Yellow Chair Review: Superheroes

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YELLOW CHAIR REVIEW

SUPERHEROES ISSUE


YELLOW CHAIR REVIEW SUPERHEROES ISSUE

Edited by: Sarah Frances Moran Co-­‐‑edited by: Mike Jewett COPYRIGHT © 2015 YCR Publishing Published by YCR Publishing Waco, Texas All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without written permission of the author. Each work is copyright © 2015 the respective writers and artists. Cover art: Yellow Chair Superman Copyright © Yellow Chair Review


Editor’s Note: Welcome to YCR’s Superheroes issue! Inside you’ll find an assortment of superheroes: Superman, Wonderwoman, Green Lantern, A Housewife, A Dad and so on. Superheroes were a huge part of my growing up and truth be told I’m still a huge fan. What is more intriguing though than the world of Gotham City is our world, which is filled with a wide variety of superheroes that we pass by every day. Those every day superheroes are who this issue is for. Superheroes don’t have to wear tights or see through walls; sometimes Superheroes simply offer love. Who would argue with that superpower? We hope you enjoy the included works. We hope you find a superhero you can relate to inside. We hope that your inner superhero is awakened while you ingest these words. For information on submissions please visit our website at www.yellowchairreview.com and to keep up-­‐‑to-­‐‑date on the latest YCR news follow us on Facebook. As always thank you for your support of YCR, Sarah Frances Moran, Founder/Editor

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CONTENTS On The Cover:

Yellow Chair Superman -­‐‑ YCR

6-­‐‑7

Buzz Me – Adrian Ernesto Cepeda

8-­‐‑9

form arms and body – Mike Jewett

10

Voltron – Francesca Davis

11

The Flight of the Housewife – Tiffany McDaniel

12-­‐‑13

Fake Boyfriend For Hire – Jason S. Parker

14-­‐‑15

Superwoman – Jocelyn Mosman

16-­‐‑18

When Super Heroes Take Off Their Masks – Jocelyn Mosman

19

Red – Sonja Johanson

20

Before They Became Shadows-­‐‑ W. Jack Savaage

21

Badman-­‐‑ Catfish McDaris

22

Weedman-­‐‑ Catfish McDaris

23

Hercules-­‐‑ Catfish McDaris

24-­‐‑25

Green Lantern Has a Friend in Jesus – Kevin Fisher-­‐‑Paulson

26-­‐‑27

The Power of the Super Hero is in Where You Look – Kathryn Hillig

28

Clark Has a Plan-­‐‑ Lanette Cadle

29

Death of a Super Hero – Lanette Cadle

30-­‐‑31

I Am Titanium – Gillian Kalson

32

Plastic Man’s Hymn to the Aesthetic Beauty – Michael Karl

33

Batman Jesus – Chad Parenteau

34

The Hobbyist – Nick Romeo

35

The Spawn of Fett – Nick Romeo

36-­‐‑37

League of Extraordinary Women – Chris Billings

38

Figure Eight – Laurie Kolp

39

I’m No Wonder Woman – Laurie Kolp

40

Wonder Woman’s Website – Deborah Bacharach

41

Wonder Woman – Francesca Davis

42

sagres – Ian Watts

43

Who Knew That Man Could Stop Bullets? – Ryan Anthony Summers

44

Real Life Super Heroes – Rie Sheridan Rose

45

Gotta Save ‘Em All – Adam Sprague

46-­‐‑47

My Genetic Scientist Ex-­‐‑Nun Grandmother – Audrey T. Carroll

48

Captain America – Natasha Reeves

49

We All Love the Underdog – Wayne Russell

50 51

The Guy With the Coffee – Sean Wofford When Superman Changes In The Phone Booth – Dylan Debelis


52-­‐‑53

Once Again I’m the Hero – Donald Illich

54

The Joker – Anushree Nande

55

Grind Time Fantasy Mirage – David S. Pointer

56

The Win-­‐‑ Luis Neer

57

The Secret of the Red Wedding – Hilary King

58-­‐‑59

Chair Stealer and Tickle Finger – Brad Murgen

60-­‐‑62

A Graphic Novel in Six Chapters – Adam Kotlarczyk

63

Gambit – Remie James

64-­‐‑65

The Sniper – Jay Sizemore

66-­‐‑67

Captain Beatty As George Bush – Jay Sizemore

68

Chronic – Laura Ring

69

Better Man – Charles Darnell

Please visit www.yellowchairreview.com for contributor bios and information.

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Buzz Me: [Ode to Chau] By Adrian Ernesto Cepeda

_________________ Anointed most requested he is an unmasked Marvel without a cape. Power gripped with his lab coated fingers— not a hit man yet, he snips like The Professional but with the same silent dedication; he stares intently with blades in his eyes. He’s quick with scissors— cutting like Wolverine but with the grace of Scissorhands. Our boy wonder is graphic, novel like but he demands sharp razor responses for my haircut symphony. I listen for his music, like a conductor with his sounds, beautiful rhythms blurry at first but I know as I feel the fade in the back, jazzy grooves on my temple saxophone dryer blows on repeat— as Chau spins me around to face the heat, my personal Coltrane always cuts A Love Supreme in this basement dwelling, locker room size barber shop. Chau drowns out trapper keeper scat grinning humor with his electrical magic as my hair falls— misogynistic comb-­‐‑over mayhem fuels our laughter chorus— this is last bastion for lost Angelino Joe’s bonding in gray areas receding our comb over promises— trimmed just above the ear— conversations bent leaning


towards politics and X-­‐‑rated mocking knockers for sport. No verbal victories, My barber concentrates on his passion, the hair before him. Like Picasso he speaks with shears the haircut is his brush. Only the mirror reflects Chau’s answers. He knows, I don’t sit for the testosterone talks; I nod like a catcher waiting for the heat, buzz me— last week felt like a losing streak I need a victory, I say. Already, like my superhero, he knows, the sign; No miracles man, I’m feeling invisible— just resurrect me, this time.

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form arms and body by Mike Jewett

_________________ drowning myself in dos equis cinco de mayo xx crackles in my head my veins my spine the spine of a broken book the chihuahua leaps onto my lap, lays right on my stained briefs, licks itself, my briefs, settles in. it drools all over me but fuck it, i say i'ʹm batman, i say along with batman, blaring on the tv drowning out the noise, my internal voice, the colors; those fucking colors though; reminds me of voltron'ʹs lions


form feet and legs form arms and body and i'ʹll form the head and i'ʹll form the head the same head filled with spite filled with colors and crackling with dos equis

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Voltron Photoshop By Francesca Davis


The Flight of the Housewife By Tiffany McDaniel

_________________ She left the dishtowels On the clothesline. They are still there, years later Their gingham no longer bright Their cotton no longer clean The woman no longer there Still they beat like her cape.

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Fake Boyfriend For Hire By: Jason S. Parker

_________________

• • • • •

Special Offer Ends Sunday, July 18th: Buy 2 Dates, Get 1 Free! Do you want to impress your parents by bringing your new Harvard grad boyfriend to dinner? Do you want to make your ex jealous by dating a surgeon? Do you want to show your new millionaire boyfriend off to your friends? Do you want to take your new charming fiancée to the family reunion? (Includes Fiancée Fee – see below for details) Do you want to bring the lead singer of a popular UK rock band to your best friend’s wedding?

Look no further! My name is Barry McClain. Over the past seven years, I’ve gone on over a thousand paid dates. I’ve impressed hundreds of parents. I’ve made hundreds of exes jealous. I’ve been the talk of dozens of weddings. Whatever you need me to be, I can be. Let me say that again: I Can Be Whatever You Need Me To Be! My real name may be Barry McClain, but my nickname is The Changeling. Sounds mysterious, doesn’t it? I like to think of myself as a superhero, albeit a highly paid superhero, a master of many disguises, saving you from embarrassment. Here’s what my superpowers can do for you . . . Want a rock-­‐‑climbing fake boyfriend who’s adventurous? Done! I’ll tell your friends about all the boulders I’ve scaled, all the times I’ve hung from a rock by one hand, all the times I came “this close” to death. Want a fake doctor boyfriend who’s wicked smart? Done! I’ll tell your parents about the diseases I’ve helped cure, about all the children I helped save in Africa, about my Nobel Prize in medicine. I can be anything you want. I’ll even do something I haven’t done in my seven years of fake boyfriending . . . I’ll Waive The Research Fee! What Research Fee? Glad you asked! I normally charge a Research Fee depending on the difficulty of boyfriend you want. Let me explain . . . If you want me to be an ex Yale polo player, then I might charge a $50 Research Fee so that I can learn all about polo and really sell the part to Uncle Jack and Aunt Bessie at your backyard barbecue. If you want me to be a lawyer, then I might charge a $300 Research Fee so that I can read a hulking law book and memorize the jargon. Why am I waiving the Research Fee? Because I’ve played the part of so many fake boyfriends over the past seven years that I’ve probably, dozens of times, played the type of boyfriend you’ll ask me to be.


Take A Look At What Past Clients Are Saying “Barry helped me get my ex husband back. My hubby had walked out on me and our three-­‐‑year-­‐‑old, Kimberly. He had left us for his secretary at the firm. When he saw me and Barry at Chili’s, he kept looking over at our table and finally he walked over and talked to us. Guess who showed up at my doorstep the next day, begging me to take him back? Bless you, Barry. Not only have you saved my marriage. You put my daughter’s father back in her life. Priceless. Hire Barry as your fake boyfriend. You won’t regret it.” Martha Colmbridge Norcross, Georgia “My rich parents were coming into town. They had hated my past few boyfriends I brought out to dinner. Said they were obnoxious. Losers. My bitch mother said that if I don’t find a good fiancée, then daddy would cut me off. Can you believe that? How fair is that? Anyway, I called up Barry’s service. I was skeptical at first. But Barry really came through. He came to dinner as a cardiologist. My daddy asked him all kinds of heart questions all night. Barry knew all the answers. It was amazing. They still ask about Barry all the time. Most importantly, daddy’s money is still flowing into my bank account. Barry is a pro. I highly recommend his unique services.” Sabrina Davis Athens, Georgia “I wasn’t sure Barry could help me. I’m gay, you see. When I read his ad in the AJC, I didn’t see anything saying he wouldn’t pose as a gay boyfriend. I called up Barry. He said sure he’s been a gay boyfriend many times. He said he’d hold my hand in public, but he wouldn’t kiss. I said that’s fine. Barry was my Calvin Klein model fake boyfriend at my sister’s wedding. We danced all night. He was so funny in every conversation. It was a success. Hire Barry if you get a chance.” Todd Jenkins Woodstock, Georgia You Are Standing At A Crossroads You have two choices . . . Road #1: You can take a lame date to your next night out and risk the possibility of being super embarrassed. Road #2: You can hire me to woo your friends and your family. What’s it going to be? I’ll admit, my services aren’t cheap. It’s $1,000 for a date (Optional: $100 Fiancée Fee). That price can be shocking for some. But think about it . . . Can you really put a price on impressing your parents? What’s that worth to you? What’s it worth to you to have your parents bragging about you to the rest of your family about how you’re dating a plastic surgeon? What’s it worth to you to get your ex husband back like Martha did in her testimonial? Can you really put a price tag on that? If I were to charge you what my services are truly worth, then I’d add a couple zeroes to the end. Hurry! Special Offer Ends Sunday, July 18th! When you buy 2 dates, you get 1 free! What’s more? The Research Fee will be waived! Don’t miss out on impressing your friends and family! Call now!

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Superwoman By: Jocelyn Mosman

_________________ Tonight, when I look at myself in the mirror, I see Superwoman. I see the woman That prays as much as she slaves away At her work, Waiting for the moment when genius Collides with patience. Tonight, when I look at myself in the mirror, I see Superwoman. But some days, I don’t. Those days I notice the stress lines Writing poetry onto her countenance, A message of wisdom and of pain, The kind of pain that rain does not ever Wash away by day. The kind that stays and stays through Long nights and long days until Full novels are written on the white pages Of her flesh. Tonight, when I look at myself in the mirror, I see Superwoman. I see a woman, who knows she’s on thin ice, And enjoys stomping on it, Just to feel the world open beneath her. She knows that when her archenemy returns, His fists will be as thick as the beer on his breath. And she swears that she can feel it burn Beneath her feet as she walks on the hot coals Of his rules, each more cruel than the last. Tonight, when I look at myself in the mirror, I see Superwoman.


But when I don’t, I see my future. I see every gray strand of hair Twisted into knots only boy scouts could untie, Wrapped with the thorns of every lie He ever whispered and every sigh She ever allowed to escape her fragile lips. If they were a package, they would be labeled “Handle With Care,” But there wasn’t much care when he dared To let his hands talk more than his lips. Tonight, when I look at myself in the mirror, I see Superwoman. I see the multicolor bruises fade into the pigments Of her pink flesh, fresh With the tears of another lost dream. Superwoman dreams. Tonight, when she leaves him for a new tomorrow, Drinking down his sorrows with another glass, She looks into the mirror, and she sees a woman. Beautiful and proud, Unable to be too quiet or too loud. Tonight, when I look at myself in the mirror, I see Superwoman. Some nights, she is not so strong. She wonders if he is the soul mate that he claims To be, or if he is just a man that she gives pity, Every time he walks through that door. But some days, she knows that she is on the right path, That she is on the path towards freedom, And that his hateful wrath won’t stop Her from being free. She still racks the aisles of fond memories Until she finds that the only ones that matter Are those that scream their stories From her scars, and the stars never shined So bright as they do tonight. Tonight, when I look at myself in the mirror, I see Superwoman.

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When Superheroes Take Off Their Masks By: Jocelyn Mosman

_________________ It’s been seven months, And I still think about you. I still change Facebook accounts So I can see if you are still smiling In your profile picture, Or if your new girlfriend Makes you happier Than I did when I was The girl occupying your left Side of the photo. It’s been seven months, And I can still smell your Cologne from 2,000 miles away, Remember that your love for Batman was so darn annoying Because I was a Spiderman sort of woman. I remember when it didn’t matter Which superhero was better Because you were the only super Heroic man I needed in my life. And I feel lucky to have seen that side Of you, The Tommy D side of your Nerdy Doctor Who-­‐‑loving addictions. The Assassin’s Creed tattoo On your arm and your white lab coat Of a costume were only part, But I know you had super powers Far greater than Optometrist. I witnessed in my year and a half Of being in your life The promise you had in your heart. It’s been seven months, And I can’t seem to get you out of my head, And I can’t seem to forget the words you said To me when I was lonely, The good morning texts, The stolen kisses, The fighting with the missus, But I knew you better.


I knew that your battle wasn’t between Me and you. I was not your Kryptonite or your Joker. You were not Batman, But you were a juggler. In 18 months, I discovered that You balanced your family, Your school, your work, your girlfriend Like spinning plates, Keeping everything in check, And wondering where your paycheck went Every time you had to pay bills. It’s been seven months, And I hope that you’re one plate lighter, One part less preoccupied with being busy And one part more interested in living. You were a soldier fighting PTSD with Your liver, Because alcohol and late night fights Where we talked about your anger Only made you ask me if Your grandfather would be proud Of the man you’d become. It’s been seven months, And we have not spoken in four. But I still check on you In my quiet little way because Loving a superhero isn’t easy To give up. So, I don’t let you go. I don’t care how caught up In the web of lies and of Imperfect goodbyes I get, Because it’s been seven months, And I kissed you on the cheek When I left you, Another lie piercing through me As I hugged you. It was your birthday the other day, And at 12:04 because Facebook wouldn’t let me Message you at midnight, I wished you a happy 24th birthday. And I know, it’s been seven months, And we have not spoken in four, But I know you read that message.

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I cannot believe that it’s been 2 years since we met, But your birthday gave me a chance And I took the opportunity To wear the Spiderman shirt you gave me, Read over our old messages like Photographs of two people entirely foreign To me now, And pretend to understand How I still think of you when we were marked With fights and cuss words and low blows, But I do still think of you. It’s been seven months, and I’m ready To be the girl who walks away from The adrenaline junkie superhero, From the Risk champion, Sci-­‐‑Fi loving Geek. I know you aren’t perfect, But even after seven months, I haven’t forgotten that my War Doctor Is just a man who is finding love 2,000 miles away With a woman who will always be Better for him than me. It’s been seven months, And I’m sorry, Not for loving you, Not for letting you go, But for never telling you To put down the spinning plates, Take off the mask, And just be Tommy for a while. Because after seven months, I know, You are enough.


Red By Sonja Johanson

_________________ You made me a bad-­‐‑ass, witch-­‐‑ goddess, sword-­‐‑shaker, showed me I could win every battle. True story. You set me on righteous fire, taught me to lie, steal, kill, if that’s what it takes. I rescue children, dice with pirates, beat the wife-­‐‑beaters, drink too much, wake up alone. I’m the good guy, but I never come down on the side of angels.

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Before They Became Shadows Acrylic By: W. Jack Savage


Badman by Catfish McDaris

_________________ The Chinese ribs and duck spring rolls sucked, they left me wondering what animal got murdered in the alley The waitress brought the check when she served, every 5 minutes she scowled and said is everything satisfactory, I was ready to shove a chopstick in her eye The paper Chinese Zodiac placemat held my attention, I was born in the year of the snake, it said I was rich In wisdom and charm, romantic, deep thinking, I would be content as a teacher, philosopher, writer, and fortune teller Notable snakes were Darwin, Edgar Allen Poe, Abraham Lincoln, while leaving the café I dropped a nickel on my plate and bowed like Confucius meeting Buddha.

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Weedman By Catfish McDaris

_________________ Set fire to your nightmares, Quick sang, this one’s called Ode to Marywanna or Death is a Fickle Bitch from Tucumcari When in doubt trust your heart and don’t pet the jackalope, she’s a big bad wolf, a Comanche on the path of a moonquake A bullet proof poet with a speed of light mouth, Quick was a hammerhead shark, if he quit moving he’d die swiftly.


Hercules By Catfish McDaris

_________________ My lady wanted a child, I wasn’t ready, she seduced me, then asked what should we name our baby We’ll name him Hercules, I asked if she knew about Hercules, she said no, Hercules did lots of cool stuff, he strangled a snake sent to kill him while still a baby, he was a bad ass His Adventures were: Killing a fire-­‐‑breathing Cacus Holding up the world for Atlas Wrestling with Achelous Fighting the giant Antaeus Retrieving Alcestis from the underworld Freeing Prometheus His Twelve Labors were: Slaying the Nemean Lion Slaying the nine-­‐‑headed Lernaen Hydra Capturing the Golden Hind of Artemis Capturing the Erymanthian Boar Cleaning the Augean Stables in a single day Slaying the Stymphalian Birds Capturing the Cretan Bull Stealing the Mares of Diomedes Obtaining the girdle of Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons Obtaining the cattle of the monster Geryon Stealing the apples of the Hesperides Capturing and bringing back Cerberus. My lady smiled like she knew the secret to Mona Lisa’s smile.

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Green Lantern Has a Friend in Jesus By Kevin Fisher-­‐‑Paulson

_________________ Today is Fat Tuesday, which the French call Mardi Gras, and the New Orlinians call “Money in the Bank.” It’s the last day before Lent, the 40 days in the Catholic calendar that you’re supposed to fast, abstain and wear hair shirts. When I was little, my mother, Nurse Vivian, called it Pancake Tuesday. Nurse Vivian was the last person on the planet I know who actually could make pancakes from scratch, with no help at all from Aunt Jemima. And every year as she dished up the pancakes, hot from the cast iron frying pan and smothered in butter and Karo syrup, she asked what each of us was giving up for Lent. Pop always answered, "ʺSkydiving and cotton candy."ʺ For forty years, I have given up something fattening, in the hopes that not only can I build up a little spiritual good karma, but save myself a few laps on the treadmill. This year it will probably be red meat, since this will also impress my doctor with regards to my cholesterol. Between them, my two older brothers have more than seven stents. We are a competitive family. Do I really not see myself as angling for eight? So last Sunday was the last Sunday before Lent, which doesn'ʹt mean much to the Catholics reading this, and even less to the Jews, Pagans and agnostics. The only real difference is that it is an "ʺordinary"ʺ Sunday, which means it is the last time for six weeks that the priest wears green vestments. To get the impact of this, you need to know that my sons Zane and Aidan and my husband (Papa) and I have watched four seasons worth of Justice League on DVD. Aidan always sticks his fist out in the air, pretending to be Superman flying. Zane always runs around the house, pretending to be Flash (the African American version of course, which makes him the Flashblack.) He tells me to be Batman and he tells Papa to be Hawkgirl. Wonder Woman and Green Lantern are shared by all. Going to church with Zane and Aidan is like sticking your head in a tornado and hoping to get something spiritual out of it. While trying to keep Zane from turning on the fire alarm and Aidan from swimming in the baptismal font, you don'ʹt focus much on the music or the praying. Papa and I split our forces. Papa takes Aidan into the confessional (no, not the old kind, but the modern kinds with plants and candles) and plays with him, while I chase Zane up and down the steps of the choir loft. Not all of the parishioners get our family, as we are the first married white gay couple to walk into this particular Catholic Church with our black son and our multiple race son. I have learned not to argue with Zane in church. If Zane says, "ʺJesus must be very tired hanging from that cross"ʺ or "ʺWhy are all those men wearing dresses?"ʺ I don'ʹt reason with him, since he usually just yells things like, "ʺDaddy, you'ʹre being mean about Mary!"ʺ and who wants to sit in a church with everyone thinking that you are mean about Mary? So the gospel reading was about the beatitudes, and the priest talked about when he was a little kid in Ohio. He discovered standing on his head, and when he stood on his head, the clouds look like carpet, and the trees look like broccoli hanging onto the sky. “And so,” he concluded, “Sometime in your spiritual journey you have to turn yourself upside down, change your perspective on everything in order to see the real truth.” Well, what Zane heard was "ʺTurn your self upside down!"ʺ and so he started doing handstands down the aisle. Some of the stuffier parishioners gasped. Having paid less attention than Zane, I asked, "ʺZane, why are standing on your head?"ʺ


Zane replied, "ʺDaddy!! Green Lantern told me to do it!"ʺ and he pointed at the priest in the bright green vestments, who with his ring and all, just might have been a member of the intergalactic space corps. I scurried to the back of the church, and Zane followed and the mass progressed. I put my coat on during the Agnus Dei, Zane yelled out, "ʺDaddy!!! Aren'ʹt you going to go get some of the magic food that Green Lantern made?"ʺ It would be hard to sneak out the back door with all eyes on me, so I got in line for the communion, and just as I got to the front, Zane said, "ʺGreen Lantern, can you give my Daddy extra because he was quiet all through the mass?"ʺ The priest nodded, and then leaned down and whispered to Zane, "ʺThank you for paying attention to my sermon."ʺ So there you have it, the lessons of the day: Turn yourself upside down once in a while. And what am I giving up for Lent? Expectations.

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The Power of the Super Hero is in Where You Look By Kathryn Hillig

_________________ I'ʹm tired of the idea Of waging war on cancer. While surely admirable, It is neither super nor heroic. What if On one glorious day Are you listening? Some researcher discovers that The cause of cancer Was one easily remedied elimination Or one easily added addition. What if cancer was all in the math-­‐‑-­‐‑ Elementary that is. What if It was something we evolved into not doing Like what if cancer was caused by Multitasking Or failure to walk barefoot in the grass Or eat dirt before the age of 6 What if some chemical balancing gene occurs Only if we would pray a hallelujah prayer in the morning before 7:00 Or stare deeply into the smiling eyes of a child... Or not go to sleep Until we had pondered the starry sky. What if the cure for cancer was living a life in wonder. What if we decided to be thankful for this life everyday so we didn'ʹt need cancer to learn the lesson That we ARE the shimmer On the sides of new blown bubbles, That our real job is channeling creation; That there is a God in times of peace as well as war.


What if the prevention was to Show up for each other everyday Reach for each other'ʹs hand Just because there is Love That needs expression. As does joy As does pain As does sorrow As does elation And that'ʹs what keeps us cancer free. What if the cure for cancer Was something simple That great minds just overlooked As they peered for hours Into their tiny microscopes. What if? Can you feel the power of it? There is one simple answer. Can you feel the super power of it... Looking somewhere else for "ʺThe Cure?"ʺ

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Clark Has a Plan By Lanette Cadle

_________________ He’s such a stiff and it’s not just the glasses or the 1950s suit that he wears absolutely everywhere. Last night Lois wrote him off for good and he doesn’t know how to deal with that level of success. It’s what he wanted, yet a guy can’t go around saving the world all the time. Some days the world saves you, like the bumblebee. If he hadn’t been busy in high school contemplating how that bee does it—remains stationary in flight while not being aerodynamic at all, he would have missed seeing Lex Luthor lace his sack lunch with sawdust. That boy was such a kidder even then. It evened out eventually. Clark used super sleight-­‐‑of-­‐‑hand and when Lex’s lunch hit the dirt, offered him his. They both went hungry, but there are worse things than that, like growing up to be a supervillain or a hero with a plan, always a plan for every broken heart.


Death of a Super Hero By Lanette Cadle

_________________ She didn’t die so much as ceased to matter. Her costume dwindled to a few rags and spangles and she didn’t leap tall buildings with the same joie de vivre as she did before the muttering, the who does she think she is, Superman? Batman? She needs to get a life, something she thought she had but was mistaken. She takes the bus to crime scenes now, arriving late, her hair sparking flame until she is asked to take notes for the coroner or fetch coffee, and when noticed at all it’s always Who’s the gal with the mazumbas? Boy, would I like to bang on her maracas. Super-­‐‑hearing can be a curse. Lately, she uses her x-­‐‑ray vision to avoid crowds. Her superfriends retired their tights to be teachers, housewives, and nurses, not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it must be hard to do all the dishes by hand and not rock the cradle from across this room. So she heats coffee with her heat ray and invisibly slips paper clues into pockets.

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I Am Titanium By Gillian Kalson

_________________ Before The night before my surgery I dreamed I was a superhero. That’s all I remember, unfortunately, that, and ziplining across cityscapes wearing a cape. Two days later the physical therapist asks if she can drape a second hospital gown across my back, “like a cape, for modesty’s sake,” during our morning walk through the unit. “Sure!” I tell her about my dream and she laughs. Tracy, my roommate, said “you’re walking like a queen today”. She could be right, although my poise is due not to any royal title, but to the new sensation of having a titanium corset binding me at the back of my waist. At first, I fought the titanium screws holding L3, 4 & 5 vertebras together when I stood up for the first time after surgery. I was scared the screws would fall apart. Today, I have surrendered to the screws and as a result, have gained a queendom. These titanium screws, if not my loyal subjects, are now my ministers supporting me and directing me along the path to recovery. I kept the morphine button one day longer than I needed to in the hospital. I realized after surgery that my pain increased whenever I tried to stand up and hang on to the muscle memory surrounding those missing injured discs. But, their memory doesn’t serve me anymore. Once I learned to trust the titanium screws aligning my spine and relax into both sides of my newly fused vertebrae, I was able to start the healing process and welcome new muscle memory into that tender area. L3-­‐‑L4 & L4-­‐‑L5 These pesky discs have got to go They have buffered blows like shocks on an automobile Meeting the gravelly and potholed paths of my past head and spine on My lumbar limits me now Where once it served as a source of envy, “how low can you go?” It now screams as I stand and I can no longer ignore it I hate snakes Yet that is who we are Left with our spines alone They serve as a constant reminder That even we exquisite mammals crawled on our bellies once this serpentine support system slithering into every new niche we encounter “Ms. Kalson, we’re going to be monitoring you like a hawk in there. You have nothing to worry about,” one of the anesthesiologist’s assures me with a smile before we enter the operating room. Somehow she has just managed to make me feel better and I sigh with relief. I liked her, she was friendly and smart, but appeared a tad bit nervous. This could be a lingering effect of the obvious enthusiasm she feels for her job.


A sudden recollection flashed across my mind as we headed into the bright florescent lights. The last thing my primary care doctor said to me as he was leaving the exam room last week after my pre-­‐‑op was, “see you on the other side!” This has got to be the worst thing you can say to a person about to go under local anesthesia for a four-­‐‑hour surgery. Will I get to see the “other side” this morning? What an adventure. The Other Side The morning after the surgery, I woke up with the stigmata, and a catheter. I had at least four IVs in various places in my body; one was in my right foot, two were in my left arm. The morphine drip kept beeping when I bent my arm because I was cutting off the flow. I felt as if there is a metal crane underneath me, pushing up into my spine, lying in the hospital bed. I guess this was the best position for my body to start healing in order to, “make it straight, damn it!!” I channeled my grandfather. He also had several spinal fusions back in the nineteen-­‐‑forties and fifties. I imagine him in the hospital yelling at the doctors and nurses and being the general terror that I remember. I tried adjusting my body just a little bit the first day and almost shrieked from the pain emanating from the six inch incision skating vertically down the my lower back. I’ve got my battle scars now and insurance paid for them all. Ghost Pain I recall it was… Like a lightning streak through my hip down the front and back thigh cutting fast between my right knee, searing my shin and twisting my middle toe in two. And, now it’s over, incision made and still the pain’s memory is imprinted on my mind and body’s canvas such that I still feel it. Yet, new glorious sensation floods my right thigh now, like rain pools forming in the desert, dry nerve root trees soak up the space newly devoid of bulging discs and spasming muscles. When he caresses my right thigh my whole body convulses for a second and is shocked to feel there after years of frozen flesh. My roommate, Tracy, is a deeply spiritual Christian who was raised in South Carolina. She is a middle-­‐‑aged African-­‐‑American woman who learned that the tumor they removed from her brain, just days ago, was benign. She tells me stories of her childhood in South Carolina. Her mother would give tea parties and dress her and her sister up every week for church and for High Tea. I imagine young ladies and girls of the 1950s and 60s with lace-­‐‑fringed socks, shiny patent leather shoes, pink crinoline dresses adorning their radiant dark complexions, light fabric fluttering in the sun. Three days after I came home from the hospital a nurse called me to check in and see how I was recovering. I shared the fear, still lingering in the back of my mind, that I am going to break myself, the screws, my vertebrae, by brushing my teeth, rolling over in bed, standing up and, of course, having sex. “You’re not fragile,” she said. No, I’m not. I am Titanium. Where’s my cape?

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Plastic Man'ʹs Hymn to the Aesthetic Beauty Center By Michael Karl

_________________ Sexier than a sting ray in Bermuda, Flatulent yet strung out on raw ether, I flaunt my mutability to stay neuter With more ass than you'ʹd care to remember. I lurk beside hoods and crooked dicks, Shoot craps and split the ambiguity, Shape shifting among schizophrenics, Flashing serial killers with rapier nudity. Crime-­‐‑fighting in upper or under classes, The deuce I'ʹll ever serve a warped racket On red and yellow acid behind dark glasses! My pal Woozy takes comfort from his straight-­‐‑jacket. Cheeks smoothed over by collagen therapy, Whoever is too beautiful becomes ugly; Me, I'ʹm diagonal in a zigzag cacophony, Transitioning between genders quite snugly.


Batman Jesus By Chad Parenteau

_________________ Batman Jesus gives you literal leaps of faith. Batman Jesus is not Batman barring continuity changes. Batman Jesus has rotating membership. Batman Jesus may be Batman'ʹs son. There'ʹs some debate. Batman Jesus places his faith in the hands of reader polls. Batman Jesus can come back to double as prodigal son. back for revenge, mad at his lord'ʹs imposed survivor'ʹs guilt. Batman Jesus wears stigmata red, thorn crown green and enough yellow for making halos to die at dawn. For Batman so loved fans that he gives his latest begotten for an uptick in sales and 50 cent hotlines.

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The Hobbyist 3D digital rendering/solid modeling By Nick Romeo


The Spawn of Fett

3D digital rendering/solid modeling By Nick Romeo

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League of Extraordinary Women By Chris Billings

_________________ I may not have had superheroes on my underwear but I did have one who washed my underwear she also fed me cared for me disciplined me when I was wrong praised me when I did something well raised five children all while living with the knowledge she would not see any of us reach adulthood I had one who took me into her home treated me like a part of her family made me her son acted like a mother not just because I married her daughter but because that was the kind of person she was and it was hard when her powers started to fade because I didn’t want to watch her go I have one who took a scared, insecure young man gave him the confidence to become who I’ve become she’s my lover my best friend who, for the past 35 years, when I’ve gone to sleep has still been there the next morning loving me and though she doesn’t laugh at my jokes anymore she encourages me to keep telling them


I have two who, as children, allowed me to impart what knowledge I could upon them trusted me believed in me and watching them make their own way in life they instill me with pride and joy and humility because now both are teaching me as much as I was ever able to teach them They may not have worn capes or colorful costumes they may not have had super strength or powers to fly or save the world but they saved me time and again in my fight against right and wrong, good and evil and they all possess powers beyond comprehension, these, my superheroes, the League of Extraordinary Women

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Figure Eight By Laurie Kolp

_________________ My son learned how to use knives in cub scouts carving soap. One day he borrowed a bar of Ivory and whittled away while whistling (because he knew how & his older siblings did not). When his work was complete, he walked up to me and showed me what looked like a figure eight, his smile wider than mine. It could have been a cloud, a snowman or white polar bear an off-­‐‑color peanut or wavy gray hair. Maybe a slip knot or the obvious— his age. I love it, I said, explain it to me. Can'ʹt you see, Mommy, it’s infinity our love for one another that will never die like Grandma did.


I’m No Wonder Woman By Laurie Kolp

_________________ Dear long continuous Pilates class, don’t you know my summertime kids yank my arms and legs here and there with moves impossible to follow even after sixteen years held in this plank? They sculpt lavish plans come June, plans to improve core relationships within the family. Vacations turn to one-­‐‑day treks turn to staycations. Lunches spin from vegetables to nuked junk. Weekly movies pump weakened budgets only to become You Tube videos. In July, I gasp for fresh air green air filled with money used on unused gym memberships. Muscles strain my fleeting thoughts can’t stay together when, as August nears, frequent sibling spats roll unfavorable results. I scramble for the swan but only find a hundred reasons why a hundred breaths won’t bring me back to center.

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Wonder Woman’s Website By Deborah Bacharach

_________________

I like to tie men up, the men who like to get tied up by women like me, bounty rising behind great gates. I can flow like Ponce de Leon'ʹs fountain, brush the edge of your fingertips. I am the invisible airplane; you just missed the lift off. My waist is cinched like mother'ʹs wine glasses in the good cabinet. You can get down on your knees, look through the paned windows. You may beg, panting on your knees, to touch my star spangled Amazon island-­‐‑-­‐‑ hot beaches, deep lagoons. Just try to take that next step closer. I have the golden rope right here, the one that pulls the truth from you; you want this wanting and not getting. You want me in long red boots running you down, the lasso hovering, a wrap and a slap, grounded, out of control, hard breathing. If you'ʹre good, and you'ʹre good when I tell you you'ʹre good, you may lick my golden wrists. All major credit cards accepted.


Wonder Woman Photoshop By Francesa Davis

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sagres By Ian Watts

_________________ Grandma, Mama and us kids were supposed to meet Great-­‐‑Grandma and Auntie Ginger at Aloha Tower. We put on our Sunday clothes even though it was Saturday. You could pick out the Portagee kids in the crowd because we all looked proper. Moms wore make-­‐‑up and pretty dresses. Dads were all pressed and shaven. Mama even put on her perfume that made her smell like the forest after it rained. All the way past Makalapa gate Mama and Grandma talked and slipped into Pidgin like when their men weren’t around. Father would get so mad and call them damned Portuguese like they had the plague or worse. He was at work at Pearl, so he couldn’t hear “the” become “da” and them speaking with the same melody as the mynah birds in the mango tress. We stood in a line to tour a ship. Yet another ship. I don’t see why we had to dress up for a ship. It was a tall one with three masts: A barque. All the sheets were taken in and it was painted gleaming white. I looked up and saw her name, Sagres, on a wooden placard. I couldn’t pronounce the word in my mind. I asked Grandma. She said, saw-­‐‑grey. I asked, where’d the S go. She said, it’s there, you have to listen harder. I repeated saw-­‐‑grey to my little brother and sister. I asked Mama what that green and red flag at the bow meant since I’d never seen it before. Grandma broke in and told me this boat was from Portugal. She said Pour-­‐‑two-­‐‑gaul like she had cotton in her mouth, not Poor-­‐‑chew-­‐‑gull like how Grandfather says. Portugal, The Portugal? I asked. The very place, Grandma said. I was so excited I almost cried. Envoys from another land, my homeland, are here. Messengers from the storyland are on a white ship that sailed from the other side of the world are here! They’re here and I’m steps away from the ladder that will take me aboard! My heart swelled with love and pride. Chinese ladies fanned themselves vigorously, walked slowly saying ai ya and spit red crack-­‐‑seed on the quay while the Hāoles with their cameras and white legs stopped the line to take photos of themselves in matching aloha shirts at the gangplank. I wanted to push them all aside and run on deck. Maybe the sailors would take me back with them to my homeland. I waved to a man dressed like a British sailor looking down from the railing. He waved back and tossed a cigarette into the water.


Who Knew That Man Could Stop Bullets? By Ryan Anthony Summers

_________________ Superhero. Panties. Pantyhose. Capes. Good hair. All-­‐‑American. The champions all come from Olympus, or the good side of the urban sprawl (across the tracks), or a space station, and fight the darkness devouring the world (it'ʹs too brown, chocolate brown), the demons (Michael Brown), the Dr. Doom and gloom and Superhero. I wanted to be a superhero, one above all, but I couldn'ʹt fly and couldn'ʹt play sidekick after my side was kicked in a beating on the curb lining the avenue of Martin Luther King. Who knew that man could stop bullets, like he was a Superhero? He stopped a bullet. A bullet stopped him. Krypton is dead. Chris Kyle is dead. Why'ʹd they have to pluck the petals from my rose is dead and Sharon is no Superhero. I could see the fire in his eyes and the stake I am tied to, tied down, magnetic attraction to Diana of Themascira made up but that Amazon, she was cut down to make room for a real Superhero.

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Real Life Super Heroes By Rie Sheridan Rose

_________________ Real life superheroes Don’t know how to fly… Without a plane Or at least a helicopter. They aren’t impervious To knives or bullets, But they charge into the fray To protect the weak anyway. Batman Superman Green Arrow Flash Comic book heroes Face comic book foes Comic book problems Comic book woes. Real life superheroes Don’t wear spandex Or tights or a cape. They wear cotton and Kevlar. Policemen Firemen Doctors Parents… Real life superheroes Make the comic books Seem tame.


Gotta Save ‘Em All By Adam Sprague

_________________ I failed to save a soul today and watched their last breath leave their lips, too many people to save I say they'ʹre slipping through my fingertips.

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My Genetic Scientist Ex-­‐‑Nun Grandmother By Audrey T. Carroll

_________________ The card in my dresser drawer holds a simple message written in a lovingly crafted script: Since your 10th Birthday, Autumn always reminds me of you. I would see red leaves & do "ʺPretend Walks and Talks"ʺ with you. When I was nine years old my mother'ʹs sister was married and my father broke ties with the whole maternal side of my family. I was supposed to be a flower girl, but we weren'ʹt even allowed to go to the wedding. When I think of my grandmother, I consider the evening I spent in a convent. My all-­‐‑girls Catholic high school had a club that all of us were convinced was actually a secret nun recruitment system. I think about the silence so fierce it felt as though it were built into the walls. Even when I was walking with a close friend down those halls, speaking was unimaginable. It'ʹs hard to remember what I was thinking of in those moments. Were some of those thoughts and feelings shared with my grandmother who had lived in a place like this forty years earlier before deciding to marry my grandfather? Did she worry that she wouldn'ʹt get the scholarship she needed to go to college? No; she had already become a nurse. Did she consider her lack of independence, that she might just fall into the walls one day, get absorbed up into them and no one would ever find her again? Maybe. How odd the shift must have been from her dependence on God to her co-­‐‑dependence with my grandfather. I can say with absolute certainty that she did not play "ʺDid you ever"ʺ with the girls from Stella Mattress and suddenly feel like the most sheltered kid ever dropped on the face of the planet. I think. I think of the woman who she became—not only a nurse or a twice-­‐‑over nun or a wife, but the mother of four children and grandmother to five, the genetic scientist who lived in Woodhaven and birthed the term "ʺproficient worrier."ʺ The woman who treated her daughter and grandchildren to their first Disney World visit as a celebration of her daughter'ʹs Master'ʹs degree and then told us to Seek shelta at the slightest hint of gray skies. I think of the woman who sent poinsettias for Christmas—was I 9? 10?—and signed it from Mr. and Mrs. Claus. She'ʹd hoped that my father wouldn'ʹt intercept the flowers with his embargo against my mother'ʹs family. The message was that she still loved us and missed us dearly—I didn'ʹt get to read it, but I know that now—and my father would have none of it. Later my grandmother would tell me that she and my grandfather wanted to sue for visitation rights for me and my brother, but they didn'ʹt want to put us through that. All those years I was told she didn'ʹt love us. And, when the world can'ʹt give you enough, while her daughter is not allowed to speak to her she becomes a widow. Her grandchildren lose their grandfather and are unable to attend his funeral. Her daughter leaves a note with the casket for my grandmother'ʹs dead husband. My grandmother pursues my mother after the funeral, but my father is quick to whisk her away into his car, my grandmother'ʹs sole opportunity to reunite with her daughter and her grandchildren ripped away on the same day that they bury her husband in the ground.


When I finally meet her again after over a decade apart and she hugs me, I can feel in the grip of it the years of lost time that will never be recovered, the grandfather I never said goodbye to, the fear that she would never see us again—all alleviated. I think of the nervous habits—all the Be careful with the children and You'ʹre makin'ʹ Nana nervous—and see the nerves passed down to me through my mother. Putting it in perspective, it seems like the nerves are halved with each new generation, but still very much so present. From Seek shelta to What'ʹs that cough about? to I must triple-­‐‑check that the front door is locked or I'ʹll think about it all day. That'ʹs what we are. A legacy of nerves. Nerves and stubbornness. I think of the woman who panicked when she discovered I was moving to tornado alley, who told me that she insisted as a child the state'ʹs name was pronounced "ʺAr-­‐‑kansas,"ʺ because why else would Kansas be pronounced that way? I wonder where I might have these "ʺpretend talks"ʺ with Grams. Her silver hair might match the strong steely buildings back in New York, but I don'ʹt have the same benefit of leaves. And my mind wanders back to the convent I visited once before I knew her again, when my grandfather was still alive. I can close my eyes and think of those still and empty halls and imagine her among them, imagine the girl before the woman, imagine the life she would go on to lead. I pretend-­‐‑ask her if I can accomplish half as much and tell her that the title of my memoir won'ʹt have the same ring as the one I imagine for her: My Genetic Scientist Ex-­‐‑Nun Grandmother.

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Captain America Copic Markers By Natasha Reeves


We All Love The Underdog By Wayne Russell

_________________ we all love the underdog America really loves that kind of shit you know the rags to riches stories of those that beat unbelievably difficult odds like... (the sadistic alcoholic father and the clinically insane mother) you know those underdogs that beat unbelievably difficult odds only to ascend to the top of their hard fought for and well earned careers and when that underdog has risen to the top where they sweat and longed to be all their lives we (the people) love to knock them right off that pedestal we love to pull that posh rug right out from underneath their feet people love to see a success story until that success scares the shit out of them

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The Guy With The Coffee By Sean Wofford

_________________ My head is a mausoleum, a heavy, useless structure, wavering at the top of my frame. It’s 7:08 in the morning. No, 7:09! As usual, I opted for the snooze button in lieu of simply getting up like an adult and so I was running a bit late. I crawl into my car, the floor of which is a mobile monument to every fast food joint in town. Old cups and crinkled up wrappers adorn the carpet like confetti after a parade. The rainy Tuesday morning is a blurry jumble to my tired eyes. The street ahead looks like some crummy student’s attempt at impressionism. If I was not so accustomed to driving half-­‐‑awake, some might consider what I was doing irresponsible or dangerous. But those people are stupid. My little car soldiers on through the wet streets. I pull into the convenience store around the corner from my apartment. Too tired to care, I leave my hood down as I slump through the rain. My movements are automatic as I enter the store, turn down the first aisle, cut through the drink section, and approach the coffee bar. As I struggle to keep my eyelids open, I feel my hands thrust out before me, grab a paper cup, a little cardboard sleeve, slip it on, and then grab the coffee pot. My hands tip it over but no sound is heard and the cup feels no heavier. My body begins to react in alarm! My spine straightens, my eyes open, my neurons begin to fire away, making their first connection of the morning, and I realize, there’s no coffee! Not an ounce! A sip! A drop! I slam the pot back into its station and frantically search the counter. There’s nothing to be found except a pot of decaf. Decaf! The single most blasphemous beverage ever concocted, right up there with non-­‐‑alcoholic beer and skim milk! I feel my chest begin to heave. My breathing grows heavy. I struggle to accept this cruel universe we inhabit and in despair, I throw my face into my hands. I lean down against the coffee bar and silently weep. Suddenly, the heavenly aroma of freshly brewed Columbian beans dances around my nose. I perk up and see a little man in an apron replacing the empty pot with a fresh one. Filled to the brim with boiling hot black coffee! My weeping continues but now they are tears of joy! I hug the little man and shower him with my gratitude as he squirms away from me and shouts curses in his native tongue. I pour myself a big cup and hold it up in cheers for my hero, the guy with the coffee.


When Superman Changes In The Phone Booth (Coming Out Gay At 50) By Dylan Debelis Carry to the teeth underground sprockets pop come for air. Bad signage on the underpass teenage stained slipping sundress tight til moon crush venetian glass feel ladybug jarred asphyxiate. Cough wriggle spell last name backwards until the hiccups recede quick chatter cold spine shiver lazy eye tracing manhood mead thick chutney what country you came from coastline jigsaw melt. Slow climb to summit clutter bones windchimes middle school groping letting go kite strings love rings even louder now maybe I cradled softer skin choose to live again into dirty chai and marmalade spread eyeliner kneads transformation. Butterfly weak metaphor was never what words was for the taking you and I from angel granted granting resurrection dimly burned charcoal cutout Marriott midnights wives tucked jeans pockets swollen bathtub rooms away. Your stubble spry ready willing tainted sweet undone tongue lash night in gulps. Only two more months til sunrise.

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Once Again I’m The Hero By Donald Illich

_________________ Tonight the plane crashes I’m out of there like a flash carrying the baby on fire, smoking, cut up and bloody but strong, brave, courteous, kind fire engines arrive just as I escape explosion! I hand off the child can’t stick around for my medal because a hostage crisis I hear on the radio of the car I borrow sorry, big emergency, babe I slide parallel parking without even looking between the black and whites the frightened people the police skeptical do you have training? Christ! I talk the gunman out remember your dear old mom? would she want you to kill the cheerleading team? she makes the kind of meatloaf you’ll have in prison pompoms confetti around me when I help the girls out whatever can we do for you we’re staying at this room number I wish I could check it out I have a football game my limo driver is Batman get in Robin hold this pigskin the arena screams I enter in my uniform gladiator! it’s fourth down last play of the Super Bowl my number is called I run it in with no sweat dodge tacklers, insult their moms, girlfriends, as I twirl around with ease the flashbulbs excitement everyone screams my name no time for Disneyland, though I hold the trophy once my high school talent show is raging across town in my Porsche I kick it burn rubber near teachers who gave me a D in gym screw them, I have a guitar the band fears I wouldn’t show up hell, yes, I’m rocking! Iron Maiden, “Running Free” turns into Metallica, “Fade to Black” greatest riffs of all time play lead, rhythm, and bass da da duh da da duh “sirens wail, I’m running free, I was me, but now I’m gone!” Vick Probst the school cheer mascot pushes her boyfriend Al Schmolinski away he’s so dreamy lights shut off at the end back on, claps, whistling, lighters, offers to have my children I can’t stick around because the alien saucer above Stebbins H.S. light glowing on my face


“Attention, earthlings, only Donald Illich can rescue our planet from certain destruction. His incredible mind and physique are the only things standing between us and certain destruction.” I’m pulled up by the tractor beam I shout Vulcan live long and prosper speech promise to give the Klingons, Romulans hell! you’re in your house wrapped in pink covers safe and sound I want to wave goodbye you’re too far away now in dreams where you’re the heroine telling the white knight where to stick it killing it in basketball raging against the machine I’m not in your fantasies you’re not in mine I can save everything here even a world but I can’t save us.

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The Joker Pastel Crayons, Paint, Photoshop By Anushree Nande


Grind Time Fantasy Mirage By David S. Pointer

_________________ Psychic superheroes inherent inside systemic overcompliance: embryogenesis cells screaming for justice and more Geiger counter trainers to warn us of gentle doctors, and their radioactive medical test mythology cannibalizing mass X-­‐‑rayed parts for healthy profits

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_________________ The Win Comic Art (Paper/Pens/Magic Markers) By Luis Neer


The Secret of the Red Wedding By Hilary King

_________________ The secret of the Red Wedding is that it was secret at all. That the early adapters, the readers! the hardy George R.R. Martineers who hiked up all those names and places and wars and rapes and Joffrey and more war and more rape and Roose worse than Joffrey kept quiet through three seasons, to then sit silent while their lover or friend watched what they thought was going to be a wedding. my husband taking my hand as my heart is stopped by slaughter.

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Chair Stealer and Tickle Finger By Brad Murgen

_________________ Whose chair is this? Oh that'ʹs mine Thanks! No no no give it back that'ʹs my chair Daddy! I'ʹm not Daddy, I'ʹm Chair Stealer And I like this chair It'ʹs super comfy It'ʹs mine thanks! I'ʹll stop you! Impossible! How can you stop me? Chair Stealer cannot be defeated I'ʹm invincible Tickle Finger can! Tickle Finger isn'ʹt here And I'ʹve turned off my tickle zones Her powers will be useless Nuh uh here she comes now it'ʹs Tickle Finger! You called? Pfft go away, Tickle Finger I'ʹm enjoying my new chair Get him Tickle Finger get Chair Stealer! See? It doesn'ʹt work You'ʹre wasting your time, Tickle Finger Ah... this chair is so comfy... Hey Stop No No fair I thought I turned them off—


Tickle Finger turned them back on! No... no no that tickles stop— Get out of my chair and she'ʹll stop! No, how are... HEY how did you get in the chair that was MINE! Thanks Tickle Finger for saving my chair! Don'ʹt hesitate to call on Tickle Finger, sweetie She always wins Yeah! No one can survive against the power of Tickles Not even Daddy Grrr it seems you win this round, Tickle Finger But I'ʹll be back You haven'ʹt heard the last of Chair Stealer!

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A Graphic Novel in Six Chapters By Adam Kotlarczyk

_________________ 1. A giant, fire-­‐‑spewing robot terrorizes a factory in an American city. Iron Man flies down from the sky. “I can’t let you do that,” he says. He shoots energy beams from his hands into the giant, fire-­‐‑spewing robot. It collapses. The factory’s problems are solved. “We love you, Iron Man!” cry the workers. “I have to get a burrito now,” says Iron Man. # 2. A genetically modified mutant Sharkaconda™ attacks an American ghetto. Spider-­‐‑Man swoops in on a web rope. He shoots webs out of his hands and captures the Sharkaconda™ in a sticky, unbreakable web. “Ungh,” says the Sharkaconda™. It has trouble talking on account of the shape of its mouth. “Just another day for your friendly, neighborhood Spider-­‐‑Man,” says Spider-­‐‑Man. # 3. A madman threatens to blow up the World Series. Batman pilots in a stealth bomber. It’s black and shaped like a bat. A rope shoots out and lassos the madman. Batman disarms the bomb. The crowd goes wild. “I’ll be watching,” growls Batman. He sounds like he has something in his throat. Like maybe a racquetball. “He’s the hero we deserve,” says a fan with a tattoo. “Yeah,” says the boy next to him, “Fictional.” # 4. Back at the Batcave, Batman, Spider-­‐‑Man, and Iron-­‐‑Man have a drink and chat about their days. It’s really a bit of a Good Old Boys club. They drink scotch, neat. “What’s wrong with your voice?” Spider-­‐‑Man asks Batman. “It sounds like you swallowed a racquetball.” Before he can answer, there’s a knock at the Batcave. In walk the giant, fire-­‐‑spewing robot, the madman, and Sharkaconda™. “We’ve had enough of all this,” says the madman. “Have some scotch,” says Iron Man. “We’re tired of losing,” says the Sharkaconda™. His articulation is much better now. “So you came here to fight us again?” asks Spider-­‐‑Man. “I think we all know how that will turn out,” says Iron Man. Spider-­‐‑Man and Batman laugh. But the madman, fire-­‐‑spewing robot, and Sharkaconda™ are undeterred.


“We don’t want to fight,” says the madman. “We just want to know why you fight us.” “Because you’re evil,” says Batman. “Because you hurt innocent people,” says Spider-­‐‑Man. “Nothing else to do,” says Iron Man. “You see,” says Sharkaconda™, “We just think there are bigger problems in the world than us. We aren’t even real. And we have our own problems.” “Yeah,” says Sharkaconda. “Where’s the superhero to help us?” He sounds despondent. “What problems can you possibly have?” Batman growls. “I have bad teeth,” says Sharkaconda. “When I don’t have my good dentures in, everything I say sounds like ‘ungh.’” “That makes sense,” says Spider-­‐‑Man. “You should have brushed,” says Iron Man. “Tell me about it. But my employer health plan doesn’t include dental.” Batman, Spider-­‐‑Man, and Iron Man are aghast. “What about him?” asks Iron Man, pointing to the madman. “Freddy? He’d be fine but he can’t afford his medication.” “Medication?” Iron Man asks. “Antipsychotics,” says Freddy the madman, embarrassed. “And antidepressants. My serotonin reuptake is uninhibited. Maybe my norepinephrine, too.” Batman, Spider-­‐‑Man, and Iron Man agree this is terrible. “Maybe you can help with my medicines?” asks Freddy the madman, looking up at Batman and Iron Man. “I hear your alter egos are rich?” “Er,” says Batman. “Um,” says Iron Man. Freddy hangs his head again. “That still leaves the fire-­‐‑spewing robot,” says Spider-­‐‑Man. “I’m supposed to work on cars,” he says. “On an assembly line. But all those jobs are in Mexico and China now.” For a moment, they all sit there nipping at their scotch. It’s a lot to think about. “Maybe he’s right,” says Spider-­‐‑Man. Batman and Iron Man look up hopefully. “Maybe we’re chasing the wrong problems altogether. Everything we do is just so…sensational.” Iron Man and Batman nod and mumble their agreement. “Now that I think about it,” says Batman, “Iron Man and I could probably help more people through philanthropy and paying higher taxes than all our vigilantism put together. It’s easier on the body, too.” Batman has bad knees. “Maybe,” says Iron Man, draining his scotch and flinging the glass across the Batcave, “We act serious but distract people from the subtle, real threats to the world.” “People need distractions,” says Batman. “You’re right,” says Spider-­‐‑Man to Freddy, Sharkaconda, and the robot. “We’re all in this together. It’s time –“ “—past time—“ “—past time that we started working together, realizing that all this silly fantasy does is keep us from addressing more serious issues. It’s escapism, pure and simple. It just casts a somber façade over childish whims and fantasies. We feel like we’re doing something, but we’re not. Why, if we worked half as hard–“

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“-­‐‑There’s nothing stopping us!” cries Batman. “Unless…” says Iron Man. “Unless?” say Batman and Spider-­‐‑Man together. “Unless there’s some force out there, something that keeps us going, something stronger than us that prefers sensational solutions to imaginary problems over dull solutions to real ones.” “Couldn’t be,” says Batman. “That’s not the force we need.” # 5. Just then the door to the Batcave bursts open. There stand Spider-­‐‑Man, Batman, and Iron Man. “Who the hell are you?” ask the first Spider-­‐‑Man, Batman, and Iron Man. “We are the Reboots,” says the new Batman. “You can go now. We’ll take it from here.” “Over our dead bodies,” growls Old Batman. “What’s wrong with your voice?” says New Batman. “Never mind. You can’t beat us.” They fight. Old Batman, Old Spider-­‐‑man, and Old Iron Man are defeated by New Batman, New Spider-­‐‑man, and New Iron Man. They never had a chance, really. “Soon everyone will forget all about you,” says New Iron Man. “I already feel simple,” says Old Spider-­‐‑Man. “Underdeveloped.” “I myself feel trite and dated,” says Old Iron Man. “A caricature of my era.” “My voice sounds funny,” says Old Batman. Then they disappear. # 6. Batman, Spider-­‐‑Man, and Iron Man glare menacingly at the madman, Sharkaconda™, and the fire-­‐‑ spewing robot. “We’ll give you to the count of ten, then we’re coming after you,” says Spider-­‐‑Man. “Why?” says the madman. “Because you’re evil,” growls Batman. The fire-­‐‑spewing robot sighs deeply. “What do we do now?” Sharkaconda™ asks. “You better start running,” says Iron Man. “We better start running,” says the fire-­‐‑spewing robot. They run.


_________________ Gambit Photoshop By Remie James

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The Sniper By Jay Sizemore

_________________ He knows the truth about God’s plan. Crouched in knolls of tall brown grass or in the penumbra of nameless crumbling towers, rifle perched just beyond the lip of a stone window sill and safe from heaven’s give-­‐‑away glare, he waits. He waits while the line of shadow and light inches its way across the ground, waging its endless war. He knows it doesn’t matter which side you choose to stand on, the other will win half the time. In the village of his last assignment, they’ve roped off the wall outside the church, not to retain evidence of the crime, but to preserve the image of Jesus that appeared in the spatter of blood and brain, dried between flakes of white paint and rock, where the minister’s head exploded like a lightbulb filled with salsa. He thought the Rorschach pattern of dark crimson and sun-­‐‑bleached mud looked more like Willie Nelson. What irony that the villagers mourned him, crossed themselves when passing the site of his death, prayed with hands up outside the wall, like a third-­‐‑world Mecca to martyrdom, not knowing their lost prophet was responsible for the beheadings of countless children in a drug-­‐‑war that left no room for new competition. He doesn’t always know why he’s pulling the trigger, he just listens to the voice in his ear. It’s not the voice of God. It changes from the throaty rasp


of a cigar-­‐‑chewing hard ass to the refined nasal tone of a Harvard med-­‐‑school drop out, coming between the crackles and pops of static between miles and miles of whispers. He is not the angel of Death, but his manicured hands know the silence. His weapon is not a flaming sword, raining down vengeance for blasphemy. His weapon is patience. His weapon is precision. His weapon is poetry. He waits through the sounds of breezes sliced into ribbons of sighs by the razored edges of weeds, waits through the mists of rains that drive the birds from the sky and push the dust to the earth, waits through the pains of hunger and thirst that coil in his guts like electric springs. He waits for the next face to stroll into the crosshairs, waits for the whisper that tells him to breathe. That night, he’s washed his hands, six shots of whiskey bring a dreamless sleep. He knows it doesn’t matter which side you choose to stand on, the other will win half the time.

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Captain Beatty As George Bush By Jay Sizemore

_________________ It was a pleasure to burn, to smolder, to murder words, combustible thoughts heaped in piles like lifeless birds, to see black roses bloom in the white, imaginary sky, bleeding outward, petals withering with cancer of the mind. It was a pleasure. Gasoline vapors stinging my eyes, the charred ideas danced like drunken fireflies in the searing heat of righteous Conformity. What are these words, these keepers of names, intangible things that set fires in the brain? They are uncontrollable, and they must be snuffed out. I am the man for the job. I tried to warn him; I could see the glisten of betrayal in his eyes, that vague shape of fear draped over the itch of curiosity. I told him what they were: A siren song chorus of meaningless screams, promises leading to the pitfall of dreams, but he wouldn’t listen. They never do. He sealed his fate with the turn of a page sucked in by the current that suffocates like the clenched fist of rage. And now I have to kill him.


He’ll regret the day he took this foray into the unknown jungle of the black and the grey. The long dead hands of Shakespeare and Poe, Faulkner, Chaucer, and Thoreau, will welcome him with a cold embrace, a tired, old cliché. He preferred their company anyway, but his ghosts could not protect him, that’s why he ran away. Ha! Let him run! He has no home! The ice-­‐‑like grip of night and bone will find him curled in the darkness alone. Cringed against the wall of doubt, the soulless shrieks of the mechanical hound, we’ll find his flame, we’ll smoke him out! Mark my words: this terrorist will pay. I will not rest, I will not sleep until once more, there are no secrets to keep. The people are safe, the people obey and once more they are free to stay in the soft, warm mouth of security. I am the man for the job.

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Chronic By Laura Ring

_________________

Superheroes’ powers are a consolation prize for pain. Toxic waste. Gamma radiation. Planetary exile. Still, as booby prizes go, they’re pretty sweet. Inhuman strength, the ability to fly, other stranger gifts. Sometimes the powers are dormant, and appear at the moment of need – loved ones in peril, lack of oxygen, apocalypse. I’m still waiting for mine to show themselves. There’s a cartoon knot on my skull from a childhood blow to the head – a beacon that telegraphs migrainous signals in a rhythm I can’t decode. But I know that when the time comes, when my need is great, the knot will unravel its dark threads and turn my pain to power. Mind-­‐‑reading, maybe, or x-­‐‑ray vision. I know I can’t choose, but I hope it’s teleportation. There are so many places I want to go.


Better Man By Charles Darnell

_________________ I look back to misty nights And early mornings Before the sun was up, But he was up long before. Black coffee in the same chipped cup, His breakfast , and maybe a Camel, The tip glowing in the gloom. His dented hardhat already on his head, He winks at me and heads for the door. Lunchbox filled with his p and j’s And an over-­‐‑ripe banana, He sits heavily behind the wheel And checks the lights. The truck gives a tired turnover And sparks to life with a little gas. He backs out the drive, Waves a left hand to wife and kids, Heading for a blue-­‐‑collar world, To be broken down in time, His way of delivering love, And still a better man than I’ve become.

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I may not have had superheroes on my underwear but I did have one who washed my underwear she also fed me cared for me disciplined me when I was wrong praised me when I did something well raised five children all while living with the knowledge she would not see any of us reach adulthood‌


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