seen, no sign of human habitation. He was in the middle of nowhere with all his communication lines down and felt utterly lost. After a few minutes, the car’s doors swung open and a message appeared on his phone: “Get out of the car”. He remained in his seat for a few moments, then realized it was pointless to disobey, so he got out. Now we’re getting somewhere, he thought as his phone’s ringtone shattered the silence. He snatched the phone from his pocket and listened. He understood right away this was a prerecorded message – there would be no conversation with the hackers, no chance to make a deal and get this over with quickly. “Welcome to reality,” the voice said. “Embrace this stunning new concept. Look around. Feel the sun on your skin. Feel the wind ruffling through what’s left of your hair. Listen to the buzz of insects, the chirping of birds. Marvel at butterflies fluttering past. Quite a change from your air-conditioned smartcar and office, I presume? How does it feel to be no longer cut off from nature, from real life? You may actually get to like it. In any case, we thought we had to offer you this little surprise. It should inspire you, make you reconsider your ways. Mind you, we mean you no harm. When we think you’re ready, we’ll hand you the reins back. Then it will all be up to you. We hope you’ll make the right choices. Good luck, Mr. Cyborgfield.” That was it. Strange, he thought. The hackers had made no demands, had not asked a ransom. Why then had they gone to such lengths just to drop him off here? He failed to understand. He quickly began to feel uncomfortable. Beads of sweat formed on his forehead and his arms, and his shirt was growing wet with transpiration. He wasn’t used to heat. As a rule he stayed in an air-conditioned environment all day long: at home, in his car and at the office that he didn’t even leave for lunch. Insects buzzing past around his head, perhaps attracted by his sweat, irritated him. A butterfly that suddenly and unexpectedly landed on his shoulder scared him. The absence of office equipment hum-


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ming, phones ringing, people working on keyboards or other hardware was almost physically painful, as if something vital was missing from his system. Just as he started to fear he would be left to his own devices here forever, he received a message on his phone: “End of therapy. Feel free to continue your journey.” Therapy? he wondered. What were they talking about? What was all this supposed to mean? He got back into the car and the door swung shut. He checked the control panel, which to his relief now displayed the default destination. Before long he was finally on his way to the Cyborganix headquarters. He arrived there at noon, furious that half a day had been lost. He immediately called the Security Department Head, told him he had been the victim of an incident and ordered a full upgrade of all security systems in the building, his car and his home. He also ordered an investigation which should identify the hackers responsible, who would pay a high price for their heinous crime. As he didn’t feel hungry, he cancelled his lunch. Besides, he was behind schedule now and would have to work hard to make up for lost time. However, he experienced difficulties in concentrating on the job. Somehow the familiar surroundings of his office were no longer comforting. He looked around, trying to identify the problem. There it was! It had to be the view from his office windows on the building’s top floor. The cloud-swept sky extending as far as the eye could see. It reminded him too much of the misadventure that had struck him so forcefully. It brought back the memories of the heat, of the sound of leaves rustling in the breeze, of those confounded insects and that butterfly, of that machineless hell, of that void he had been thrown into. Nature, or real life, as those nutcases had called it. “Blinds down,” he ordered and the voice-commanded system obeyed right away. From now on he would keep the blinds down at all time. Being cut off from that horror lurking outside should comfort him, allow him to fall back into his routines. Paul Bloomfield worked late that day, and was driven back home by his smartcar – with upgraded security settings – without any disruptions. He was relieved and hoped he would never have to face such atrocities again.


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Listening to the Radio in the Dark The pop star and her pleasantly bland lyrics, lies mainly, if you bother to think them through, but who would? I learn that my love is like some damn thing or other, and it sounds good, goes down better than the truth, which has to do with a shattered body on a canyon floor, coyotes shaking off their Indian myths to come shove their snouts in, headlights on a kneeling figure beneath an iron bridge, hands tied to his ankles with a ridiculous piece of chain, blood in his eyes from a cut across his forehead, the mark of the spade, a meat hook in a cluttered basement, bits of rope, the concrete with its old oil stains, a strange lady dying politely upstairs, while her small, misshapen grandson practices on the piano, he’ll come to nothing, out front his dog gets hit by a sports car, a woman laughing from the open window on the passenger side, and someone flips her off, stumbling home to have a wank, collapse on the sofa, and dream of fried meat, the graffiti starts to bleed, oh baby, that love o’ yours is sure some circus ride— —Jack Granath


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Mrs. Ridgeway's Lament Our marriage changed my life: White dress, laced promises and hands, floral afterimages melting from my skin as you undressed me, your kiss dark and bitter like coffee, the first lie I told myself--it's only bad breath and not the stink of death--just one of love's little lettings go--like finding you in that redwood grotto, poking the dead squirrel with a stick, rotten meat bloating in the summer heat; or the hard elsewhere stare at the belly-up frog caught in a lonely eddy, softening and swelling in the water, your hand tugging me to a place I couldn't go; or your rage at whores and your strange hardons rising out of our drives downtown. I used to marvel how you held the lane while you filled my naughty mouth with your semen; not anymore. Husband, I saw them cuff you on TV, and I remembered how you drove me to the river that time, Grateful Dead blasting from the speakers, where you lay me down in the reeds, you were so big, so hard, taking this sacrifice I made to you, swallowing my fear at getting caught naked in the bright sunlight, your eyes huge black pupils, drawing the light right out of me as you came, shouting, your hard hands braced on my collarbones, and I felt so proud of my body, every pore leaking joyful sweat as my orgasm followed yours, till we lay steaming and sighing like water rushing over the rocks, the green reeds rustling with june bugs, blue dragonfly riding the waving stalks back and forth. It was only later, as the cops walked me along the river through your dumping ground, that I knew that you hadn't even seen me as you rested panting above me while the reeds


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rushed with the echoed flows of the river and my thighs, your dick still sheathed inside me, hard and fixed like your shuttered gaze that looked right through the bottom of my eyes, your drawn out groan as you shook like a child forever burned in angry shame, caught with the butterfly still wriggling on the pin, this time lapsed moment I wish I could forget, another love's letting go-knowing now what no wife should ever know: the name of the young girl you lay down in the reeds, dying here on your prick, whose filming eyes you watched grow cold and saw again, fucked to death as you spent your seed in me. You should have killed me, husband, instead of those whores and runaways you scattered along the river like driftwood. Now I stand before this judge, hands black with the ashes of our marriage license, claiming back my maiden name, while you rot in jail and beyond, my living will that I will disown, this secret shame of knowing you betrayed in sudden blushes that crawl around my neck like flies when I dance in the eyes of the next new man who asks to hold my hand, knowing that my next new vow will always ring out hollow, for there's a river I have seen, meandering and deadly green, running through my ruptured heart that he can never go to: my love's last letting go of you. —Joseph Nardoni


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A Stirred Vision — Kellie Duran City of Trees It was difficult growing up on cement. Our grandparents had grown through it, the few, breaking slabs off their gnarled back, and our parents had been wilder, half-fleshy, had wandered to pastures in their youth. We hated them for this. It’s a surprise we were born at all, our skin so soft and translucent, our veins, oozing the inconstant yelp of mornings. When they held us, and ran a finger over our sponge, and they saw blood for the first time in their lives— and it was hard, when the rain would come like snow, and the fog would sling to the ground, a low sweep— Sometimes, playing, we would come across them;


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(not our parents, they had left after one too many drop) but the older ones, stuck with cement around them — they taught us it was a gift from the earth, that it wanted nothing but to be so solid that we appreciated it. In our older years we would consider this, discuss the implications of this gray growth, (by then we would know it was to stay). Personally I was never content with anything but wandering. I took myself to the edge of the fences, admired the short spaces of tufts, short grass blowing in a afternoon wind. As I grew I mourned their passing, and I came to understand how nothing lull. Change is loathe to relinquish its momentum. These days I try not to question my world, each time I do I am returned to thoughts. Somewhere, out of sight, is a dogwood its petals scattered and the bitter stink of them so sharp, like that time I smelled them by accident— —N.O. Moore


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Jumper Again this morning we—who cross the Bosphorus Bridge on our ways to work, school, the dentist, the mistress crawling from bed in a sunny room— know the routine. The stalled traffic tells it. The policemen in a crescent tell it. The admonitions and whispers on the metrobus tell it. Another man was going to jump. Another man whose girlfriend closed the door, whose boss made the usual clichés, whose baby daughter disappeared to drugs and boys instead of math. I've gone past nine such men my seven years in Istanbul, always in the morning, never in the rain, and always when the water looks intoxicating and soft. It was 7:42, and I thought, let's talk, just you and me, let's open beers and dream long breakfasts, play backgammon, recreate the long-forgotten past and make it real once again. But I was already late to the office and my secretary was resigning. By the time the metrobus stopped at Walnut Grove, the man was already dead. He hit the water at 7:49 and his heart stopped three seconds later. —Carl Boon


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Approaching Brightness —Benjamin Robinson A scream, fat with death. Giving birth to death, out from between its legs. In the clarity of a rendered dawn it says something of itself. Words that are not there. Words that are not anywhere. Something is trying to close over. Listening to it is like trying to shit yourself off the top of a cliff. It is a cliff I awake at the edge of every morning, staring out to sea. I was looking for a cliff to go off. I wanted to be at the edge, where screams are swallowed. They will not open for me, the things through which other people deliver the goods. Ripeness delivered up by an ocean of assholes. Splendidly ripe. Proficiently consistent. The traditional odourless modes, soundless evacuations, depth charges of defecation. When my floodgates open I get stuck ajar. It is a mystery to me how this happens. How can I be closed? I could give in to myself, think of myself as a lid. Bring it down on everything. A smooth white plastic lid coming down on everything. All at once, out like a light. Unless I try to look at it. Take it out of my head. Look at it. Use it. Cut it down to size. It is the same every time. The same divergence, the same falling. Surrounding me, using me up, eating into me until I am lying there, ruptured, half digested. I am waiting for another day to dawn so I can be warmed over. There is a dust cloud where the dawn should be. Someone said there was an explosion in the middle of the night. People became angry. They were broken up. Those who had legs to run with ran. What will I say when they ask me how did it come to this? I will say I was heading for the cliffs when the bridge collapsed. Another day was about to dawn on me. There was no sun, just endless cloud. Ever so slowly, it was getting brighter. Was that the explosion? All that cloud? It might have been rain, or mist, a fine mist, or dust, but I didn’t notice because I was preoccupied with trying to shit myself. I said the words I thought they wanted to hear: lacerations, blood-stained faces, aftermath of the explosion. There was a track leading into a rut. I was walking into the dessert, thirsty for a cliff, wanting to see the sun. I heard a voice, coming from the edge of the cliff. I was about to shit myself when it happened. But I will not say anymore. Words disgust me. I have become a roll of fat stretched taut across a gut. From here I can see the dilemma. From here I can catch myself on. Then they will say they are sorry for my trouble. Sorry I was not able to shit


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myself. They will commiserate, pat me on the back. Wish they could have done something more. But it will be too late for that. For words of wisdom, sympathetic glances. I look back at my constipated self with disgust. I recall my unkempt appearance, my slovenly ways. I call him fatty, fatso, constipated slob, big fat constipated slob, rib him relentlessly, ignoring all the while the build-up in my bowels. I put all that is left of him between my thumb and my forefinger. I rub what is left of him, vigorously, until he comes out of his shell, spurts himself into a hole in the ground, a generous donation, a welcome contribution. His relief allows me to carry on. There is a coarse drum roll of fat as I am sliced clean from the gut, rolled into a featureless expanse, marked at its core by a series of shadowy indentations. They have smothered me in butter. They must be feeling hungry, or amorous. But they decide against loving me up, against pan frying or roasting me. Instead they roll me into a ditch then relieve themselves on me. The world spins around. It rains down, a resplendent liquidation. The butter gets washed away. My mouth is made of porcelain. My teeth and gums are fused into an expressionless cliff face. I remain unmitigated, unrelieved. They say they want to hold my head under, quench my thirst. Afterwards, they hang my body from a whitewashed wall. They take turns mounting me from behind. When they are done with me they say they feel sorry for me. They weep at my feet. They lift my feet to their lips. They bite into my toes, crunching them off, one by one, they cannot help themselves. They chew them up, spit them out. When I come around I am unable to walk. When I try to stand I fall flat on my face. I cry like the constipated slob I am. What they do not know is that while they were inside me, mounting me from behind, I was turning on the things that had taken me in, that had rolled me into a ditch, made my head spin, blown me to pieces, pissed in my mouth, mounted me from behind. When they did these things, I thought only of the words. Words turning to shit. Words pissed out in bursts. The things that took me in, fooled me into thinking I could be snapped in two, that I could put words between my legs, rub dirt in my rain-soaked eyes. Figments, what remains of my eyes, two circular sockets after they were gouged out. The smell of death overwhelms me. It is the others, coming back from the dead to egg me on, with their bridges, their tunnels, looking through me, up at the stars. They do not understand what they see. They see a constipated slob. A wretch trying to shit himself. The crowd is brought out as the earth turns cold. An infant


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is plucked from its mother’s womb. It is covered in blood, red sky at night, sailor’s delight. It must squeeze through one of two empty sockets. That is its job, its task in life. Either socket, it does not matter which. Gestures are used to communicate what is required of it. It is told through these gestures to get in there. If it is a boy it is told, Go on my son, get in there! If it is a girl, Go, bitch! But it is neither boy nor bitch, but a creature without sex, without sweetness, gouged out by subordinates whose faces are drenched in pain. Witnesses to this event see beyond the corpses of their inner lives. If the infant disappears into the wrong socket, everyone is sick to their stomachs. This, they say, is how reflection blinded us, courage crippled us, solidarity suffocated us. From the peach trees that surround us we pick, before they are ripe, peaches hard as rocks. We take them in our hands, feel their weight. We hurl these handpicked peaches into one another’s faces. We take aim, for better or for worse, for between the eyes. Our enthusiasm quickly reaches breaking point. But in our capacity for compassion, demand is reinvigorated, aspiration given room for manoeuvre. Development centres spring up to meet this demand, to streamline to processes of desperation. Transportation, with appropriate seating, ample ventilation, is provided around the clock to these development centres. A growing network of interconnected centres facilitates movements of candidates across continents. There are administrative shakeups, executive upheavals. Heads roll when the peaches fly. Skins rupture. From its underdeveloped extremities, animosities seep into the system. They flare up, filling the night sky with metallic brightness. Swathes of illuminations course across the firmament, providing respite in the form of temporarily decentralised distractions. Bruised eyes lift to the heavens. The indescribable is described, the untouchable touched, the forgotten recollected. A path opens, meandering towards death. Headless corpses bask on its banks, the rudiments of a great unfurling. Abandoned hands give lingering salutes, salient signals, and roughhewn high fives. The earth has been irrevocably defiled. Its exposed fresh clears a path to victory. Those acquainted with the ancient art of decapitation step up to the plate. Redoubling their effort, they apply themselves with renewed vigour. In hilltop villages, cottage industries spring up, providing clues as to what will happen next. Exposed to the elements, the compassionate capacity of these sprawling industrial rudiments expands into centres of scientific excellence where, in the


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cause of material advancement, experts recalibrate decapitation in the light of a rapidly evolving situation. In technologically advanced societies, where public outcry is a function of widely varying response times to naturally occurring disasters, the parameters of cranial estrangement are brought up to speed. Openness to possible alternatives is sharply curtailed. In the light of such curtailment, necks are screened for durability, density, ease of laceration. Conjectural decollations are put on hold. Under a spotlight of strategic engagement, extrajudicial detachments are envisaged. The doctrine of there being no turning back remains applicable. In purpose-built silos mounds of unripe peaches are set aside in conditions conducive to their eventual maturation. There is a growing sense of the benefits of limited forms of human degradation when used, in conjunction with deferred maturation, as a regulatory bulwark against the promise of forbidden flesh, forbidden succulence, any swearing of allegiance to the uncertainties of tenderness deferred. Inevitably, pockets of rotting peaches are unearthed in remote locations. Any progression beyond the non-negotiable parameters set up around such spontaneous ramifications results in an as-yet-unspecified number of casualties. In the vicinity of these parameters, the best of all possible decollations is dreamt of, with particular attention paid to optimal severance, end-stage delivery, utensil up-skilling, alleviation of pre-decapitation nerves, and the health benefits surrounding clinically-proven clean-up regimens. This dreaming the impossible dream forms the basis of an experience designed to trill and delight in equal measure. Women engage in the pursuit of succulence. Men display their stones in public. Children endeavour to be peachy keen. In such an environment, unripe peaches come into their own. Blood transfusions are the order of the day. Forewarned is forearmed is the name of the game. Defence is not an option, innocence no defence. When you are hit by a peach as hard as a rock you come into your own. You come to your senses. You become the name of the game. You realise that what doesn’t crack open your skull makes you riper.


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Health Benefits In the event I can no longer speak: Save the things that are older than I am, things with splintering wood that don’t yet smell of lemon oil

I am a doctor of my own body—

I remember things that happened before I was born, crates that once held eggs, milk, soda,

delivered

on someone’s front

doorstep I remember a time when my parents showed me a vinyl record, the kind with a protective cardboard sleeve I was looking for the same kind once I never realized they were once made

from dust, the ridges like tiny

ribcages —Kristin LaFollette


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Yorick the Steel Skull — Ironoak Art Foreign Language Uncork your native tongue pour its contents into the glass bowl of my ear. Two drops of olive oil at a time, to sooth the ache until we both smell of cellars and roots. Let me hear your beehive skull, pulsing with dangerous life


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and threatening to dislodge the red, clay brick in your jaw. Listen to each secret scurry in and back out a gray mouse poking its snout all over the place. Tapping on the cupboards aloud, come out, come out, wherever you are and you say polo, even though no one bothered to ask. —Tufik Y. Shayeb


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Hemlock This evening, I am ordering hemlock Over ice In a rocks glass From the bar at the hotel Compromising with the barman, Agave will do Poisoning myself with south Texas With denial With faith and flags and family I am poisoning myself with poetry Poisoning myself with the cheap highway stuff 93 octane Poisoning myself with the company of women That I will never fuck I’m not even sure what mirrors are for Anymore Poisoning myself with vanity Sweet, sweet pride in mid-Spring swelter This is not New England Poisoning myself on promises made decades ago On other continents I am poisoning myself with the patience Of a snake tail rattling Poisoning myself with cheap, counter-top, condiments With vending machine ice At the Echo Hotel I am poisoning myself with walls And rifles‌And checkpoints Surveillance blimps tethered with Long White Cords I am poisoning myself like a peacock, Shooting the Rio Grande River Into rolling, shy, veins A bump of smack backstage


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Then on with the show Tonight, I am feeling familiar, forgotten Untrusted I am poisoning myself with embossed credit cards Transfixed by my name pressed on plastic Poisoning myself on the streets of Austin Somewhere south of the river And north of Ben White I am poisoning myself on Craigslist Sucking cocks in a Zilker Park mens’ room I am poisoning myself, looking for Venus Through Army-surplus binoculars In an era of Don’t ask Don’t tell Don’t share I don’t know I am poisoning myself with muddy Houston steam And in smoky backrooms in Dallas Poisoning myself with passions and dreams Lessons and schemes With poems written on napkins Like plea-bargains Trees shed leaves and serpents Slough skin It’s in places like this, I poison myself Kill off What does not belong Gun stores and tequila Offend me But, I’ll drink with you All Night Long. —P.W. Covington


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Food Is Not Medicine To him, food is not medicine. Medicine involves Budlight, a bottle of Jack Daniels and a multipack of vitamins you get off the counter at the corner store. He says those vitamins keep him healthy. I’m sure they are simply a rainbow of fancy colors and as void of anything helpful as the bottle is. It is his illusion. Thanksgiving dinner starts with an appetizer of Crown and Coke. The main course is that 24 pack he lugged in. By the time football starts you’ll be able to smell him before you see him. Hear him from across the house. Tell me why I can’t find the courage to pick up the phone between holidays but the moment I smell him I wish I was near him more. Tell me why I secretly enjoy the way alcohol pours from his pores. The sourness and the sweat. Tell me why the smell of drunk is synonymous with Dad. Tell me why I want to smell drunk all the time but can’t dial his number. Tell me why I know those vitamins are placebo. But whenever I see them I buy them and I take them anyway. —Sarah Frances Moran


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my father knows im told younger women ruin marriages i read that in a letter my father wrote my mother before he left to chicago. chicago—the city of wind—where the scent of my father’s cigarettes dissolved into every man’s past and made chasing him impossible but kids, like dogs, pursue until it hurts and leaving my mother to wrap my hands around his neck was all i knew —Eric Cherrie


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Unburdened Unbidden, unseen, hormone balances adjust as I resist counteroffers of blue pills, testosterone patches. Lighter than before, ready for final ascent, I nonetheless bow to Eros, who lives in avalanche lilies, on snowy ridge crests, and in this rock wall I am climbing, hand over hand. —David Stallings


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Kitty’s Apothecary This dim bar with green lights & Guinness got us going: medicinal lovebox, made out of pillbox & liquid killing sauce & nitrogen. Pout in the apothecary, press those lips to my neon lips. We can take cover in the kitchen, stock up on sex for the apocalypse: Girls in tight skirts & me in the gold mirror, trying to catch green-eyed prey in my liquor net. I have plans for us, cutting class & drinking apple Smirnoff in the backseat. We aren’t too young to shoot the shit, split hairs & half-burnt cigarettes. I said, come hide behind this curtain with me. You said, I bet you’d kiss me if I asked. I thought, careful— these green lights in Kitty’s shine off my shoulders, midnight tipping point & when we find the car later, we’ll smoke lazy pot and wrap each other up in one sweater, lying on the hood. —Sage Curtis


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Requiem for Utopia Our utopian mirror is cracking with madness like the torpid split in falling cloud, we are the earthbound tragedians standing in the mouths of monopolising Gods The dead-self watched the cracked make-up of dawn coffee sky - mapped out with peering satellites Doppelganger towns block of flats stand as battleships ruins resting on cloud lines with graffiti lounged on walls of magenta A mirage created from our own unhinged paradise narrative eye-ball scans the ground for the cheap, sugared, lean cutlets where liberty is a mirror that reflects only one version of the truth; a sedative placed in the breakfast bowls of man-made mediocrity we have become the white smoke the magic and illusion of our masters. —M.J. Duggan


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Balloon Pools The water held deep magic. My face round, another face like mine moved in trick mirrors between wings. Papa bought me a turquoise balloon, and holding it close, I told him of the flame throwers and the location of all my secret treasures. My shoe was untied, and when I fell on the stone near the gold butterfly nest my balloon slipped away. The tears flooded my color and I was drowning but Papa said we all float to our Maker sometime and picked me up and I flew to the sun hidden beneath the water lilies. I didn’t know that he was so


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light then, or that he’d already chosen his balloon and was just waiting for the color to wear thin. —Katarina Boudreaux


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Wrong Words If children were animals, they would be stags Wide eyes and faces wet with dew from nuzzling the grass, confused and fearful— Always afraid of humans that are bigger than they are I saw a child with a reckless face, a memory of a table full of people at a diner A memory of a table full of people at a hospital The stag— It has many enemies Children pulling red wagons with pumpkins in them only to be smashed by their small hands Like everyone around is bracing themselves, like someone will sing the words wrong Water dropped from the sky Like everyone is waiting to burst open and float away —Kristin LaFollette


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The Doe Field

(inspired by the Texas City Killing Fields)

with spring the dew broadcasts sanguine dawns across the marshy field labeled roods emerge from the fallen clouds and dried stems becoming empty spaces of the lowland between the highway and the blistered suburbs the names nailed to the wood now faded mirror the anonymity of the loss Jane Janet somewhere someone once knew but they are only two of twenty no longer visible to the morning headlights seeking bliss in dark roasted beans wipers slicing the sandy mix on the one window to the road so blinded in light that it has no end beyond line of sight however Jane and Janet did not chose to be tokens on a wasteland of mud perfect for discarding trash and youths somewhere in that brilliant emptiness the artisan maker of shadows in fog still bides his time —David E. Cowen


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1886 Iron Bridge — Kellie Duran The Green Man i have the green man growing in his tree feet to earth hands in sky head with heart. prophetic and pagan his persuasion is asking me to be like the mother who gave me birthbut now, even how we go to die is apart. his eyes behind his hair both stare at Babylonians


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becoming Old Bostonians changing us from Custodians leaving the DreamTime to work in line. my door, is always open in case he comes back in running half broken father mine from the mill dripping stale sweat on the hearth floor but i don't forget him shaping his words and hands everywhere he sits and stands so selfless to let me see how to set my own mind freebreak the blames that blind you and liberty will find you; real truth, is not what everyone knows but in their echoes unspoken shadows. —Strider Marcus Jones


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The Perfect Companion —Donald McCarthy Jessica was killed by a speeding Volvo during our junior year of high school. I was standing on the sidewalk when she was hit, when her body went under the tires of the car. She’d just said goodbye to her friends, telling them she had to rush home because her favorite show was on in an hour. The Volvo didn’t stop after the impact; it rushed down the block, disappearing into the autumn afternoon. Her friends screamed. One of them ran out to her, calling her name. The others stared, knowing it was hopeless; Jessica was already dead. I turned and looked at the high school, wanting to be back inside it, a feeling I never thought I’d have. Even the yellow buses appeared inviting despite the students gawking out the windows. The kids probably wanted to know who’d been hit, wondering if it was a popular person or just another nameless face. They’d soon find out it was the former; the next month would’ve been so much easier for them if she was just another easily ignored soul in the hallways, but, no, she was memorable. The day after Jessica died, the principal came over the speaker during home room, lamenting the death of a standout student, a role model for all, and so on. Some of the students around me cried a little. Sandra, Jessica’s best friend, started bawling. She shook and shook and shook, swatting at anyone who came near her. When the bell rung and we left homeroom, she was still crying. Her sobs were soon drowned out by the mob of students in the hallway, a blessing. Some of the students talked about Jessica, talked about how pretty and smart she was. No one used the word “dead.” Lots of people said “loved.” The honor society hung a banner in the entrance hall that said “We Will Always Miss You Jessica.” The remembrances didn’t last. The mourning was just a fad and within a month no one talked about her. Not even her boyfriend or Sandra. But I didn’t forget about her, not like they did despite their false protests to the contrary. Her death was a gift to me, sick as it sounds, a gift that has stayed with me for life. After her death, she was always in the corner of my mind, a specter I couldn’t expel. Time did not reduce her presence; she only grew and grew, calling to me, just out of view.


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The summer after junior year, the calm between the storm of SATs and college applications, I started visiting the local park; sometimes I read and sometimes I just looked up at the sky, especially on the cloudy days, right before the rain came down. One day in August, thunderstorms on the horizon and the park around me vacant, Jessica walked over to me. She lay down beside me and together we watched the clouds. A warmth came from her. Not a physical warmth, but a mental one. I realized I had a friend in this dead woman, perhaps even a companion. “You can feel the rain is about to come,” she said to me. “There’s this shift in the air that lets you know it’s on the horizon. Most people don’t notice the shift, but I do. Always. It’s like breath on the back of your neck, a soft brush of air. When you turn there’s nothing, but you know there’s something there, something that you just can’t see, can’t feel no matter how hard you try.” She lifted her hand up and grabbed at the air. “See?” I’m older now, but Jessica still comes by regularly. At weddings, standing beside me clapping along; at funerals, wearing a black dress, holding my hand; at dinner parties, telling me the best food to try. The men and women I’ve dated through my life ended up leaving little of an impression on me even if we’d said the lie of “I love you.” The same happened with my friends, none of the connections lasting. The only constant was Jessica. I don’t mourn her death, gruesome as it was; I like her this way, dropping by, a presence beside me, but no more than that. I’ve never talked about her, not even to my therapists, knowing they’d tell me how unhealthy this set up was and how I’d idealized a long dead girl. They wouldn’t bother to understand how simple and perfect this is. After all, I know I’m the only one who still thinks of her. Those other students from high school have moved on. That was clear years ago. Her parents? They’re probably too distracted with their other kids and she’s just a photo on the wall, one that causes them to occasionally think I wonder what she’d be doing if she was alive today? Then they push her out of their minds, too in pain to deal with her. I’m the only one who understands what happened to Jessica on that chilled October afternoon, when she became more than just a person. She appreciates my understanding. Why else would she choose to come to me, to support me, to make sure I need no one else? She understands me as I understand her. She knows the perfect companion, the one we all need, is the one that is dead, the one that can never disappoint us.


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She Who Watches I wood-burn Tsagaglalal’s face onto half-inch, foot-wide cedar rounds, nail them high on fir trunks near the borders of our wooded ten acres. Big changes are going to happen, Coyote warns Tsagaglalal, female chief of Chinook peoples along the river gorge. He turns her into a rock so she can watch over her people forever. Her large eyes, concentric saucers set in a raccoon face, watch what comes, what goes. Before I have a chance to meet the new neighbor he dozes a driveway along our north property line, wipes out patches of trillium and bleeding heart. Later that day, he phones— What the hell are those strange faces? My workers are afraid they’re a voodoo curse! We meet at the property line, share a handshake. I look over my shoulder, introduce him to Tsagaglalal: She keeps an eye on things— the rest is up to us. He nods, says, I’m a reasonable guy, offers a glass of pinot noir. We find a sitting log, sip the pinot. By the way, he says, one of my septic drain lines has wandered


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over to your side. I hope you don’t mind. A breeze moves through the high fir and cedar. Tsagaglalal, eyes wide, seems to sigh. —David Stallings


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Dove Bars and Madame Ava —Hannah Sward I am twenty-two. In LA. I am working for Madame Ava. On Sundays she pulls up in her mint green Jaguar outside The Silver Spoon on Santa Monica Blvd. I hand over her commission and she gives me my next assignment. On Tuesday night she sends me to The Monte Carlo Hotel. I dress in a black pencil skirt, stockings and a black fitted blazer. Valet my orange red Toyota Echo and walk through the lobby, past the bar, couples drinking glasses of wine and martinis. In an hour I can stop at the 7-Eleven near my place for a dark chocolate Dove bar, a packaged ham sandwich on honey wheat with American cheese and go home. I take the elevator to the 8th floor, walk down the gold and burgundy wallpapered hallway. 803, 804, 805. I look at the zig zag on the carpet, 806, 807. There’s a silver tray outside 808. I look down at my reflection in the tray. I am distorted. My blonde hair looks dry and frizzy. I stare down at my black heels. Maybe I’ll get a milk chocolate Dove bar instead of dark. I hope this man is not too unattractive. Two knocks. He answers. He has light brown curly hair and is wearing a white robe with the initials BR embroidered in navy blue above his heart. His eyes are pale blue and real beady like some kind of bird. And his lashes, they are so light it looks like he has none. He doesn’t smile. Opens the door just enough to let me in. It’s a big room opening onto a private patio with a Jacuzzi. On top of the TV in front of the bed is an envelope. He looks at me. Moves the envelope in my direction. I put the envelope in my black sequined purse. My mother sent it to me. It was my grandma’s or maybe it was the one she got me from the Hadassah. I can’t remember. I wonder how much is in the sealed envelope. The man walks towards the Jacuzzi, unties his robe. There’s something womanly about the way it falls to the floor and the way he’s standing there naked. One toe testing the water, then the other. He slides himself in, closes his eyes with his head tilted up as if the patio lights are real sunlight. The man, those lashless eyes of his are still closed and he says, “When you’re ready.” I undress. Look at my pale naked self in the mirror. I’m glad his eyes are closed. Right then he opens them and looks at me. I want to put my clothes on, go home. I don’t like this man. He waves me over. I walk towards him. He’s staring. My hands, my arms don’t know


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what to do. I don’t know where to look. Now I’m in the Jacuzzi next to him. He’s stroking himself. He stops, takes my hand and places it on his dick. Next I am straddling him and then he pushes me back and down and I’m under the water with him shoving my head towards his dick. I don’t know how but after that I’m on the floor. Lying there face down with my nails digging into the zig zag carpet. He’s on my back and his dick, he puts it in my bum and it’s something terrible. Thing of it was, I didn’t stop him. And after, I didn’t even ask him for more money, I just left. No girl does that. No girl doesn’t ask for more money. I am walking down the hallway. I stand in front of the gold plated elevator. Press the white down button. It lights up red. My fingers are pruned. The elevator opens. I step inside. I see a reflection of myself in the speckled mirrored doors as they close. Before I press the button the elevator opens and a dark haired mother in a coral dress and matching button up sweater and her little girl in monkey pajama’s walk in. The little girl, her hand is in her mother’s. I want to follow them back to their room and sleep on the floor near them. I wonder what this little girl will be when she grows up. She looks at me. My hair is dripping onto my white button up and I stare down at her slippers, monkey slippers to match her pajamas. Big furry ones. They look cozy. Her mother looks at me. My eyes, they tear up. The mom, she tugs at her daughter’s hand as the elevator door opens. The little girl, she looks back at me as they walk away. I try to smile. I’m in my car driving down Santa Monica Boulevard. I stop at the 7-Eleven across the street from House of Pies, next to India’s Kitchen. I park. Walk by a homeless man sleeping next to a payphone booth. The phone missing. The fluorescents in the 7-Eleven are extra bright. The man behind the counter, wearing a white turban and faded jeans takes money from a kid with skateboard under his arm. The boy’s armpit covers the middle but on one end of the skateboard it reads, Live or Die. The boy walks out with an extra large pink slushie. There are tuna sandwiches on whole wheat, turkey with orange cheese. I choose the tuna. Mint chip, s’mores, coffee ice-cream. I want chocolate. “We are out of chocolate,” the man says. I feel like crying. I do cry. There is a Dove bar. The tears stop. I think of bringing one home to my sister. She’s not home yet. If I buy two, I’ll eat two. I wish my sister would be home.


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a client.

Sometimes Ava would call and instruct me to take a cab to see

“I have a husband and wife," Ava told me over the phone. "The husband wants to watch." I arrive. The man is lying propped up with black satin pillows in bed. A woman with blonde died hair and a white silky slip with a fluffy pink fringe on the bottom answers the door. She kisses me on both cheeks, takes my hand and leads me upstairs to the bedroom. A mirrored tray is on the bed. There’s white powder on it. They snort a couple lines. The lady hands me a rolled bill. “It’s just a little coke, honey,” she says. I’d never done coke. I look at the man. He smiles. “I’m just going to watch,“ he says. He’s naked. He’s balding and has too much hair on his stomach and the back of his hands. The lady takes the bill and puts it in my hand. “We only buy the best," she says. "As you are." I snort a line. “Take your shirt off,” she says. “I’m getting a boob job this summer.” She cups my tits. “I want your size. Not too big but not too small.” The man slides himself up close to the headboard, leaning back on a black satin pillow. The bed is big enough so she and I have lots of space. My head points one way, hers the other. “Keep your legs open so I can see,” the man says, stroking his dick with his hairy hand. She’s going down on me. I’m going down on her. She smells like apple shampoo. “You gotta get her going,” the man says. “You got to rub me to life,” the lady tells me. I was bored. Then the coke settles in. I’m not bored but scared. My heart is beating too fast. “Come on,” the man shouts. “Come on, get it going.” “Now you got me,” she says. It’s not like I thought. She’s just taking his orders. Performing for him. I pretend I like it very much. Now both you turn around,” he says. He has a camera in his hands. I turn my head away. Things go on until 3 am. Now I am back home. My sister has left a piece of apple pie on the table. I feel normal and not scared. I wish I hadn’t done the coke. Never again. Never again.


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Biographies Ironoak Art - We are Ironoak Art, a tiny duo of crazy, creative people made up of one Adam Smith and an Emily Frerichs. We've just started our own art company, working mostly with reclaimed steel and wood, using awesome tools like TIG welders and plasma cutters to shape the materials into whatever strikes our fancy. Carl Boon - Carl Boon lives in Istanbul, where he directs the English prep school and teaches courses in literature at Yeni Yuzyil University. Recent or forthcoming poems appear in Posit, The Tulane Review, The Blue Bonnet Review, Toasted Cheese, and many other magazines. Katarina Boudreaux - Katarina Boudreaux is a writer, musician, composer, tango dancer, and teacher -- a shaper of word, sound, and mind. She recently returned to New Orleans after residing in Texas, Connecticut, and New York. New work is forthcoming in Hermeneutic Chaos, Far Away Places, HARK, and YAY!LA. www.katarinaboudreaux.com Adrian Cepeda - Adrian Ernesto Cepeda is an LA Poet who is currently enrolled in the MFA Graduate program at Antioch University in Los Angeles where he lives with his wife and their cat Woody Gold. His poetry has been featured in thirty-five different publications and journals including The Yellow Chair Review, Thick With Conviction and Silver Birch Press. Eric Cherrie - I drove a 1999 Toyota 4-Runner 108 miles on empty, only to have it die on me while pulling up next to a gas station pump. Sue Clennell - My poetry has been published in several newspapers, journals (including Maintenant in the US,) and anthologies, including Best Australian Poems 2011 and Australian Love Poems. 2 poems from my CD 'The Van Gogh Cafe' may be found on youtube. Matthew Corey - I am a writer living in Brooklyn, NY, and was a runner up in the 2014 Lascaux Review Short Fiction Prize and have poems published in Travel-tainted: Turtle Point Press Review. P. W. Covington - PW Covington is a service connected disabled vet-


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eran of two wars and a convicted felon. His writing is undeniably Beat and carries with it decades of hard-lived experience. Published widely by both underground 'zines and University journals, Covington's third collection of poetry, "Sacred Wounds", is due to be released in late 2015 by Slough Press. David E. Cowen - D.E. Cowen. A trial attorney by trade and author of “The Madness of Empty Spaces,” (Weasel Press, November 2014 (volume of Dark and Speculative Poetry), which was on the 2014 Bram Stoker Award Preliminary Ballot and has been nominated for the 2014 SFPA Elgin Award, as well as a volume of poetry entitled "Sixth and Adams" (PW Press 2001). David lives in Houston, Texas with his wife Susan and his two sons. He practices law in the historical city of Galveston, Texas which has inspired much of his poetry and photography. His poems have been published in various online journals (such as Eclectica, The Bri-dge, Gumball Poetry, The Cynic, Cosmic Debris, Wired Hearts and others), as well as hard copy journals published by George Mason University, University of Texas at Edinburg (formerly Pan American University), Stephen F. Austin University, Sam Houston State University and many privately published journals, in the U.S. and abroad, as well. His poetry was featured in the Canadian Broadcasting Company’s radio program "Outfront" in a 2005 tribute on 9/11. His most recent poetry publications include poems and fiction placed in Literary Hatchet, Degenerates:Voices for Peace, Haunted Traveller, “Dark Matter” (UH Downtown), Harbinger Asylum, Peripheal Distortions, Dead Walk Anthology, Texas Poetry Calendar, Isotropic Fiction Magazine, The Horror Zine, and the Austin International Poetry Festival Anthology (1997, 2014 and 2015). His poems have been included in the 2014 and 2015 editions of the Horror Writers' Association's Horror Poetry Showcase which was an Amazon Bestseller in Poetry in 2014. Erin Crowley - I'm a college student who loves photography. Sage Curtis - Sage Curtis is currently an MFA candidate at University of San Francisco. Her work has been published in literary journals such as burntdistrict, 34th Parallel, Perceptions Magazine, Caesura, Garbanzo Literary Journal, Deep Water Journal and others. Keep up with Sage at https://sagedaniellecurtis.wordpress.com/


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Claire Davon - Claire has written on and off for most of her life, starting with fan fiction when she was very young. She writes across a wide range of genres, and does not consider any of it off limits or out of reach. If a story calls to her, she will write it. She currently lives in Los Angeles and spends her free time writing novels and short stories, as well as doing animal rescue and enjoying the sunshine. Frank Roger - Frank Roger was born in 1957 in Ghent, Belgium. His first story appeared in 1975. Since then his stories appear in an increasing number of languages in all sorts of magazines and anthologies, and since 2000, story collections are published, also in various languages. Apart from fiction, he also produces collages and graphic work in a surrealist and satirical tradition. They have appeared in various magazines and books. His work is a blend of genres and styles that can best be described as “frankrogerism”, an approach of which he is the main representative. By now he has a few hundred short stories to his credit, published in more than 40 languages. In 2012 a story collection in English (“The Burning Woman and Other Stories”) was published by Evertype (www.evertype.com ). Find out more at www.frankroger.be . Winston Derden - Winston Derden is a poet, fiction writer, and former journalist. His poetry publications include New Texas, two Houston Poetry Festival anthologies, Harbinger Asylum, Pink-Eye Lemonade, Big River Poetry Review, Illya’s Honey, Just This, and Barbaric Yawp. He is a lifetime member of Gulf Coast Poets and a three-time Word Around Town veteran. A frequent headliner at Houston-area poetry readings, he also co-produces and hosts the reading/interview series Speak!Poet. Liz Desio - Liz Desio is a recent graduate of the Area Program in Poetry Writing at the University of Virginia. She grew up in DC, where she performed spoken word, and draws inspiration from any urban setting. Liz has previously been published in The Bitchin' Kitsch Magazine, S/tick Journal, and UVA literary magazines including Glass,Garden and Virginia Literary Review. M.J. Duggan - Matt Duggan poems have appeared in The Seventh Quarry, Section 8, The Dawntreader, Roundyhouse, Apogee Magazine, Poetry Quarterly, Dwang 2, The Journal, Illumen, YellowChair Review, Jawline Review, Carillon, The


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Bitchin’ Kitsch, Vagabonds, Lunar PoetryMagazine, The Screech Owl, Message in a Bottle, OF/With, IANASP, The Stare’s Nest, TheCobalt Review, Sarasvati, Expound, Ex-Fic, Trysts of Fate. He had his first collection of poemspublished last year ‘Making Adjustments For Life Expectancy’. Matt also created and hosts aspoken word evening at Hydra Bookshop in Bristol UK called ‘Spoken Indulgence’, and is theeditor of a brand new poetry magazine ‘The Angry Manifesto’. Matt won the Erbacce Prizefor poetry 2015. Kellie Duran - Kellie Duran was born and raised in the Houston, TX area. Traveling has a special place in her heart; she never leaves without her camera. Duran loves exploring new techniques as a digital graphic artist and highly enjoys the mediums of design, advertising, and digital photography. She is also an exhibiting artist with her first juried show being the Houston Bay Area Juried Exhibition in the summer of 2014. She has been accepted into both international and state juried exhibition. Duran recently had a photograph published in the Photographer’s Forum Magazine for the “35th Annual College Photo Contest". Kellie Duran graduated from the University of Houston - Clear Lake with her Bachelor of Arts and Design degree in the Fall of 2014. She has returned and is now starting her first semester of graduate school. She is looking to achieve her Master of Arts in the Digital Media Studies program with a concentration of Production Design. Jack Granath - Jack Granath is a librarian in Kansas. Claire Ibarra - Claire is a writer, poet, and photographer. Her fiction has appeared in many fine literary journals, including The MacGuffin, Natural Bridge, Sliver of Stone Magazine, Amoskeag, and The Broken Plate. She is also a contributor to the anthologies An Honest Lie, Dysfunctional Family Story, and Torched, among others. She has worked with nonprofits, teaching creative writing to incarcerated women in Florida. Claire is currently in the MFA creative writing program at Florida International University. Strider Marcus Jones - Strider Marcus Jones – is a poet, law graduate and ex civil servant from Salford/Hinckley, England with proud Celtic roots in Ireland and Wales. A member of The Poetry Society, his five published books of poetry are modern, traditional, mythical, sometimes erotic, surreal and metaphysical http//www.lulu.com/spotlight/


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stridermarcusjones1. He is a maverick, moving between forests, mountains and cities, playing his saxophone and clarinet in warm solitude. His poetry has been accepted for publication in 2015 by mgv2 Publishing Anthology; Earl Of Plaid Literary Journal 3rd Edition; Subterranean Blue Poetry Magazine; Deep Water Literary Journal, 2015-Issue 1/2; Kool Kids Press Poetry Journal; Page-A-Day Poetry Anthology 2015; Eccolinguistics Issue 3.2 January 2015; The Collapsed Lexicon Poetry Anthology 2015 and Catweazle Magazine Issue 8; Life and Legends Magazine; The Stray Branch Literary Magazine; Amomancies Poetry Magazine; The Art Of Being Human Poetry Magazine; Cahaba River Literary Journal; East Coast Literary Review; Nightchaser Ink Publishing Anthology - Autumn Reign; Crack The Spine Literary Magazine; A New Ulster/Anu Issue 27/29/31/32/33/34/35; Poems For A Liminal Age Anthology; In The Trenches Poetry Anthology; Blue Lines Literary Journal, Spring 2015; Murmur Journal, April 2015; PunksWritePoemsPress-Rogue Poetry; Outburst Poetry Magazine; The Galway Review; The Honest Ulsterman Magazine; Writing Raw Poetry Magazine;The Lonely Crowd Magazine; Section8Magazine; Danse Macabre Literary Magazine; The Lampeter Review; Coda Crab BooksAnthology-Peace:Give It A Chance; Clockwork Gnome:Quantum Fairy Tales; Ygdrasil, A Journal of the Poetic Arts, May/July 2015 Issue; Don't Be Afraid: Anthology To Seamus Heaney; Dead Snakes Poetry Magazine; Panoplyzine Poetry Magazine; Syzygy Poetry Journal Issue 1 and Ammagazine/Angry Manifesto Issue 3. Rayn Roberts - Rayn Roberts is Pacific NW Poet, locally and nationally known, widely published, but who doesn't like much to be known as a poet because he really just dangles figures on a small stage to share insights and poke fun. Robert Frost & Charles Bukowski are partly responsible for showing him how to do this, but there are other perpetrators too. He's not a poet but a puppeteer. All his puppets are in books to read on rainy days, but don't lend to your conservative relatives. Their brains may short circuit. Find Rayn Roberts online & @ Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Powell Books & Poetic Matrix:http:// www.poeticmatrix.com/title/roberts.aspx. Hear him on KSER Radio FM 90.7 in PoetsWest broadcasts. You can hear him on the PoetsWest website anytime you like: http://www.poetswest.com/radio_programs. htm Author of "Jazz Cocktails and Soapbox Songs", "The Fires of Spring," a Buddhist collection written in Korea and his latest book, from Poetic Matrix Press, "Of One and Many Worlds". Anthologies:


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Illuminations, Expressions fo Personal the Spiritual Experience (Celestial Arts an imprint of Ten Speed Pres, 2006), The Book of Hope (Beyond Borders Press, 2002), The World Healing Book (Beyond Borders Press, 2002) Journals: Between the Lines, Chronogram, City Works Literary Journal , Dream International Quarterly, Earth First, Fieralingue, Get Underground, Limestone Circle, Poetic Voices, Rattapallax, Rattle, Retort Magazine, San Diego Poetry Annual, Tamafyhr Mountain Poetry, The Pedestal Magazine, The Sow's Ear Poetry Review, Thunder Sandwich, Turbula, Void Magazine Kristin LaFollette - Kristin LaFollette received her BA and MA in English and creative writing from Indiana University. She is a PhD student in the English program at Bowling Green State University. Her poems have been featured in LEVELER Poetry Mag, Lost Coast Review, The Light Ekphrastic, The Main Street Rag, and Poetry Quarterly, among others. She also has artwork featured in Harbinger Asylum and forthcoming from Plath Profiles: An Interdisciplinary Journal for Sylvia Plath Studies. She lives with her husband in northwestern Ohio. You can visit her at kristinlafollette.blogspot.com. Linda Lenhoff - I've published two novels, Life a la Mode and Latte Lessons, which are not quite as frothy as they sound. Life a la Mode served as my thesis for an MFA from SDSU several years back. I'm currently searching for a forever home for my latest novel, *You're Actual Life May Vary, among independent publishers. *Your Actual Life examines a woman who has fled her home here in the Golden State along with a child she's rescued (word choice is important to her), as she searches for a place that's perfect and homey and familiar, even though no one she actually knows lives there. It's a comedy. Julia Rose Lewis - Julia Rose Lewis is earning her MFA at Kingston University London. When not in school, she lives on Nantucket Island and is a member of the Moors Poetry Collective. Her poems have appeared in their anthologies, Rasputin: A Poetry Thread, Oddball, Re:Visions, and 3am Magazine. Donald McCarthy - Donald McCarthy is a writer who lives on Long Island. He has previously published fiction and non-fiction with Obverse Press, Cover of Darkness, The Progressive Populist, and more. He is the features editor for Drunk Monkeys. He dislikes cheese.


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Alyson Miller - Alyson Miller is a lecturer in literary studies at Deakin University, Australia. Her short stories and poetry have been appeared in both national and international publications, alongside a book of literary criticism, Haunted by Words: Scandalous Texts, and a collection of prose poems, Dream Animals. Gabrielle Montesanti - Gabrielle Montesanti is a recent graduate of Kalamazoo College where she studied mathematics and studio art. She spent a wonderful term in New York City working for visual artists and a summer in Rome writing her senior thesis. She is an avid reader and just read, "Naked," by David Sedaris which she highly recommends. Gabrielle's work can be found in Kalamazoo College's literary magazine, The Cauldron, and will be published in The Anomaly Literary Review this September. Currently she works in New York and is looking forward to participating in her first writing residency in Knoxville, Tennessee this September. N.O. Moore - N.O. Moore is a native San Diegan and east coast transplant, if living in a surreal and maddening city can ever be described as "native." He holds a Bachelor of Liberal Arts from Sarah Lawrence, and spends his time writing about subjects such as the apocalypse, and how broken masculinity is. Sarah Frances Moran - Sarah Frances Moran is a stick-a-love-poemin-your-back-pocket kind of poet. She thinks Chihuahuas should rule the world and prefers their company to people 90% of the time. Her work has most recently been published or is upcoming in Elephant Journal, Rust+Moth, Maudlin House, Blackheart Magazine, Red Fez and The Bitchin' Kitsch. She is Editor/Founder of Yellow Chair Review. You may reach her at www.sarahfrancesmoran.com Nada - Bone sculptor. Beekeeper. Life and Death enthusiast. Joseph Nardoni - Joseph Nardoni is a poet and professor of English and Creative Writing at Middlesex Community College, in Lowell, Massachusetts. He designed the English/Creative Writing Degree Concentration at MCC, a program designed to offer a foundational experience to traditional and returning students in how writers create effective poetry and fiction. He is one of the faculty founding editors


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of Dead River Review, the online magazine of Middlesex Community College, whose first issue was released in May, 2015, on WordPress. Scott Thomas Outlar - Scott Thomas Outlar survived the chaos of both the fire and the flood...barely. Now he spends the hours flowing and fluxing with the ever changing tide of the Tao River while waiting on the Revolution to commence. His words have appeared recently in venues such as Burningword Literary Journal, Yellow Chair Review, Harbinger Asylum, Dissident Voice, and Clockwise Cat. Links to his chapbook and other published work can be found at 17numa.wordpress.com. Dustin Pickering - Dustin Pickering is founder of Transcendent Zero Press, a Houston-based poetry publisher. He also founded the journal Harbinger Asylum, nominated in 2013 as best poetry magazine by the National Poetry Awards. He was a featured poet for Public Poetry in 2013 and a Special Guest Poet at Austin International Poetry Festival that same year. He is published at Seltzer, Artistic Muse, Dead Snakes, Houston and Gnomadic Voices, di-verse-city 2013 and 2015, Lost Coast Review, and has a political article in The People's Tribune. He also has an article on Humanities 360 online concerning freedom of expression and the American Revolution. He is author of two selfpublished collections, The Daunting Ephemeral and The Future of Poetry is NOW. In his spare time, he organizes 'Shindigs' as fundraisers for his press. Benjamin Robinson - Benjamin Robinson is a writer and visual artist. He was born in 1964 in Northern Ireland, and attended, briefly, Limerick College of Art & Design in the nineteen eighties. His writing has been published in Maintenant 8: A Journal of Contemporary Dada Writing & Art, Suffer Eternal Vol. 1 (anthology, Horrified Press), ART From ART (anthology, Modernist Press), Quantum Genre in the Planet of Arts (anthology edited by V. Ulea), A cappella Zoo; online at Sein und Werden, Gone Lawn, Paraphilia Magazine, Paper Visual Art Journal, and 3:am Magazine. His artwork has been exhibited in Ireland, the UK and Germany. He lives in Dublin. Website: http://robinsonbenjamin.wix.com/benjaminrobinson Gregory Ross - Gregory Ross is both a poetic & prosodic scribe, as well as life-bound moon seeker, from the Ramapo Mountain region of


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New Jersey, USA. Currently working on novel. Tufik Y. Shayeb - Tufik Y. Shayeb's poetry has been presented in numerous publications, including Muzzle Magazine, Pedestal Magazine, Restless Anthology, The November 3rd Club, Lifelines and The Good Things about America. To date, Shayeb has published several chapbooks and one full-length collection titled, I'll Love You to Smithereens. In 2010, his manuscript, entitled All Janked Up Zombie Suit?, was chosen as finalist for in the Write Bloody Publishing annual submission call. Roger Bernard Smith - Roger Bernard Smith's poems appear in many journals and his chapbook, "did music die" was published by Tiger's Eye Press, Denver CO. August 2014. He lives in the Adirondack Mountains. David Stallings - David Stallings was born in the U.S. South, raised in Alaska and Colorado before settling in the Pacific Northwest. Once an academic geographer, he has long worked to promote public transportation in the Puget Sound area. His poems have appeared in several North American, U.K. and Swedish literary journals and anthologies, and in Resurrection Bay, a recent chapbook. Lulynne Streeter - Lulynne Streeter is the 1st place winner of the 2015 Austin International Poetry Festival Christina Sergeyevna Prize. She has been a juried poet at the Houston Poetry Fest, an honorable mention at the International Human Rights Poetry Competition, and has been published in the Texas Poetry Calendar, Bayousphere, Houston Chronicle, Rio Grande International Poetry Festival 2015 poetry anthology Boundless, and won numerous awards and prizes. Her 1st chapbook, Dry Borders, was published in 2014. Yvonne Strumecki - Yvonne Strumecki is a singer and writer currently living in New York City. She’s sung on two national tours (South Pacific and Man of La Mancha), and received her MFA in poetry from Roosevelt University in Chicago. Her poetry has appeared in Fearless Books’ anthology “Touching: Poems of Love, Longing, and Desire”, Another Chicago Magazine’s Issue 50, Vol 2, Specter, and is also forthcoming in 94 Creations. You can find more on her websitewww. yvonnestrumecki.com.


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Susan Beall Summers - Susan Beall Summers is an active Austin, TX poet and video journalist for the poetry show Texas Nafas on Channel Austin. She has been published in Ilya's Honey, Texas Poetry Calendar, Small Canyons, Baylor's Beall House of Poetry, Harbinger Asylum, Di-Verse-City and others. Her first collection is Friends, Sins and Possibilities (DreamersThreePress, 2011). www.tidalpoolpoet.com Hannah Sward - Hannah Sward’s work has most recently appeared in Rozyln: Short Stories by Women Writers, Erotic Review, Hypertext, Alimentum, Other Voices (Canada), Word Riot, and Pindeldyboz, among others. She has completed a collection of linking short stories, Queenie Goes to Bosnia and Other Stories and is currently work on a book. She lives in Los Angeles where she is part of Wimpole Street Writers. S. Scott Whitaker - Stephen Scott Whitaker is a member of National Book Critics Circle, and literary review editor for The Broadkill Review. His poetry, fiction, and essays have appeared in dozens of publications. His previous chapbooks include the steampunk inspired The Black Narrows, the award winning Field Recordings, and The Barleyhouse Letters. Whitaker teaches theater, literature and psychology in rural Maryland. In 2004 he was the recipient of an NEA grant to adapt Romeo & Juliet into a rock musical. He lives on the Eastern Shore of Virginia with his family. J. White - Currently based in Lancaster, England, Jonny White is writer and photographer who has and continues to travel the world, witnessing and living within its many realities. He is a man with a romantically analogue soul, addicted to the sound of typewriter mechanics and aroused by the noise of old film exposed to new light; a man fascinated by mayhem, beauty, danger and creation. His debut novel, Grand Mal was published through his own independent press, Indifference Publications in 2014, along with a selection of his poems in the anthology, III in 2015. Lynn White - Lynn White lives in north Wales. Her work is influenced by issues of social justice and events, places and people she has known or imagined. She is especially interested in exploring the boundaries of dream, fantasy and reality. Her poem 'A Rose For Gaza' was shortlisted


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for the Theatre Cloud 'War Poetry for Today' competition in October 2014 and has since been published and reprinted in anthologies by Vending Machine Press, Weasel Press and CTU. Poems have also recently been included in several anthologies including - Harbinger Asylum’s 'A Moment To Live By', Stacey Savage’s ‘We Are Poetry an Anthology of Love poems’, ITWOW, ‘She Did It Anyway’, Community Arts Ink’s ‘Reclaiming Our Voices’ and a number of on line and print journals. Keri Withington - Keri Withington lives near the Smoky Mountains with her husband, three kids, and fur babies. She teaches at Pellissippi State Community College and is a graduate student (again) in Women's Studies at the University of Tennessee. Her work has recently appeared in journals including Blue Fifth Review, Snapdragon, and Syzygy.


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Coming Soon to Weasel Press www.weaselpress.com the same that happened yesterday by Michael Prihoda Brinwood by R.K. Gold Miffed and Peeved by Neil S. Reddy Harmonious Anarchy by Matthew David Campbell Evergreen by Sarah Frances Moran Lost Boys by R.K. Gold The Seven Yards of Sorrow by David E. Cowen Uhaul: A Collection of Lesbian Love Poetry by Emily Ramser City, Psychonaut by Robin Wyatt Dunn


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Other Titles from Weasel Press http://weaselpress.storenvy.com Ribbon and Leviathan by Manna Plourde ISBN-13: 978-0692262702 Exist in the Moon by Jessi Schultz ISBN-13: 978-0692254448 Toast is Just Bread That Put Up A Fight by Emily Ramser ISBN-13: 978-0692265680 Tales in Liquid Time by Neil S. Reddy ISBN-13: 978-0692297179 Inevitable by Amy L. Sasser ISBN-13: 978-0692314586 The Madness of Empty Spaces by David E. Cowen ISBN-13: 978-0692332962 Reach for the Sky by Vixyy Fox ISBN-13: 978-0692297001 Wolf: An Epic and Other Poems by Z.M. Wise ISBN-13: 978-0692370520 I Forgot How To Write When They Diagnosed Me by Emily Ramser ISBN13: 978-0692370537 Viscera by Manna Plourde ISBN-13: 978-0692365946 Improbable‌Never Impossible by Vixyy Fox ISBN-13: 978-0692342503 In Another Life, Maybe by Michael Prihoda ISBN-13: 978-0692418864


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Last Freedom by Robin Wyatt Dunn ISBN-13: 978-0692350980 Leaving Normal by Rae Theodore ISBN-13: 978-0692418918 Taste, I Say, You’re Timeless by Chuck Taylor ISBN-13: 978-0692460894 HAIL by Stanford Cheung ISBN-13: 978-0692421321 Conjuring Her by Emily Ramser ISBN-13: 978-0692481530 Not Kafka: A Collection of Nasty Shorts by Neil S. Reddy ISBN-13: 978-0692503072 Just Under the Sky by R.K. Gold ISBN-13: 978-0692440599 Wayward Realm by Sendokidu “the fox” Adomi ISBN-13: 978-0692567869 Dormant Volcano: Still More Poems Published Vol. 3 by Ken Jones ISBN-13: 978-0692567821


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Vagabonds 2016 Edition  

Latest issue of artistic madness. Vagabonds: Anthology of the Mad Ones hits hard in 2016 with another epic issue!

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