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YELLOW CHAIR REVIEW

Pop

Culture Issue 2015


Yellow Chair Review Pop Culture Issue - December 2015 Editor: Sarah Frances Moran Assistant Editor: Kiera Collins Copyright Š 2015 ISSN: 2380-7091

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YCR NEWS AND ANNOUNCEMENTS

Our Pop Culture issue wraps up 2015 for Yellow Chair Review. We’re so very proud of what we’ve accomplished in this very fast 7 months. Since May we’ve released 8 issues and gained hundreds of contributors. When I decided back in May that I wanted to start YCR I never would have imagined it would have grown as quickly as it has. Our chapbook competition was another huge surprise. We had well over 100 submissions. Our winner should be announced before the New Year and with 2016 YCR will enter into a whole new world of publishing. PRINT! We’ll be releasing the Chapbook from our first competition winner and also our anthology for 2015. Both are expected to release in early 2016 and no later than Spring 2016. The New Year will bring some significant changes to the format of YCR. When we started, the monthly issue was feasible, we were small. The volume of submissions and interest are making that monthly deadline very difficult. We’ll be moving to quarterly issues and hopefully a larger online presence on Wordpress. This means we’ll take separate submissions for our Issue content and for our Online content. It is also in the plans to host another Chapbook Contest come Spring/Summer of 2016. We thank you for welcoming us in 2015 and hope that you continue to read and share in our journey. Please stay tuned for all the changes to come and enjoy this issue full of Pop Culture goodiness!

Sarah Frances Moran Editor-In-Chief

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CONTENTS On The Cover: !

Yellow Chair Review Vault Boy /Steve Veracruz

My White Housemates Play The Blues While I Eat The To The New !Ethiopian ! Food! And Try ! To Watch ! ! Prologue ! ! ! Superman/Abe ! ! Becker! !

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Elizabeth Bishop on Facebook/Alicia Hoffman!

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Allow Me To Tell You About Plastic and Mold/Andrea Blythe!

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To The Letter/Michael P. Adams!

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He Played Vibes/Walter “Jack” Savage!

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For The Future/E. Kristin Anderson!!

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Bob Dylan/Glen Armstrong!!

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Black Iris/Anne Bradshaw! !

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Green River Soda/Al Ortolani!

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No/Eric Howard!

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/this brain is just a piece of meat-//Clara B. Jones! !

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When The Cubs Win The World Series/Jack Buck! !

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You Had Me at Eton College/Jennifer MacBain-Stephens! ! Vignettes and Alcohol/Des Mannay!! ! ! !

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Angel/Steve Veracruz!

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Earth Bound/Steve Veracruz!!

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Letter To Amy Winehouse From My Liver / Zoë Koenig!

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The New Save/Santino Prinzi!

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Aubrey Plaza Cuts My Hair / Brennan Bestwick! Wish You Were Here / Lori Gravley!! !

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Chìtù mǎ/Richard Manly (Rick) Heiman! !

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Lego Hulk Teaches Me About Life On The Last Day of 2014/Rob Sturma! !

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I Will Save Them Both/Sara Adams! !

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Goat Madonna/Rebecca Bornstein! !

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Like A Clown Doll Hung to the Wall/Juliet Cook and Adam Tedesco!

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Lovely Frances/Kolleen Carney!

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Car Wreck(ing ball)/Stu Buck!

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Vick’s Vapors/Travis Naught!!

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Nerd Sonnet/Charles Darnell!

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sedgewick/Tricia Marcella Cimera! !

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Drinking Buddies/Nick Romeo!

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The Questions Worth Asking/Nick Romeo! !

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Connections/Sarah Ghoshal!!

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What’s ! !On Your 43Mind, Facebook? /Mureall Hébert!!

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Corvette Convertible/Laryssa Wirstiuk!

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Peter Parker vs Anxiety/Grae Rose! ! ! ! ! ! Welcome To The New Age/Jerry Cupples! ! ! ! ! Secondary Characters/Sarah Greenleaf! ! ! ! ! Hindsight Bias/Dustin Pickering! ! ! ! ! ! Zombies Are Real Life Beings/Dustin Pickering! ! ! ! Coloring Outside the Lines/Laurel Perez! ! ! ! ! It's Not Such a Dramatic Statement/Laurel Perez! ! ! ! A Few Quarters/Brian Burmeister! ! ! ! ! ! The Use of Fuck in Movies/Timothy Judd! ! ! ! ! Arteries/Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois! ! ! ! ! Heartbreakers: A Cento/Allie Marini (Batts)! ! ! ! Skyrim/Erin Redfern!! ! ! ! ! ! ! How I Lost 117 Pounds!*/Howie Good! ! ! ! ! Batman’s Wife/Sarah Nichols! ! ! ! ! ! Ghosts/Ari Laurel! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! Satellite Radio/Susan Beall Summers! ! ! ! ! iPode: Ode to the iPod/David Spicer! ! ! ! ! [untitled]/Chloe Mayo! ! ! ! ! ! ! Jimi/David Thompson! ! ! ! ! ! ! Walnut Ridge Arkansas/David Thompson! ! ! ! ! Where The Music Died/David Thompson! ! ! ! ! Pop Culture and the Romantic Come to Terms/Meghan Sterling! ! Fame and Other Fictions/Jon Green!! ! ! ! ! Fifteen/Tammy Robacker! ! ! ! ! ! ! Whistler/Christopher Stanley! ! ! ! ! ! The Fable of the God Cockroach Of Lindos & The Terrible Truth It ! Vouchsafed To Me/Andrew Darlington! ! ! ! Processional Dome/Ario Elami! ! ! ! ! ! My South/Rachel Nix! ! ! ! ! ! ! Hit Girl Lays It Down/Brendan Gillett! ! ! ! ! Colossus/Cameron Schneberger! ! ! ! ! ! Jedi Kiss/Jon Riccio! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! iChat/iDrew! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! Thelma & Louise Sing a Duet Before Driving Off a Cliff/Caroline Shea! Reboot/Jean Kim! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! Absolutely Nothing At All/Catherine Kate! ! ! ! ! Got The Radio On/Sheila Wellehan!! ! ! ! ! The Game of Lost Thrones/Kushal Poddar! ! ! ! ! Space Invader/Thomas Gillaspy! ! ! ! ! ! Circular Man/Thomas Gillaspy! ! ! ! ! ! The Gap/Bill Trudo! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! A David Lynch Thanksgiving/Michael Kemp! ! ! ! Hellgrammite/Mathew Spano! ! ! ! ! ! A Nightmare on Elm Street (Don’t Fall Asleep)/Christine Makepeace! Lunch With Jesus/Belinda Subraman! ! ! ! ! Olivia, Beatified/J.A. Sutherland! ! ! ! ! ! The Day After/Chumki Sharma! ! ! ! ! ! Wilhelm Takes His Date to the Movies/Jordan Meiller! ! ! Armchair Warrior/Kelly McNeal! ! ! ! ! !

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My White Housemates Play The Blues While I Eat Ethiopian Food And Try To Watch The Prologue To The New Superman Abe Becker It's like "I wanna C-sharp your d-sharp oo-ooo..." I interrupt. "Do you guys think this just isn't in you? Whoever wrote it probably closed their eyes and jammed...you're reading chord charts like nuke code data entry in the periphery of the new Superman's prologue so I keep getting Yesmir Wot on the spacebar, pause-rewind-repeating because I keep missing the name of the origin story planet so many times my laptop's going to OD on berbere spice and not download-virus the way the lord intends." "It's called Krypton, dumbass." "Spoiler!" "He's always from Krypton." "This is the New Superman. Let it disappoint itself, not you with your--maybe you should call it some other color. Can we agree you play the grays not the blues? That wouldn't be distracting. That's honest." "You're really honest though," he fires back. I can tell he wants to B my A-flat. "You're just chilling where I'm jamming. Let's not self aggrandize--somebody just needs to go upstairs..." I pull the earbuds from my ears like a gunslinger uncorking limp revolvers, swinging them menacingly so they pop out of their laptop hole and Russell Crow starts telling who must be Lex Luthar to screw himself if he's confused about whether Russel's son has a lifetime of heroic business on a planet far, far away or not while I offer Ben an origin myth about us: "There once was a house of whiteboys who managed to accrue bachelor's degrees without learning to want for more than a bite of soulfood before their shitty customer service jobs--" "You're the one eating. I'm playing music." "Soundbite then. Ben. Then there was a knock on the door. It was Blues legend John Lee Hooker and the chef from Abesha." "How did we know it was them?" "It's not about us--that's the point! We asked--" "We." "Fine, yea. We asked them the secret ingredient in the soul food and music we consume. John said his girl really left him and the cook told us to, quote, "Google the recipe, or don't..." as Superman flew past the window yelling 'Make your own!' And from that day forth Ben played the grays in his room and listened to The Blues (with headphones) in common space. " I see Ben spacing, listening to the sound of breaking his guitar on my face in a second. "I need to figure out the plot of the new Superman," I tell him, "by the end of the prologue before I finish my veggie combo because I'm convinced that's the recipe to finally poem Longing For Longing, my blues about the paradox of White culture." Ben crashes to the carpet, subsumed into his pick he's been squeezing like he wants to my neck. Will, on the keyboard, has fallen asleep on the keys, bored. Rob's cats rummage through the chord pile, hunting what lives outdoors. The hot and cold parts of my vegan soul food are all lukewarm like the day before and tomorrow.

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Elizabeth Bishop on Facebook Alicia Hoffman

This is one art difficult to master; So many statuses, but no content To be found in this disaster. I find nothing every day. I can’t accept Another update on dinner, the hours badly spent. This is one art difficult to master. I practiced finding farther, finding faster: Names, relationships, where it was you meant To travel. All of these bring such disaster.   I found my mother’s profile! And look! My last, or Next-to-last, of old lovers’ pages came. This is one art difficult to master. I found two school mates, horrible ones. And, vaster, Some minutiae I posted, two check-ins, at a villa. I was foursquare mayor, it was a disaster. Even finding you (the joking voice, a gesture I hate) I shan’t have lied.  It’s evident This is one art difficult to master Though it really is (don’t write it!) a disaster.   

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Allow Me To Tell You About Plastic and Mold Andrea Blythe

about the color of Barbie skin, too pink to be real, about the velvet scent of green turning grey on the surface of bread left too long on the counter during too humid a summer. Rot was something my family learned only after moving from Alaska to California, discovering nature’s hungry decay in the churning of moths powdery white in a bag of flower, in the dead clot of ants knotted solid in an old freezer. Shame was something I learned alone after entering middle school, discovering girls’ hostile teasing, informing me of the worthlessness apparent in my too short, too cheap pants, my bra-less nipples poking through my little kid tee-shirt. Once, maggots escaped the kitchen trash can and twisted themselves through the fibers of the carpet, squirming yards away from their reeking birthplace. Once, I tried to make Barbie have sex but her legs wouldn't spread that way, not without popping one off. Once, I clutched the skin of my stomach and wept, squeezing the extra folds of my flesh, wishing I could obtain a doll’s plastic hardness, wishing I could mold myself into one of those girls with feet permanently tiptoed

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into pointed heels, who tossed their hair in the school hallways, who never faltered from their tottering, unbendable perches. Once, I sucked at the straw of a juice box, realizing too late it had been invaded by ants, their tiny black bodies filling my mouth and biting my tongue. Even now, I am learning to speak, to empty myself of truth. Even now, I am learning to find beauty in decay, in the crumbling, melting, slippery destruction of dead things, abandoned things, the discarded and the desiccated. Even now, I am learning to dissolve the love-hate I bear for Barbie and her conformist ways, to render down the slung scorn of girls struggling under the weight of their own self-shaming judgment. Even now, I am learning to distill and chemically reduce this passed around vitriol, to let it dissolve, to decompose into a soul-rich soil where I may nurture a garden of self-acceptance and love.

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To The Letter Michael P. Adams "

“Hello, Rashid.”

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“Hello, Dr. Krantz.”

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This is it. Last year of eligibility.

GREEN LIGHT MODE — 02:00 remaining "

“Your word is ptyalagogue.”

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Seriously? What am I, eight? That’s the word I get?

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“Ptyalagogue?”

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“Ptyalagogue.”

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“Definition?”

" All a lot of blah blah blah, but it extends my moment in the spotlight, gets me one step closer to glory. Look at me, standing up here, one of the smartest kids in the country. Screw that, one of the smartest people in the country. "

“Language of origin?”

" My father’s ballbusting is finally gonna pay off. I win this thing, prove myself worthy, and I can finally get out from under his thumb. "

“Does it come from the Greek root ‘pty’ meaning ‘saliva’?”

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“Yes.”

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“Ptyalagogue?”

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“Ptyalagogue.”

YELLOW LIGHT MODE — 00:45 remaining "

“Can you please use it in a sentence?”

" “Jacob was nervous to kiss Becky when he realized that the popcorn they shared during the movie was now acting as a ptyalagogue.” " Why does the audience always laugh at the cheesy sentences this guy comes up with? All right, Rashid, pretend like you’re having trouble by writing the letters in your palm with your finger. Just a stall tactic. I can’t wait to see Madison’s face when I bring this trophy to school. I won’t just be the nerd who does her algebra homework anymore. She’s gonna have to respect me and my prize money. "

“Ptyalagogue?”

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“Ptyalagogue.”

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“Rashid, I just want to make sure you’re aware of the clock.”

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RED LIGHT MODE — 00:30 remaining

" Out of questions. This is my time now. Thirty seconds of quiet. I wonder if Madison’s watching. Would she even know how to find ESPN on her TV? Should I send her some kind of signal, maybe give a wink to the camera? She’s gonna be so jealous when the other girls are all up on me at school. Like, ‘Rashid, spell ‘pergameneous’ for me. Oh, yes, Rashid, that’s so hot. Do it again.’ Dad’ll envy me, too. I’ll be getting more tail at fourteen than he’s had in his whole life. Beautiful blondes, like the ones he never managed to get, the ones he thinks he’s so sly about ogling. " " The clock. Counting me down to the start of my new life. No more ‘Yes, sir,’ no more spelling myself to sleep. I’m gonna be in charge now. This is my destiny. "

“Ptyalagogue. P-T-Y-A-L-O-G-O-G-U-E. Ptyalagogue.”

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So what if it’s still the semifinal round? Might as well just etch my name on that trophy—

DING.

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“I’m sorry, Rashid. The correct spelling is P-T-Y-A-L-A-G-O-G-U-E.”

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“Thank you.”

"

D-A-M-M-I-T.

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He Played Vibes Drawing Walter “Jack” Savage

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For the Future

E. Kristin Anderson Little myths quit, pass, take you mortal, endure the goddess.             Fall evil. Let her           have life, flickering on the wall. Appear, plug in a tune, simple, close to the sun. Waxed, warm, warm enough your final mirrors snatch slow, down to endure.                                          I weep, hit the books.

This is an erasure poem. Source material: “Nester’s Adventures: A Little Bow and Arrow Guy” Nintendo Power, Volume 31: December 1991, pages 18-19.

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Bob Dylan

Glen Armstrong You can’t sneak up on Bob Dylan. He’s like a ninja. If he feels like signing your LPs, you’ll notice your Sharpie in the other pocket. You’ll discover the signature. He knows each locally produced grape soda in the U.S. He knows each one’s history. A song has no business explaining a vast and varied place. A song needs to be everywhere. Bob Dylan nicknamed his tour bus “Black-eyed Nettie.” He is as relevant as the wind. He is as relevant as Hercules or a toothache or Walt Whitman. An unopened bottle of Bob Dylan from World War II just sold at auction for over a million dollars. People have this idea that Bob Dylan is something other than Bob Dylan. They write fan fiction in which Bob Dylan and Doctor Strange go on a road trip to find and pacify the eternally wandering, agitated soul of Sam Cooke. It’s late in the day and late in the summer. Some children play a game as old as time. Some join hands and become a mountain. One begins to commit to the gesture that will escape itself, the run that will break the mountain apart. I assume that the gypsies have a word for the look of determination on that little girl’s face, but who has the patience to earn the trust of a gypsy these days?

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Black Iris

Anne Bradshaw He walks her home, teases her gently under layers of tulle and lace petticoats. He kisses the soft pink O of her mouth and calls her his flower, his black iris girl. Labyrinthine secrets unfold in her world. Years later, at a gallery off Main Street, she blushes when she sees a painting by O’Keeffe.

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Green River Soda Al Ortolani

Tip’s had the best magazine selection in town, something for everybody. With my mom in the store I thumbed through the comics, but after a Saturday double feature, running with the Breeze brothers, I crept closer to the Adults Only shelf, sliding past Fish & Stream, Esquire, and True Detective. If we were quick enough, we could slip a copy of Jugs into a Baseball Today, and pretend to read Mantle’s stats.  in the spider’s web,       the ceiling fan spins today’s catch

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No

Eric Howard There is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families. "There is" is a weak construction. There's always "exist." There's no reason to use "there is." There's no expectation of privacy. There is no understanding. There is no cash. There's no credit. There is no god. There is no soup. There is no there is. There is only there is, because there is no alternative. The notes, the text, all say no. Sisyphus walks along the shore, skipping stones of negation. If there's nothing there, there's no "there" there. Because there ain't no   way    other way    reason    sense in trying    doubt    fooling    use    excuse    denying    tomorrow    way you can tell     way it's true    way it ain't    grace period   dope   hope   getting there from here

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/The brain is just a piece of meat—/ Clara B. Jones The brain is just a piece of meat like the roast your mother serves at Christmas or the D.O.R. you passed on Route 40 on your way to Mount Mitchell or like your friend's liver peppered by disease, not your mind but in your mind, scenes of a different life in Cañas or Berlin when that seemed possible as most things did after that haunting evening when the Yagua taught you to fish, not to fish but to throw a carved spear through a two-chambered heart, a cod to roast on the campfire ten feet from his tent, fifty yards from the Amazon and river dolphins swimming with piranhas, staying with their own kind (though the esteemed ecologist observed Octodon with Abrocoma in the same burrow), a feeling so present that you forced yourself to laugh or to touch familiar skin knowing that Freud was wrong. Repression played out in vivid moments hour by hour, reality a subterfuge sheltering where you wanted to be, who you should embrace— reality concrete and conscious, secured by daily rhythms often dissonant, nothing repressed so much as the present's alterity, a fashion garment deflecting gazes from sensation's source, happy because you were privileged to cancel daily costs, perform the best of a bad job, touch your partner's body without pretending that he was someone else, figure that this was the right thing to do or that he and the children formed a barrier between your life and solitude, anodynes for what your house meant, scalding your synapses with the truth. But, maybe there was no truth, maybe roasting squash was good enough. Maybe giving the baby a bath (you loved the odor of baby oil) was sufficient, maybe you wouldn't have lasted a month on the Rio Négro or with that man from Melbourne or the one from

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Bogotá or on your own. You thought you deserved more than acorn squash with butter, maybe not entitled to more but needed more, afraid to mouth, “I hate this life.” or “Wallace Stevens was right.” or “The end of the road is in sight.”

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When The Cubs Win The World Series Jack Buck

1." The Cubs win the World Series and Harry Caray is back from the dead. Someone is heard expressing their admiration for Harry’s decision to be flown across the country from California in order to be buried in Chicago. We appreciate your family’s decision, Harry, so thank you.
 2." The city of Chicago burns down, but a planned fire this time around, not like that other one. And, you know what, it’s a damn good fire, that only burns down stuff that benefits the good people of the city. 
 3." No one pays for anything during the three week party, but somehow the good shop and restaurant owners don’t lose out any in the city’s free-for-all. Only bad business loses out, and they lose out big. People celebrate that, too. 
 4." The city places kitchenette tables on street corners so people can sit and talk with strangers about what the hell just happened. 
 5." People get to eat at restaurants they normally could never afford otherwise. But, with the choice, they still choose pizza. People eat a lot of deep dish pizza and freely take naps in the street. 6." There are expected delays on the ‘L’ train, but no one notices nor bothers to complain. It’s warmer than usual November when this all happens, so the people wear their light jackets for comfort. 7."

People are getting baptized in the fountain over at Grant Park.

8. " "A mile north on Michigan Ave, Billy Goat Tavern, the supposed cause of the 1945 World Series curse, is decidedly and fittingly the city’s burning effigy. All the while, there is a pagan themed resurrection of some sort happening out in front of Wrigley Field in belief of summoning the ghosts of past Cubs. They deserve to party with us, the gathering crowd explains." 9." Politicians are being apprehended on their way out of the stadium by fans who work for the local unions. It’s decided someone needs to be in charge, so people suggest the activists who were charged for protesting during the 1968 Democratic National Convention will do just fine. The activists are sworn in immediately and establish a committee to decide what’s what. Also, The Chicago Housing Authority, CHA, is put on trial by mothers living in the south side projects. There is a rearrangement of leadership in the city. The natural order of just yesterday is no more. 10." By some freak phenomenon Lake Michigan is warm enough to swim in. White Sox fans and Cubs fans bathe together. 11." Random people say fuck it and get married on the spot. While this is happening, people who ought to get divorced will get divorced and they don’t involve the lawyers. Because the lawyers are drunk and nobody's bothering to pick up their phone or go into work. 12."

Doomsayers give up on religious fears and start getting really into baseball.

13." Cemeteries are be visited by loved ones to tell their dead lovers and best friends that it happened. It finally really happened. 


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You Had Me at Eton College Jennifer MacBain-Stephens

Tom Hiddleston I know we will never meet but I cannot stop thinking about your glossy black hair. You tweeted that the real color is blond and curly but I will ignore that. Because I know when I look for your pale white skin and dark hair, I am just looking for myself. I strive to be charming, speak in a commanding voice. I would have loved to be the first woman to play Coriolanus, your last big theater role, but that ship has sailed. In the meantime, I’ll work on not saying “um” or “like,” as my American girlness is wont to do. I don’t care that you slept with your sister in that movie. I would take you away from all that. We’d argue over brunch locales in our all stainless steel kitchen in London. I’d try to share you with your art.  It would be challenging I know. I read about some guy commending your work ethic in Tennessee, while you were filming a movie about Hank Williams (because of COURSE we’d have a Brit play an American country music star.) He said you worked with a dialect coach for 2 hours a day and then because you had to lose weight, ran seven miles. He admired you for this sort of tenacity, Tom, but inside my heart sank, knowing you’d always put time developing a character before me. I see myself on our picnic blanket in Hyde Park. I want to go to the Donmar Warehouse tonight, see a show, go out for drinks. You never take me out anymore. You always have to get up early for a film. You would look away, secretly bemoan my Americanness. You’d stall, pour the tea, spread jam on a biscuit.  Then I’d see “the look:” a flash of annoyance. There would be no more mysterious, tall, dark, and handsome with a voice like liquid Nyquil. Jenny, you knew this was my life when we got together.  My heart: broken. Later, I’d write in my journal: It’s his eyes. They are so sparkly and intense, like a waterfall. Get too close to the edge of beauty, and you will fall through the mist, down onto jagged rocks. You will move on, Tom, woo and court an actress, someone who has the same work ethic as you. But be careful Tom, you will grow jealous and needy when she cannot attend that premiere with you, when she puts off having children for another year. You will grow to resent the very thing that drew you to her in the first place. It’s fate. Oh Tom, it wasn’t meant to be, just please don’t date Elizabeth Olsen. Please date someone dark and pasty and brooding. Then at least I can inject a little of myself into her, reap the delusional benefits.

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Vignettes and Alcohol Des Mannay  There are only 2 things you needWords and alcohol Alcohol and words Wordsahol and alc Words, a hall and talc Hark the hollow words Holidaze and alcowords Alcowords or all cowards? Are we all cowards? Are they all cowards? Are there no more heroes? Are they just weirdos? Are you all cowards? How many Bovines in a cow herd? Do you like Noel Coward? Is he really Noel Gallagher? When was the first Noel? Is there really no hell? That's that then - oh well Or am I just a know all? Just another brick in the wall Do I come before a fall? Or did I just exist before? Why does 2+2 make 4? And - "is it my imagination or have I finally found something worth living for? I was looking for some a-c-t-i-i-i-o-n but all I got was......" Vignettes and Alcohol

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Angel Acrylic and Spray Art Steve Veracruz

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Earth Bound Oil and Spray Art Steve Veracruz

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Letter To Amy Winehouse From My Liver Zoë Koenig

i know this house has fragile walls / have felt them dance to your songs / in a borrowed coat on a sunday / the holiness borrowed too / and the smile / you understand / how little it takes a throat to grow hungry when you feed it poison / how the body becomes a stumbling cloud / how i become flooded / how you forget about the rain each time / and are suddenly / back to black / yes / i’ve been shadow / unhinged bottles’ jaws to swim in them / but when i come back / no / no / no

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The New Save Santino Prinzi

We always played Pokémon Red together, though you had Pokémon Blue so we could trade version-exclusive Pokémon, of course. You wouldn’t accept anything less than first generation, though I quite like the new ones. I know you’ll have heard it today. My little avatar walked into the Pokémon Center, spoke to the nurse on the counter, she took my six Pokémon (Charizard, Electabuzz, Gengar, Rhydon, Cloyster, and Alazkazam) and healed them. In a way you remind me of Cloyster: the mischievous grin, eyes laughing arrogant – the Pokémon you shouldn’t trust but you do. The link cable is broken, and it’s not so easy outside the Game Boy screen: there’s no button you can press, no pixelated nurse to make everything better. Where’s my restorative jingle for the damage you’ve inflicted on me? Every time I hear the Pokémon Center jangle I’m reminded how coming to terms with what you’ve done to me is nearly impossible. You’ve left me frozen, paralyzed by crushing words that left me feeling faint. My dreams have been eaten, but fortunately your hypnosis has worn off. In the Pokémon Center I go to Bill’s PC and deposit Cloyster in exchange for Lapras. I feel like I can trust Lapras. I save the game and switch it off, casting it aside in favour for my 3DS. Pokémon X. The resolution is clearer; my little avatar is fully formed, customised. He even roller-skates. It’s a world away from you, unexplored by you, and I’m ten minutes into play before I switch that off too, have a shower, and get dressed. Time to start a new game.

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Aubrey Plaza Cuts My Hair Brennan Bestwick

she gives it a gentle tug, " my curls tangled " in both of her fists, this should be quick, " she whispers " in my ear, she starts cutting then, " my hair flowers " and falls to the floor, she hums a forgotten hymn, " every note held " just a little too long, a song written for the pipe organ, " we talk about cathedrals, " he quiet they house at night, we never say god, never forgiven, " only alone and oh well, " and we are comforted, I look in the mirror as she steps back, " I look more myself, " she says she cut her finger but it does not bleed, everything stays " exactly where it should, " our hands and our blood.

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Wish You Were Here Lori Gravley

I walk into the empty brownstone on Bond Street off Tremont in Boston a city big enough for me to hide in. And a song is playing on the radio though there is no one at home. How I wish, how I wish you were here We’re just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl year after year You have sent me this song every year on the day of your death, on the day of your birth I never told anyone. I take my roommate’s straight razor and carve a shallow design on the surface of my skin hold my wrist under water and watch the blood bloom until it thins into the color of the bruises around your neck. Running over the same old ground what have we found? The same old fears wish you were here.

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Chìtù mǎ (Red Hare- now in Dynasty Warriors 8 for Xbox!)

Richard Manly (Rick) Heiman Stallion of the Eastern Han, great Red Hare stretched eight chi from coronet to poll, and when he shook his scarlet mane and nickered, brave men shuddered at the thunder. Red Hare walked across the peaks so jagged armies could not scale them. He jogged with élan over rivers, and the widest moat could not delay him. Faster than any rabbit Red Hare carried Lü Bu through Changshan. He trotted more than forty leagues before the day was ended. Red Hare trampled cities built like paper, then he slept alone in silken stables. When he leapt into the sky men of three kingdoms whisper Red Hare made the storm gods itch and when he died, shamed by his many masters, even Cao Cao cried. And after thirty times five dozen years Red Hare was resurrected.

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Lego Hulk Teaches Me About Life On The Last Day of 2014. Rob Sturma 1."

There are things that only Lego Hulk can do.  Look for the green handles and you

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will smash effectively.  Press X and down goes the wall, away goes the fuel tanker.

2."

There are things that only Bruce Banner can do.  Sometimes you will encounter a

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raft that seats one.  Hold the Y button.  Get un-angry.  Get on board.  

3."

Everything looks impossible, but really, everything is just made of bricks. Bricks can

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be smashed. Press A, press A, press A, move forward.

4."

It is not a contradiction to be adorable and dangerous at the same time.

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You don’t always have to take the lead. That’s why Lego Iron Man is there, and Lego

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Spidey, and Lego Wolverine. Bring them Lego coffee.  Wait for your turn.  Then

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press A, press A, press A, all you want.

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You are a bundle of brick and fierce.  You didn’t wake up like this, but you are still

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flawless.

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The bricks will come. Keep on smashing.

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You don’t have to smash everything all at once. Press pause.   Have lunch.  Stark

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Tower will still be there. The Baxter Building will still be there.  All of New York will

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freeze in place and when you return, press A like you’ve never pressed A before.

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Somewhere in Oklahoma, a man-child will wait impatiently for you to download.

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You don’t even know how much he has been waiting to meet you. The world seems

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safer in the trail of your irradiated purpose.  Thank you for your irreverence.  For

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your lumpy green physique. Your Lego sense of humor will wash over this man like

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catharsis.

10."

There are things that only Lego Hulk can do. You are so necessary.

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I Will Save Them Both Comic/Screenshot Sara Adams

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Goat Madonna Rebecca Bornstein When I was a child in the mountains, my neighbor raised goats. Fall meant a fresh crop brought to the mountain-town’s children, for transformation into blue ribbon livestock as the Future Farmers of America. In the spring, the children sold them. Brown except for a blaze of white under one tired eye, Madonna the goat was born the year I turned eleven.   My neighbor let my sisters and me walk her, once, down the short asphalt of our street past the pines and aspens looming over us, toward dirt logging roads that switchbacked the hillside.  Mornings, my father walked those roads, sketching the footprints of predators on a notepad or mimicking birds.  We thought at the time he must have known all of them. Madonna had a lilac leash and collar and when my youngest sister dropped its end and the goat ran into the forest, that flash of color is how we tracked her.   After we lost any trace, we admitted we needed help.  My father came back to us at nightfall, empty handed.  So— the next morning when a man from the town dump them called to say Madonna had been there when he’d shown up for work, that she had crested the trash-heap and foraged in it for breakfast, I can only see it as triumphant. I never see that night’s coyotes, who must have gone to sleep hungry in the catacombs of the forest.   For me, the story always ends here:  

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the baby goat, after the wilderness but before the slaughter, the town’s leftovers crammed in her mouth.

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Like A Clown Doll Hung to the Wall Juliet Cook and Adam Tedesco Sex is not a party gift. If you think it should be, then hire yourself a stripper dressed like a clown, carrying a whole load of balloons ready to swallow your stuffed animal eyes. Your foreskin peeled back to an ingrown iris shooting infection from grape cataracts. You'll be chained to a mask factory filled with clown heads dripping sticky grape jelly out eye holes. You'll be tied to a milking machine in a room filled with clown shoes of different sizes and shapes. Poison apple worms writhe out of nipples on top fake breasts. Recurring clown laugh track after laugh track after evil clown laugh track until they rip off the clown mask, crack the clown shoes, strip you against a hex. Now you'll never stop kissing a clown doll with no eyes, with red clown colored foreskin grafted in the middle of your thighs.

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Lovely Frances Kolleen Carney

Bean, plump baby body— we knew you better than your father ever would, blue ice eyes like his, but you’ve seen more. When he died you were all roly- poly and hiding behind fringe, leopard coat, playing kitten behind the couch, cigarette smoke smell on your dresses. But you got older, thin and stretch, your wings molting and your hair blonde but not from a box— you can pay good money to get it done. Frances! Leave those vipers, your L.A. love song, dive bar babies. Have tea with me, sip sip. Not one chip. Bread and jam. Tell me about your mother. Has she evened out? Is she still poking you with dirty fingers, Northwestern blues? I’ll tell you— I remember your father. Sad soul voice cracking music. My teenage years in 5 albums. My heart broken, too. I’ll tell you about yourself. I was young but I’ve known you so long you’re like my own child,  my own screaming wild child. For Fritz

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Car Wreck(ing ball) (found poem - Wrecking Ball by Miley Cyrus)

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i never meant to crash so hard like a wreck

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i never meant to crash so hard like a wreck

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I JUST CLOSED MY EYES

and now, we're ashes

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" ! !

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I JUST CLOSED MY EYES

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and now, you're not coming down

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all you ever did was wreck me left me crashing in a blazing fall " all you ever did was wreck me left me crashing in a blazing fall

yeah, you, you wreck me you let me burn"

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don't you ever say i just walked away

- YOU LET ME BURN-

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- YOU LET ME BURN-

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Vick’s Vapors Travis Naught

No teeth are actually piercing his skin, just false memory playing tricks again; the dogs have all been called off. Years ago, society damned a man who could throw a football better than most quarterbacks can even dream of spiraling downfield, for leading a ring of brutal attacks. Some would have rather seen his eyes peeled, considered forgiveness a mockery forged by the prison system, "Pat his back, tell him everything is okay for that crime he now says he's so very sorry." But his critics don't know his living fear, how Fido breaks loose from his chains at night to set out on a vengeance hunt and find the man who used to force his kind to fight; how when the light switch gets flipped to the off position, floorboard creaks do not sound soft. He cowers to the coming holocaust, praying nightly as phantom steps draw near it's not actually growling that he hears.

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Nerd Sonnet Charles Darnell The days were made of dreamy hours, Believing in unworldly powers, Tossing cards and rolling dice. Casting lots for fire or ice. Playing the game hunched like gnomes, Once a week in alternate homes, Dressing the part of each character played, A magus, fairy, or ghoulish shade, Leaving our dull lives for a brief time, Fantasy dominant and friendship sublime, Bonds forged by awkward nerdiness, How would one know or wildly guess, Our strangeness derived from parents perversed Who played their vinyl records reversed.

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sedgewick Tricia Marcella Cimera a whisper from our Pop Past — edie, edie, edie, edie. edie sedgewick.  look her up. silver hair, black leotard, black tights, Zeit Geist eyes. warhol girl.  poor little rich it girl. the one with the sun in her face, that disappeared into the star light; patti smith wrote a poem. edie sedgewick. she was Pop, a fire work, a drop of cosmic, a piece of art, who lived in our world —

but danced apart.

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Drinking Buddies Photograph Nick Romeo

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The Questions Worth Asking Nick Romeo

Have you ever wondered? If a Decepticon contracted leprosy, would that make him a leprechaun? Who is more dangerous with one glove: Freddy Krueger, or Michael Jackson? If Erno Rubik married Pandora, would evil be solved? Who would survive the Thunderdome: Bruce Lee as Kato, or Christopher Lee as Count Dooku? Whose image makes for a better motivational poster: Ronnie Coleman or Gary Coleman? Should Edward Scissor Hands run? If Ant-Man is the size of an ant, why isn’t Spider-Man the size of a spider? If Daredevil was “ghost riding” his Lamborghini Diablo in Death Valley with Hellboy riding shotgun, then Ghost Rider jumps over the car with his motorcycle as Spawn flies overhead of both the car and motorcycle; at the vertex where they all align, would a reanimated zombie Evel Knievel emerge and perform one last feat of daring, and jump the Eiffel Tower?

These are the questions that matter. Not: Where do we go when we die?       -Lots of places Why don’t I have any friends?       -Because no one likes you What is home to me?       -The place you live How do I better myself?       -Try harder

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Connections Sarah Ghoshal

She sits in her room, Rapunzel in her tower, word search puzzles littering the nightstand. Angela Lansbury, Mary Higgins Clark, floral paisley bedspread, single cup coffee maker, walker at the door. Ten minutes away.  Might as well be hours. And yesterday a man died.  He was not that old.  He was not sick.  He was just on vacation.   Time for a visit, Grandma. Let’s talk about Manhattan in the ‘40s and the way Grandpa looked with hair.   This time, I will record your stories. I will transcribe them. I will pour over them like a teenage bookworm with an old copy of Wuthering Heights. I will search them for theoretical meaning, for veiled references, for prose.  We will traverse the pathways together, meeting in a world we know nothing about when none of it matters anymore.  

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Corvette Convertible Laryssa Wirstiuk You and your twenty friends are fighting again over who will get the Corvette this weekend. Malibu’s weather allows the top to come down, and Ken needs a ride to anywhere you’d like to take him. Sick of estrogen and fighting over men, you escape beneath a Saddle ‘n Ride equine blanket. The car is neither the pink of undercooked meat nor the rose of acne scars. It’s your cheeks and flush rising to your face. Remember the neon blush left from beauties of decades before? Salute them with a beep: a glorious “fuck you” to dumb bitches like Stacie and Skipper. Vroom. Ken’s not even that cute. You want more brawn and more bend. You want to conquer a challenge: a man whose underwear is painted to his pelvis, who only speaks in jargon. You’ll be his “collateral damage” if only he can squeeze in your backseat. Ravishing G.I. Joe is the stuff of your dreams, not to be mistaken with a fuchsia house: multilevel and inhabited by blonds with plastic intentions. You would seduce him if only you could be sure that the click, click, click of bodies wouldn’t disturb the reserve of girls waiting to drive the pink convertible.

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What’s On Your Mind, Facebook? (A Found Poem) Mureall Hébert

The local police blotter said people are only ugly when unloved, unwanted, or discarded. I dogpaddled in the sea and a jellyfish stung me. Was he ugly? Unloved? Did he have a narcissistic mother? Posting a pic—be on the look-out. My horoscope reads: Let’s see how good you are. I am a fan. Good grief! Why didn’t anyone tell me this before? Cupcakes are in order. Canyon flowers. I must pack an emergency kit if I’m going to make it home. Status update: I am your friend.

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Peter Parker vs Anxiety Grae Rose It started small. He thought of it as a superpower, this extra sense, a tingling sensation warning of danger. Avoiding the blows of bullies, picking up on others' distress-empathy, amplified. Like a hero should be. Eventually, though, his spidey senses exploded, going off in the face of making plans with Harry, or while standing in his doorway, trying to leave his house. Stomach twisting at the sound of MJ's answering machine. Skin crawling at the thought of his growing to-do list. Dreading showers, fearing the feeling that he'd be washed down the drain. Some days, he doesn't leave his room. He can no longer sort through the actual threats and the feeling of being threatened. He can't tell anymore if the cries for help come from hostages, somewhere in the city, or if they're his own. Now, Peter is a raw nerve. The itchy static claws at his scalp, rushes through his veins. It reminds him of venom, of radioactivity. He has to remember to breathe, learns to calm himself down, to hide what he's feeling, if only to avoid the concerned gazes of his loved ones. They're all eager to know what triggered him. Is it a villain? Is the city in danger? He tells them it's nothing. Goes to bed early, but lies awake. Counts his regrets like ineffective sheep. He assures himself they wouldn't understand

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what he's afraid of. He doesn't always know himself. He hasn't told Aunt May about the night terrors. She has enough to worry about. He just gets up, facing each new day like an archnemesis, trying to shake the sirens of impending disaster screaming in his brain. On TV, reporters fire questions, stray bullets on rapid fire. Peter tries not to flinch at the burn of accusation. People have been asking, “Where's Spiderman?� He reads the headlines, the stories of mayhem, the fearful editorials, and he wonders the same thing.

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Welcome To The New Age Jerry Cupples

If you were watching the twenty fourteen Grammies when Kendrick Lamar performed With Imagine Dragons. Then you might know What it’s like to have a fire born in your belly. If you have ever seen a baby discover its feet For the first time. How it holds them close with Such amazement that this appendage is some How attached to them yet moves on its own. Then you know how Taylor Swift’s body Must have felt the first time the bass boomed Through her like a heartbeat. How her hips Suddenly were not her own. How her arms were Suddenly not her own. Front and center she offered Her body up as ransom as the music took her nervous System hostage. And most of us who saw it laughed. Comforted in the fact That we would never look like that while we danced as we Sunk deeper and deeper into our couches. And maybe it was jealousy Taylor. How some of us only allow our bodies to be free with The lights off. So we couldn’t be caught red handed Blushed and full of life. Because God forbid. We lived for just a few moments In front of someone else.

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Secondary Characters Sarah Greenleaf

" " The armadillo lights a cigar with a sparkler while the gods dance among us clumsy and drunk. They will not stop doing the macarena. Look, the hummingbird is a very ineffectual chaperone. He is so small while so on point. His little beak stuck in a crappy cracker, his situation is worse than airplane food. Come meet the raccoon. He knows a handshake is garbage unless there are biscuits involved, so stop introducing yourself and go to the grocery store already. All the appetizers are gone. Oh god John Smith is here, the original mansplainer. There is a fountain full of wine in the lair of the evil-doer, that is why we party here. I need you to know that the american dream has failed us. Look, Bartholomew is so intoxicated he is singing bubbles. Now, the armadillo is chasing butterflies, while men argue overhead. No one cares what men think anyhow. The white men think they are kings. Humans are always such a disappointment, pretending to be gods,

when we already are.

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Hindsight Bias Dustin Pickering

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Zombies Are Real Life Beings Dustin Pickering

We see zombies on television, staring out lifelessly as if they left their souls in the grave and only came back to catch a glimpse of real life again. What did they miss? Other zombies, not undead, are sitting in front of the boob tube, bag of Lays in hand, flipping the channels to see all the latest haps. All this is otherworldly to them. Other countries? Bah. No matter, our government will sort it after bombing it. Eyes, vacant as the windows of the twin towers… zombies still hide their humanness, growing pale while hiding in the hive they pay taxes on. What is ours? Who is ours? Why should I own the right to stare disinterestedly at distress in another being— are the refugees like us, staring at some unreality they actually reflect in hideous distinction? Are zombies real life beings? Are we zombies? Do our bulging eyes hide an undead uncertainty?

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Coloring Outside the Lines collage Laurel L. Perez

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It's Not Such a Dramatic Statement Laurel L. Perez It is but it isn’t Perhaps it’s to signal others a blatant sign that you’re welcome here as long as you’re not a poser. The statement is: " We don’t want to be like you. We won’t buy into " corporate lines " social climbing " consumerism We won’t sell our souls to fit into your social constraints " " "

it’s angst it’s anger it’s power

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to take back what we’ve been


A Few Quarters Brian Burmeister Generations of us Learned much " From a few quarters. Dreams are hard, One must run, climb Towards that " Which is important. The path, " Not easy Filled with obstacles to jump " Or smash " " Or run from, Teaches patience Teaches commitment Teaches: It’s okay to sweat When life get rough

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The Use of Fuck in Movies Timothy Judd

Don’t fuckin use fuck All the time Fuckheads It diminishes the Fuckin Word The first time I hear Fuck I’m all like Oh, hot damn That character is pissed But by the eighth Goddam Time I’m like Give it a fuckin rest Already. Seriously, Learn a lesson From ‘‘Copcar.’’ They knew How to use Fuck.

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Arteries

Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois The arteries of peacetime were those of a child, who lay on his back on lawns and in meadows and watched clouds move across the sky. He found mythical creatures there (like those in the worn hardcover his grandfather had given him shortly before he died) and described them in his notebook, which was tear-stained because: why did Grandpa have to go? The boy had not yet comprehended Death, but he would when he followed his Grandpa into the Marines, a foolhardy way to express his love and pride, he understood later. A wave of youthful enthusiasm had swept him into the recruiter’s office. Later his enthusiasm waned. It became harder, then impossible, to see mythological creatures in the clouds. Instead he saw armaments, and body parts that had been blown off his comrades. The arteries of wartime were clogged. He needed to get out, but his term in Hell had not yet expired. It wasn’t the Vietnam era—he wasn’t running off to Sweden or Canada or wherever. He drove his truck into a group of terrorists who were firing at him with Kalashnikovs. He ducked down low under the dashboard and heard their bones crunch under the oversize, knobby tires of his fifteen-thousand-pound Deuce-and-a-Half. He was grim, delivering death.

2. I’m back from combat. A sundial marks off the minutes before the bank takes my home. The Happiness of Loving My Brunette has been eclipsed by the misfortunes my brunette and I have experienced. Miro went to bed without any supper and saw shapes on the ceiling. Those shapes became his paintings. My brunette and I look in the front window of the house we worked hard to acquire and now have lost. We spend some timeless time surveying Still Life With Old Shoe. I will assassinate painting, said Miro . I will break Picasso’s guitar. I kick in the front door. I remember once fixing the hinges. Man and Woman in Front of a Pile of Excrement. “You didn’t have to do that,” I tell my brunette “I wanted to.” “Now we’re a caricature, as portrayed in news features.” “I don’t give a shit.” “You just did.” We dissolve in hysterical laughter and fall into each other’s embrace. Three days later, we’ve retreated to the old family farm. It never had a mortgage.

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3. In a hidden closet in the barn I discover a fifty pound bag labeled Arsenic and DDT. I remember: Grandpa used it in the orchard. I gingerly open the bag and examine the powder. I feel its latent power, its deadliness. Our family is a collection of hoarders. We’re cursed by too many generations in the same place, seven in this farmhouse. All the “cherished family heirlooms”—they’re like tenants who don’t pay rent and lay around all day drinking beer, but for some legal reason you can’t evict them. When I’m dead and rotting, all this stuff will still be here, haughty in longevity—I fantasize a tornado coming and carrying it all away. Three out of four bedrooms is warehouse, so I sleep on the couch in the living room. My sister Cheryl shares a room with our mother, who is really sick. She’s a Christian Scientist so she won’t see a doctor. She lives in a Nyquil haze eighty percent of the time. The other twenty percent—don’t ask. Cheryl has something wrong with her too, in the head. If I had to sleep in the same room with that old bat, year after year, my head would be twisted too. My brunette doesn’t get along with Cheryl—who can blame her? Our mother snores so loud I think that maybe a tornado has finally come. A fifty pound bag of Arsenic and DDT. I don’t tell anyone about it. It’s my secret weapon of mass destruction. I admit that I fantasize about Cheryl and my mother getting spun out into space by a tornado, never to return, never to be found, the house blown apart, all the junk blown away. At the end of everything, I’m sitting dazed on the lawn, wind-beaten but happy, with no obligations and no possessions whatsoever, not even a fucking toothbrush .

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Heartbreakers: A Cento Allie Marini (Batts)

well it was nearly summer, we sat on your roof it was a beautiful day, the sun beat down. she wore faded jeans & soft black leather been beat up & battered 'round you think you're gonna take her away? well, the moon sank as the wind blew I'm not much on mystery— you belong among the wildflowers oh baby, don't it feel like heaven right now? it's all right if you love me

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Skyrim

Erin Redfern --after Karin Gottshall’s “More Lies” Today I am going to live in Skyrim--even though I can’t exactly call it living--because it’s a place of high stakes and forgiveness both. I grew up reading Little Women, in which Joe wins, then inexplicably marries. Today I can switch plots on a whim, knowing each cold trail can be saved and rekindled. I make ingots and armor, pick the lock of a bandit king’s chest. I gain skill just by clicking the cover a book of lore or unfolding a scrap of spell. Rain falls generously in the Hjaalmarch, butterflies sport around a pile of blood-stained skulls. My blue roan nickers, and, if I scroll down to look up, a thousand leaves filter the sun; it’s high summer in Falkreath.  I like a place with waterfalls and fordable rivers. I like a place where some merchant is sure to store whatever I need to fulfill the next quest. Adventure is endless, my day filled with purpose. I never age; when mistakes get too costly I reload. On those rare afternoons I tire of myself, I’ll create  a character new as these twin moons rising over the Rift, casting long shadows from scrub brush and copses. At the edge of dark water, the ice wolves are waiting, the nirnroot is glowing.

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How I Lost 117 Pounds!* Howie Good I wore thinner pinstripes. I took to avoiding weighty moral issues. I shed layers of guilt by giving up excessive introspection. I eliminated words ending in “e-a-t” – meat, buckwheat, overeat, etc. – from my vocabulary. I stopped filling my pockets with the anti-crazy pills I only rarely need. I exposed myself to rough treatment that scraped inches off my ego. I limited my intake of salty ironies to one or at most two a week. And when all that still wasn’t enough, I sweated far into the night dreaming of a tree on fire. *Headline on cover of People magazine

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Batman’s Wife Sarah Nichols Batman is addicted to the vigilante lifestyle. A wife can tell, right ? All of those women’s magazines, updated for 2015, about giving your man “space” or “pleasing” him, none of those magazines talk about men who speak in stage whispers (“I’m Batman”) and are bent on revenge. I mean, have you seen the movies ? No one knows I exist. I sit in Wayne Manor, flipping through the latest Cosmo and Oprah (live your best life sex moves to drive him wild) which Alfred has fanned out so tastefully and sometimes Bruce will call out from his Man Cave Bat Cave: “I’m going out to fight Evil, don’t wait up.” Don’t worry. I’ve got my women’s magazines to keep me warm. I think he’s stepping out with Cat Woman. That must be it.

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Ghosts

Ari Laurel The psychic at the Missoula County Fair says I was a warrior in a past life, which is a thing I want to believe because I feel like a warrior now. It’s hard being an Oakland girl in Montana. Each day, my blood is angry and alienating. If you were to slice my neck open, it’d come spraying out bright red, thick, and stinging like chili oil. Then, the psychic asks me if I am in love, and before I can say anything, she tells me I’ve already met my soulmate. Asking me to believe in soulmates is on par with asking me to believe in psychics and enneagrams. I saw the super blood moon eclipse during the Mid-Autumn Festival, and I did not feel raw or overcome with emotion. The moon lowered and rose above the Rattlesnake Mountains and I did not begin ovulating. I’m so out of my touch with my body, I wish I could evolve out of being a woman and into being a fucking cyborg -- how dope would that be! Three weeks before the County Fair, I’d started dating someone. He seemed OK. Better than OK. Pretty cool. But it was early. I didn’t know if he was my soulmate, or if my soulmate was one of the men or women I’d already said no to. Because I say no to a lot of things, a lot of people. I could say no now, if I wanted, and maybe that’s what power is. We played Mortal Kombat the first time we hung out, and I kicked ass with a character whose special move is to bust men’s testicles with her fist. I told him I wasn’t looking to date, and he was cool with it. But as I left his apartment that night, I turned on the landing, mouth open, ready to take it all back. For that moment of hesitation, we were on the same page. I noticed how great his hair was when he looked confused as hell in the light of his doorway, and I wanted to apologize for having no idea what I wanted or how I felt. Instead I said, “Good night,” all coy, like I knew what I was doing. I ain’t afraid of no ghost. I swipe my Visa on the psychic’s iPad, and when she lays out the cards, she doesn’t lie to me. That’s one thing I really appreciate. Even if none of it is true, she’s actually reading them -- a brain full of metaphysical wisdom, interpreting itty-bitty cups and infinity symbols, things that girls tattoo behind their ear and inner wrists. I’ve always wanted to get a reading done but my disbelief made $10 feel so necessary in my wallet. I don’t know how to invest in my future, but I’ll drop $10 on a sweater at H&M that comes apart in three months, or on a super burrito that I can make disappear in a minute. On a road trip last spring, my friends and I asked each other those questions from the New York Times, the ones that are supposed to make you fall in love with anyone, and now I’m obsessed with finding people brave enough to answer them with me. A magic formula. An incantation. “What if we fall in love?” they say. “So what?” I tell them. “I’ve been in love plenty of times, it’s no big deal.” “What if we fall in love?” they ask. “I’ll break your fucking heart,” I say. At the close of the reading the psychic says, “Do you have questions for me?” I look down at the grid of tarot cards and want to ask what they all mean. Not because I believe, but because I hate not knowing. I want to learn to read the cups, the infinities, the little moons. Instead, I ask her if I am doing good work. “You are,” she says. “And it will pay off in November.” That’s not what I asked, I want to say. I don’t care about payoff. I think I really want to ask if I am doing the right thing. If I am a good person -- the thing everybody wants to know. Not if I will be happy, but if I deserve to be. This psychic has to get on my level. Is this the greatest challenge? I want to know. Is this the final boss? I imagine myself throwing punches at apparitions, writing an angry comment on an empty comment thread. One day I’ll be in love, I promise myself. And it’ll be for real this time. One day I’ll learn to stack Mortal Kombat combos like nobody’s business, and I will have all the answers without ever having to believe in them.

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Satellite Radio

Susan Beall Summers in my new car satellite radio! the greatest thing ever: Classic Vinyl 70s on 7 80s on 8 90s on 9 until I realize each station plays the same five songs over and over and over I’ve already heard Beat It three times this week (it’s Tuesday) even the comedy channel repeats with controls on my steering wheel I flip from channel to channel to channel how many channels are there anyway? I have twelve programmed three are news channels all saying the same thing on a repeating cycle I listened to a sports channel for twenty minutes talk about some players knee I thought they were going to eventually make a point who had this injury before how does it affect the team what does the expert say finally, I drive in silence and try not to repeat my own thoughts

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iPode: Ode to the iPod David Spicer No larger than a pack of cigarettes, you are the antithesis of those contents. You, with your stethoscope of joy, bring the cure for our spiritual maladies: thousands of tunes float through small silicone warehouses of blues, rock, classical, and Broadway music, and we listen and wonder, that if such a miracle can occur for the ills of our souls, when will this angelic knowledge hitchhike its way to the cancer driving among the dark cells of our bodies that lack the grace of peace and harmony?

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[untitled]

Chloe Mayo I suck in my gut—breathing in until the paunch retracts enough to create a seemingly slender figure. My ribcage juts out. I am a 50’s pin up star. I am Betty Page, chest thrust forward and down on her knees and entirely ensconced in power. Eyes fierce and laughing.      " " " " "

She went mad, you know. She threatened her husband with a knife. Threatened to cut him if he dared look away from Jesus—Jesus pinned on the wall, looking down at the scene, scared, probably. A woman unhinged. I suck in my gut more. My jutting out ribs like armor; they are a military bust of metal, protection. They stick out before and beyond me, a exclamation mark proclaiming to the world. I am safe because I am shielded.

" " "

" " "

I wonder if that’s when she lost it, if that’s when her mind snapped, when her gut loosened, when her waistline expanded. Her armour all gone and her ribs coated in softness and fat and age. Maybe that’s why she cracked and grabbed a weapon.

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Jimi photograph David Thompson

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Walnut Ridge Arkansas photograph David Thompson

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Where The Music Died photograph David Thompson

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Pop Culture and the Romantic Come to Terms Meghan Sterling

A cold night, ripe with leaf scent, stars shuffling like cards, The moon peers down—the king of hearts, with beady, knowing eyes. Lately I have felt them, the last embers of something I have forgotten, Warming my brittle heart, my hands That once attempted, albeit wrongly, To piece the broken bits of world together. Stars slide across the sky like playing cards. I spy on the woman next door As she clips her roses back to the quick. A stunning murder. Why bother with the dying, loyal to their wounds, Their television programs, their firelight, a simulacrum? I insist that the emperor get dressed. I am told I am a fool. I have been dealt a bad hand. I take myself shopping, Buoyed by the mission to buy meaning, magazines, Order handbags online, organize my way around the chaos— Rising oceans, pornography, Trump, The fat injected lips of the elite. Anger Like a pot of geraniums, sits heavy and dumb On the window ledge, aches upwards towards the streetlight. Demands clipping. As if the stars don’t mind this, the stupid lust for forgetting, The drawn-on beauty where there is none. They shine, already gone. I have been tricked into a corner. Who drew these new parameters? The moon of my lost illusions shines brighter because of them.

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Fame and Other Fictions Jon Green I love popular culture but it has made such a mess. It makes useless people think that they can be a part of history with people like Einstein and Winston Churchill. It has made history less of a proud archiving system for national identity and more of a theme park where you can get candy floss and wear 3D glasses and watch as people take a piss against the fence. Elvis is to blame. Were it not for him we would all still be dressing in suits and marrying at 18. Instead we heard Blue Suede Shoes and our pupils dilated. We were liberated. Now we have televisions and people dance and wear brightly coloured t-shirts. In doing this they think they are being watched. Egos have run wild. ‘Look at me I have dyed my hair green,’ ‘Look at me I am walking down the street in a thong.’ We are invincible and now that the old structure has totally dissolved it can never return. The next biggest thing after Elvis has been the internet. We are now famous in our living rooms. Technology has made it so that we can contact strangers in other countries about the banalities of our day. I have read many social media updates telling me that soup is for dinner, or that work is bad, or that tv is rubbish. And I do it too, because, well TV is rubbish. I want those random followers from South Korea to know. We live in our heads to contain the mess. We only have fictions to support us. In this way even I sometimes think about getting famous, which is funny because I am not the type to indulge in popular culture. I read long novels and watch European cinema. When I do think about being famous though I sometimes interview myself. -‘Did you ever think you would be responsible for a resurgence in poetry?’ -‘I really can’t believe the public have taken to John Ashbery the way they have.’ Ah, who am I kidding? Some hardened theorists think that popular culture is all we have now, that even the forests and oceans have become a part of it. When I actually walk in the woods I wonder what they mean. I think they mean our minds can’t get away from the crud. That even when we do our best to escape and drive for hours to get to a remote beach we still have a tendency to think about X Factor. Maybe they have a point. It’s hard to be free of influence and unless we strive and go off the grid, or be a vegan, or become a Tibetan Monk then it is likely that we are subject to the powers of the media. I had a vegan friend once. I only ever saw her eat sunflower seeds. Sometimes I think I am not determined enough. A useless slacker. I am committed to books and to writing, but what else? I have had a stream of useless temp jobs that will never amount to a career. I have friends that have careers and families. I envy them. They are upstanding and committed. What do I have but an unfinished novel, a handful of poems and this piece which is uncharacteristically veering into a piece of confessional journalism? I’m not even studied enough to know what to call it. Well I’m a fiction writer so it better be fiction, I guess. All I have to do, we live in such a permeable culture, is put ‘thought Dave,’ at the end of a few sentences and it will be fiction, no? No one cares enough to notice what is what any more. It’ll slip through some suckers net. With pop culture bad things have undeniably entered the overblown public psyche. 100 years from now it is likely that McDonalds will be remembered but Pope Francis less so. The man who has worked on global economic equality, the protection of the rainforests, tackling financial corruption and emphasising the dangers of climate change will be overshadowed by a burger chain. This is not what I would describe as ‘cool’. However, I roll with the punches, and after all there is a new Bond film out so why get yourself into a state? Put your sunglasses on, we live in a time of vanity unknown, thought Dave.

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Fifteen

Tammy Robacker I stopped Kissing my father Goodnight. My Father, Who art so sorry But could never say Why. I slashed Ungodly black eyeLiner in scratches Around my lashes. Banshee mean Lid slits for his Siouxsie Q decked in a crucifix Dangle. Felt dead Wooden like beads kiped from thriftstore Junk bins. Hidden treasure pill hits Of Dexatrim mixed With little Debbie’s Downers. Coming Apart, but still somehow Strung together And counted off In the father’s custody Arrangement days. In hail Mondays He picked me Up. We did not speak. I hung utterly obscene Quiet from my lips. Sour Cherries in the snow, Hotboxing his cigarettes.

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Whistler

Christopher Stanley Banff National Park Selina and her seven-year old son, Oliver, fly into Calgary for a driving tour of Western Canada that will take them to Vancouver, where her husband is speaking at the TED Conference. Years have passed since her last real holiday and she’s looking forward to spending time with her son. Their first stop is the postcard-perfect Banff, with its velvet green pine trees and turquoise meltwaters. They walk along the river and Selina slips off her sandals to let the icy water nip at her toes. On their hotel balcony, she basks in the sunset and sips a native Pinot Noir, while Oliver plays 80’s arcade games on his tablet. Jasper National Park It’s not that Oliver plays the games for long. He gets distracted by the simple beauty of the graphics and stops playing to watch. Selina’s learned to accept that her son is special. On his first day at school, he insisted on taking a raincoat and wellies, even though the long, dry summer showed no signs of cooling. That lunchtime he was the only child allowed out to play in the muddy puddles. And he always seemed to know what song was coming next when she listened to her music on random. After the majestic mountains and whipped cream glaciers of the Icefields Parkway, Jasper seems grey and uninspiring. Oliver plays Tetris without ever touching the screen, not caring how quickly he loses. Selina is bored. She wants to know if its dinnertime yet but, like Oliver, the clock on the wall seems to have given up. Wells Gray Provincial Park In their cagoules, they watch the Chinook salmon leaping up the rapids. Between the rustle of their raincoats and the water splatting down from the tree canopy, Selina wonders if they would hear an approaching grizzly before they were savaged. For nearly an hour, Oliver counts the salmon while she sings nursery rhymes because she read in a book it’s best to let bears know where you are. On the way back to their cabin, Oliver plays Frogger and counts the animated cars. When she looks over, she sees the famed arcade frog sitting at the side of the road, waiting to cross. Just waiting and waiting. Whistler The snow descends like some biblical swarm as they trudge up the mountain to the cable car station. They set off nervously and even the little red gondola shudders. Seven passengers, including Selina, stare silently out of the windows as the ground falls away below them. Oliver sits on a wooden bench and plays Space Invaders, the electronic chirp of the laser cannon punctuating the mechanical grumble of pulleys running over cable. For a few minutes, it seems like they’re flying hundreds of metres above the tops of the pine trees, and then the world disappears. Selina turns full circle, searching through the windows for anything with a hard edge, but all she can see is the mist. Somebody laughs nervously and an old man with a walking stick says ‘Is it true this is the longest, unsupported cable car in the world?’ Oliver starts another game of Space Invaders. With a jolt, the cable car stops moving, the gondola rocking backwards and forwards. Selina looks for an explanation but all she can see in any direction is a few metres of cable disappearing all too quickly. The other passengers shuffle uneasily. The old man says ‘Is this normal?’ No, thinks Selina. Normal is two feet on solid ground.

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Normal is a mobile signal and the hum of nearby traffic. Normal is a glass of wine and a hot bath after Oliver’s gone to bed. Remembering her son, she looks over and sees him sitting on his hands while the space invader aliens do their colourful line dance down the screen. He seems happy enough but she feels more anxious than ever. ‘We’ll be going again in no time,’ says the old man with a reassuring nod. ‘I hear that lunch on Blackcomb Mountain is worth hanging around for.’ While the other tourists snicker, Selina checks her watch and remembers the clock on the wall in Jasper. It stopped ticking when Oliver stopped physically interacting with his game of Tetris. She looks down at his tablet and can’t help noticing the laser canon’s shape is remarkably similar to the shape of their gondola. Is Oliver doing this? Is he the reason the gondola has stopped moving? She watches the aliens making their carefully choreographed descent and feels her chest tightening. What happens when the aliens reach the bunkers? What happens when they reach the laser canon? ‘Oliver,’ she says. ‘Play properly.’ Oliver looks up at her and then looks back to the screen. ‘Oliver,’ she says again, firmer this time. ‘Play the game.’ Oliver smiles as the aliens slice the roofs from the bunkers. ‘Oliver!’ she snaps. Her son jumps, looking mortified. ‘Play the game properly!’ The old man puts his hand on her elbow. ‘It’s going to be okay,’ he says. ‘Let the boy play.’ ‘But he’s not playing.’ ‘He’s all right.’ The bunkers have been halved. Oliver grins in anticipation. ‘You don’t understand,’ says Selina. ‘If he doesn’t play, we’re all going to…’ She stops and looks at the other passengers. They’re all staring at her and she feels stupid, confused. ‘We’re all going to what?’ asks the old man. ‘Never mind.’ In silence, she watches the aliens dismantle the last lines of the bunkers. The gondola sways gently. The end is imminent. The screen flashes. Game over.

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The Fable of the God Cockroach Of Lindos & The Terrible Truth It Vouchsafed To Me Andrew Darlington not the beetle erupting from the bitten apricot core-stone not the ant-shroud crawling the fruit-cake cooling on kitchen table more the night cockroach in the en-suite at 2am, alerted by female shriek, arising in Greek-sweat, it darting stickle-legged backed-up in defiance facing each other, both twitching sleeplessly, perambulating bug-eyes on cockroach eye-stalks hunted, fearing death, it values its foul bug life of decay & filth, mildew, rotten fungus & vile gasses, occult subterranean musty-stench, yet avoiding extinction with determined tenacity, admirable, in its way look, I say, be reasonable we can talk this through naked man to twitching bug, we can resolve this thing this is as base as it gets life and death, but no, I sense more, its words in my head, in karmic past & future lives we are bugs too squish me, you splat yourself but wait, I’ve read my Kafka, seen ‘Incredible Shrinking Man’, know of the evil Insect-God Old-Ones lurking outside space-time, I know this interconnectedness of all things stuff, don’t bug me on this

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but more, in this strange zen confrontation set to cistern ticks and plops, crushed water easing the floor, no, there’s one life, just one, which endlessly recycles itself through terror of being alone through geohistory & cosmic time thus, I am bug, or will be bug or have been bug, all this suffering you inflict you inflict on yourself peering up, a craftier prey I’m trapped in storms of vision, in apparitions in bullets of light some moments are longer than others, some endure forever in small slight sounds tiny tappings of shadow in spattering and jangling one in cold sweatiness, the other iridescent beetle-shell bug-fetid appraising one another, both poised on time’s infinite abyss this truth it vouchsafes me this screaming vision of truth we are god, both of us we are bug, all of us I tiptoe back to bed by morning it is gone…

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Processional Dome pencil, pen, colored pencil, and watercolor Ario Elami

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My South Rachel Nix

You’ll get your biscuit bought by the person in front of you at least once in a while, if you frequent the local breakfast drive-thru enough. If you get stuck in the mud doing what you shouldn’t have been doing, or if you break down on a backwoods road and don’t have a dollar on you to pay a stranger for a lift, you’ll be alright; mostly people here won’t take any pay for what doesn’t cost ‘em much more than time. It’s not all bigoted bullshit, despite the way it all appears when only the ignorant are given a minute to talk on the TV. We have more than sweet tea and grits to redeem our culture. Doors are held open for anyone coming through and older folks are always given a seat in a room left without any chairs. We clean our closets out more than most, given our neighbors don’t always have house insurance and fire doesn’t give a damn what people are left with. My South, the way I see it, is a place where people are still brought up to be nice for no reason.

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Hit-Girl Lays It Down after Mindy McCready

Brendan Gillett Okay you cunts, I've seen what you can do and I'm only saying this one time and don't make me repeat myself because I will not fucking stutter I am the logical step in the system every new feature of the works begins as a wrench so I am here to pull apart the gears twist my own heart from my chest and leave it at the center of this story It is easier, that way, to kill And that is my work that is what I do the service I provide to this narrative about someone else but the central tension of my plotline the fulcrum over which my character arcs is the thin divide between a spray of blood and a flood of tears and only after I've beaten the bad boss can I cry on the roof of a building made of bodies constructed of carnage wrought by my own hands which are deadly with a knife but will never be held like they should be because my daddy died like my mommy before him

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I may speak my grief but my voice was not my own to begin with even if I punch out of this poem and rip this author's fucking throat out because how dare he make his mask out of my words? I have been written and adapted and reworked by men and women alike but only once was I truly embodied because only once did another young girl get to become me but what did it do to that young girl? Swept up into Hollywood her life arcs gracefully over the divide between innocent and cynical as too many girls' lives do as they are thrust into womanhood So let me be a symbol staring out from the cover of my own book a deuteragonist who successfully stole the show and made it her own when I wear my wig I can take on the burden of every too-short childhood provide a cape for grown-up girls to crawl into and find that behind the mask I am just as strong as they are Now, we'll let you see what we can do

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Colossus

Cameron Schneberger Tutorial: Armed with nothing but a sword, a bow and his trusty stead, the hero of Shadow of the Colossus (Playstation 2, 2005) wanders the desolate landscape, hunting and slaying sixteen giants to resurrect his lost love.   1. He never takes my lunch money, but during algebra his zippo might silently ignite under my sleeve. He calls this game "Math Assassins." 2. Every day I let him smack the center of my back. He calls it my baby, the mark his hand leaves. 3. He's the best swimmer in class.   In the locker room I watch him show off his weakspots. The newly-furred small of his back. The tender joint of his elbow. The tiny pink nipples. 4. He says owns a switchblade. He promised he'll show me. He says he owns a dormant grenade. Promised he'll show me. Never saw shit, but the good scissors sleep at the bottom of my backpack always. 5. Most days he doesn't even look at me, but I still run the half mile home as soon as the last bell rings just in case he's waiting by the bike racks. 6. The first time I won a fight: I push him and his buzzcut down the hill & into the fire hydrant. He might need stitches. I lead him to the bathroom to wash out the matted red. 7. The day he discovers superglue, I spend lunch in the bathroom carefully peeling a wool sweater off my shoulders.

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8. He chose a new name for me. He calls me Crispy. He's got the whole class saying it. He's got the teachers saying it. 9. I do all the work, of course. I'm drawing the graph while he googles "sexy ninja." (Yes, it's all so funny now.) We get an A, of course. 10. I sit behind him in Spanish. If a mosquito dances across his neck, I'll notice. 11. He leaves his dirty Kleenex on my desk and I pretend they're fancy swan napkins. 12. On the last day of school he wordlessly cuts the rubber wristband off my Timex with an X-acto knife. 13. On the last day of school my mom calls the police. They sit me down on the porch. I don't say nothing. They don't do nothing.   They apologize to my mom. 14. I don't know how to swim. I just sink to the bottom of the lake and walk across the muddy floor. That's how gods cross continents. 15. I'm the only other one he knows. When he tells me, his lip shakes, I hug him. He thinks his secret absolves him. The way the leopard   frogs and cattails riot around us under the harvest moon, why would he think otherwise. 16. That night, under the harvest moon, I pull his parched hair and suck his neck until he's down to just his briefs.    He looks up at me like a dog begging. I grab him by the jaw and spit in his eyes. He's still waiting for a kiss.

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Jedi Kiss Jon Riccio

1. A fourteen-year-old seducing who I’ll be on a bed at age six in the spring of ′84, our old house, the guest a friend of my brother, flannel rolling across his skinny body, bowl cut eliding his face, Star Wars fanatics during their eighth grade alliance. Tagalong in apogee, I’m open to roles, reenactments for the window to see. Open to impersonating a princess, action figures switched one life after another, thumb running down and up a vinyl cape, Empire converging on twin sheets. It’s a conference day: early dismissal, my father at work inspecting postal collection boxes. This was the year he found a pipe bomb at the corner of Portage and Alcott, a heroin needle in outgoing. Mother – the two-forone scheduling of sons, art teacher impressed with the older’s pointillist sketching of a shoe, caretaking of me. Leia I’ll be in this carbon-freezing scene lensed through a chest kiss, flannel where the horizon cued, teenager who became a paralegal coaxing a suckle over sinewless, ransoming the breath that ages the mouth, metamorphosis smoldering the royalty out of me. 2. Yesterday: browsing for costumes I glide through doors indifferent to making do. Contamination fears and I’m not touching that jedi. That one. That one either. Culpability: The family that blames together blurs together. Agoraphobia: Schadenfreude on a full stomach. worries, All other: Gird a tourniquet for your Loch Ness. The penalty for synthesis rendered moot. Autobiographical Salmonella Olfactory Recall: His name was Mike. He smelled like the cape at BoRics.

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iChat iDrew

my phone has a new app to connect me to the farm where all the dogs go and then there’s the bones year after year burrowing closer to the earth’s core making the signal weaker after their fifteen minutes of fame just a name until an archaeologist digs them up again praise be to richard the third right here right now i’m chatting to kurt cobain he’s got a headache but doing OK today he’s been dancing with fred astaire learning how to tango later i will chat to marilyn monroe she’s promised to teach me how to pout for a living oh my days i’ve a list of advisors from audrey hepburn for grace and elegance to kathy acker’s fanny and jane russell’s nipples but i must stop spending so much time chatting to them live for today let’s face it i’m drop dead gorgeous and they’re the next ellen terry they’re just dead dead dead drop dead dead

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Thelma & Louise Sing a Duet Before Driving Off a Cliff Caroline Shea

Bad guys get killed in every goddamn movie ever made. Pas de deux with pistols. Cliff-falls or sudden explosion. Where we lay the blame in each story is a question of what we are willing to forgive. How to delineate crime? Or assign redemption? We splash through puddles on the summer-dark streets. Boxing yourself into the moment is a balancing act. I didn't tell them that I am not myself but the act of myself; an accretion of narrative and flaw. Only half-made. This omission is criminal. We gotta get out of town. We speed down Saharan streets, my fingers still curled around the ghost of a gun. The world is only an echo of the explosion. The rules of the story dictate that I am a villain, but I inherited my crime. My torn dress & scabbed knees scream a guilty verdict. This isn’t something I can question. Two women, but the lines between our traumas blur. A question: When you spill over & outgrow the hutch of your body, how should you act? I’ve shed a skin and now the world rubs me raw. Authenticity is a crime and I think, just another type of misdirection. An attempt to preserve the paper-doll I’ve made of myself. We are overflowing. Spilled liquor on the leather. I exist as an explosion. The world wants an antagonist. Sometimes the map presupposes the streets. As long as we keep driving, I can breathe. The dust-drenched SoCal streets grant me a reprieve from trying to reconcile my contradictions. It’s not a question easily answered. I once swallowed myself whole. Now each sentence detonates—an explosion. I’m not sure what makes people hate us more. The act (blood & rain on pavement) or its implications (it is dangerous to live even a day when made like I am). I hate my soft flesh; its fragility. My frilled blouse stinks of sweat and crime. Hotel room hang-ups. To feel anything this strongly is a crime Lesson one: the world will weaponize any emotion against you. The streets lined with police cars are proof of that. But you’re made out to be the villain when you wield yourself as a cudgel. It makes us question the agency of those presumed indestructible. I could act the part of a happy housewife but I don’t want to be anything but an explosion. Go back to flowered aprons and permed hair? The explosion of our friendship makes this impossible. To live in that shell is a crime— an act of deceit, an embezzlement. Our rap sheet is long enough already, one desperate act after another. I want to explain that our gas station hold-ups are a prayer. The streets are a makeshift church, our convertible a bullet-riddled pew. I want to exist without question. This interrogation of self is a kind of terrorism, no holier than the mistakes we’ve made. We are dangerously and beautifully made. Let’s keep going, babe. It’s not a question. We will drive until we run out of streets.

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Reboot

Jean Kim I’ve probably seen Star Wars fifty-one Times. Maybe even sixty. First time was The first I watched in a real theatre. I was three years old, that wintry day. Hagerstown was ‘the city’ compared to West Virginia. I still recall the room’s dark closeness, encapsulated by outer space The whoosh of the Dolby speakers as ships went into hyperdrive, As John Williams’ orchestra roared bombastically through stars. Somehow I can piece out those memories, the originals From the multiple replays, the impressions overlayed with details, Insights, errors--layers of paint to create depth. The scene where Luke in his white, judo-esque tunic, Grabs his princess and swings across a gap, Atari Pitfall-style. (I have yet to meet anyone like Luke.) The scene where the gang is mired in garbage, And the compactor is closing in, closing in. The orange X-wing fighter uniforms, Obi-Wan semi-dying, Leia’s platinum necklace, shiny flat squares, at the celebration. I don’t think I remember much else; I am not sure how I know, Since I remember every scene now, recite lines dogmatically Like Biblical verse. “You have failed me for the last time.” “I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.” “Stay on target, stay on target.” “Boota boota Solo.”   Do I even remember those scenes correctly as the first ones? Did I just see them in my companion comic book, or was it The third or fifth time? When did I realize that Luke Kissed his sister? That Darth Vader massacred a planet? Later George Lucas himself retooled his Sistine Chapel, Battle-worn starship miniatures given a CGI high-gloss makeover. So even now, I don’t know what I saw first. I see the story In new ways through the years. I laugh at different jokes. I wonder if Han is hotter than Luke now. I still think Light sabers are zen-weapon sci-fi genius. I see the Buddhist-Kurosawan influences within the Force. I’ve known real-life Darth Vaders. Like truth, I never tire when I see it again. I still love when Luke shoots the Death Star blind, And the music rises—you can trust your thoughts. You can reflect, revise.

84


Absolutely Nothing At All Catherine Katey Johnson

Facebook had a picture posted today. A four-part photo of solo protester scenarios: 1. HERO, a flower child standing before the rifle bearing military machine—DC, 1965 2. The lone person who stood FEARLESS in front of a line of armed tanks—Tiananmen Square, 1989 3. BRAVE, the protestor, hands in the air—Egypt, 2011 4. The lone THUG—Baltimore April 25, 2015 protesting Freddy Gray’s death while in custody. I thought about these kinds of labels and wondered what labels would fit the images I have of my own pugilistic forefathers? 1. GI FROM W-W I-I. My own brave daddy-o protected the bars from drunken soldiers in Havana. Did he have to fight? Oh, hell, yeah, with my mother. Constantly. Mostly over women, his drinking, and women, and women, and money, and that woman he knocked-up who keeps calling us after 10:30 p to the m. Doesn’t she know we have school tomorrow? 2. MARINE. Dad’s father told us he was a Marine. A Merchant Marine. Hell, his folks were all Quakers. Yeah, that was why he didn’t go. A Quaker-daddy-o. And he had two other boys besides my Dad and they went. One joined the Navy but was asked to leave when they found out his door swung the other way. Then he drank a lot and took to painting.The other boy was my pilot uncle, retired a Lieutenant Colonel with the 45th. Flew in five military actions. Five. Flew those big mothers. Flew supplies out. Flew the bodies back. 3. FIGHTER. My dad’s sister, now there was a fighter. She owned a print shop,  Utterback Typesetting Company, and made it go union. Then had them print nothing but fights. Legal briefs, bound, and headed to the US Supreme Court. She was acid-tongued and quick-witted. If you dared to utter back to her, she could pin you to the table in three anecdotes or less. 4. UNION SOLDIER. Dad’s mom’s dad was in the Civil War on the side of the North. He was a field surgeon, doing grassroots amputations and treating the runs. 5. UNION DESERTER. In peace-time my brother fought for the members of a labor union. Then he got promoted and fought against them; supplied the pipelines to promote eco-killing spills and make us all bend over and get a good frack. 6. BRAVES. They were over there on Mom’s side. Cherokees. Prisoners of war, after war, after war…If you go back a little more, we had some Revolutionary Soldiers, too. And Pilgrims before that gave us blankets and small pox. Left me conflicted on Thanksgiving. I go over to my Cherokee Ex-ex-wife-in-law’s to eat. We had an in-common ex-husband at different times. Friends before, during, and after our mutual fiascos. We share good food and great conversation. “Happy Day they shoot!” is her welcome. And we raise our glass to our conficted Holiday. Beat The women may be the bravest. They stayed in Hollywood through WW2. Shot the silver screen propaganda. Bellied-up, eight to the bar. In Tulsa, their lives were riveting, without the bling at MacDonald-Douglas. Afterwards, the women taught us in public schools to duck and cover underneath our laminated kiddie-desks. This was to keep our faces from melting when they dropped the A-bomb. They taught us to make cinnamon rolls out of canned biscuits, or pole dance. Because, it seemed you had to choose between them. There was that choice.

85


Post Beat In the sixties, we exercised our voices and learned about equality. Learned to go in and win the fight inside ourselves. Learned to learn. Learned to head the households, to uphold the rights, to call the shots, find food, and water, and air that is clean, and if it’s not, then make it so. Put up the roof. Fix dinner, tuck in the kids, sew quilts, mend the tiny soldiers and drive ‘em back to practice and keep doing all this fighting, struggling, and fighting, and send those lambkin out the door. Send our kids into battle way, way, too soon, to be MARINES and FLOWER CHILDREN, PROTESTERS and LONE THUGS and CONFLICTED BRAVES send them into a glorious war of the worlds, good God, Lord. What is it good for?

86


Got The Radio On Sheila Wellehan

When I have long drive ahead of me On rural I-95 I never bring my own music I prefer the random rhythms of the radio When the public radio station signal fades And often before I relive my life with the radio on. My eyes on the road, I push buttons and twirl knobs Searching for the Holy Grail, the perfect song The perfect song for that moment. It’s thrilling to hear a cheesy disco song I sneered at when it was a hit I appreciate the beauty and utility of its beat As it propels me past an eighteen-wheeler. I tune in a heavy metal anthem I scorned when it was popular But now secretly adore Turn up the volume, add percussion, and think of old friends Resolving to reach out to some And wondering how others are doing. I rehash crushes, romances, and flings Relationships, affairs, and a marriage As I sing along with soul songs that were already part of the canon When I became a serious student of rock. I wish I could remember history and philosophy As well as I remember every pop song I’ve heard Since I turned twelve If only Hegel had a beat. But all the stories of my life Are encrypted in the radio I know I’ll finally understand them If I just keep driving on I’ve got gas I’ve got time I’ve got the radio turned way on.

87


The Game of Lost Thrones Kushal Poddar

I promise you to watch GOT together. I forget a lot these days. Forget the name of our five children. Forget the U in the couch beside you. Tonight as I whistle towards our draft palace I see a leaf swirling in the street, winter's bastard offspring. Tonight we can role-play. I shall be the blacksmith. You, a tomboy. I recall some of the stories you tell. Then, I drift towards the kingdom to come and doesn't.

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Space Invader photography Thomas Gillaspy

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Circular Man photography Thomas Gillaspy

90


The Gap Bill Trudo

The Atari 2600 was seventeen, my youngest brother, sixteen. The rest of us, older, grew with Pacman, Donkey Kong, Space Invaders. We knew to transform monsters into ghostly snacks, to dodge the barrels. We knew to fire when the aliens fell in their simple pixelated way to the Earth. He didn't know this, having grown with newer generations, Nintendo, X-Box, with more lifelike graphics and kung-fu moves launched with button-sequenced lighting. For him, it wasn't a matter of jump, but the precision of when. We popped in Circus Atari, a classic, not of the arcade, but our home, how much we battled against each other to send the stickmen aloft to pop the balloons. My youngest brother couldn't control as the men splatted again and again— too slow was this world.

91


A David Lynch Thanksgiving Michael Kemp

A turkey stuffed with ice cubes I heard that was a thing Freezing fowl shoved into an oven Binge watching Twin Peaks Binge drinking vodka and cranberry I hoped for your call I hoped for your voice I hoped for your breath in my mouth Forgoing yams and stuffing Sinking into a yard sale couch More vodka, less cranberry Is One Eyed Jack’s hiring? Or maybe the Black Lodge? I stared at the phone I glanced at the Log Lady I looked at my pager Only she spoke My shadow went to college You said you were done with him Her letters came with a furry that died mid-September You and I exchanged sweat soon after I gave up the pie and watched donuts Slamming vhs tapes into her vcr At the time it seemed implausible She would fade like a fourth generation mix tape You would change everything eventually I woke to your no show and an inedible bird Maybe I killed Laura Palmer? More vodka, no cranberry

92


Hellgrammite Mathew Spano

Bite the jaws that bite at you. Let them find you lodged in the throat of the choked beast, mandibles locked even in death. Pierce the toes of selfish giants, return their blood to the ceaseless current. Â Heed midnight thunder igniting your lust from the murk lurking under river rock where you like to drag straggling damsels and knights. Crawl the ancient path once more, out of the depths, onto the rocks, spanning the moat over ancestors' bones... to your own dark corner, where you can shed yourself sans cocoon, sprout dragon wings, fangs, haunt lonely streetlights on the waterfront spoiling for a fight over a girl-tiny Brando, fleeting Dean, Kill-devil, demon seed.

93


A Nightmare on Elm Street (Don’t Fall Asleep) Christine Makepeace

Nancy hunted, scared running, crying, fighting lost, alone, vengeful, burnt controlling, manipulating, killing spiteful, madman Freddy

94


Lunch With Jesus Belinda Subraman

We held hands around the table at Applebee’s and prayed before eating. Fox Network was there and low self-esteem. “The white cops were right, “ one said. “More people need beating.We need more guns. Too many getting rich off welfare too lazy to work.” “Christians have no rights, another claimed. “What about the Christians?” I kept quiet. Dogs were howling for meat. Jesus turned his head away. Bibles slept in the their cars.

95


Olivia, Beatified J.A. Sutherland " " " " "

" " " " "

Dear, think not that they will forget you: - If craftsmanly art should be mine I will build up a temple, and set you  Therein as its shrine. " " " - Thomas Hardy

If I wanted you to be a saint I’d call you Saint Cecilia who sings celestial charms that soothe the raging heart. I could pray to Saint Audrey (as they do in Ely) whose tawdry trinkets were at first the cause of curse, but then became a balm. If I banished you to the kitchen, with subservience of Martha, a saint of domesticity, you could claim your rightful title of a martyr. You could castigate yourself; a cross between Rapunzel and Saint Barbara. You’d piss me off, for sure – far more than I already irked your father. No, I don’t want you as a saint. Do I not apotheosize you? God knows, I worship you; set you up upon a Thomas Hardy shrine. I don’t want you for eternity; I want you here and now. Not perfect, godly, or divine; not with a halo, nor angelic glow. I crave the present: the saints   are dead; numbered with the stars. Like Billy Joel or Jerome Kern, I love you – just the way you are.

96


The Day After Chumki Sharma

The day after dussehra, blazing afternoon feels like sundown. Wind blows all those broken festoons on the road. And I remember how I cried that day when I knew I was leaving you for him. On our way to the cafe, me and my son pause and admire the Durga in the lonely pandal, so forlorn, so proud, so kind. We marvel at her details, pleats on her Sari, creases on her forehead, blood stains on her spear. She gives nothing away, not a drop of sweat in the killing heat. No tear trickles from the pools of her eyes. The worshipping and love vanishing overnight. I and my son join the walking dead at the cafe, stilled for a while by the living idol. Cream walls of the cafe gallery A new portrait in each frame.

97


Wilhelm Takes His Date to the Movies Jordan Meiller

and as an extra lets out a scream, he turns and whispers in his date's ear, “That was me.” He expects her to get uncomfortable, to fake a laugh and shift in her seat, maybe even get up and leave. What he doesn't expect is for her to lick her lips and rub her thigh and say, “Really?” He runs two red lights on the way back to his apartment and they're half-naked before they even get to the bedroom, and then he notices that her lingerie matches her dress, and suddenly he wants to slow down, admire her for a while, maybe forever, and then there goes her bra and off come his pants. She pins him to the bed and engulfs him, and even then he sees there's something predatory about her but damn this feels good, damn fuck oh my god in between the moans he hears her ask him to do it, to scream, scream like he does in the movies, and he tries, you'd better believe it he tries, and they're both so close but she says it's not good enough, and he tries again and it's better this time and he can feel their bodies tightening around each other but she says it's not good enough, and then through half-clenched eyes he sees the letter-opener on the bedside table, and he no longer knows who's the predator and who's the prey, he grabs the letter-opener and plunges it into his leg and he screams and she screams and it feels so good he could finally die happy.

98


Armchair Warrior Kelly McNeal

Armchair warrior Armed with your Android Apple Your texts Ammunition Silence means War Tall tales Of your Brigade Charging cavalry Phones Flat screens Laptops Games No daring When our eyes meet Where’s your trigger While unplugged?

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Yellow Chair Review - Pop Culture Issue 2015  

Yellow Chair Review - Pop Culture Issue 2015

Yellow Chair Review - Pop Culture Issue 2015  

Yellow Chair Review - Pop Culture Issue 2015

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