"Year of the Freshwater Fish" by Leah Leinbach

There is a sentence that exists between you and I
I want to lie down with it
water is underneath, I hear it
the world's shortest ghost story exists in my body
in neon colored spit
on public display
the word discomposure
something quiet pardons remembrance
a secret falls down
you appear out of a pollen cloud
and say boo
sneak your way up into my laugh
I touch your neck
and it is the shape a neck would be
if you truly existed
regret shrieks its way off a moldy peach
an out of order sign is out of order
my only question
if you were born in the year of the freshwater fish
would you have loved it any harder?
-
Originally from Seattle, Leah Leinbach is a writer based in Portland, Oregon. Her work has appeared in CHEAP POP as well as in the New York and Chicago based zine Metaphorical Fruit

"no one tells you" by Annette Covrigaru

                 no one tells you
 
             that     shadows shift on concrete

                         like light on water,

that                  darkness reverberates black tides

      leading, leaning, misleading, 

                 that       to rely on these selves

                  is to have faith in illusion, 

   &             it may as well be god lying

       faceless on the sidewalk, 

                    leading, leaning, misleading.

perhaps     we'd see more

          if we hit concrete instead of

     toying with translucence. 

                 perhaps            eyes don't belong

            imbedded in cement, 

                 but       higher, closer, higher.
-
Annette Covrigaru is a gay/bigender American-Israeli writer based in Brooklyn, N.Y. They were a Lambda Literary Emerging LGBTQ Voices nonfiction fellow and writer-in-residence in 2014 and 2017, respectively. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in TQ Review, Stitch, Emerge, Cosmonauts Avenue and Entropy. Annette is currently completing a master’s degree in Holocaust Studies through the University of Haifa.

3 Poems by Coco M. Keehl

PENETRALIUM PART 01

you will see this dog before you die
wet teeth crack, a bullet < bark >         before you
know / how the brain creates what the mind creates

dissociative vision & Antonio Damasio
states that  we see more than we  ( are )  
aware               I’ve been leading arrows across an alien surface

better now       tell me what’s inside
the cells your heart      < vibrating >
compact, memory, folding

paper cut the laws of physics
on oneside                 restricts the other side
( phenomenally distorted ) dreams don’t last forever

& gravity we know     is not gravity
as it knows itself, like warm gusher
jewel of eye                 a pseudo understanding

which still, is, an understanding
( to behold a beauty ) everything was  light &
everything indirect lightening

litchenberg, static, etching  in my eyelids        look     
look     how space is    a test of faith or fighting
not just < a  voice > wanting to speak about the void

a void speaking into the void
a void < wondering >how empty
possibility could be

UNDISCOVERED SUBATOMIC PARTICLES

Dark matter can’t be found
if it doesn’t exist or
god where be energy or
the physics of heat

& I rippled two black holes in & out unending infinites
            every               entropy
used to measure the rearrangement
I rearrange then
myself easier to remove
            unbreak reorder           was once
three in womb
but came in two           it did

not surprise me to learn
I was twinned.                         Here is             
my hand &      here
other palm to your shoulder
you surrender to god               
            so what

what makes you think
what makes you think
my questioning
is weakness?

WHILE EVERYTHING STILL BLOWING

across thick, the lawn
I did not understand but maybe

it was an important document
& everything you own

but first vivid image
subjected action partake-

ing apart; love your friendly alien
sitting golden going
nowhere else at all. 2 sandhill
cranes 2 family of geese & a

black bird with a bright red chest watch me
want condense word gut

rule, truth enough to believe
a bigger revelation I swear

I’m always digging deeper examining
observation: what matters, isn’t first

it’s the sparkle off the water,
the birds moving closer in.
-
Coco M. Keehl is a poet living in the forests of Michigan with her dog. She is founder of GRAVITON and a poetry editor at Barrelhouse Magazine. Recent poems are in Hobart, WOHE Lit, FIVE:2:One. Find her on twitter @cmkeehl.

 

 

"No Tomatoes" and "Thinking of You" by Carol Ellis

No Tomatoes

Rainfall and I am outside
in rain with rain as rain

apologies to everyone
to myself with wet hands

thank what air to look like that
I grow and comb my hair today.

Thinking of You

If you could run down to the corner store
for a pound of hamburger

don’t wear green socks,
makes your ankles look like small lawns

with only room for one chair
a small table that holds the entire point of a moment     

that sits and drinks iced tea outside or if this is winter    
constant hot tea helps

or let’s face it, coffee is the strong answer
to the start of any day, the list continues,

late at night in a room when it’s too dark to sleep
might as well wake up

besides the electricity is being turned off today
they told me why

and you’ve returned with hamburger
but I’ve become a vegetarian

just in the time you were at the store
so take it, it’s for you.
-
Carol Ellis was born in Detroit, Michigan and lives in Portland, Oregon. She’s been around the academic block with her Ph.D. in English from the University of Iowa. She is the author of two chapbooks: HELLO (Two Plum Press, forthcoming 2018), and I Want A Job (Finishing Line Press, 2014). Her poems and essays are or will be published in anthologies and journals including ZYZZYVA, Comstock Review, The Cincinnati Review, Saranac Review, and Cider Press Review. In 2015 she spent time in Cuba writing a book and giving readings.

3 Poems by Anthony Hagen

Cough Drop

“I never went fishing,” said the doctor. “Instead, I did homework. For my son, I have bigger plans. I’ll catch a fish for him one day.” I brought home a vial of medicinal balm. You insisted on putting bread in the refrigerator, to reduce the likelihood of infectious spores. You went for the discount toaster, so it’s still cold in the center. I could guzzle down broth in the time it takes for you to toggle the thermostat. When there was still time for it, we would take strolls down the muddy embankment, wade in the shallow region, and catch tiny minnows in our palms. Now there is nothing but cinnamon and ginger ale on ice. “There seems to be a problem with your prescription,” said the doctor on a call. “The most obstinately intellectually devoid among us have seen fit to saddle me with ill advice. Cease all ingesting of the tablets. Come to my office as soon as possible. You know my extension.” We tried to lug the couch into the parlor area, but could barely lift it up before dropping it again.

Sneeze Guard

It was the first morning of frost, and I noticed the leaves broken beneath my shoes. I was in the midst of negotiations with the CEO. “Sentimentality blooms like flowers nowadays,” he said. His office was adorned with a large oil painting of several multicolored horses on a plain. I was complimenting the décor when, without warning, he blurted, “I am no longer able to continue this conversation,” and ran out of the room. He left half a mug of black Italian dark roast coffee. It hung in the air. I was tempted to drink. It was early. You always advised me out of speaking and into listening. Your gift of that nice leather chair helped me, to such an end. Out to lunch, we could see the glistening tubs of chopped pork behind the glass. That tone you set, the one that always wakes me up, took all the germs from me. I can constrain myself with a necktie, and fall in love with my shirts, but everything flows, and flows like rain. The CEO left me an odd voicemail. “I have not yet begun to fight,” was all it said. Thanks to you, we are never wanting for the newest scents. For that, I am thankful.

Impeachment Proceedings

Frequent stops: gas hub, feeding station, rubber emporium, discount cattle outlet. Communiqués to party headquarters, screaming matches via fax machine. “I’ll murder this job before it murders me,” you said. “What do you suppose they make figs out of?” I said. We departed the fruit barn just in time for the industrial fudge squirter. “Obscene?” you said into the phone. “Of course it’s obscene. Don’t distract from the real issue at hand.” Onward to the semi-legal explosives warehouse. “I can’t look at anything colorful,” you said. “I must look away.” At the hospital, scrubbed nurses stitched my wounds while chatting about the recent banking scandal. Outside the room, doctors stared at clipboards while chatting about the latest baseball scandal. “I have my own life too, you know,” you said, perhaps into the phone. Machines next to my head beeped like flugelhorns.
-
Anthony Hagen holds an MFA from Hollins University. His writing appears in CalibanBoston Accent LitClarionBird's ThumbThe Hollins Critic, and DenimSkin. 

"When You Go to Where the Bells Ring From" by Cooper Wilhelm

Other people are the lightning in our lives,
joining sky and earth, churning dirt
to glass. Now

what am I?
It’s okay to be afraid, to wave
at everything
like a leaf prepared to fall.
Death

is coming to save us
from the things we love.
-
Cooper Wilhelm is the author of three books of poetry, including DUMBHEART/STUPIDFACE (Civil Coping Mechanisms/2017). Swine Song, a chapbook of poems about pigs, comes out next month from Business Bear Press. He used to do a radio show about witchcraft. Yell at him on twitter @CooperWilhelm.

"7" by Rax King

The following is the seventh recitative in Rax King's The People's Elbow.
-
I think about kissing The Rock a lot. I think about what a huge person he is, but how tender he’d be, and what his smile must look like when it’s shy, when it’s nervous. In my waking life, it’s always me who’s shy, it’s always me who’s nervous, and it’s always me who’s smiling. I believe that he kisses like I do.

He’s so big he’s so big he’s so goddamn big. Masculinity in macrocosm. No man exists who’s as big as The Rock is in my imagination— there wouldn’t be enough food in the world to feed that man if he were real. He’d starve. My outsize feelings can only thrive in the context of unreality. My body can only thrive in the careful grip of a man the size of an SUV. It goes without saying that The Rock is not in love with me.

 Calculate how much he’d weigh at that size. Calculate the weight of even one single hand. Understand that any human, any real human, would be crushed to death instantly by a hand like that. Imagine it stroking your shivering gooseflesh back into itself, hot but not sweaty, firm and heavy and correct. There, now. Don’t you feel better?
-
Buy the full chapbook here and read the other twenty nine recitatives. Thanks.

3 Poems by William Repass

Sound Horn

Exhibit Y? Photogenic proof—albeit

pixelated—stumps even a rigged jury, painting pictures of a land florid with fauna. Out past the lumber mills, past the lumber yards, past the chugging auto saws and acrid plumes; out beyond the slope of thistle, of stumps and mist and rust: the land of boon, sprouting honky tonks. Yes. There. Where the towing just ain’t enforced. Parp parp!

For it was then the blowhard caption horned in, reports The Bugle, sounding off “On the Recent Spike of Oryx Sightings: a Symbology of Cornucopiæ.” And almost... well it almost... sneezed up a hunk of manna.

Almost. Instead: a helical tusk sur le bout de la langue. Magisterial companion to our rotating cast of carousel mounts. Cast in brass, that is. Talking animals?! Shorn affidavit. Political allegory?!—a horse shoe crabbed by narrow margins, purely milling.

Poof! And as for this “protrusion”?

Crushed to a fine, glittering powder, cut with poppy, pressed into neat pills, patented by Little Big Pharma, and finally, sold. Antidote to the common cold—

the only side effect, excessive swearing.

 

Scum Purse

Interest you in a gimlet? Consider this, technically, your official welcome to the pond. This sump sunk dead center some dead aristocrat’s Cartesian garden. Pring has prung. Our vegetative hat grows knobbly as a sacful o’ limes, disbursing a twist of ignoble gasses. Common slaw—a fish wife fragrance,

available for limited time only. We may be bottom feeders but, I tell you this, that our pond has got a whole lot going on. Iridescent scales but in whose flavor? Lil’ fishies nosh big fish, neck ticklishly, in the shape of exfoliage and trashy novels. Deconstructed salad days, if you will. These turgid whiskers not for naught.

What you might call in technical terms our common craw chews common slaw for us. Now that’s what I call haute couture!

 

Thud Aplomb

Rex ink hole hot off the machina—itself squamulose w/ prefeathers. Gothic curly cues amidst which the character, extinct to us, returns. That’s P as in pterodactyl. Equipped with the advanced new pulley system, can we not master the past faster? Monarchist! Your philtrum is awash in slobber. Suchlike behavior reads illegible, a glandular feint. Shrink peccadillo.

Newtonic fig squelch and ensuing dropsy paroxysm, averted both. Thanks, air plane gluey foot pads. Don’t suppose you happen to know the where bouts of my cockatoo, exiled since last December? Lizards affix all over. After tarring afterfeathers, gravity pules.

Cigarette?

Any last words? You just never know. At this late hour, any word

at all could wind up famous somewhere down the line 

“You and what anvil?”
-
Originally from Los Alamos, New Mexico, William Repass lives in Pittsburgh and works as a projectionist and film librarian. His work has appeared in, or is forthcoming from, Bennington ReviewDenver Quarterly, Hobart, Small Po[r]tions, and elsewhere.

3 Poems by Maura Way

Slow Cooker

I left my heart in the general
pozole. I thought it would
be safe from harm. I got so
fat. Some pulling happened
while I thought about the crab's
immortality. I should be tender
by now. Silence is not peace. It is
the lack of courage in human meat.

 

Grand

Big Macs now
come in three

different sizes.
I don't want to

be a teacher. My
world can come

to an end. I'm just
documenting it. No

one cares about
superlative forms.

 

Babylon

The getaway will break me
into fourteen clay tablets. I
will have to arrange them to
create a narrative of a poppy.
Clearly prescribed life cycles
will emerge, but it will still
take a dogged wrongness to
organize a logical storyline.

Is it really releasing fear if you
step off the cliff, harnessed into
complicated belay system? I
know the trick is infallible,
but I don't believe in it. I'm
more apt to sleep on it. Only
blooms will hang overhead,
still & carabinerless legends.
-
Originally from Washington, D.C, Maura Way is a schoolteacher in North Carolina. Her poems have appeared in/on Drunken Boat, Verse, DIAGRAM, Ocean State Review, and The Chattahoochee Review. Her debut book of poetry, Another Bungalow, was released by Press 53 in 2017. She has been a teacher for 20 years.

"Every other summer our house would get hit by a tornado" by Joshua Bohnsack

Every other summer our house would get hit by a tornado
That would dip into the valley of my parents’ backyard.
The first time my sister was paranoid because she lived through one
But I shrugged it off until the closed windows swoll and the plate flew out of the closed
     microwave.
& it opened us up to what can go wrong in our world as the dog was sucked up from the deck
     and I watched it through my basement window and told my little brothers, Don’t look out
     there.
Their swing set was wrapped back to a tree and the trampoline floated down the
Mississippi
& it might still be there
I don’t know.

& they kept hitting.

& I went to Ireland
& didn’t hear from my family
But saw the pictures.
My mom wrote me
She had a bad feeling
& moved my records from her den the day before
The basketball hoop would have splintered the vinyl
Where it landed through the window
& I would have never came back.
-
Joshua Bohnsack is an MFA student at Northwestern University, a reader for TriQuarterly, and the managing editor for Curbside Splendor Publishing. He is the author of Shift Drink (Spork Press, forthcoming 2018) and Burnt Sienna (Throwback Books 2017). His work has appeared in The Rumpus, Hobart, Queen Mob’s Teahouse, and others. He ran an ice cream shop in rural Illinois until he moved to Chicago. @joshuabohnsack

3 Poems by Darren C. Demaree

[the firepower is what you expect it to be]

i told my children the firepower is what you expect it to be and we use that firepower simply all of the time because it’s simple to use it’s simple to press buttons and blow those blue eyelids off of all of our enemies who of course have their own buttons and their own firepower that has been simplified for the witnesses who love to see a countdown they can understand hell even if there’s two keys for one death that doesn’t quite seem complicated enough and what about for a million lives regardless i taught myself and i will teach both of you exactly how to make your eyelids look blue from a distance

 

[we don’t need a reason]

i told my son we don’t need a reason to look away

 

[the poison is occasional]

     after Brenda Shaughnessy

i told my daughter the poison is occasional the bad stuff is every day but the poison is occasional the bad stuff is every day but if you’re lucky all the poison will do is change your tolerance for poison which will eventually kill you but for a while you will appear to be superhuman you will appear to the ultimate refraction of the reflection of the battle of never getting any better and that sort of narrative will flip pages like lifetimes

-

Darren C. Demaree’s poems have appeared, or are scheduled to appear in numerous magazines/journals, including Diode, Meridian, New Letters, Diagram, and the Colorado Review. He is the author of six poetry collections, most recently Many Full Hands Applauding Inelegantly (2016, 8th House Publishing). My seventh collection Two Towns Over was selected as the winner of the Louise Bogan Award by Trio House Press, and is scheduled to be released in March of 2018. He is the Managing Editor of the Best of the Net Anthology and Ovenbird Poetry. He currently lives and writes in Columbus, Ohio with his wife and children. 

 

"The Stanford Prison Experiment, Laptop, Split over an Evening" and "Jaws, Laptop, Split Over a Meal and Some Carpentry" by Justin William Evans

The Stanford Prison Experiment, Laptop, Split over an Evening

Why not bother to understand
no one wants to be happy

and you are meat
that was afraid to rot

that's singing to itself
the same song until the song is walking
until the song hatches from its melody’s weight
and becomes marches

then the fruit of looking
or rashes
or red bulls in ochre
fading from the walls of your skull

you sink into sleep
the lake skin banks repeat
and the posture dignifies
or embarrasses
or invents dignity

let's not claim independence from anything
there's no tunnel between us
only telephones and microwaves

fill me with dry leaves
or pull me to your side by my teeth
the taste of your clay fingers
your boggy ankle somewhere else
your belly singing
like a whale
in a sea of blood

Jaws, Laptop, Split Over a Meal and Some Carpentry

My kids were on that beach too
and I’d put them out there again
I’d drown them with my own hands
if it meant I could stay their father forever

death isn’t permanent
death aint like some personal insult
give me death or give me liberty
but just for a little while
give me a deep long death

and come to me in two pieces
you and the radio mother
you and the undersea misfit
you and the missing parts

and I’ll speak softly and show no fear
drink and love
with firmness only
but with love

all black eyed monsters
are full of steaming milk
all scars and nightmares turn beautiful
that live long enough
inside one finds license plates
rubber hoses
tin cans
but no children’s limbs

so on to the radio mother’s dream
three lovers held in the palm of a wooden god
in painful yearning for the undersea misfit
the hidden giant come to paint the water red

smart fish
once he’s free we can all go home
to the sand
where we never sing
and the birds eat the turtles in their shells
-
Justin William Evans is a poet and playwright from Charlotte, NC. He has been working with and producing exclusively original theatre since 2011. Currently he is a member of the Charlotte theatre ensemble, XOXO. Past writing credits include A Tonguey Kiss for Samuel Davidson (Anam Cara Theatre Co.), Satan v. Laundry (ACTC), I Wont Hurt You (XOXO), and The 30th Annual Bernstein Family Christmas Spectacular (The Magnetic Theatre). He is former co-editor of Vanilla Sex Magazine. His poetry has been published by Five2One, Metabolism (as Valentina Tereskova), and The Peal. He frequently performs with Asheville's Poetry Cabaret, and is the creator and editor of the sound collage podcast Mystery Meat. He organizes and hosts the America's Pastime reading series, a reading of un-original poetry and fiction.

Fortune Cookie (May 9, 2017) by James Croal Jackson

You have good reason
to be self-confident.

After all, this is what
the fortune cookie said.

After a dinner portion
of greasy lo mein
from New Peking.

After CNN reports
the president’s firing
of the FBI director.

This is a gross abuse of power,
and there is a gross amount
of noodles inside me.

Despite that,
I have good reason
to be self-confident,

I suppose.

I am reasonably certain
I still have a job.

I am reasonably certain
I am not under investigation.

There was no backdoors
deal struck with the restaurant
to ensure this would be

my particular
fortune.

All I did was order
the noodles via telephone.

Then I drove to the
restaurant to pick it up,
face-to-face.

I used my credit card
to pay for it, but
I will pay the bill.

In the plastic bag
they handed me,
there was a brown bag.

In the brown bag,
there was a white box
with my food in it

as well as chopsticks,
napkins, a fork, and
the fortune cookie.

That’s it.

All I’m saying is
if you don’t believe
me, investigate.

Anyone who says
differently
is reasonably suspicious.

-

James Croal Jackson is the author of The Frayed Edge of Memory (Writing Knights Press, 2017). His poetry has appeared in FLAPPERHOUSE, Yes Poetry, Serving House Journal, and elsewhere. He edits The Mantle, a poetry journal. Find him in Columbus, Ohio or at jimjakk.com.

"Prayer Peaches" by Matthew DeMarco

     after Plath

All day walking in Austin, then peaches,
ice-dewed in a silver bucket.

Their flesh was sealed but soaked—
dense-haired, close-mouthed Ziploc,

unpierced. They sat piled across the street
beside a flushed and beaming persistent woman

who waved one wandlike arc of hand
toward the six of us, insistent.

Purple magic marker on the ramshackle
cardstock sign: FREE PEACHES! FREE PRAYERS!

There are peaches when it is hot
in Austin, preciously secured in private,

cold buckets, secret sweetness behind their seals
across the street. The woman wanted

to pray for us, I wanted a peach, and Erik
wanted to bow his dry sober shut mouth

in humble silence while her hand acquired
the whispered drying saltwater of his skin.

They were already bathed. So easy to slide sharp
flat tooth into fruit, render askew

ropes of slippery tissue from the waxy rind
of peel. So easy, with a blessing and sticky lips,

as sand salamander streaks congealed down my wrist,
to pitch a pernicious pit into the gutter of the bridge.

Pray the nectar that remained in ribbony veins
on the stubborn hard stone would secrete a scent

to provoke, at least, one in the millions
of the city’s nightly bats.
-
Matthew DeMarco is a writer, editor, and educator living in the Albany Park neighborhood of Chicago. He is a recipient of the Eileen Lannan Poetry Prize, for which his work has appeared on Poets.org. His poems can also be found in Opossum and Columbia Poetry Review. Drop him a line at matthewpauldemarco@gmail.com.

"Any old Lavardis Nadler in a phone booth" by Benjamin McPherson Ficklin

Here in a phone booth we have Lavardis Nadler. He picks up the plastic receiver. But, really, this could be Sadie Baum-Swensen or Danez Fenty or Cynthia Aldritch or Patty Mendéz, et cetera, et cetera[1]. There’s no dial tone, but this person, they/her/him, decides it might help to spin a few random numbers in the rotary dial (2, 8, 5). They avoid looking out the glass door at the hotdog restaurant, not that this phone booth is across the street from a hotdog restaurant or anything. It, this red phone booth, is actually within the unassuming hotdog joint that one enters by walking down a short flight of stairs. They, our nervous person, hears the soon-to-be hotdog eaters drunkenly chit-chat while they shuffle in line, the squirting of ketchup and mustard, the dings and buzzes of the pinball machines outside the glass door of this phone booth, but Sadie (or Lucas or whomever this person is) doesn’t hear anything from the receiver. Nothing within the phonebooth happens. Except for maybe the lotioned or wedding-ringed or even finger-missing hands of our person becoming sweatier. There’s a glob of relish on the tiled floor. They move their tennis shoes or stilettos away from it. They look out the glass door. Nobody seems to be paying special attention to our lonely person in a phonebooth. Deborah, still pinching the receiver to her head, plucks her cellphone from her purse. He tries to turn it on. Nothing. Any hope of a kiss or a goodnight hug seems as dead as the device. It had been a hard day or month or year or decade. They need something to go right. Travis slips the phone into his back pocket. But they knew this would happen, as that’s what always happens when your cellphone dies and you’ve not had the opportunity to charge it. Alberto knocks twice on the opaque wooden wall to his left. Maybe it kinda sounds hollow. Nothing happens. Now she can smell the relish, and he worries they might smell like relish if this wall ever swings inward and gives them access to their internet date. And Cedar/Doug/Kaya/Sharleesa thinks of what simple and understandable explanation it will be: Sorry, my phone died when I was reading about this huge wildfire happening on the West Coast and there’s all these crazy pictures of (Seattle, Portland, Vancouver, Boise, et cetera) where you can’t even see half the buildings. Not even the fucking sky[2]. But really Van/Terance/Satomi/Damian/TJ/Kenna had been looking at those photos, the photos of the wildfire, when they were waiting for the subway, and then, after boarding, while they were rattling with the other hand gripping a metal pole, they were surprised to find their phone, which they were very (almost painfully) aware was at 3% battery, again staring up at them with headlines and photos of other disasters: the 8.1 earthquake off the coast of Mexico (the first one, not the one that happens a month later), the Lesser Antilles devastated by Hurricane Irma, the Houstonian recovery efforts (Hurricane Harvey), the flooded Floridian streets. But here, crammed into the phone booth, the only image Jessa/Toni/Menen/Abraham/Pihu/Jack remembers is of one of one of the islands: palm trees, brick walls, shacks, high-rise hotels laid flat as if the hand of some god[3] swept backward against the land, pushing the isle’s humanity into the sea. But this person (who again finds their dead cellphone in their hand) can’t remember what island that was, and they don’t want to seem hysterical if their/her/his date is actually sipping a cocktail on the other side of this (potentially false) wall. She, Jen or Jenny or Jennifer, dials 7. Nothing. They dail 6. Nothing. The last text Hassan’s “match” sent through the dating app was something like, Text me once you’re in the phone booth and I’ll let you in. And then there was a winky face. The only information Monica remembers regarding the location was hotdog restaurant and East Village, and he’s already looked inside four other places that sell hotdogs before finding this one, and what are the chances there’s multiple hotdog restaurants with phone booths within their walls. Actually, she thinks, within this metropolis (chaos) the possibilities seem pretty good (infinite). Somebody knocks on the glass wall. Our person, this sweaty ambiguous person[4] in the phone booth, looks out at the stranger[5] and shrugs before even noticing who it is.
-
[1] Not to say it could be anybody. But we could say it’s any New Yorker, or any American visiting New York, or any person visiting or living in America from another country, which I guess means anybody capable of physically being in this place (the place this story occurs in), which is anybody.

[2]Though, note, the exact articulation, the parlance of this preconceived explanation would vary drastically depending on a combination of idiosyncrasies and cultural conditioning. I mean somebody from London might substitute “bloody” for “fucking”, or imagine it all in a Southern or Jamaican accent, or Ni el puto cielo, en serio, or 私は何も見ることができなかった。クソみたいな空でさえも。

[3]And by “the hand of some god” I really mean the power of any god, or any omnipotent force that inspires awe with such intensity that personal nihility is felt when considering one’s self relative to this force’s power. And spirituality, this force makes one feel spiritual. See: Allah, Thor, Satan, Haile Selassie, Science, Nature, et cetera.

[4] Perhaps a sort of you. Like a person like you but native to Florida. Like you’re a Cuban American. Or maybe you’re Mexican and you were brought here by your parents; maybe you thought you were safe and going to aspire to romance unbothered; maybe you were introduced into a reality you never asked for but never resented too much—the hand you were dealt sorta thing.

[5] Perhaps another sort of you. And don’t you just hope you’ll be kind, patient, maybe with a bit of useful knowledge (like you should dial 1), but mostly just patient and kind.
-
Benjamin McPherson Ficklin was born in Portland, Oregon, and now spends his life travelling. Outside of his writing, he works as a gongfu tea-master, lumberjack, commercial salmon fisherman, abstract photographer and ulu farmer. His work has been published in Lomography, Autre, Oregon Voice Magazine, and all three anthologies by The Stonecutters Union.

"Triphylia on Easter Sunday" by Dionissios Kollias

All of Athens empties out onto one roadway
while the others wait on the seventh hill of Rome.

Eight hours away from childhood,
a firework,
an electronic dance remix I’ve heard during the winter,
and four village bells ringing in the valley.

Children snap from behind dumpsters in the dark
as we shed our damp winter wools,
sip sweet wine,
promising to be pure,
promising to keep a secret for another year.

How I wish to decorate the tomb with white roses and jasmine,
to feel the tears through black fabric,
soak my skin with my doubt
and cross myself by memory
as gold liturgical fans pass me.

Letting go of my grandmother’s hand,
it feels good to hold onto something else tonight,
a daffodil and a vodka soda,
a cigarette between my nightclub fingers,
the accoutrements of youth.

Walking through the crowd,
on top of peanut shells and tradition,
of an unwelcomed feeling,
of being told that he is waiting to be himself,

I too, am that person waiting,
with my own yellowed and decaying palm frond spread before me.
-
Dionissios Kollias lives and writes in Brooklyn.

"...and we won't give it a name-" by Dana Jerman

after Alan Watts

It begins how it begins-

your voice a broken gong.

A shuttle in the rotations of laughter.

An unhurried bliss- not even as cocksure
as the notion that poetry can't change
your life unless you read it.

Alone goes the magnificent candor
of that which is fathomed and not
fathomed.

Roads lost to the restless
evening and you- horseless
and no night class-
head too filled with your own spine.
A leaping rope.
A woven hookshot.
Each vertebrae a stanza too lonely. Too true.

Loose, see.
Sky, diamonds, city lights
to rearrange all your tonight faces.

Noir say noir.
Broken gong, say heart.
Blight's beauty song.

Rock and rhyme in the modern wilderness.

Vice and rage- a nowhere kind of freedom.
Strategy troubled by its own unwritten erotic.

Begin here.
-
A native of Western Pennsylvania, musician and writer Dana Jerman has been published multiple times in print in the US and abroad. By way of an artist statement, Dana likes to use writing as a way of re-appropriating memories to create an alternate history or a loose space for magic featuring primarily a configuration of the varied voices of spectators. Mostly though, she writes about love. Her chapbooks include Sins in Good Taste featuring poetry and drawing from Back To Print Publishing. And the self-published Briefly, The Heart. You can see more of her literature and photography on her blog, updated monthly: BLASTFORTUNE.com.

"Resent it all you want, but it's yours" by Larry Thacker

A chattering, live thing in the bottom of a yellow pill bottle that is Kentucky.

The rumored wolf tracks along the hemlock ridges leading to the limestone cliffs, filled with pools of rain and tasting of Kentucky.

Dig everything out of the old burn pit on the property. Save the old green and blue glass. The dress buttons. The unidentifiable twisted tin. The dog jaw bone. The doll arm. This is what’s left of the dreams of their Kentucky.

You can drive through the mountain’s long and deep belly into another state but something about you still smells of Kentucky. 

If it’s in regard to being in the top five of bad lists or the bottom five of good lists, then feel free to speak of your lovely Kentucky.

That rattling you hear after hitting all the potholes on the coal road when you try to go back home isn’t your muffler loosening up, it's a gravel kicking around the emptied skull of Kentucky.

It’s not just animal hoarders, some of that stench is just all the meth cooking up in Kentucky.

A church on every corner. A corner for every church. A snake for every Saturday night of the year in Kentucky.

Once the heels started flapping he peeled off the shoes a lot of people didn’t think he even had and slung them up into the pretty kudzu on the side the road while out roaming the backroads of Kentucky.
-
Larry D. Thacker’s poetry can be found in or is forthcoming in over fifty journals and magazines including The Still JournalThe Southern Poetry Anthology: Tennessee, Mojave River Review, Broad River Review, Harpoon Review, Rappahannock Review, Silver Birch Press, Delaware Poetry Review, AvantAppal(Achia), Sick Lit Magazine, Black Napkin Press, and Appalachian Heritage. His stories can be found in past issues of The Still JournalFried Chicken and Coffee, Dime Show Review and The Emancipator. He is the author of Mountain Mysteries: The Mystic Traditions of Appalachia, the poetry chapbooks Voice Hunting and Memory Train, and the forthcoming full collection, Drifting in Awe. He is presently taking his poetry/fiction MFA at West Virginia Wesleyan College. www.larrydthacker.com

"civil engineering"/"Peine forte et dure"/"Begotten" by Blake Pipes

civil engineering

i move gravel around in my mouth
somehow under the impression
the flavor will lend order
between death knells

around me
cranes swing forth skyscrapers
          just as predicted
by the street corner
preacher

          nobody wants to have fistfights
                     anymore

so stay asleep as long as you can

the tallest men just sling papers
and forge ink replicas wrought to
choke our animals

this sunday
i shepherd the hammer through
the television set, fatigued finally
by god’s slippery slurs,
and in my hand, glass glints
like so much fish flesh

          i have wanted atonement
          ever since i was a little
          girl

my lithium-ion blood
staggers like coal clumps
into the furnace

and i thin, i thin

Peine forte et dure

The water in the fishbowl gets lower
and lower. I think about draining it,
but never do. The fish floats around
the bottom, still dead. This week, I took up
boxing in hopes of being hit in the head.
So far, no luck. Yesterday, I heard

a man clad in sandwich boards
screaming on the street for a new law
that would force every major leader
to demonstrate signs of the stigmata.

Wading through the crowds listening to
him had me late to boxing. American life
is starting to feel like one big reboot
of the witch trials where participation is
mandatory and advertising more streamlined.

News stations call for witch blood,
demand retribution from the
covens marching in the light of day.

Do you want to be the witch
or do you want to be the accuser?

I sleep in the grass tonight, wake up
come morning. No one notices the deviation
from the script. I check the mail and walk inside.
There is leftover soup in the fridge,
but I think it’s gone bad. Out the window,
the neighbors have a fire going,
preparation for another trial.

I empty the fishbowl and
put on my boots.

Begotten
     For Sleep Paralysis

I wish you would stop choking me
while I sleep, stop lingering at my
back. This morning, I found broken glass
in the bathtub and I laughed
because with a crooked eye, it looked like
those ballet dancers
with their rubbed red shoes
and fine appetite.
Remember that one we saw last summer

whose pirouettes drooped like the death
of a spinning top? This month, she washed up
dead, no spinning top. Since then,
I have disabled every decoder ring in America.
Here is a portrait of myself
when I was younger. The story of my survival bleeds
out of both nostrils—you may have heard
that I

can’t see the future anymore. Days like now
I’m skittish. I try to position my body
so nothing is touching it;
the best I can do is stand straight,
a willing sacrifice of toes.

Yesterday, I painted the walls with a substance
that will not accept light,

each swath dressed beneath a fattier swath.
I watched the swaths propagate
and pin thick layers across my artifice,
my body of hollow columns.
Tonight, the carpet digs quietly against my face
and the dead dogs come out like switchblades.

No number of windows can protect me from the sky.

They just keep howling.
-
Blake Pipes is a recent graduate of Belmont University with his sights set on screenwriting. He has been published in Drunk Monkeys and was the recipient of the 2015 Sandra Hutchins Humanities Symposium Award for Poetry. He likes Nine Inch Nails more than you do and is currently attempting to read Blake Butler's full bibliography.

"Gender Studies" by Jeanette Le Quick

the body betrays them, seeking its justification
from external sources. the one you have is not
the one you want. I could not imagine you
without your mustache, your oil-slick hair rich
against your forehead, you like John Travolta, 
greased lightning. I did not listen to the words
you actually said, your feet tap-dancing what
I could not hear. the body is a limber thing, 
flexing its parts, its legs, arms, head, fingers,
don't we have much in common. what parts
are not you, I asked. the ones that matter. you
look at my nose when you say it, but your eyes
drift down to my chest like magnetic filings. my
breasts are hot potatoes, little spuds with eyes
of their own. mental gymnastics isn’t enough.

I want you to have your own
field of potatoes. 

I am ashamed of the fumbling conversations
we did not have. my skin is a luxury I forgot
to thank today, yours may resent you tomorrow.
did I not know you; did I fail you, how many ways--
the fraud we both lived under in those years hangs
between us, limp, damp. We are the same under
these overcoats, your heart, do I know you now.
-
Jeanette Le Quick lives in San Francisco. Her work has been published in Ghost City Review, Rat's Ass Review, The Curious Element, The Bright Line, Penumbra, The Tax Lawyer, District Lines, and the American Banker. She has earned residencies from OBRAS Portugal, Elsewhere Studios, Art Farm, and Sundress Academy for the Arts. She holds a Jurisdoctorate from Georgetown University Law Center and a Bachelor of Arts from University of California, Berkeley. She regularly contributes theater reviews to DC Metro Theater Arts.