"Hedera Helix" by Dylan Morison

The dog’s got a tumor and Lydia can’t afford to have it removed. After they tell her, she feels her face move unnaturally, imagines all her hair must be standing on end. The nurse just smiles sadly and asks what she wants to do. “I want to go home,” she says. It’s not until the car is idling in the driveway that she begins to cry. 

Hedera Helix, commonly called English ivy, is an evergreen climbing plant found through out Europe and Asia. It is often considered invasive due to its ability to grow quickly under a variety of adverse conditions. Dropped by a bird, the seed germinates and sends a single shoot up out of the ground, searching for sunlight and something to grab hold of. If it can’t grow up, it will grow out.

She’s been trying not to imagine this for years. “Oh no,” she thought to herself as the puppy was placed into her arms for the first time. Another thing to love that would someday die. Running across the yard, each year bigger than the last, she imagined the dog running across interstates and highways, playing frogger with her sanity as she stood helplessly by. Every time she passes dead animals on the side of the road she sees the dog’s mangled body. She flinches at the thought, tries to bleach her brain of potential tragedies. The dog pushes her cold nose into Lydia’s eye sockets when she’s asleep. 

First there’s the juvenile stage. The first year, the ivy wont grow much at all. The second year, it begins to pick up speed. The plant attaches itself to surfaces through a series of aerial rootlets with matted pads. The vines creep upward and outward, worming into cracks in brick, between the grain of rotting wood, and underneath laminate siding and roof shingles. In nature, ivy slowly chokes the life from larger trees by taking sunlight and nutrients for itself instead.

She had thought she might learn some great lesson on accepting death but the dog doesn’t seem to have noticed she’s dying. Lydia lets her dig holes in the backyard. She hunts for moles with unwavering intensity. Occasionally one winds up dead on the porch, its guts stuck to the ground and dry from the sun. Lydia picks it up with a paper towel and discreetly drops it into her neighbor’s back yard. The dog has stopped eating as much. Lydia’s stopped eating, too. The tumor’s growing. The dog begins to walk with a limp. Lydia imagines that her own hip hurts, too. 

Healthy ivy can grow three feet a year, both upward and outward. Once firmly rooted beneath the siding or cinderblock foundation of a house, it can be difficult to remove and potentially dangerous. As roots are pulled from a surface, they tend to take it with them.

They say all dogs go to heaven, but she knows this can’t be true. Her friend comes over and says “You should put her down— it just isn’t right,” but the next morning, the dog is playful. What will she do with the body? At night she listens for the snoring at her feet, holding her breath in the dark as the dog stops—is this the moment?—and then begins breathing again. She breathes out long and slowly and wonders if this is dying: just watching something waste away forever until there’s nothing left of either of you. 

Once mature, the ivy flowers and produces small clusters of purple-black berries. Black-birds and thrushes rely on the berries for food and are responsible for seed dispersal in surrounding areas. After many years, ivy can grow over 100 feet, and completely overtake a building.

Dylan Morison
is a fiction writer currently based out of Baltimore, MD. Her work has appeared in The Feminist Wire and Opaque Quarterly. If she’s not at work as a professional chef, she’s out exploring the world with her family. She has an adorable dog named Bunny.

"i didn't know before but now i know it's real" by Greg Zorko

when i found out

that you buy chunks of mango

twice a day

at Trader Joe's

i was so impressed

by your ritual passion

i told you all of my theories

how we should make cash edible

in case we are hungry

and don't want to drive to the store

i build the world around you

i'm like a knock off

Steve Nicks

i remember in text messages

you used to spell it

Steve Knicks

like New York Knicks

i remember too

the eggs in the pan

the manes of all the horses

at the farm outside the city

i feel the movement of the sound around the room

but i don't hear anything

my heart is a hot corn bean bag
Greg Zorko was born in 1990 in Albany, New York. He is the author of Ghost in the Club (Metatron, 2016). He currently lives in Madison, Wisconsin.

"...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

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:

"Real Life with Science" by C.J. Miles

I have loved so many things my heart needs a nap.
Are you now or have you ever been aroused
By a Coldstone Creamery?

I Google Earth-ed Google Earth. 
My computer had a nervous breakdown.
I told it I understood in the present tense.
See, the bus I'm on can't go under 50 mph
Or it'll explode. Kaboom is a noise
I never want to hear. It sounds
Exactly as it’s spelled. That’s science,
Like taking a mosquito fossilized
In that yellow goo and making a
Lizard older than Jesus that can blind
Newman before eating him whole.
If we ever get off this bus I’m going
To dirty talk my dirty talk. I’m going
To make a sandwich and eat
All of it, even the crusts.
I love what comes from us.
Being tied up can be fun unless tar
Is being poured down your throat
Or Donald Trump tweets
The nuclear codes. We have to stay
A whisper, they're videotaping us,
They being the moon and the flag
We stuck on there, so we have to hush
The vowels of our mid-moans,
Even in the dark, even when we reach
The tip of the highway and there’s
Nothing left but what follows
Kaboom, the longest description
Of what comes from the meeting of lips.
C.J. Miles lives in Iowa with his wife. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in ForageMoonglasses MagazineMobius: The Journal of Social Change, and Jazz Cigarette, among others.