Table Of Contents Alec Kowalczyk ............................................................................................................................. 4 Primal Rapidly Red Anthony Liccione ....................................................................................................................... 5-9 Some People Leave to Come No One Home Carl Miller Daniels ................................................................................................................. 1 0-1 2 Hero Parsnips with Succotash Rough Never the Two Shall Part Chris Butler ............................................................................................................................ 1 3-1 4 Empty Pretentious Venus Violence Cyndi Dawson ....................................................................................................................... 1 5-1 8 1 989: Go Go Color Wheels End of Days How to View A Decade David Braga ........................................................................................................................... 1 9-20 Breakdown at Tiffany's Elvie Suzuki ........................................................................................................................... 21 -22 Time in Prison adjustment we crash inandoutof again Future Lisa ............................................................................................................................ 23-25 Waiting for the Sun Smaller Packages are Easier to Carry Passively Strong Holly Day ............................................................................................................................... 26-27 Dream #1 7 Neon Corpse Jeanne Brannon .................................................................................................................... 28-29 Charlie's Game Justin Dickinson .................................................................................................................... 30-31 It's A Long Walk
Justin Hyde ........................................................................................................................... 32-34 god bless america sack lunches karma Laurel Bieschke ..................................................................................................................... 35-36 Between the 6-packs of Faygo at the Corner Store Pancake Lover These Stools We Warm Lindsey Dilks ......................................................................................................................... 37-39 I Think I Could The Line No Fingernails M. Laine Thompson .............................................................................................................. 40-44 I've Got The Face Madman Juxtaposed I Want To Matthew Dexter ..................................................................................................................... 45-46 Graduation Day Paul Thomas .............................................................................................................................. 47 Stale Wooden Beer Mother Nature is a Sexist Lost in Familiarity Rebecca Schumejda ............................................................................................................. 48-49 Without our Consent Free Speech Zones Birds That Can't Fly Double Jeopardy Ricky Garmi ........................................................................................................................... 50-51 THE BETTY BOOP STAMP, FROM GRANADA HAVE YOU HEARD THE ONE ABOUT THE JOKE Ross Vassilev ........................................................................................................................ 52-53 snow bunny long hot summer fireworks Tyler Bley .............................................................................................................................. 54-55 Half of Me is in Shadow Professional Displeasure
Primal a sinuous memory of a hand that surfaced in a dream … of a hand that burrowed itself into a fissure of a wall that couldn’t extricate itself not because of the fissure nor its constriction but because of something some … ‘thing’ wet on the other side that gripped it Rapidly Red In the painting a municipal swimming pool over full with screaming bathers One lifeguard holds a double-edged sword to the grindstone While the other lifeguards offer the keenly honed blades of their razor-sharp swords For the drowning victims to grasp to pull themselves out of the water proverb/a drowning man will grasp the edge of a knife
Anthony Liccione some people just have nerve, and should be dying some praying some paying their taxes, stead of whining that the government takes more than they make. some should be looking for their friend, for a job, for a reason to live some for jesus not on a cross, and others stop making believe they found him some shouldnâ€™t be in such a rush to get anywhere at all, some should realize a car doesnâ€™t come to a complete stop after being floored eighty miles an hour while on your tail, some should be smoking the better stuff, then struggling in the crack rearview mirror, some should take the stain from their shirts, then fasten a pin to promote themselves better. some just do well on the stage of the world, in the gossip 5
of bees nests, the back stab of any friend while others, those few outcasts that try to manage a special space should be buried behind a pen, away from society from humankind away from fake smiling people, and gods that desire more attention, the lusts, the breasts the tongue, a kiss to a coma feeding the tree the paper the shedder the garbage can and world not quite so real, a stomachache of indigestible words. leave to come from your arms the bed sheets, to pee while brushing my teeth, shave the curtains back for the flowers, shower on hot soap up my penis, bubble my balls washing away our love and lust the mix of cum,
that came twice between our kisses and kicks, come back to the room, lost in sleep, soundly the birds purse a violin in their wings shielding from the outside cold, the stars have left the world at the front door, I open, exit where the living that go about their deaden deeds, arms of ghosts awaiting for their return, tangent snow yet to be stamped with footprints down my front porch, leaving my smear, I return to the influence of a melted puddle back to this comfort zone to shut the curtains, brush my teeth go pee, the bed sheets and into your arms. no one home that phone, how it keeps ringing and ringing off the damn hook, at any given time of
day night or dawn, unannounced if Iâ€™m in my underwear, or bathing suit and tie, or towel that ringer keeps going off, while Iâ€™m sitting here trying to watch tv, or screw the ghost of my wife, or feed the dog, or piss on the toilet seat, seems they see me in my leisure or busiest of times, that they would like to joy stick me and never will they just call once, no they will call six or seven or eight times in ten minutes and not leave a message on the recorder, after I tell them politely to leave
their forsaken name and number, and I will get back to them when Iâ€™m good and ready to but they will dial and kill their fingers pushing numbers and keep calling and calling and and calling calling until I rip the cord from out the wall, or I walk out the door to the gas station down the road, put a quarter in the phone and call my number and wait to see if someone cares to answer. Anthony Liccione lives in Texas with his two children. He has poetry forthcoming in Twisted Tongue, The Stray Branch, Clutching at Straws, Lucid Rhythms, The Beat, Fantastic Horror and Poetry Repair Shop. He is an author of four collections of poetry books.
Carl Miller Daniels hero parsnips with succotash the earth was once believed to sit upon the back of a giant turtle; but, when atlas came along to take over that job, he quickly came into favor because lots of people just like to see a naked big-dicked muscular guy lifting something heavy. it accentuates stuff. ok? but prominent displays by the pro-atlas faction are still occasionally encountered today, in the deep dark woods, on moonlit nights, when the taste of sweat on the neck of your best friend is nectre, wine, the best of the booze: he offers you the entire sky, stars and comets and everything, but instead you compromise and accept just the planets – cold, and distant, with all their sad little strings: brittle, and broken, no hope of repair. rough the scolding of the little boy took place several years ago, and that little boy grew up into a sexy big-dicked mean angry young man. of course, it would be impossible to say that that scolding resulted in his turning out this way; still, ya never know, do ya? now, this sexy big-dicked mean angry young man ate what he wanted, drank what he wanted, fucked pretty much whomever he wanted, and was generally mean, angry, selfish, a loose cannon. if he hadn’t been so good-looking, he wouldn’t have gotten away with nearly as much as he did. and what he didn’t get away with, he just didn’t seem to care about. a friend lost, was, well a friend he wouldn’t get to fuck anymore. but there would be others waiting and willing to bend into the position. there were always others. sometimes, this sexy big-dicked mean angry young man remembered back to his boyhood, saw himself being scolded that one time back then 10
because of, what was it? exactly, for being? for existing? for talking in a way that disturbed the silence? being scolded had made him mad. he remembered that. being scolded made him really mad. now, this sexy big-dicked mean angry young man talks of love and tenderness, under his breath, when he is alone, and when heâ€™s not, people tend to remember the way he grinds his teeth together. his tight jaw muscles. the jut of his pelvis, as he displays his weapon. never the two shall part waldorf salad and the greatness of apples. the aroma of fresh blueberry muffins. a tiny droplet of blood on the tip of a finger, poked with a raspberry thorn. ** he sat alone in his room, listing the things that had made him cry. he was 26 years old today, no plans, sexy, naked, tall, blond, blue-eyed: why should there be no plans for a guy like him? what was wrong with him, fundamentally? ** he clomped around in the empty gymnasium, waiting for someone who never showed up. ** the way sexy naked young men frolicked in the mountain stream: the easy laughter, the smirks of joy. ** heâ€™d been one of those sexy naked stream-frolicking young men, once. ** now, he notices the 11
veins on the back of his hands, the soft hairs behind his knuckles. ** running naked through the forest at midnight, he falls in love with the fur on the back of an oak tree. ** they embrace: it is an art, not a science. Carl Miller Daniels is an alcoholic homosexual. Or should that be homosexual alcoholic. Either way, I think you get the ideaâ€Ś
Chris Butler Empathy Empathy is loading your gun with three bullets: one for yourself, one for you in case you happen to flinch and botch your first (and last) attempt, then the poor passerby or family member discovers you and mercifully must finish the effort you half-heartedly started, and the third is for the poor passerby or family member who just couldnâ€™t bear the beauty of your mind. Pretentious Venus She was my pretentious Venus, stiffening this flaccid penis despite my placid erectile dysfunction; bounding my two turtle-shelled testicles into a rubber band neutered memorial; as a statue to better suit my suitor.
Violence The holes in the wall are fresh from her last appearance. Punching plaster and paint into asbestos crumbs creates craterous emotions from whitened knuckles, of demarcated waves like decoration, just to picture my fist through her. Chris Butler is a twentysomething nobody shouting from the Quiet Corner of Connecticut.
Cyndi Dawson 1989: Go Go This particular shift, smoked to fog. Cigarettes were legal, so were crotches aimed at chins and pockets, breathing. Heat throbbed harder with every drink poured from both nimble hands. Precision. Stilettos clicked stage floor, girl in dressing room needle stuck in arm, livid at some cruelty of light. Tequila, Check. French Fries. Check. Vomit. Call bar back, mops and pine sol. Precision. Shake my ass, grab my tips. Get dancer off floor littered with sequins. Wipe blood off her g string. Smack her awake. Prop her back onto stage with puppet smile. Grab my tips. Precision. Color Wheels Look, we were young. Our eyes sang each other in, ideas ran wild in rivers of string and paint. You saw the stars in my eyes as spotlights on silver runways and sirens washed along beaches. Remember, once we made our way to Jones Beach ignoring blustering wind, frigid water. The pictures we took bled out from Jimâ€™s darkroom. images we could not know would follow us from Soho through years which faded them and us. You draped me in aqua and sea foam green string seaweed, sculpting my dreams of mythical creatures watery, mercurialâ€Ś. Look, how your beard was black as a crow, your hair twisted into devil horns.
Around your neck hung a cross cradling a vagina which you said was less violent than a man hung with nails which you swore you did worship. If you were meant to be a tortured man better it be vaginas than the face of a dying man. Look, we were big kids playing in playgrounds of canvas and dialogue spurring the other on. Now your black beard is grey but holds the texture of decades and it does not hide or apologize for itself, nor your eyes full of devilment and rebellion. Look, that was us but us still breathes color wheels into sirens. In your eyes I am still on that beach. In your eyes I am still some mythical creature watching you sketch our dreams from points of lead and scrap paper. (For Rene) End of Days Raging Raphael fell to earth, his contempt felt from four directions. Azrael followed, carrying his pedigree, declaring this kismet foretold. Below: Those cunts and gentlemen are one and the same, growing rampant across earthquaked land and the sinking of ships. God is pissed! Celestial troops rally; the desecration of haunted buildings. 16
Signings of papers with benefit to thieves, cunts and gentlemen one and the same. Seraphim have gathered to dance on the aftermath. Raphael has fallen. He waits, restless. Birds wander, lost, uncertain of South. Gale winds whip yet no sign of frost North. Ravages of war display themselves by empty hives and still bodies of bees. Azrael has cast his shadow. Once sapphire oceans loomed, cradling bodies of dead seal and hospital waste. Headlines of newspapers wedged into sand, declare new Presidents smiling in faded suits. How to View a Decade There is a carnal fluidity in viewing a decade. It masquerades as sweet musk on layers of tissue we hold objects in. Dulled photographs. Smooth stone. Bric-a-brac. We clearly resolve their importance unwrapping them through memory. Memory has channels of flow and sometimes chooses its way like a prospectus. The decade a mere sketch of itself, drawn clean, erased of sleep or stillness. When referring to a decade of youth there is a smoldering cinder, a pile of ashed flesh and heat. Wrapped in soft pink tissue. Trinkets commemorate, screen defective parts out. This is how we view a decade. Prolific of prosody. As if time tossed years of gain without loss. 17
A carnal weeping out. Escaped heat. The end of it preserved in pressed things. Leaves and concert stubs. Four leaf clovers and musty hotel receipts.
David Braga Breakdown At Tiffany’s You’re parked across the road from the same café for the sixth day in a row, but today is different. Night after night, your sleep has been broken, images forming in your mind no matter how loud you turn up the radio. In bed, you have relentlessly fidgeted; rearranging pillows, opening and closing windows, getting glasses of water, and drinking them while staring out into the dark night, waiting for morning. But last night was different. Last night, you slept. It came easily, and was complete. No dreams. You didn’t wake until the sunlight pierced the defence of your clenched eyelids. It must have been seven or eight hours, more than the previous five days combined. Today, you feel rested. Not content. You don’t think you could ever feel content, not after what happened. But rested? Well, you figure in the circumstances that rested will do just fine. You remember being in that café a few months ago. That day when it all went wrong. The waitress had been looking at you, as normal, giving you “The Eye”. You had sat there with your coffee, and, plucking up the courage, asked her if she wanted to maybe go for a drink somewhere that evening. It hadn’t been bad. Too quiet, maybe. A bit of a stutter, but that was understandable. Not as clear as the best of the times you’d practised it, but not bad. It certainly hadn’t deserved the derisive laugh that had formed her reply. You remember the heat that filled the room, your face going red, the sharp intake of breath. You accidentally spilled your coffee as you hurriedly rose, her apologies in your ear only making things worse, making things more painful. You watch the people crossing the road in front of your car, and walking along the pavements, and going in and out of that café. You’re detached from them. You’re not one of them. The women with their cakedon make-up, the men with their expensive haircuts and sunglasses. The sun reflects off their shining teeth like it would do off the knife that you can feel, heavy in your jacket pocket, were you to get out of the car and run at them, holding it aloft. You picture the screams, the confusion, and you smile. You feel your heart beating faster, and you exhale, dismissing the thoughts with an effort, looking back towards the café. Today’s the day, you’re sure of it, and you don’t want to miss your opportunity. Not today. You remember the panic you felt after you came out of the café. You paced around a few streets away, running it over in your mind, occasionally screwing your face up, occasionally uttering the odd word in a stifled yell. You abruptly turned, heading back to the café. Remember the startled look on her face as you went in. You liked that. And you liked the bits of your spittle that went on the table that stood between you, maybe even on her beautiful, coffee-stained pinafore, as you regained your dignity, as you got the Upper Hand. You can still see her face when you told her what you wanted to do. You remember turning over a chair that was on your direct path back out, and the slam of the door as you left. After six days, you even recognise some of the same people who use the café every day, probably on their way to work. You open the car door, and slowly emerge, blinking up into the unrelenting sun, the same sun that woke you up this morning. You remember the police arriving at your office, the ogling, unfathoming faces of your work comrades, like dogs watching a Beckett play; the shame as you follow them out of your office; your company Letting You Go, and the restraining order. You remember the worry of trying to find a new job. It’s a small, unexciting town, and your face has become a little too famous. You remember the rising panic of the bills that kept coming, forming a pile of white worry in the corner of the room, and the one with the words “notice of eviction” in them. Cold words. Inhuman words. You approach the café, your fingers playing, playing, playing with the knife through the fabric of your pocket. You can see her through the window. She’s smiling and sharing a joke with some customers. How nice for them. She’s spared THEM the humiliation she gave to you. And now she sees you. NOW she sees you, and the smile dies on her face, the same way a flapping curtain slowly dies when the breeze fades. Her eyes are open wide. She’s not mocking now, that’s pretty clear, and it’s pretty fucking satisfying. You speed up, your hand slipping inside the pocket for real, encircling the handle, gripping it 19
hard. This is your destiny. Yours and hers. The blade is out, and it looks beautiful. Your breathing is long and deliberate, the air smells of sunshine, of coffee, and of death. As the tinkling bell announces your arrival in a surreal, cheery way, she has retreated to the back of the café, behind the counter. A fat man, in a grease-covered apron, has picked up the phone, and is dialling with shaking wrinkled digits, his eyes darting between the phone and you. Four customers are in the shop, looking at you aghast, but none of them have moved, and none look likely to. You notice all this calmly, and then return your gaze to her, as she looks around for escape. Time has changed for you. As the fat man stammers “Police” down the phone, you realise you have all the time in the world.
Elvie Suzuki “Time in Prison” ‘sleeping beauty’ tennis ball: found /// up and down the vicodin, the pot, the molly not as good as a tennis ball i found craving chocolate sleeping beauty the best sushi in town is korean, sushi with chocolate sleeping atop the fish better than this tennis ball i found anyway i sprawl with immortal and fear the brain no i no i’m the one i bounce the ball they took they take they take away my chapstick / lips chapped for vicodin you’re my s-s-s-sleeping beauty chest up and down like the tennis ball i found i found my chapstick in your chest i i i i chapped my lips upon your chest chocolate sushi a brain immortal “adjustment” mmy mmeds mmake mme slur mmy mmeds mmake mme extremmely susceptible to caffeine mmarijuana alcohol just about any fun thing you can think of rendering all these fun things not fun. EXCEPT: mmy mmeds mmake mme entirely devoid of sexual desire. mmetal. mmetal. mmetal.
“we crash inandoutof again” what we, travel companions, do to each other is insignificant. YOU_ put them in a knapsack take them to the train station YOU_ swing them round in a knapsack you have for the ride ME_ those are my crayons; that’s my mom; this is my salary YOU_ “but this is my life, where is my eggs, my toast, my ignition, my food” tickets free for your anniversary, then what do you do YOU_ “but honey, this is my heart, titter tatter pitter patter boo hoo hoo”" punch click tie it up and throw it in the back hundreds of them caviar babies bitches the more expensive the better reflection pool for your drowning dogs and witch’s hat for your trophy cocks ME_ what woman? said woman! what now now what are you going to drag around your stomach untied carry your children in it but you’re not meant to keep the kids NOT MEANT TO cowards all, what i do and what you do, you and i they’re my eggs and my awards and my papers and my castle and my way home HIM_ this home won’t go that way from that ride YOU_ but no it’s okay it’s worth it because if i turn all these bottles in then i can get my nickels then i can pay you back, it’ll be okay to pay you later won’t it? HIM/ME_ but you said you were going home and you’re not getting on this bus without your eggs up front, sir. and it’s all my fault for this, so titter tatter soggy up those tickets now. you know what they go great with? wine. i’ll offer to pour it on your million young ones your crimes and your agitations ’cause it solves everything just tip a glass and THEY_WILL_GO_LIKE_THAT. YOU_ these bottles are not empty, though. i am carrying my roe home. US_ what home? ME_ you’re my mom. you’re my house. and it’s insignificant. Elvie Suzuki is a performance artist and an MFA candidate at a London university. You may reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Future Lisa Waiting for the Sun so cold snowflakes large enough to cast shadows cover me waves drawing closer damp beach sand oozing thru my sheet should have brought a blanket I pull the thin sheet closer covered in snow it conceals rather than warms me the darkness has lightened I think its day now the sun didnâ€™t rise this morning I came to lay here to be covered in snow instead I sit snowflakes large as quarters hitting my face and running down like tears I ponder swimming so easy it would be to swim out as far as I can sliding on the boardwalk in the dark they said it would be rain they were wrong later today it will be too deep to slide I run while others lay sleeping long slides in shallow snow my footprints covered as fast as I make them the beach is inviting I lay above the surf line the waves are huge. rolling and crashing they comfort so tired now the snow is like a mattress beckoning me to rest its icy softness penetrates my clothes the cold hides the wetness I donâ€™t shiver where is the sun? Smaller Packages are Easier to Carry hurting all over think I got the dirt out this time have to stop tearing the scabs off let the wounds heal now comes the purging part must erase all signs
they’re everywhere! this will take time must do quickly so they stop ripping me open one peek my heart races flushed face sick feeling pain to exercise is to survive knew this would hurt walk walk walk run dance dance dance jump must not stop! movement keeps me ahead of the worst pain can’t outrun.walk.dance.jump the daily depression it hovers like a ghost shadowing my every move it will get better in time time is all I have now must keep busy music will save me writing will let it out drawing will give it form then I can burn it! feelings too big too handle must compress smaller packages are easier to carry Passively Strong passively strong immovable yet fluid adversary too large to fight she remains calm moving enough to avoid the deepest cuts this piece of beach is hers she wont give it up till the sun stops warming his heart is cold as he watches the beast attack no spark of empathy in him only the cheers of the crowd as it watches the bull gored by the matador his beast is the bullfighter I stand in his way liquid eyes pleading for it to stop I call for help he fears authority…not me…. 24
I use it to drive him away his beast is leashed they become dots in the distance the sun is warm she restsâ€Ś her peace never shattered only disturbed as the sun fades from view she slides back into the surf
Holly Day Dream # 17 I dream I am a taxidermist people bring me their cats and dogs still alive I slam fragile bodies against the wall again and again careful not to ruin their sweet perfect skin until they stop blinking their soft wet eyes at me I pull the flesh so carefully from the broken bones and stretch them still smiling over chicken-wire frames all ready to pose before crackling fireplaces at Christmas Neon
coming closer closer your eyes stare into mine your teeth sinking into soft sweaty skin stop it screaming stop it youâ€™re scaring me staring at me you have such a cute figure figure of speech you have perfect hands porcelain fingers I want to nibble your toes off soft rough skin against mine take me to your world the real world to dance pressed cheek to cheek and burn
Corpse sweet warm body on the slab old worn body on the slab you tried to be good all of your life you thought yourself to be in God’s spotlight at all times like an angelic acrobat in a circus tent each daring act preceded by a drumroll each narrowly-avoided plunge into sin stopped only by the other swing you’re lying there cold, still somehow I can’t picture your soul learning to fly and play the harp simultaneously my mind memorizes every freckle every wrinkle a minute ago you were just dead now you’re immortal Holly Day is a journalism instructor living in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with her husband and two children. Her most recent nonfiction books are Music Theory for Dummies, Music Composition for Dummies, and Walking Twin Cities. Her poetry and fiction has most recently appeared in Willow Review, The Blotter, and Pinyon.
Jeanne Brannon Charlie’s Game Charlie lay in the field, on his belly, wildflowers and weeds hiding him. It was late afternoon and she’d be home soon. He lifted his head every so often, eyes searching the sidewalk for her, a ridiculous fedora crowned him. His noggin felt like a cannon ball and queasiness filled his belly. His lunch of bourbon rose in his throat, burning its way up and souring in his mouth. He spit and elbowed himself closer to his gun, dirt grinding into the fabric of his expensive suit. The gun lay hot in his hand, warmed by the summer sun. A crooked smile slowly formed when he spied her turning the corner. The thoughts, the bad thoughts wouldn’t leave him alone today. They danced in his mind like a thousand Irishmen doing a jig. Pounding, pounding, pounding until the floor caved in. He lay in wait in the field across the street. Their home only a hundred yards away; the home they’d lived in the entire duration of their marriage. Get her Charlie, before she gets you, the voice said. That gritty asshole of a voice. His wife, Mary had a spring in her step. She was almost skipping as she made her way to the front door of their small bungalow. ‘Your belly turns the corner before you do,’ he’d tease; little did she know it took all his self control to keep the malice out of his voice. Huge in her pregnancy and with six weeks to go, he couldn’t imagine how she could possible get any bigger. There she goes Charlie, Two-Ton Mary. There she goes into your house. Go get her. He sprung from his hideout, crazy drunkard legs tripped him up; recovering, he staggered across the street. Mary disappeared into the house, closing the door behind her. A horn honked as he clipped a car in his mad charge into the street. The gun held loosely in his left hand. Charlie Dinkins was a proud lefty, not many of his kind around. It made him feel special. “Mary?” he called after closing the door softly behind him. Go get her Charlie. She was already in the kitchen. He heard rummaging. Probably gonna eat all your food. She groaned. “Awww Chuck, why the hell are ya home? Thought you were supposed to stay late at the lot. It’s your night to close up for Christ’s sake.” She peeked around the corner in time to glimpse Charlie whip off his hat, tossing it into a corner like a Frisbee. “I don’t give a shit about selling cars. It’s bullshit for bullshitters,” he said, hiding the gun behind his back as he walked into the kitchen. Sure enough she was stuffing her face. Not even bothering to sit down properly at the table, she stood eating a spoonful of peanut butter over the sink. “Chuck! What the hell happened to you? Look at your suit,” she said. The gummy peanut butter messed up her words; he could hardly understand her. But her eyes said all that needed saying. Those judging brown eyes. “I’ve got something for you.” Mary’s eyes lit up, “No shit?” “Yup.” She licked the remainder of the peanut butter off the spoon. Get her Charlie, get her before she eats you out of house and home. She swallowed and pounded a fist to her chest. “Heartburn,” she said wiping the corners of her mouth clean. She smiled. “Sorry Chuck, what did you get me? Something for the baby?” He turned away for a second. Her words hit like a sucker punch to the solar plexus and a sliver of remorse snuck past his defences; past the voice. 28
“Well, what’d you get?” He shook all second thoughts from his head, like a dog after a bath. “Bitch,” he muttered low in his throat; unsure whether his own voice spoke or the one in his head. “What?” She cocked her head. “What did you say Chuck?” Get her Charlie. Get her before she gets you. She moved closer and sniffed the air. “Hey, have you been drinking?” Charlie’s eyes narrowed and sweat beaded on his almost bald head. The only hair left was a grey fringe Mary wanted him to shave off. ‘You’d look so much younger if you’d just shave off that pitiful little bit of hair you have left.’ She’d say. “You better believe it, honey. Bourbon’s the best friend a man can have,” he said and pointed the gun at her. Hands no longer shaky; everything perfect and right. He pressed the muzzle to her pregnant belly. She backed up – hands in the air as if being robbed. He followed step for step, pushing until she hit the wall. She stood wedged between the counter and the stove. Gibberish flowed from her lips, not a single understandable word emerged. And she was crying. Charlie smiled. She was too afraid to even wipe the tears and snot off her face. He was winning. Atta boy! The voice proclaimed. He wanted to revel in his triumph for a few seconds more before pulling the trigger. Soon he’d be rid of her and that baby she was carrying. Soon he’d have the house all to himself, no one nagging, no one compulsively cleaning. He knew where to hide the body. Mary had few relatives…it would be easy to say she’d left him and went God knows where. He was a drunken son-of-a-bitch afterall. In five-and-a-half years of marriage, this was the only day Mary neglected to clean up after breakfast. The one and only day she didn’t scrub the skillet clean before going to work. Pregnancy made her tired and the heartburn made it hard to sleep so dozing an extra 15 minutes wasn’t really her fault, but pregnant or not, she wouldn’t let herself be late for work. “Bye-bye Two-Ton Mary,” Charlie sang the words. But squeezed off a round, Mary found the handle of the cast iron skillet and whipped the pan hard against Charlie’s fringed head. She noticed the oil in the pan rise in slow motion and splatter to the linoleum before hearing the skull crushing thwack. Charlie fell in a heap to the oily floor. The left side of his head flat as the egg Mary had fried that morning. Before death pulled him in, one last thought filtered through his ruined brain – You lose Charlie ole boy, chalk one up for the little lady. I’ve worked as a writer and editor for over twenty years. My work has been published in Videomania magazine, Tyro, Frustration.com, Ex Cathedra and several trade magazines. I have a B.A. in psychology and a diploma in journalism. I’m currently working on my first novel, a supernatural thriller titled “Darkness Becomes Her.”
Justin Dickenson It’s a long walk It’s a long walk home from just about anywhere I go Either by design, misfortune, bad decisions or just bad luck I’ve never owned a car So I walk I walk to work I walk to pay my bills I walk to eat and to see friends Sometimes I’ll walk home with bags and bags of groceries in my arms Thirty pounds of groceries gets heavy after about thirty steps You have to walk, though, when you don’t have a car Everyday For everything I walk when it’s so hot you can’t breathe and when it’s so cold you can’t feel your hands I walk in the pouring rain The same people pass you Everyday They all have nice cars Even the people with shit cars have smug faces I wonder if I’m the same to them as a bum on the freeway Just another poor person More like a part of the landscape I think about this often There’s a lot of time to think when you’re walking everywhere You think about money, or lack thereof, rather You think about schemes and ways to get on top of life You think about what a fucking loser you are You think about all the people you used to know and how successful they are now They have jobs in cities in office buildings Their cars take them there That’s not the life I want, though If I had a car I’d drive Everyday I’d drive as far as I could get before I went broke I’d drive and see and explore and live Everyday Every fucking day, man I think people with cars take that ability for granted The ability to explore If I had a car I’d be out there in the world I wouldn’t be in a parking garage I wouldn’t be adjusting my tie in the rear view mirror I wouldn’t be stuck in a traffic jam I’d be outdoors, far away from the urban sprawl Back to nature I don’t mean like the flower kids turned millionaires who hike the Ozarks while wearing Birkenstocks I mean like the places we’ve never even seen pictures of There is so much out there that I can’t reach You can’t just walk off into the wilderness You have to drive Drive until the roads all end
Drive to the oceans Escape, really Because that’s what it is That’s why people vacation That’s why friends take road trips and even those big corporations have retreats They all drive their cars to the woods and breathe in some fresh air for a minute I can’t walk to a god damn nature retreat I can’t walk to an airport sixty miles away and buy a plane ticket Even if I had extra cash it wouldn’t be enough to go on vacation Or buy a car So I don’t go anywhere I just walk Walk around town and run my trivial errands Everyday Everyday Every fucking day, man And it’s no fun Because it’s a long walk home from just about anywhere I go
Justin Hyde god bless america how you like my new wheels? asks larry. he’s leaning on a push-cart walker with hand breaks and a small american flag attached to the front end. tells me he had another mini-stroke last week and the sawbones saddled him with this contraption. he says: i’m not afraid to die just ain’t ready yet still like standing out here watching the ladies walk by i smile and they flirt with me. i tell him the ones walking by to the high-school down the road are going to get me in trouble. yea i oughta duct-tape my pecker to my asshole, he says. speak of the devil, i say as a pack of them come jogging by: it’s the cross country team decked out 32
in school colors. he’s got a bicycle horn bolted to the frame. god bless america, he says honking it over and over. sack lunches at the work release center consist of government grade meat and cheese a small sack of plain lays and a packet of instant sugarless grape koolaid. i’m only supposed to give them one each when they leave for work but i hide an extra behind the smoke shack for tuttle when i do my midnight grounds check because i found out he was giving his away to an underfed husky he came across cutting through the old save u more lot on the way to dee-zee where he screws handles on screen doors. the world don’t give a shit for either of us so he and i we gotta watch out for each other, he told me this morning as i buzzed him out the security door. karma is a blue eyed muffin top you fucked and guttered last week 33
and who now with the corybantic fury of a school of piranhas tries to break a bud light bottle over your head while you’re putting the bogart hustle on the tuesday night bartender a sleek twenty five year old marmot you’ve had in the cross hairs for months but couldn’t ever portion off enough guts to do anything about until she came in on a thursday just hoping she said an hour ago when she slid next to you at the bar just hoping to see you. Justin Hyde lives in Iowa.
Laurel Bieschke Between the Six-packs of Faygo at the Corner Store They eat beans mostly, this yellow pair of straw-haired vegetarians– fava, pinto, garbanzo in bulk bags, twist-tied. In silent deerhide his Minnetonkas dance past lima, kidney while she, a Birkenstock clomper, flip-flops over how to make The Best Damn Chili. They drink tea mostly, this dark duo of pout-lipped hipsters– jasmine, raspberry and mint leaves skillfully plucked and dried. Beneath a velvet fedora he’ll sip orange pekoe, spew specious philosophies as she steeps earl gray as black as London’s underground. They hold organic mostly, these shelves of cellophane soldiers– fruit leather, carob, rice cakes in fat-bodied sacks between the six-packs of Faygo that sit like patient puppies in windows, waiting to be picked, losing battles to the allure of ginseng soda. They take cash mostly, this corner store of middle-aged bohemians– clams, bones or dead presidents in pocket-fashioned green origami or tight jelly rolls–joint style–each one waves across the counter like a tattered flag in this small, Midwestern town. Pancake Lover Belly-flopped, ass in the air like a coy Rembrandt, she feels like a moviegoer sharing an armrest with a too close stranger when the movie’s bad and you just can’t help but watch the dull rapture flicker across blank faces,
fight the urge to plunge your hands into their popcorn buckets or lick their ears just to see if they’d notice. He was too comfortable in her nakedness. “You can judge a lover by their pancakes,” she yawns. “You see, the Bisquick boys are all quick business— adolescent hands and the steady whisk of ‘just add water.’ Ya got flour and eggs?” His smile slid like hot butter and she knew it was a mistake well before they hit the Ihop. These Stools We Warm Old Lloyd rambles into the bar on two stilts draped in flesh bright orange and jaunty says he’s OD’d on beta carotene again confused the vitamins in his hangover tonic because he couldn’t see straight. Drooped and off-white like a dirty sock, three whiskey-sours later he gets around to hellos, catches the rhythm of the swivel. We talk of comfortable things and then Katrina, and he pulls out the latest news scrap pressed firmly into Silly Putty. Old Lloyd never buys the paper says people have paid for the news a million times over with their lives. We toast to draught and petty theft and he tells me I remind him of his daughter if she wasn’t such a goddamn good-fer-nothin’. Laurel Bieschke is a poet from the Midwest. As a social work grad student, she generally reads too much and writes too little. Laurel currently lives in Austin, TX where she collects awkward moments and all things wabi-sabi. Someday she plans to get it together.
Lindsey Dilks I Think I Could I think I could wake up like this, smiling. It’s been awhile. I think I could wake up like this, lying on the cold concrete, my notebook as a pillow, his hands on my hip. I could wake up like this, writing, watching you paint, last night’s beer cans interrupting my vision. The ashtray is overflowing onto Carroll and Dobbs and Orwell a mix of heroin and God and Paris blurring the memories. I could wake up like this, at almost noon, because we stayed up too late splitting a bottle of red and reading others’ words and ruminating on mass extinction and penning new relationship thoughts between our intertwined fingers, feeling the butterflies competing. I sip coffee. Stare at the mohawk of blond sleep hair. Listen to quiet snoring. Lying on the cold concrete, I think – yeah, I could wake up like this. The Line
Where’s the line? What turns: “just having a good time” into: “you have a problem”? I don’t drink before five or six. I don’t get staggered out lit: “Let’s go hunt alligators!” “Hold my beer and watch this!” Yet, religiously at 7, I am thirsty. It just doesn’t feel right. At least it’s better than lines
“I’m a writer. We’re tortured.” But I can’t write drunk. I don’t even have the desire. Where does that leave the writer in me? Muffled, hidden, screaming for attention. Screaming for someone to listen. Screaming for help. But I can’t even listen to your help. Just wait in line. When I won’t listen, that’s when I need it most. But I can’t handle the broad statements: “Have so much going for you.” “You have a problem.” They don’t mean anything to me anymore. They’re just lines. “I’m a writer.” Hidden within the torment of my own personal self-loathing and dying slowly of the disease that killed my family: fear. “I’m fine. I just need something to take the edge off.” I continue to feed the washed-up, worn-out lines to pacify my desperate desire to wash clean my soul with alcohol and fear. I haven’t yet hit rock bottom. But I think I’m at the end of the line.
No Fingernails She’ll laugh as she says “fell through a glass coffee table.” and remembers the bathroom covered in coagulated red blood and the steak knife left in the sink She laughs “just fooling around” and remembers his hands around her neck slamming her head against the cold linoleum She chews nervously on her hand, lips, “slightly attention-deficit” and her hands are shaking and she’s certain she has an ulcer and no fingernails.
She smiles, â€œYeah, kinda used to useâ€? remembering the pipe held to his lips his other lover. His only lover. And her constant nosebleeds. She smiles, laughs, and no one asks what she remembers.
M. Laine Thompson I’ve Got the Face of a Madman I’ve got the face of a madman, The last train Catapulted on the track, And now that the ground has settled, I’m convinced this tragic magic Was miscast, I wasn’t supposed to be the one trapped with the crazies, But here, They still say I must have something wrong with me, Because I can remember my best and worst days, And every time they ask, I have to make the drugs go away, By answering No lobotomy for me, Thanks, But, Apparently, I’ve got the face of a madman, These dark corners Have kept me tied up, It’s the new millennium, They say, It’s your thirties, They say, Welcome to them, On the other side of the double-steel doors, They gather like doped-up carolers, Whispering in their softly-jagged voices, Sharply-pronounced consonants Rip from the fabric of their words, And I can feel silk knives Stabbing into my ears, They need me to stay, It’s just your time, They say, There’s nothing more for you, They say, So here is my escape plan, I’ll accept the age I’ve been born into this year, Take out the star-light barricades And burn the wish lists, Stop looking ahead with a side-mile projector, The one I got a deal for When I told myself I was only window shopping At the bottom of my own hell, Because I’ve got the face of a madman, 40
They say, Maybe it’s time I use it, And use my words, Even when they coat their whispers In the dragon’s screams, This is not a dimension that’s for sale, And I should have never offered it up Like cheap property value, I’ll take my head case, Now, And those double-steel doors, Melt them down, And turn them into bullet-blasting ashes, Time to speed through that neon light, Tear open my heart And make it breathe, Let it flutter in wishing dust Just so I can soak up The wild-fire dream lust In my eyes, And capture dreams Instead of chasing after them, It’s my thirties, They say, And welcome to them. Juxtaposed I’ve got the fantasy of you, The touch of you, The feel of you, And if you were real, Then we could hit the sheets together, But you’re farther away than that, We walk at a distance from each other, And keeping in focus of how you move Will always keep me guessing, Because you’re always changing, You’re a different man every minute, And the second I’ve got you in sight, Your eyes go from steel blue To copper-tone brown, Your skin is rugged With musk and hot cologne, I can taste the fever of you As you flash in my mind, Searing off the top of my brain With positions That would shame both you and me, Because you Are never after me, So, 41
I need to ask you, Not to your face, But to the characters of you all in my head, Can I get juxtaposed with you? I just wanna see Why you’re so much more, Why you have this spark of sex, And I’m just a follower, I want to see What I can do To stop chasing after your hologram, Why you can say hi Without your voice sounding Like it’s trying to convince me That everything is fine, And why I always have to be conscious Of everything I’m doing When I walk past you, I know that you have so many different ways Of being unavailable, You’re married Or it’s only the ladies you’ve got the taste for, Or you’re just not interested, And I’m sorry to the fake you, The you that I can only touch When you’re in my night-time fantasy, I can’t make you real, Because I can’t stop having morals, I’m not the heartless whore That will break up a marriage Or try to change you Just to get close to you, So the real you can take a sigh of relief, I can’t bring myself to be that desperate, So, Again, I have to ask If I can get juxtaposed with you, I want to get closer to a real chance, I don’t want anything I have to settle for, I have to keep convincing myself That my kind of guy Is out there, He’s not at the clubs, Or wearing rainbow shirts Or the type that can’t stop using fabulous As an adjective and a verb, He’s not depending On his orientation To get him through, He’s at the library, Or watching independent cinema, 42
He’s not a neanderthal, Nor is he a diva to the tenth degree, He’s what I find attractive, And he likes me, Too, So I wanna know What makes you so elusive, What keeps you in my head And how you can not seem to care, I don’t want to change into you, I just want a little less Of what makes me so lost I Want To To burn the paper, To feel the ink sear off the top of the pen, To need a moment of words and madness So deeply, My toes curl And cringe and tremble Like I’ve been begging for it, I’ve never been woken up In the middle of the night By wanting another hit Of pen and paper, When you feel passion and love, When you say that this stage is your home And everything else is just a room for rent, I’m still trying To know what it’s like, To scream with a fire Raging on lines and paragraphs With a primal instinct That hungers for the identity Of a writer, I want that moment of completely chaotic bliss, I want these situations That will rape my words With a needing dark, And lift them up so high Even heaven seems like second best, I want to know What it’s like to be at a rave, And have my senses completely obliterated by ecstasy, I want to wake up from a morning after That I can’t even remember, And have my mind haunted With broken-off pieces of blurred memory, I want to get in someone’s car And take off Into a road of chances, 43
I want to have threesomes In back alleys Long after the sun Has left this side of the hemisphere, I want to take chances Without thinking of the risk, I never knew What it was like To run naked through the halls Like some kind of raving lunatic Screaming I AM ALI-I-I-I-IVE!!!! Make me beg for my art, Make me hurt for it, Make me see what addiction to the written word tastes like, I want to go fuckin’ crazy without it, I want to know the misery of a story trapped inside me, I want the euphoric high Of my body of work accomplished, Show me some love, Show me some pain. I’ve been touring the open mic scene in Austin for over three years, now. I have a few stories in the works. I’m also known under the stage name ofLost In Thought.
Matthew Dexter Graduation Day The window fan was whistling Dixie and the dishes were turning orange on the hot plate perched precariously on the corner of the garbage can. “It was only a dream,” Amanda Willard told herself as she sat up from the warm bed and clawed her way across the carpet over to the closet like a scorpion through the mess. She reflected about how she had spent the better part of seventeen months resting her sexy restless body against that twin mattress in this tiny hick town in the middle of Connecticut. It was the safest place in the world for her, and she smiled at it for the last time. Rising from the smoke and ashes of the room with a natural grace well beyond her eighteen years, Amanda Willard reached beneath the window ledge into a secret hiding spot and retrieved a half-smoked cigarette from the Snapple bottle cap she used as an ashtray. The butt wasn’t hers, it was probably her slutty roommate’s or somebody else’s, but it didn’t matter because Amanda was out of smokes. So ignoring the lip gloss, she lit it and closed her eyes in ecstasy. When you need one you need one and nobody was there to notice. She sat down on the ratty old chair that she carried on her shoulders all the way from town two years ago. As she lit the butt in front of the window she could hear her father’s voice sliding through her ears, wet as the southern comfort between her lips: “I love you kangaroo-do, you can do anything you set your mind to baby–” Amanda was alone and packing. The pale fine hairs on the back of her neck stood up as she thought of living with her father again. Boarding school was safe, but her father’s hands had done so much damage. Summer vacation was about to start and graduation was set to begin in a few hours. Amanda folded her clothes perfect before carelessly stuffing everything into the black and yellow suitcase that matched the backpack that she bought because it made her butt look so hot with her long blond hair. She downed an impressive amount of whiskey from the Nalgene water bottle with the Hello Kitty stickers, leaving a sip of liquid so the deans could smell the alcohol and blame Kendra for the fire. Kendra was supposed to be the best roommate ever, but she had stolen Amanda’s boyfriend in the beginning of spring semester. She was not going to get away with that, Amanda promised as she recited the Lord’s Prayer in the mirror: “Our Father, who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy Name. Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, As we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil. [For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever.] Amen.” Amanda looked like a bumblebee as she tossed the lit Camel into the trash can and walked out into the hallway with the bravado of a fireman. She didn’t want to express the panic of an arsonist escaping the scene of a crime, so she said goodbye to some girlfriends she encountered in the Hallway. “Have you seen Kendra?” Amanda asked. “No.” “She was here a couple hours ago.” Amanda nodded her head and bit her lip before fueling the flames: “Well, she’s drunk as hell again, and she almost lit our bed on fire.” “Oh, nooo–” “Not again?”
“Yes,” Amanda said, shaking her head and wondering why they didn’t ask about the bags on her shoulders. “You better go check on her, or make sure the room’s not on fire again.” “Of course.” “We will.” The girls walked away and Amanda jammed her belongings through the door and stepped out onto the grassy campus and walked all the way to town without anyone asking where she was headed. Maybe they thought she was going home on the bus, as some of the undergraduates do in the final hours before graduation. Amanda was a senior, but she was never going to see her father again, not after what he tried to pull last Thanksgiving. She wore the bruises on her inner thighs for five weeks after the turkey tried to dance too close to the fireplace. She had to smack him over the head with a wet log to get him off of her after the eggnog took effect. She was too old to sit on his lap like Santa Clause, but he still called her “my little elf.” Sitting with the little old ladies at the bus stop made Amanda wish her grandmother was still alive. The North Pole would be warmer than her father’s embrace. She could hear a fire engine racing down the highway across the lake from campus–the Doppler effect growing exponentially louder as it bounced off the cool surface of the water while approaching. The Greyhound was coming down the street, and Amanda was going anywhere in the opposite direction as her father. Matthew Dexter lives and writes on a fortified compound near Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. He has been known to drink beer and eat tacos. He belongs in an insane asylum.
Paul Thomas Stale Wooden Beer Barroom decisions dictate meaningful interactions. Darts soaring through the cologne of spilt beer, Amidst politcally sexist discussions Calling for more cheerleaders dressed in thongs even if the temperature dips below 32, Overcoming a sexually driven obsession of men in tights ramming into eachother For 60 minutes. Flies call for a higher rate of females objectifying themselves To come off as normal. Normality is evil Despite itâ€™s impossibility. Still, we try. Ostracizing the open-minded. Mother Nature is Sexist Pound the floor when your hair is wet. Send a message to thus that grows, Pretend to forget that God may be Puerto Rican. Remember that deja vu exists in the minds of the needy. Catastrophic outcomes grow When we cry over that which we cannot control. The stars crave our attention And we give it even though we have no say In their alignment Or shade of gold, When beauty is absent on those cloudy nights. Lost in Familiarity Pop reggae Misleads hipsters into the true essence of diversity. Dancing does not make you open-minded as true thought. True thought; Ideas that come not only from the depths of your intellect, From the truth of your soul. Negativity in times of thoughtless ecstacy Outcasts the unneccesarily conscious criticisms Blanketing rejection phobia With pessimistic perceptions. Excusing a loss of words for the first time since Carlos Beltran watched Adam Wainwright sneak a curveball over the heart of the plate. Striking out without making an attempt to explore the unknown. Always easier sitting back, Hating that for which we fear.
Rebecca Schumejda Without Our Consent Blame, an unwanted houseguest, rifles through the refrigerator drinks the last drop of the milk then puts back the empty carton. Blame uses your toothbrush, forgets to pay bills, doesn’t do dishes, hogs bed sheets, pees on the toilet seat, and hides car keys. We ask Blame to leave, but it slips past us and into the slinky red dress that is too small for me, slinks by your thirsty eyes and goes into the garage where it tampers with your gauges and sparkplugs. Free Speech Zones In the bathroom, we run water, whisper adult conversation. While you shave your beard, I pluck a stray black hair from my chin— all we want to hide gets clogged in the drain, stuck in our throats. Just when I am convinced your words will be clean-shaven, with the edge of the razor you scrape dried toothpaste from basin, mirror, soap dish, and the tube itself— “What— do you brush your teeth in the dark?” you ask. I feel my mouth open in retaliation, but the reflection in the mirror, speckled with the messy truth, bites her tongue.
Birds That Can’t Fly From the kitchen window, I watch our daughter knee deep in her second season of snow packing snowballs too light to fly. Ostriches, emus, and penguins, must curse their feathers for reminding them of their inadequacies, the way I curse my heart. There are days I feel nothing—nothing at all, but guilt as useless as wings on birds that can’t fly. Double Jeopardy Since double jeopardy applies, I want you to know I did it, whatever it is you think I did— I did it. While you come up with something convincing, I use steel wool to eradicate dried eggs from in between fork prongs and talk to our daughter’s imaginary friend on an imaginary phone while she plays hopscotch on the kitchen tiles improvising a rolled up sock for a stone. Most recently, sunnyoutside published my full-length collection Falling Forward and verve bath published my chapbook The Map ofOur Garden. Feel free to check out my website at www. rebeccaschumejda. com for more publication and education credits.
Ricky Garmi THE BETTY BOOP STAMP, FROM GRENADA Today as I gazed at stamps of Betty Boop in a grass skirt as she balanced a bowl of fruit on her doggy’s head in Grenada, I felt as if the sun had come out and had begun to sparkle in the new fallen snow. And then as I gazed at a stamp of Betty Boop admiring herself in a mirror wearing a red dress while her doggy smiles at her in Grenada, the room became lighter and it was true that the sun had come out and had begun to sparkle in the new fallen snow. I kept looking at pictures of Betty Boop. She is wearing a red heart on her garter in Mongolia, looking up to the sky wearing a red dress in Antigua, wearing a peek-a-boo nightie in Gambia, being serendaded by her loyal dog Bimbo under a palm tree in Guinea, as well as being a nurse with the world’s largest spoon of red medicine in Dominica. The truth is, you can find Betty Boop almost anywhere in the world, on a stamp. Especially Grenada. In Grenada, she is everywhere and does everything. Sometimes, her back, facing those other countries, is even naked. HAVE YOU HEARD THE ONE ABOUT THE JOKE I know it sounds like a bad joke but I made a boat out of jokes my plan to sail away the mast & sail was a joke about a guy goes to the movies with his pet chicken the jib was about a mother in law, I gotta tell ya the rudder was a joke about a priest and a rabbi go into a bar and for the boom I didn’t use a joke at all I just used a microphone boom and they were all bad jokes but as any seafaring man knows nothing matters, nothing well it only really matters that the hull is sound and that it doesn’t leak water so it stays swift and true the horizon is clear the wind is at your back and so I made a joke, great about love and forgiveness I made it into a hull and just to make sure I added a pet monkey, an ex-wife, a farmer’s daughter airplane food which is terrible a guy who walked into a bar who dares not cross the street and a heart that says knock knock who’s there followed 50
by a long silence and everybody laughs and laughs and laughs and boy are his arms tired at these prices, you never will and I sailed on and on and on I had no fear and the craft was true the horizon was steady Ricky Garni is a graphic designer and bicycle collector living in Carrboro, North Carolina. His work has been published most recently in PANK, MEDULLA REVIEW, SHAMPOO, THE BICYCLE REVIEW, PRICK OF THE SPINDLE, PINSTRIPE FEDORA, ANEMONE SIDECAR. His books can be had at www. tinyurl. com/rickygarni
Ross Vassilev snow bunny 14 foster homes in 17 years she hopped a Greyhound to get away from the last one in the city she met a black pimp who pretended to be her friend and put her to work black pimps call white girls “snow bunnies” she tried to leave so he beat her to death the pimp’s doing life and dammit, she was only a kid. long hot summer words crawling the pages like black ants the meaning eludes me. it’s a hot vicious summer the sun barking like a dog. there's 2 workmen fixing the roof the little guy sings shot my wife gotta get outta town. it’s a hot vicious summer the flowers are choking and even Bukowski don’t help. fireworks my co-workers at the supermarket (my fellow slaves) didn’t seem to realize they were being exploited they were always cheery always showed up on time I often said to myself don’t they get it? there was one woman who worked there 40 yeahrs. a week and 35 hrs. a week at another place 52
when did she sleep? maybe they all knew the truth but kept those smiles on their faces in spite of everything (maybe I’m giving them too much credit) I was always late for work always clocked out early wasn’t interested in promotion— the managers worked 60 hrs. a week every 4th of July they gave each of us a small American flag I told someone they can keep their fucking flags and pay us more money.
Tyler Bley Half Of Me Is In Shadow Strangelets are small things that strangle other small things or they are small strange things. It would be nice if a mini myth weren’t like a small dung beetle tackling a large ball of dung but rather if the dungball were proportionally small. If a half-truth – which itself is a diminished entity – didn’t leave out half of everything but if the missing half disappeared, left the stage topless in oversized pants, not making the truth bigger but merely making it fit. ‘I’ve noticed everything you like you make smaller by using the diminutive pronoun or noun in reference to them.’ She was a meek, friendly person; I couldn’t imagine anyone like her doing such a thing. ‘I want to cuddle them.’ ‘You should live in one of those creepy miniature villages.’ ‘Ptuh…’ She knew which miniature villages I was talking about. I’ve been in one myself – walked around in it with a mouth continually agape – and found everything there utterly creepy. Big strangeness filled with strangelets and half-truths and children who looked like Arnold Schwarzenegger. Professional Displeasure ‘He’s a goddamn gerrymander. I don’t care if he’s gray and has a wet droopy bottom lip – I pegged him for the arbitrary type when he fiddled with the places I like to sit on his lap.’ ‘My ventriloquist dummy sits and spits there on my lap and people think my fingers leak – some folks find it gross, don’t ask me why. Anyhow, he’s run away now: poor blighter. Caught in a quagmire of media on some street. I have yet to turn on the television, too afraid though…’ ‘This roped-off street. Goddamnit. Caught. A trapped rat. Crowd goggling. It sickens me. A camera pulls out and watches me cry. Wooden tears. At the end of a working day I emit filthy speech. Gotta be something to do with professional displeasure. The day is an iceberg.’ ‘No disobedience allowed, he always complains. My master likes sodomy - fresh pair of socks is my reward. These are the complaints you often hear him voice. Lies? Not really.’ ‘Fluorescent green rats keep me company in the dusty trunk – amid so much velour and wood-smell. I hate him.’
‘He hates homeless junkies, early humans give him the creeps – he talks, or believes he is forced to talk, in their voices. The truth? Yes. But am I a mean person? Do you ever see me betray a mean streak comparable to the what he pulled on all his LA friends?’ ‘He doesn’t even know what “weatherize” means. He thinks it’s something scientific and cruel. Something like turning someone into ice. Well, OK, he isn’t far off. But the wind! He leaves out so much weatherology…’ ‘Who the hell are they? These friends of his?’ ‘He doesn’t even know who my friends are.’ ‘Spread on the pain thinly.’ ‘Loneliness is fame.’ ‘Hit my chin, the little bastard will.’ ‘Hehe, with a spoon.’ ‘Spray on a fixative – opposing all gerrymandering. Bring in the bolts.’ ‘His lap smells like balls.’ ‘Check dates on Craiglist see if you see my lost love I miss her don’t let her see my moment of weakness it’s raining and cold.’ ‘Don’t these people have anyplace to be?’ -
volume 1 issue 3