writing

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.

 

 

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. 

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 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. 

 

"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.

"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.

"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, poppyfinder.horse, 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

post-conviction

 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

spit

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.

"Carbon 14 Dating Sites" by Nick Romeo

Cain met Lucy
on a really wide web
but escaped before
Shelob returned

 From there
They exchanged
smoke signals
and etched love notes
on cave walls

 Their first date was at
a diner named
Amber Gardens
located near a tar pit
east of Eden

 he gave her a bouquet
of Strychnos Electri
they both ordered
a mammoth leg
fern salad
and for dessert
moth flavored glacier
cream cones

 shortly after
Cain clubbed Lucy
on the head
she gave birth
and named him
Atrahasis

 one day while
riding his pet trilobite
little Atrahasis felt
a drop of water
      then another
            and another

— daddy
why does water
fall from sky

— I don’t know son
but I’m sure
it’s nothing
to worry about

-
Nick Romeo is a multidisciplinary artist, musician and writer. His writings have been published in various literary magazines.  He was interviewed for Pankhearst's Fresh Featured of December 2015 and The Dailey Poet Site of February 2016. Nick lives in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania with his wife and cat, Megatron.