creative writing

"III" by Chris Caruso


If only by luck we stumble upon a stretch of meadow between highway fields. It is from here we shall g(r)aze and believe ourselves fulfilled with the language of others. What is the need then to present gifts of promises—a continued renewal.

This reminds me of that film, the one in the language neither of us spoke. A cartoon of two mallards in a frozen pond surround by a city. We never learned how they arrived. Perhaps an earlier story before we were born. I commented on their quacks that turned to screams. You were drawn to their fierce flapping, their feathers so much like slicks of oil. You remarked how it should have taken longer for them to die. I said it was pacing to keep the emotion real. The children disappointed re-watching; a hope that the ducks are freed, a revival of religious proportions. Through the eyes of adults, the way in which children find death is tragic.
Chris Caruso earned an MFA in Creative Writing from Boise State University. His poems appear in online and print journals as well as in anthologies. Originally from New Jersey he currently lives in Boise, but dreams of a small cottage with a Koi pond in Portland.

"Penn Township Revelation" by Brooke Nicole Plummer

We are still young, vertebrae like Silly Putty & it will all be used up.
Pupils like tumbleweed on a stimulant. Delirium with a body length.

The livestock are surveying morning light. It is a sign of continuum.
They graze like paper cut-outs from the juvenile section. We talk like

sugar cookie dough by the spoonful, eggshells indiscreetly folded in.
I heighten myself into calculated disembodiment. Dreamily underwater.

I want to be somebody’s muddy diamond.
Brooke Nicole Plummer is a rural-focused poet from South Bend, Indiana. Her work has appeared in Analecta, New Views on Gender, Horror Sleaze Trash, and the upcoming Wordplay anthology. She is the cofounder and coordinator of the artistic collective called Speak Michiana.

"Resuscitive" by Zan de Parry

In that shit-dark hamlet
She picked me up by my backstory
And got into it, arms malfigured by angle
Black lines of squirted rubber on the wall
Hit by the flash

That was her invective against my wont
She won
Voice pregnant as anything with an uglier version of itself

it passed, noncompetitively

as so this contest
of personal loss
Zan de Parry has appeared or is forthcoming in Unsaid,, Honk If You Love Weirdos, Gramma, Word Riot, and his 2014 chapbook VIBRAPHONE by Brest Press.

"An early memory" by Steve Castro

“I remember the day I was born.”
Ray Bradbury (b. 1920-2012)

The first time I ever saw a cloud at eye level, I was ten
like the back of Pelé’s Brazil soccer jersey. I left my small
third-world-country to go visit Mickey Mouse in Florida. 
Halfway through our flight, I drank a Coca-Cola. I think it was a Coke
because we were flying on an airline owned by Howard Hughes. 
Had it been a Latin American airline, I’d probably be sitting next to a chicken,
drinking a papaya milkshake, when suddenly, one of the engines would have stopped working.

Once we arrived in Orlando, I took a picture with Donald, Mickey and Pluto. 
Those three creatures were so Nice (like the way you spell that French city)
that when I returned home, I stopped eating duck. I also stopped
feeding mice to my two cats, and I never kicked a dog ever again. 
Steve Castro is the co-editor of Public Pool and the assistant poetry editor at decomP. His poetry has been recently published in Green Mountains Review, The American Journal of Poetry and in two anthologies by Wings Press (San Antonio) and Tia Chucha Press (Los Angeles). He was recently interviewed by the Poetry Society of America, Midwestern Gothic and the Chicago Review of Books (forthcoming). 

"post-conviction" and "Because Googling Your Mental Illness Is Highly Discouraged" by Doni Shepard


 every day

            i will ask myself
            if i was the first
            little girl you fixed
            to swallow whole

Because Googling Your Mental Illness Is Highly Discouraged

Okay. Not okay. You are not okay. Fix yourself, okay? You must be okay. You will be okay.
            You are a diagnosis. You are a name.
Render yourself useless. You are but a fragment.
Discover the taste of words. Impulsive. Abandonment. How are your symptoms today?
            Why couldn’t you have been anything else?
Emotionally unstable. You are emotionally unstable.
Render yourself useless. You are but a fragment.
Lie to those who don't understand. Lie to those you care for. Apologize for space you take up.
            Never, never apologize.
Infatuation as fishhook limbs. The way their names fit in your mouth. As food, as fuck, as
            ignition. As strangers. As paranoia. As disease. Beat your disease. Be your disease.
Never question the beast who heavies your lungs.
            Never ask “What does it mean to be emotionally unstable?”
                        You will always dynamite the things you love the most.
                                                Call yourself by name.
                                                            Love yourself by name.
Emotionally unstable. You are emotionally unstable.
Doni Shepard is a poet, mother, and lifetime learner currently residing in Phoenix. She spends her days managing content for a popular startup, mommying an extraordinary three-year-old, and serving as Lunch Ticket’s Poetry Editor. Upon nightfall you can generally find her in an insomniac haze binge-watching Shameless with a fluffy orange feline named Doobie. Her work has been featured by Dirty Chai, and can be found in the love anthology Spectrum 3: LoveLoveLove. She is currently an MFA candidate at Antioch University Los Angeles, concentrating in poetry. 

"on leaving behind children"/"things a ghost can do, but you didn't know"/"the ghost of my vagina" by jacklyn janeksela

on leaving behind children

i watch as she tries to scrub
away the handprint of her grandson
window stained, fingerprints of a boy
she once hugged between mouthfuls of cherry tomatoes

i watch as she drips tears
handkerchief smelling of a boyhood journey
she will never witness

i watch as the handprint vapors
smudged with each pass of her elbow
reappear just as we blink our eyes, crystal

he’s here, she whispers
the cat’s hair stands on end

things a ghost can do, but you didn’t know

hike a mountain, swallow pebbles, sleep
eat dust, sneeze, tie a knot, untangle hair, send a text message
waltz, brew tea, count, cry, cradle

undress, sew a curtain, plant seeds, pee
write a poem, rewire the internet, take a shower, erase a poem

carry a box that’s too heavy
plaster a hole that’s too big

breastfeed a baby, gender not important
wear glasses, masturbate, feel

grow fingernails, drink blood, walk on water
unravel time, use chopsticks, use a knife
hum, sing, curse, whistle, gargle


the ghost of my vagina

the ghost of my vagina says things like:
why him, girl, what were you thinking
him again?  he wasn’t even that good
he hurt the fuck outta me, you should’ve told him to take it easy
he was a creep, he was a dog
he was ok, he served his purpose
he was not worthy of even looking at us
he was not even worthy enough to give period blood sex to
that one needed some training, good thing we helped him out
girl, you were not even awake
girl, he was taking his sweet time
girl, that one was too big
why did you let him do that, that wasn’t cool
why did you let him inside, gross

the ghost of my vagina can be very critical
she is disappointed in many of my decisions
she cries into a hole she calls home, buries her face,
purrs like a cat from pain

the ghost of my vagina still hurts
she says i can’t be trusted, that she should be
running the show, which is true, it’s completely true

the ghost of my vagina haunts like nobody’s business
she takes the darkest seed
and tries to make it grow despite infertile soil
jacklyn janeksela is a wolf and a raven, a cluster of stars, & a direct descent of the divine feminine. she can be found @ Thought CatalogLuna MagazineTalking BookDumDum MagazineVisceral BrooklynAnti-Heroin ChicPublic PoolReality HandsThe Feminist WireWord For/WordPankSplit Lip; Civil Coping Mechanism anthology A Shadow Map & Outpost Rooted anthology; & elsewhere. she is in a post-punk band called the velblouds. her baby @ femalefilet. she is an energy. find her @ hermetic hare for herbal astrological readings.