indie lit

"First Dad: A Decrepit Ghazal" and "Descort for a Blank Face" by Jerrod Schwarz

First Dad: A Decrepit Ghazal

A wonderful poet could transmute a father
out of recycled cork: squeaky, wine-scented embrace.

A good poet could arrange popsicle sticks
into an ambulance shape and sacrifice the embers.

Brand new poets could at least regurgitate
a birthday cake, ferment it, and imbibe.

All I want is an email with the history
of my family’s disease emergences.

All I want is for poetry and God and my wife
and my children to not be enough.

I need to need a spell, an ancient altar
where I burn something precious for his real face:

something like my own fingers, something
like a family dog, someone like you reading this,
and something like whatever it takes

Descort for a Blank Face

About one in fifty people have aphantasia:
they cannot conjure
imagery in their minds. If you think
they operate at a deficit,
you have probably never seen
the embalmed hands
of someone who made you laugh
and cry. (only one of my fourth-grade classmates
came to the viewing, so I
tried to make her laugh before
sitting in the bathroom for an hour

and every other week Facebook suggests
I add her
as a friend but I won’t
because if she had aphantasia
I curse-cured it, a blood letting
in the curled shape of dad’s thumbs. If I
kept you from a life
of perfect knowledge, I am sorry
Stephanie.
If your brain
is a paint bucket now,
upending and clogging your spine,
I am picking dried acrylics out of my
vertebrae, too.)
-
Jerrod Schwarz teaches creative writing at the University of Tampa and STEM programs at the Glazer Children's Museum. His poetry has appeared in print/online journals such as PANK, Entropy, Opossum, The Fem, Inklette, and many more. Most recently, his erasure poetry was highlighted on New Republic and Poetry Foundation. His first chapbook was published by Rinky Dink Press in 2016. He lives in Tampa, Florida with his wife and twin daughters.

"Two Lions" and "Other Myself for Myself" by Delia Rainey

Two Lions

I woke up and you taped a letter to my shoelace
gold leaf painted wood. the lions appear - yellow
gaffer tape used on video sets, to make sure
the camera comes to see the same place, tied
like a scroll or biblical text found in a cave, “trying
to say thank u for being patient” & the cages of bridges
brace over the chicago river like rusty muzzles for dogs
“hey delia you fell asleep” - in my grandpa’s artifacts
on the website for judaica and holocaust and humanity
two lions were found while he sprayed for bugs, the
Jewish exterminator, in the attic of a St. Louis home.
I sit with you as you drive yourself to the airport,
the freelance gig to film something. I watch people line
up outside the medicaid office on the south side.
entering the stranger’s attic to rid the wisp of moths
I place thing-power on the brush of gold, they belonged
to a long-ago demolished synagogue,
I’m putting
your words in my pocket and I won’t share more.
we can hug and kiss goodbye outside of “departures”
like anybody does. the chicago river wobbles me
in crushed blue velvet, embroidered with pomegranate
to cover a scroll of someone’s most comforting words.
I blur through the city, corner stores with 99 cent soda
and billboards for storage spaces. I keep the blue dust
of a butterfly in my notebook and I don’t know why.
the bug flipped over and revealed its other self: orange
and dotted, sanctuary. in my response: “trying to say
thank u for being” - old factories by the water
drag my feet with paper, so I can’t tie myself
my yellow breath aligns, ancient body curls into walls
I’ll find you later, when you’re ready to come back.

Other Myself for Myself

not the color of olives in a bird’s teeth. I’ll sleep in any
pattern you give me. I just want to be without the burden
of my history for you. the gallop of words cinch the stained
glass chandelier. my tongue becomes a gray piece of pickled
fish. murmur with heavy lulls like this. the wet, thick water
below the house does not go to church and I’m so hungry,
the flesh pink ham spirals into me. not blonde or smoothed
like a gold coin. your mom brought a bag of bread crumbs
leftover from the stuffing, (it got burnt in the oven), &
we tossed the blackened shards into the manmade lake
from the porch on stilts. why are we doing this?
there is no teaching moment about my cultural
apologies, yearly drowning. there are no fish
in there. it’s getting dark. the birds are all tucked
into their wings.
-
Delia Rainey is a musician and writer from the Midwest. She is currently an MFA candidate in nonfiction at Columbia College Chicago. Her prose and poems have been recently featured in Hooligan Magazine, DIAGRAM, Peach Magazine, and many others. Ghost City Press released her mini chapbook Private Again in August 2018. She tweets often: @hellodeliaaaaa.

"dead phillip society" and "soliloquy in the siege of sevastopol" by AJ Urquidi

dead phillip society

dread mutations melt the ur-conscience 
tableau skedaddling do not go grendel
on that good coconut my demons 

                        overcrowd the foot locker audition 
for space beside my toughest grenades 
the local mall’s games are impounded 

                        a thousand shelves collapsed upon 
a gravitational pulse what of the salesboy 
who more than once talked me out of evil 

within i’ll never guess his trade-in value 
sliming a path back through organic gardena 
                        touch toes to the count of an off clock 

never met a sexual lexicon he didn’t dislike
chastity tube slung over a shoulder
                        we should get down to bass tracks 

                        find this slippy fish i never looked 
good on this world
they’ll say i said 
brooch on a bikini model scarlet anaconda

                        for a sleeve here lies the failed decoder
they’ll scat before my tomb he lived life 
as a subreddit but in death remains a meme

soliloquy in the siege of sevastopol

when one is sure of being followed
pleasure incises veins of fear
the moth in flight somehow stomped

intention lurks in ramification’s thresher
styrofoam plate beside spillway moon
prides itself on being the better moon

where threaded ducks juke in threnody
with a zipper stuck these taut summer nights
i work snoring through revisionist tasks

to self-actualize with verve my most vivid
nightmare nothing to be done with beasts
who bite skin sisyphean fools not to finish

such nocturnal projects the pigeon in flight
still thrown below truck chassis fiberglass
forces a better climax than forged fantasies

too drawn out and dour to avoid boredom
of chore screen door can’t stop a blade
determined i pray my vacant ribcage might
-
Based in Southern California, AJ Urquidi is an ace poet and editor whose writing has been featured in Dream Pop Press, FaultlinePosit, convergence, and DUM DUM Zine. A past winner of the Gerald Locklin Writing Prize, AJ co-founded the experimental online journal indicia and edits copy for LA Review of Books and EMBER.

3 Poems by Kelly Dolejsi

The Lost Jockey

He wrote rattleboned, he wrote after soup,
he wrote in his banker’s suit and turpentine
that we are capable of liking what we like,
spilling out of bed each day like chocolate milk
or pipes or lenticular clouds or madonnas
and the others, the incapables, sleeping
and not liking to sleep but also he put them
in the dainty branches, a see-through forest
of glass trees, glass squirrels, a collector’s
dream, somebody’s dream. On his horse
in his gray stripes and painted-on hat he wrote
prose to unborn granddaughters, post-scripts
to Mary the blue sea slug, Chris her brother,
every shard in the whole trampled scene.

The Commuter

Thoughts continue toward yesterday,
always giving way to sameness as gnats 
do, as newly cut blades of front lawns. 
Again, I wonder how to head home when 
home multiplies, when I scatter my wish 
on too many stars. I head home. It is night, 
and so warm I could sleep on a branch. 
I listen to steady light rain on the shell
of a wandering turtle that every few years
I return to the creek. I feel both ankles
in the familiar broken ice at the bottom, 
and hear another girl breathing next to me 
in the snow. I gallop away, sure that I’m a horse 
and that I’ll never think about this day again. 

Vigilance

Midnight, children quiet as painting
of saints in a long hallway that no one
has ever entered. Midnight, our bed
like a long gray whale, its belly pressed
like one tine of a rake into the zen garden
of the seafloor. Midnight, your hand
on my leg like a major seventh minus
the third and the fifth. Midnight, is this
what it’s like to be immortal? Thing after
indigestible thing, each one praying
silently and yet I hear them all. Midnight,
and yet day comes — I wake to see a deer
in the backyard, and I wonder how what
we grow could possibly keep him alive.
-
Kelly Dolejsi’s work has been published in many literary journals, including Cincinnati Review, North American Review, Denver Quarterly, Fifth Wednesday, Broken Ribbon, The Hunger, West Texas Literary Review, Timberline Review, Junto, Gravel, Dirty Paws, The Hungry Chimera, Joey and the Black Boots, and The Disconnect. Her poem “Loyalty” was nominated for the Best of the Net, and her contribution to September 11, 2001: American Writers Respond was nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Additionally, her chapbook, That Second Starling, was published by Desert Willow Press in 2018.

"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.