Loading...

Provoke Journal: A Sequenced Narrative of Singular Voices

A Backlash Journal
Home / Provoke Journal: A Sequenced Narrative of Singular Voices

 

 To be read as a story.

*

PALE TRANSPORT 

By Jason Price Everett

 

I.

 

the white vehicle

 

 

she is bleeding in ways

that nature did not intend

 

machinations beneath

the peeled skin of a world

 

 

bombs in the glove box

 

 

her terrible brisance

the midwife of monsters

 

intensified faces

antiphonal chorus

of detcord and semtex

 

 

learn not to ask

what the words are

just pray that you don’t make the playlist

 

 

and the channels of blood

describe streets of new cities

shout as one living weapon

 

 

empty shoes in the footwell

 

 

they took her apart

smashing their doll

like thoughtless children

for the north wind to carry

into secret places

 

  

this hexogen harvest

of delinquent dollars

 

and storms out of nowhere

that elude control

 

a continent of anger

demanding answers

 

 

some

day

inkless whispers fading

behind the light of screens

recording minus playback

never meant to be recovered

we will learn

 

not to ask

 

what the words

 

are

 

FRANKLIN HIRAM KING IN WHITEWATER, WISCONSIN

by Darren Demaree

 

Born between two stones

& a green patch, Hiram

learned quickly to be

 

tender to the green he had.

He turned some green into

more green.  He gave height

 

to that green.  He gave his

empathy & purpose to that

green.  He loved what

 

he should have loved.  There

is no small amount

of genius in that simplicity.

 

 

FRANKLIN HIRAM KING IN BERLIN, WISCONSIN

by Darren Demaree

 

Once you understand

what to do with the water

you must tell everyone,

 

a classroom at a time,

what to do with the water.

This is the opposite

 

of a dance craze.  This

is the cutting of a tether.

This is elemental education,

 

the only kind that can give

us enough of a life that we

have time for creation

 

to repeat itself in a pleasure-

able fashion.  Joy comes

after we understand water.

 

 

FRANKLIN HIRAM KING AS A WELTER OF FACTS AND STATISTICS

by Darren Demaree

 

Three trips

to a triumph,

nobody

 

second-

guesses

a genius

 

if he has

the numbers

to gloat

 

& explain

his genius

to you in

 

a way

that only he

can grasp.

 

A Chicago Wedding by Steven J. Rogers

The institution of purpose. Squeezed from the innards of mortalit. Pooled on the ballroom floor.

White cotton dress. Cufflinks culled from hipster antique stores. Wafting in the stench of tainted water.

Dusk. Aperitifs replace platitudes. The skyline — rat race cubicle mazes — creeps across the sandstone patio with the rhythm of the celestial light.

Winged beasts. Post-urban metaphors. Placid constructs of structured banal grunts and stuttered words.

The dew nestles on manufactured blossoms. The lake air stifles more than mechanical hearts. It’s time to go inside.

The band knows all the hits. Divine spirits of inebriation thrust under plastic lights and fake cedar bows. Foot stomps rattle tired chandeliers.

The cacophony of cloven hooves. Palms open to the light. The great beauty hidden in the rhythm of ceremony.

Tonight we dine on the perception of tranquility. Slithered down our gullets. Devoured by the juices in our guts.

Ingested by the great beauty.

A bradlebone tree sprouts from the mangled stomach. Lightening on the dance floor calls in the beasts — the bees and bugs — the bratwursts and beer. They hover around their God.

Drink the nectar of the bradlebone. Shit the divine. The institution of purpose.

 

In My Lifetime by Gary Beck

 

 

When I was young

I walked the shores

of oceans, seas.

The water was clear

if I didn’t go too deep

and I could see the bottom

as marine life went on,

eating and being eaten.

The sands were clean

when the tides changed

delivering sea shells,

sand crabs, jetsam,

bright green sea weed,

to waiting shorebirds.

 

I no longer walk the shores,

but from chair of confinement

I see the brown ocean

tainted beyond redemption

by the spigots of oil.

The fish and birds are fewer,

declining faster,

ably assisted by man

covering the shores and seas

with hospital waste, toxins,

other imaginable filth.

 

I watch the lonely sandpiper

scurry along the sterile sand

yearning for the flock,

the flock that has departed

like many other creatures

that once shared the earth.

 

Manifest by Mike Luz

 

Dreams die with you

in space

leave them

acquiescent

victimless

truth is

weight class

a solid lump

each bag

stretched flat

ultimate plastic

mundane engagement,

blunted topics

finally covered. I mean

something; a shove

not nearness

tulips

in a cage

on a bus

   

Altdorfer- by Dana Jerman

 

Where I find the library in shambles, water damaged sheet music littering the floor everywhere, I stand and pass my hand thru my hair once- slow. Then a few times. The strands that fall dance down softly entwined thru a shaft of light to my feet. It flees, the light, almost desperately in the same instant, giving way to rain.

Off where I had not looked, magnificent sparkling heat lightning manifested a storm all along the afternoon horizon. I hear curious music of droplets on the high roof then. And the sweet muck and rot smell in my nose open and cool beside the new and indifferent flashlight beam.

More drops find a splash in their usual places. Some collect in my hair and on my glasses like dew. Something creaks- wood or a hinge.

The day had quit fully now- as if disgusted by the arrogance of the weather. I looked up at the long jump of the bits of water and remembered riding an elephant in my dreams the night before. My feet are queer shapes that barely belong to me when I look down from one cascade into another. What if I could trick myself into feeling lost, I thought. For at the moment I was not cold, and wished I had a companion with whom to play that kind of delirious game. And thunder sounded then, like a lullaby as I reached the portico and the deep archway where there was good shelter. I turned up the chair with a crooked leg for a seat, and sat, and had a moment where I played with my breath. I exhaled slowly with my mouth wide open to make a smoke-like cloud, like steam rising from a plate of hot food.

Thunder again and closer. I stared off into a gust that shook the trees in their line beyond the door. It was good then to have the gift of memory place an old gem into my thinking palm. One from miles and years away when I had a love who had a car. In a late summer at the state beach he makes me drive. He covers my eyes and makes me pull slowly across the hard packed sand into a flock of gulls, sending them up. We took pictures and laughed and ran into the surf in our clothes. We were the most human then we might ever be. Except of course when we were drunk, and with us that happened less often than it should have.

I hear myself heave a deep breath between the sounds of the storm. I almost fall off the chair when I relax too much. I notice a book under a board where there wasn’t one before. It’s out of the wet, so I get it up and dig it out. A midsize volume with a rutilant sun-stained canvas cover. No outstanding label that I can see, but a stamp inside: Ex Libris: My Father.

I never knew him.

 

Late Last Night- by Dana Jerman

 

It wasn’t a night that belonged to me. I belonged to it, and it used me to a purpose for excess.

 

But if I hadn’t gone out, I wouldn’t have looked at him and thought.

Thought about fitting in. About the things we do to show face.

 

How he takes the trophy of his smile and shows it off to all the wrong people.

But they’re just people. No better. No worse. And in the closest proximity.

 

I look at him and wonder what he lies about. What causes his cheeks to flush.

How deep do the roots of his foolishness go?

 

Perhaps the heart is so very beautiful because it makes no sense.

The blank slate consciousness grows dimmer

under the growling scrawl of other souls you must follow.

 

For without them

you would be nothing.

 

I stumble home in the winter air and vomit in an alley shaped like a dream.

I have no arm to take. The world swooning like a dance thru tears.

 

We are both of us proof

that no one is ever too young

to fall into the supreme exile

of loneliness.

 

 

Lullaby for the Lullaby by Rich Murphy

 

And people flock around the poet and say: ‘Sing again soon’ – that is, ‘May new sufferings torment your soul but your lips be fashioned as before, for the cry would only frighten us, but the music, that is blissful.’ –Kierkegaard

 

For marketing campaigns,

mantra poets calm

before, during, and after

wallets empty and worse.

Sorry Mr. Ginsberg, the mystic

squeeze box vortex fits well

between yawning sex and violence; listen.

 

Pound pronouncements pounced in Pisa.

Abracadabra Rimbaud disappeared in Africa.

Logy yogi Whitman bought with spirit:

“Co-creator of the unintended.”

(Maybe, Howl brought to balance Yawp.)

 

Snuggle up to Om in a new home

not owned for 30 years

but indebted to unknown suffering by others.

 

Sops for moral outrage

clean up where frames, lures,

and sugar plums entered

into public dreams without inspiring

the appointed behavior.

 

Should poet pain stop managing

at the life-long hospice,

having to pick rose petals from over eyeballs

could cease and the pencil behind an ear

could catch-up, could win.

The work toward waking

to owning a body may begin.

No one with a breath escapes.

 

Pluck at the feathers from the song

to expose the right questions

for the birds in the trees

for the dying generation.

 

The war may be lost

but integrity engages in struggle

to breathe through psychology

with places for heads to bump,

with rough ledges for gluteus maximus,

and with cause for the heart.

 

Hominid preying on hominid

whine on knees before posterity

laying claim to heroism and innocence.

 

 

Song of the Mountain by Timothy Hudenburg

 

conversations

our little voices

compose

 

echoes recede sharpen forth

what companions sustain

until we thought

 

the discourse

imperceptible though

compassion ends

 

returns again

easily follows argument

this deliberate earth

 

hollower still

how Zarathustra must feel

when no one listens

 

we will return at by Timothy Hudenburg

 

 

[an indeterminate hour]

 

sand splatter patterns of rain

holes form

millions of them

what tiny droplets leave behind

 

waves race upon the canvas

a beach, disappearing sightlines

wild wrath water rages

 

it

s cold outside

down the Fall horizon

shoreline has fallen

 

[houses shutter

shops close

time left]

 

Polite Evisceration by Riley Woods

 

some nooses do not have people

to disease. please do not leave her

& her beautiful axe, splayed statue

of father & his hollow needles. scene:

mattress body, ice box, harmonized

dripping,

 

head pumped warm

 

with blue rope. here they reach early,

far past when good boys are sleeping,

& syphon erythrocytes, butterfly nested

in opposite crook. you are 28 days gravity

fed, unformed in glacier-gloved hands,

skin puckering to meet scalpel

 

kisses—

 

they revise rivers, dredge abdomens

to a familiar distant

 

 

humming.

 

Three Sonnets from The Rapture of Eddy Daemon by Daniel Harris

 

Nym 7

 

How much older is the 7th oldest Earldom of Don

than Eddy’s Don de Arris? Seeded jousters snoop

the accelerated race of dead fathers. Where’s a raped

annuity to relieve got-heirs-to-carry-his-name? E.D.,

when the seat impudes the surrogate faith reformers,

beats cosmography into the science of the brain—so new

as to pop the pure late glam of the hand. That’s

not new, texts the Inviolated Wife, not adjunct says

Wife Havisham of R. Splaton. Breach liti is subject

to the mage. This suit against files of one yucks off:

friends just next-doored, are far less crafted not to be

a seismograph for lip-words caught queering a Son

of Jejune. Jejune’s the melek of the messiah’s heart

sold in foreclosure. It’s a lovey nym, isn’t it Eddy?

 

Antipersonnel 1,200–1,310 ft/s (370–400 m/s)

 

Eddy “Dysphoria” Daemon is clinically unsound, Freud’s

family romance notwithstanding. He sports a cleaved toupee,

horned eczema, and a hacked-off face with scabs. Charm

is lost on him as he monopolizes social settings. His wit,

embossed with a pas-de-deux, admits fingered différance 

and obscurity. It’s a quaint scatotheological hoax to occupy

and emit scented gaiety on his hosts. He’s a surly, sly, coy

and crude socialite stuck in a mise-en-scène with a hussy

named Elizabeta Borderline. It’s all applauded rancor, flash

mouthed malice and petty duress. His timely suicide steals

reincarnation: pile-voltaged, gleam-surged, drab-jacked,

dumb-struck in a pit of phosphorescent gods ratifying plots.

His funeral is a media event. The Mothers of Satan speak

of acetone peroxide, detonating their M57 claymore vests.

 

Geisha 794

 

Eddy won’t live past a dythic ygnyfycance, hys brain’s

cycle of romance won’t live que when she dyes. Eddy’s

life won’t skee past his delabeled quf. He dehumanizes

won’t? Here, in/or/mong dyssocyative’s ess-than-human

simulations to increase a last-ditch effort to appeal a one

death sentence of oppeal. Love’s ubiquity overreaches as

an offed mother of sundials. Eddy contributes to recipes

of a hollandaise parasol with white-powder facey rouge

lips. Relimit upheaval’s meme. Eddy is sexlees. His wyfe

lives arsed in her parents all day beyond seam, be.yon/d

sum: s-a-m-e, what’s? Eddy’s a cardinal water trine/trin,

a tad past fifty-two, lucky to be lyvely in a geiko fantasy,

o-shaku, kabuku, accentuating the nape of the neck, still

styrred by rapture’s canon of momoware and split peach.

 

AUTOCAD By Jason Price Everett

 

daisy chain moebius feltch

 

die/tomic dirt klar

globbing on the stink eye

mondegreen di/graph

wax in simzonia:

 

bullshit detector in full effect

 

mizzy matter

hand/in round the blood bowl

ketchup song in the air sky ear

 

deviated septa

&a

one dolla holla

 

gerber baby captain plasma

 

gonad fisticules

onna

nightatha living ow/rox

 

decrement the counter

for/a

tiamatic interrupt

 

 

||

 

 

doublecross chronophobe

off/kilter apeshit

check tha stats

&

cash out:

 

 

an dieu tha rez pubic

 

where witches dance

 

one contagion

 

under guard

 

in/visible

 

 

with lover/tease

 

 

& just us

 

 

feral

 

POSSIBILITIES BITTEN INTO THE SHOULDER OF 3 A.M.

by Mather Schneider

 

Get born, seek mate, repo-dos, grill wings, melt in front

of miss universe

 

ball your socks, jack-off, don’t weed whack

before 6, act zany

 

eat neat, look cool, suppose, hop hip

lope, oppose Hitler’s roses, lean the way

 

the wind blows, support, feel sorry, fart

smartly, caramelize onions

 

choose paper, nix cook’s special, send

kids loaded wishes, hate hate

 

talk right, break clean,

shame the wild, mount the tame

 

want nothing, have everything,

remember Rome, sift sand, sport baseball

 

caps, screw rice, buy American,

guffaw at sombreros, say it is

 

what it is, pinch lice, keep shrinks, plug in

water picks, scrub molars, know nice

 

smiles open doors

to Roarshack kill-floors, don’t duck walk

 

heart the world, monitor moles

raise pinky, remember mother’s

 

day, vomit quietly

omit pain, shun shit, shut tombs, pound chest

 

lock bike, don’t call

collect, shoot straight, take in

 

a show, lick ice cream, tap glass once

sit in call-centers, taxi cabs, crap factories, white labs

 

fornicate for money, help people, pull strings

graph blackness, like Einstein’s hair

 

jot numbers, make jokes, stare discretely, believe

tv, save, retire, wave spatula

 

get sauced, pretend to be

someone else, snicker, diddle, muddle, doodle

 

hold on to the holy trinity

of three friends, forget, go quietly

 

to bed, tread on he who tailspins, fuck

yourself, be forgotten, chew tripe

 

swallow down the right pipe

make pee pee, don’t think

 

thinking makes death kinky.

 

 

The Kinkotologist’s Last Eight Bucks- by Dana Jerman

 

Look there- deep into the idiot empire-

where a single savant goes unfed

by choice.

 

Skip jokes that are gotten

or were never funny.

Gloss small talk not heard and not repeated.

 

Moreover the opposing extreme

of any ivory tower artifacts of sin.

 

Here he is!-

Found out by uselessness and pockets

of plastic crap-toy shaped mischiefs.

 

Stupidity smiles up the corner and howls

out its un-greeting.

 

Sky-is-falling salutations

eristic as feathers

left unpreened for fashion.

 

No ladies man clouds his own judgement

with found cigarettes and deliberate

poverty like the Kinkotologist

who arm wrestles with the hours

only to end up spraining his own ass.

 

Everything he ever is or was

can be found in a store.

 

Fornicating with dollar-ninety-nine

satisfaction and laundromat arcade

blindness.

Never thinking of his weight

in queen bees.

 

A SPECIAL KIND OF PURGATORY by Chani Zwibel

 

This world is so like the other world you cannot know if you are dead or dreaming.

From the outside, and from the inside, it looks like a small, organic grocery store. You’ll find all the Dr. Bronner’s you can carry, arranged in a rainbow, Eucalyptus to Lavender. You’ll find organic apples and bananas carefully place to attract the eye of the holistic shopper or the paranoid shopper. Or the clueless shopper.

Here in this little building with moldy tiled ceilings and dirty grey and white blocked tile floors, you will find your past lives. It is a kind of purgatory, a kind of non-committal afterlife, so much like the day to day drudgery of waking life you hardly notice.

All the people from your past lives are there. Your brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, even lovers, greet you in new form as your apathy-bound coworkers. In Life, everyone is on a journey and everyone experiences suffering. In the dim fog of this weird afterlife, this shadow land of the modern world’s imagining, are all the same elements that made your lives many thousands of times before.

Don’t let it unnerve you too deeply. Play Grocery Store, complete with working checkout, or sit around reading articles on the internet with titles like “Authorities believe Oregon farmer eaten by his hogs” or “Kentucky restaurant shut down after road kill found in kitchen.”

Stack magazines, stock shelves, and deal with customers usually so stupid you can feel it radiating from them. Draw doodles, write a poem, or absent-mindedly drum on the countertop. It doesn’t matter. You are in the dream as the dream is in you and as you are the dream the dream is you.

 

HAPPY SMILING PEOPLE by Mather Schneider

 

 

The salamander the size of Godzilla

on the billboard at Alvernon and 22nd  

tells me Geico’s hiring

while I drive to Trader Joe’s for wine

$39.26 a case

it’s true you got to put up

with the chatty geek-mafia of employees

the pluckiest hippiest wage-slaves in Sproutstown

they’re so freaking happy you’d think they were filming

Hee Haw

but it’s worth it.

 

I get back in my car

9 a.m.

I catch a buzz for a few hours

then go pick up Araceli

at McDonald’s.

 

She emerges crabby as an underpaid baby sitter

from the Ronny World bullshit

tosses a cold Big Mac at me

loosens her blue tie.

 

Thank God it’s Friday, she says.

 

It’s Thursday, I say.

 

Chingado, she says.

 

When you gonna find a job? she says.

 

Trader Joe’s is hiring, I say, they need

some “Happy, smiling people.”

 

She snorts

grabs my Big Mac and throws it out the window.

 

Did you get wine? she says.

 

Si, Bonita, I say.

 

You look sexy in your uniform, I say.

 

Ja! she says

 

but she’s smiling now.

 

She IS sexy in that uniform

which she tears off at home

before she even reaches the bathroom

tells me to get her a glass of wine

jumps in the shower.

 

3 minutes later she’s singing along

to the Mexican song on the radio

washing French fry crap

out of her long Mexican hair.

 

The afternoon is young.

A gecko slithers across the windowsill

and disappears

like a subtitle in a movie

 

gone too fast to read.

 

CASHIER LIFE by Chani Zwibel

 

(previously published at The Song Is May 5, 2016)

 

Dreams used to be more than wishing for a working credit or debit machine.

No negative thoughts, but do not use the word “no”.

Just a cashier today, not head cashier or customer service or even a writer; just a cashier.

To scan and bag, to answer phone, to spray citrus cleaner and wipe off dirt.

An old man’s fingers,

Long and bony,

His hands are hairy spiders with skinny legs.

To take money and drink water and joke with the guys.

Electric starlight on the cove of nowhere

Blessed edge of forgotten worlds

Find me here, and in dreams.

Circular swing of time

Going round, spinning back in on itself,

Carries me to a place

Where all my past lives converge

And everyone I ever knew

Is there.

Memories live in the wings of music

Vegetables pay us no mind

We are poor vagabonds beside the doors of commerce

Echo me no angel’s cry

I can’t go back to those old days

The new me is where the old me cannot go

I am time’s prisoner.

It’s the slips of debit and credit cards held together with a paper clip.

It’s the cloying smell of old ladies’ perfume.

It’s the dull headache at the top of the head.

It’s the bump of the shark on the ankle, brief brush with the Dark Agency.

It’s the face that haunts, vampire-like, the common place healthfood store that is my purgatory. You know the people from past lives. The same ones who broke you heart with their beauty, the same ones who rushes in every Fall, Autumnal like the dying season, their poignant nostalgia, their cloves and crumpled leaves.

For every thick-headed slow-witted customer, for every Senior who demands their discount, the balances are disrupted with changing weights.

For dollars and cents

For returns and rents.

 

LEAVING MY EX-LIFE by Mather Schneider

 

Happy tonight

a tequila bottle bends

like a pencil shaking

in Mayahuel’s fingers.

 

I suck the last lime

of Mazatlan

 

grimace

 

then roam to lay the ghost of me

through a sugarless chocolate breeze.

 

The stars have all lined up

like dominoes

made from the teeth of lost people

and fall flat to sleep

like the clicks of insects that suddenly go quiet

when I walk by.

 

Happy tonight

pressed into the present

all the words in the world slurred together

like the barking of coyotes at the door.

I open up to let them in—

they bound off like thick-hided fish

in fur jelly.

 

Happy tonight

set down by a river of gravel

which flows so lazy only the lizards can hear it

the wise old lizards eating ants

like lines of drop candy

on their way to Tumacacori

hill.

 

Happy tonight

this night of music

numbed by the million opinions floating like laughing gas

that disappears before it reaches my ears, my ears

pinned like two extinct moths to a porous tablet

and I’m freed by the knowledge of my 8 year old self

twisting on a sheet of tin.

 

The water table sinks and the javelinas crush

their musk into the dry hillsides

this dead happy all-willing soul

where nothing is flat enough

to be true.

I write “HAPPY” into the sand like a blind man

one letter on top of the other

as a scorpion crawls into my ear

scratches an unknown name on my brain

one letter on top of the other.

 

My soul is dust and ash

the only thing left to burn are my teeth

but I have no match

my torch drowned in its own rapture.

 

There is a crinkling in my head

like a child opening up a piece of brittle

or beetles eating

each other

but there is no pain except the idea of pain

a hollow rock in the floodplain

that nothing comes out of when broken

and the air smells like creosote in lightning

a rain that evaporates before touching

my face.

 

They say the leaves of the creosote bush are medicine

but I am not sick

 

no I am not sick

I am happy

tonight.

 

I sit on the pebbles of a

smashed self

 

and I do not want

anything.

 

SONNET FOR SOMEONE, SOMEDAY NIGHT by Jacob Edwards

 

where light forsakes us, life must take a stand

and not be drawn by vacuum’s awful pull

besotted of the gloom; nay, fashion plans

instead, you toucans bright, with feathers full

in purple pants and prince-like pulsing grooves

take flight in friendship, flock not false; together

burdens borne turn burdens shed, blown through

to halls adorned with flowers, fruits of plenty

a cornucopia, we hit the road

and honk the horn with joie de vivre; park

and walk and laugh and joke, of seeds spring-sown

the autumn chill receding in our hearts

where light awakens, life must stay inspired

and trill the dawn, the daybreak in her smile

 

Humid Heavy by Jennifer Avery

 

Moisture curls the pages.

Air is saturated

with fever breath.

I love this porch.

Quiet even as that voice

lingers on a spent cigar.

Beowulf makes more sense here.

Poetry reaches deep.

No static noise dizzies the mind

(overwhelms the ears,

crowds the brain)

with superfluous ions.

Nothing here is too much.

Mist clings like sweat

to the tongue.

 

SHIELD By Sreedhar Vinnakota

 

Who are these people

who speak of bird-song

and hush you to listen

to the secrets of the dead

leaves rustling under feet?

 

What of the wind

caressing and smoothing

hills, blowing rain-

drops crackling

off hot roofs?

 

What are these sounds

they hear of brooks

whispering, and moist

pebbles rounded,

unbeknownst to them?

 

I’m uncouth, rough-hewed

in perpetual torpor

shielded from song

and sound by layers

of sheer emptiness.

 

Stop knocking

on it which gives way

to more of the same.

Slashing emptiness with hollow

endearment bleeds emptiness.

 

Invisible Lines by Jennifer Avery

 

My country, this is thee:

divided along invisible lines

perforated by ignorance

and empty anger.

 

I see Rome in you –

stretching its arm so far

it can’t support its weight;

its need to conquer the unknown.

 

You feed on land and control,

devouring the scraps of older empires:

a shady seeking for a difficult nothing

with no regard for who or how.

 

Merchant kings quibble over melodrama –

dogs marking withered trees.

A cycle never ceasing

in the race to reek loudest.

 

Our country, this is us,

swaying in the gale of acquisition,

chanting the song of freedom,

chained in glittering servitude.

 

Our children subsist on darkness,

squalor squeezed

from bones broken

under the weight of lust.

 

Lies feed the cheering fragments

demagogues fan the flames of fear;

inconvenient colors,

an odd flavor of faith.

 

Two hundred years taught you

to hate all flesh not yours,

all souls from a different Heaven,

and any God a lesser green.

 

BASKING by Jacob Edwards

 

warmth, famous five warmth

wintry sunshine on wild heaths and moors

alive with adventure

the lay of the land coarse with lunch hampers

heather and gorse

 

picnics where conscious streams trickle

a skeletal wind rakes the sky to its bones

blue yonder, thick with a thinning

those will-o’-the-whimsies, white cotton in flight

explode in slow motion

the wispy report of ideas come to nothing

a host born creative first idols

where shines the sun, scatters

where blows the breeze

blind down below behind sepia eyelids

stretching out, masked with a feverish sheen

 

where—? figuratively speaking

amidst this ennui, tell me where are the five?

seconds stretch, shadows spill

still there’s no story, all get up and go

gone, with gusty slow-bleeding

the clues turn reclusive, effects flee from cause

claiming the author, too

drained of his derring-do, down to the derring-don’t

words wheel like so many seagulls

circling, spiralling, specks now disquiet

silently squalling, they dive beyond reach

 

warmth, famous five warmth

life blood of lizards and blue turquoise thoughts

drifting with listless malaise

ghosts of a ghost train of writing derailed

whistle their mysteries no more

 

Patient for a Pen by Jennifer Avery

I fly away on discovered wings
without ceremony, thought, or need…

I am and I feel
This earth is mine
Air bends to admit me

outside a crowded mind.

I linger corporeal,
night between my legs,
instinct sober in the wake of
a little boy’s urgency
wrapped in man resounding.

I wrote him as a fiend;
Dorian Gray’s bastard son
clung to a painted soul,
elegant among thorns
like a poisoned rose.

Now he musters light,
masters night – beauty dismissed;

Darkness merely mist.

This is where we live,
souls like ours;
outside everything but this world
Sunsets and silence
in hilarious consternation.

 

PERSONAL AD by Jacob Edwards

 

i want true romance

like a two-stanza song from the 80s

in synthpop, a simple advancement of love

upbeat, speechless, the singer retreating

at last in a heartfelt procession

of la-la-la-las

 

i want to be loved

like a cult classic space opera

kissed beyond mission’s end, judged not

my faults turned to virtues beyond ratings

and questionable dress sense

my sets shaking, passionately dated

yet longed for, with each passing decade

our hearts’ gravitation grown stronger

 

i want conversation

like a dr. seuss picture book

simple, exquisite, and vividly painted

in odd swathes, original, each page parading

a peerless assortment of thoughts rhymed

a vibrant exchange between two creatures

caught up, cavorting the halls of a palace

both courting and drawn to the beauty

of each other’s imagination

 

i want to have sex

like an old-fashioned telephone

dialling to the end of a bell curve

then letting the handset purr back into place

(yes, it’s fixed, it’s a home phone, no roaming

my word, though, the cord gives you flex)

there’s no texting, no faceless and faraway

tête-à-tête on the run, never wondering

how great the reception is, how long the battery life

just where you’ll be when it chooses to go off

at home there’s the race to bring each digit

sequenced, encoded, tender, unique

through a cascading tremble to bell-ringing human

connection

 

i want to grow old next to you

like the hitchhiker’s guide text adventure

my words still surprising, my programming vexing

and better than anything new in a fatuous world

interacting with wit and with charm

at peace with each other, no vogons

just hope in our hearts, every day, every game

when the ravenous bugblatter beast

brings us back to the start

 

i want to die — if i die — having played

like a freestanding arcade game

at the skateway, larger than life, timeless

with a brightly lit coin return slot

and the option to continue

will you join me? the skaters glide round

mostly sending the hands of time backwards

i hope that you’ll be there beside me

to share in this life that i’ve found

 

Infinite Loop by Jennifer Avery

 

Eyes closed

I find a pendant;

breath’s adornment.

Wrap myself around it

so I’m always close.

Hope you feel me there

extending phantom fingers

over your skin.

 

I say you’re precious

Oddly precious

trapped in a loop

circling your head,

worn a halo from worry

from struggle.

I know this.

Let me drift along.

 

Infinity around your mind

and that pendant,

I’m here.

Bring me close

Swept into the breeze.

Teach me the pattern

nestled where your soul begins.

 

The Malfunctioning Mirror by Neil Fulwood

 

Small anomalies to start with:

the relationship of paintings

on the opposite wall, the order

of books on a shelf, a pattern

on the plain tie you’re straightening.

 

Little things. A glitch in the glass.

Social media would mock it

(“you had one job”) for failing

 

at the silver-backed simplicity

of reflection. But is it malfunction

 

or malfeasance when the faces

of the lost hang bodiless

until you close your eyes?

It is a product unfit for purpose

or a product of something else

 

when you open them again

to glass frosted with words

written in a ghost’s breath?

 

Is it defect or damnation

when you’re scared to turn round,

 

uncertain now of where you are?

 

Ours or Theirs by Timothy Hudenburg

 

nobody dies today

 

long planned attacks suspended

synchronized bombing raids postponed

the drones recalled

 

and an unchambered bullet

9mm nomenclature

115 gram hollow point metal jacket

last of its kind

 

rest now

a dusty museum far from here

audiences avoid the brassy gleam

notice something more fleeting briefly

 

beauty design brutality

before moving on to the next exhibit

other metallic artifacts behind glass

bayonet worn olive drab a scabbard

 

beyond a bygone era

not knowing what is or was

anymore halfway home

not caring to read any more signs

 

 

The Tide of History by Gary Beck

 

Empires rise, fall,

endure a few moments,

leave a shallow mark,

borders on an old map,

a chapter or two

in mildewed book,

recently replaced

by the internet.

Boundaries are remembered

by fewer and fewer

students of the past

comfortably placed

in nests of security

in a university,

where like their raucous kin,

media mouthpieces,

they bray certainty

without responsibility,

without accountability,

one horde telling us faster,

the other telling us louder,

what we did wrong,

what we should have done.

 

Shock and Awe by Gary Beck

 

Disaster follows disaster

in a once resilient nation

that absorbed all disruptions,

wondered, grieved, recovered, rebuilt.

Now elements of doubt,

a disease of apprehension

pervades our troubled land,

inflicting deprivations

on heirs to prosperity,

completely unprepared

for the struggle for survival.

 

Inoculating Intensity by Rich Murphy

 

The path to sincerity choreographed

with punchlines awaits convergent noses.

 

Guffaws pull out stingers from the blows

that day and night introduce to cheeks.

 

A week after, the stepping stones,

each punctuated with a gulf on all sides,

tickle with irony and paradox.

 

A practiced comedic audience

in ballet slippers finesses little

on the feather-planted landing pads.

 

Lemmings in army boots march off edgy topics.

 

Every flight and fancy let down contends

with satellites dishes and infinite forks in the road.

 

Once butted, the cancan foreheads focus

with permission from Sarcasm Anonymous,

 

getting at, without a smirk,

brass tacks embedded in funny bones.

 

I AM THE DIRTY BRICK BACK STREET by Lana Bella

 

I am the dirty brick back street,

the clay tracks vibrating beneath time,

the remnants of this greased lonesome town,

the dark-washed semantics without a proper name–

I remember the big fire of 99′ that singed

those slick, blue masonry walls:

the ones still stand as battery for the same

cornered liquor store,

and it is where my eyes always crawl up to the sky

at daybreak–

waking now, I struggle to get ready for the day,

so I nurse my body drinking the gin-soaked puddles

when September heat squeezes sweat and pulses

trickling from the armpits of the city,

with piss and laundry water drag languidly behind,

 

I am the dirty brick back street,

the subtext of an afterthought with the rushes of

exhausted labor,

of heavy dust-trinket lining my mouth to chest,

of someone always traveling away then coming back,

of snagged roots poking from my insides out,

of oil-leaked motorcars pouring hot tears over my palms,

of rare evenings plucking marionette’s strings

from my ill-trodden back,

and each time the wind would come and sweep

away the rich stench and quagmire of rot,

tracing again the ripped cuticles of my street,

while I inner-line my brick underpass

with crimson meals of roadkill—

 

 

Somewhere Near Shannon, Georgia by Jennifer Avery

 

Out looking for culture

I wound up empty-hearted;

don’t even know where I am,

trying to see this road and depart it.

 

Banjos and faeries on the brain,

lost in that slow bleed

from chaos to harmony.

I shudder to think where it leads.

 

Perfections and problems

argue through imagination.

Hazy obstacle or priceless gift;

Or just another complication?

 

Poets I love break my heart.

Those living; those buried.

Did they send me down this road

Or did fear bear me?

 

These songs in my head,

this voice I hear nightly;

I said its name to the air –

still it denied me.

 

I crucify myself for love

I drive through the night for nothing.

I always choose the darkest road

when I know I could be flying.

 

 

New Year’s Eve 2015.  Manchester.  Chiaroscuro. by Virginia Beards

 

A Caravaggio brawl on Well Street –

policeman pins down reveler,

frantic mink coat remonstrates

begs her mate to cooperate,

her red skirt, a bright splotch,

a painter’s enduring strategy.

A flat-out sprawler clutches a beer,

a stylish white coat smirks,

at the fleshy gap

between pants and shirt,

at the belly scraping wet pavement.

Law enforcers, a fluorescent yellow presence.

 

The background a triumph of chiaroscuro –

Black Maria, black jacketed boys, leggy girls

in black minis. Indolent, smoking, flirting, gawking

casually taking-in the curbside drama

the momentary play let of lust and shout

but nothing to write home about.

 

History glimmers in place and mind –

warehouses, mills, canals and damp

drunks, desperates and loiterers

the knife in the alley, the consumptive’s cough

a roman street brawl in Mancunian dress.

 

 

within travertine, eventually by Timothy Hudenburg

 

see the existential self

once Rodin chisels marble away

exposed veins of oxidized silver grey blue

and all I think of is you

 

draped goddesses demure in their corner

Grecian modesty with no particular order

– another weekend soccer game

I’ve forgotten the score

 

somewhere the Dying Gaul

still dies above a polished floor

heroic nudity near pathos now

his perfect Carrara heart almost stone

 

PLAN B by Jason Price Everett

 

sapropel kerogen

sop to the minor leagues

drop trou / trop drow

& keep rollin sixes

 

sole rage quit

how to void:

 

polygon incendiary

make you a believer

 

nuke the site from orbit

 

yqy

 

seven commercials &

not all there

 

glitter bleach & lava

on to genii recap

 

short swisher sweet

&

alla prima punkt/zahl

 

vex/head vermouthës

three minute rule

 

k/roll king

save image as:

 

mem/sa strict

& all freed men

are a watch over

 

spell spell

terminate well

 

TRIANGULARITY by Virginia Beards

 

Consider the geometry of triangles,

 

The gymnastics of equilateral, isosceles,

 

Right triangle and scalene.

 

Let A = Alice, B = Bob, C = Cathy.

 

 

Observe them in the equilateral—

 

Balanced and tidy, geometrically correct.

 

Totally fake, shills of abstract concept.

 

 

Deploy them to a right triangle.

 

Flat Alice duly supports upright Bob,

 

Bob times-out from vertical probity,

 

Bob glides along the hypotenuse with Cathy,

 

In a joyous respite from the perpendicular.

 

An isosceles crisis threatens.

 

 

Alice’s base shrinks,

 

Tension builds in all the angles,

 

Bob and Cathy join at the apex.

 

That Cathy! slanty, engaging,

 

A scalene in disguise! a challenge to calculate—

 

Squatter on the San Andreas fault of domesticity.

 

 

Youth By Subhadip Majumdar

 

That one buttonless shirt of youth

I don’t wear it any more

But I keep it near the mirror

In bright sun in faint moon in night of storms

It flashes in the mirror

Naked, I slowly walk to it and touch the shirt

Wear it in the darkness of the room

I feel my age shading off

A little more burning within chest,a sip in coffee

Those young dreams comes back to me spread all over my body

Asking me,how far how far how far

You have made us true?

One for the woman keeps on changing faces

One for the highway never cease to call me

One about those words vanishes in my blood

I know it will be there

I would inherit it someday

The first touches

The first love

The first kiss

All painted on the shirt

I can see it

I smile at them

And I sleep with the shirt on the whole night

In morning in sunlight I see the shirt again kept in a drawer near the mirror

Silent after a full night of wild dreams.

 

Delivered Unto by Neil Fulwood

 

Ground mists engulf its wheels. The trailer

occupies the middle distance in a rough-grass field,

as if satnav led some trucker

off the beaten track – was taken at its word.

 

Forty feet from faded “long vehicle” sign

to pinion denied any fifth-wheel coupling

since whenever (trailers reckon time

by miles covered, loading and unloading),

 

it’s one of the missing – road haulage

equivalent of lost at sea. Delivery note

slipped through unsigned; logistics

missed it. The container’s padlocked,

 

contents forgotten; useless: rank or rusted,

unfit for purpose. Along the side, GET READY

TO MEET YOUR MAKER painted in neat

stark letters, visible from heaven.

 

 

Lifeboat by Rich Murphy

 

The long steamed habits and rituals

kiss at the bow and stern

and with mythology fasten

length-wise and at ribs.

Without sail, rudder, or oar

marriage lunched when launched.

 

Calm, waterspouts, and hurricane gale

engage without concern for invention,

ceremony, or flotsam amid currents.

Adrift without spar and soon

without sextant, a compass mock-salutes.

 

Crest-fallen and heaved, the hull

hollers and gurgles so that

few couples arrive at wherever,

and sometimes one bales against resentment

to harbor for the drowned.

 

Make believe and half truths

hold for the hold by two.

Boat building team mates

begin with clouds and talk

about fair whether in the drink

or down the sink in a future:

Frantic waves at the passing

once upon a time.

 

GIRLHOODS by Virginia Beards

 

In spangled skirts and push-up bras,

The swirling child-women

Twirl, shake pom-poms, jig,

Prance and shout at cars,

Rattle booster cans.

Celebrants of the football team.

Hand maidens to hormones

and high school heroes.

 

Slouchy girl smoking on a stairwell

Gets a pom-pom swish in her face,

Her cigarette a near miss.

Deep inhale-exhale soul sigh of life.

Immobile loner encased in skinny jeans,

She gazes at the screaming bacchantes.

Her girlhood shelf-life about to expire.

 

We excavate from the girlhood strata

Museum quality artifacts:

Storybook dolls, kickball,

Slumber parties, a sneaked cigarette or two,

Cherry Ames and Nancy Drew,

 

The Bobbsey Twins, The Alcott girls;

Jane Austen’s dauntingly chaste heroines.

Archived too in a dusty back room—

The drug-addled mother, promiscuous daughter,

Problematic father. Goneril and Regan.

 

Divination by Tonya Eberhard

 

Fragile fall, night comes on so early.

Sets on slow, like ink spreading through water.

 

November of rotten pumpkins,

obsessive compulsive ritual prayers.

 

Moving her pottery from kiln

to garage. Thick bowls, decorative leaves of clay.

 

Tamed wet earth and air, its shape birthed in

dizzying turns by a pumping petal.

 

Precision, conciseness in creation.

How lovely to think everyone is made this way.

 

Last bowl lifted by thin arms.

How curious, staring into its endless depths.

 

Wait—here is what is seen.

Two separate shadows merging into one, bold black

 

spreading to form a gallows tree.

Tasting a spoonful of stars from a soup ladle.

 

Then smoke, thunderous crack of a gun.

The last supper splitting into stone halves.

 

Sheets twisted into ropes of wrinkled skin,

umbilical cord of sleep.

 

Arms outstretched, beckoning a figure to

dive from a cliff. Jump, I will catch you.

 

Thin fingers from thin arms startle,

beginning to silently count, tapping the index finger.

 

A prayer to the patron saint of repetition,

a signing of the cross against all evil.

 

 

GOOD FRIDAY/PASSOVER/BLOOD MOON by Chani Zwibel

 

I am going out to my backyard

to have matzo and wine

and stare at the night sky,

with the full moon,

round orb of our closest space rock,

reflecting sunlight in its luminous golden way.

I try as hard as I can,

wherever I go,

to freak out my neighbors as much as possible

until I’m quite sure they think I’m crazy,

which is what I want, so they leave me alone.

I need to be alone to go on this hand-crafted,

stitched-together-from-multiple-traditions journey.

I’m out there having a matzo

and drinking kosher blackberry wine,

hiding a piece of matzo

in the grave of a rock altar,

gazing at the moon,

blessing god and goddess,

and the Christ-god,

Passover lamb,

blood sacrifice.

I am a Christian’s child,

and a Jew’s child.

Somewhere in there also,

back in the trees,

waits an old Druid.

What do I know of the divine

but Jesus and Moses,

a desert people’s spiritual wanderings?

What do I know of the divine,

But moonlight and soft breeze

caught in an ancient oak’s branches?

I am a dreamer.

I see both visions pleasant

and visions terrifying.

I’ve dreamed

of the Adversary

and the Messiah.

Gods and angels are beautiful,

like no human can be.

They have power.

If I have seen such living dreams,

am I not a vessel?

Am I not a part

of the floating fabric,

the dark matter,

binding a physical existence to a spiritual one?

Breathing deeply of the night air,

I promise myself

I can move forward from fear.

I can let go

of those things

that hurt me.

My spirituality becomes

a white tea light candle burning,

throwing sadness and shadows

on rough beams

of a makeshift cross,

scene of suffering,

execution stake,

holy relic,

and ancient tree.

 

 

White. Ghosts. by Tonya Eberhard

 

She wanted to see ghosts. They ran off

after rehearsal to a downtown restaurant.

It was closed, closed and dark. In the cold,

they loitered around like a bunch of bums.

She insisted on seeing ghosts. So they sped

up an icy slope in a black car. As it jolted to

a stop, the high beams illuminated the

mausoleum. She wanted to change out of

her uniform into a skin-tight, hip-hugging top.

To be something sexy, not Catholic good.

Unbuttoning the winter coat, it was the

first time undressing in front of a boy. She

shivered in the white cotton undershirt, white as

their icy exhales. She put on sexy, but couldn’t be it.

Glancing out the window, she saw the shadow of a

man with a black dog going past. She screamed.

They sped down the hill to a sleazy gas station.

She never wanted to see ghosts again, but

he doubted her sanity. ‘You’re depressed,’ he said.

She turned and saw her reflection in the car window.

A face angular and pale, that of a ghost, staring back.

 

 

Blood on the Highway by Steven J. Rogers

Figure if leaving is in the future, going to need to clean this pair of pants. Maybe get out the windex and wash the memories from the asphalt.

Scrape up all that blood.

The wind is something to fear. The kind that blows through dirty brown hair, but only when it feels like it. And it don’t ever feel like it anymore.

Cold something fierce. Dispatched colors locked inside darkness shortly after they received their marching orders. Unable to escape, despite the exaggerated freedoms of the American highway system.

Drag that rotten turtle corpse out of the ditch. Build it an alter on the margins of black tar sands and flaccid waves. The elderberry branches its pyre. The fire its vessel.

Transcend terrestrial borders through ash.
Used to be this ceremony meant something. Now it’s frigid and shallow. There used to be something out here.
It’s all condemned. Boarded up and barb wired.

A sign on a post made out of driftwood. A broken canoe filled with potted range flowers. A snake that don’t know its tail from its head. Guts shattered and spread like lawn ornaments in a river town.

Seems so long ago these casualties first littered this place.
Root knuckles think they’re going to win this war. But none of them are battling anymore.

They scream anyway. They don’t know they’re too far gone and the memories aren’t going away. Their voices sound digital. Infected like the rest of us.

“Don’t come this way. Don’t come any way. Ain’t no clean pants going to change any of that.”

 

Vignettes from Emily’s Stitches by Leverett Butts

 

One

If you walked through the woods, keeping the creek on your left and went straight ‘til you saw the lightning tree what’s half dead and bore right, following the foot trail a piece, you’d see my place. Now I didn’t live there or nothing, but it was mine just the same. It’s where I’d go when I wanted to think about things or just be alone for a while. What it was was an old slave shack from back in the Civil War days, but hadn’t nobody lived there in years. Oh, I suppose the occasional hobo’d stop there for a night or two, but I’d never seen one. My daddy told me to stay away from it on account of its being so old and run down. I reckoned he thought it was liable to fall right on my head if I so much as looked at it cross-eyed. But I figured it was safe enough, so I tended to disregard Daddy’s wariness and fears and such. Hell, by the time he found out about the place, I’d staked my claim on it about three months.

 

Two

I had pretty much given up on being able to get lucky with my own personal charms and was just about to swallow my pride and raise three bucks, when she showed up. Literally on my doorstep. When I walked into the shack one afternoon, I found her asleep on the floor of my front room. Of course, I didn’t realize she was a girl at the time. I figured her for one of the occasional hobos I never saw spending nights in my place. She was all covered up with tattered blankets, scraps of paper, and old clothes. In fact, I couldn’t figure out if she was a hobo or the nest of some hellacious rat king like in that Christmas movie with the Russian ballerina fella.

 

Three

“My name is Emily, and if you so much as breathe at my father, I swear to God and Moses I’ll kill you.” Emily Blanchard was fourteen, though you couldn’t tell by either sight or sound. Old Jim Blanchard had about a hundred kids, and I didn’t think there was any danger of his ever being sober enough to notice her gone until she was at least thirty.

 

Four

“You mean to tell me you’ve had a girl stashed up in that old shack for a month now and you ain’t tried to do nothing with her?” Gardener hadn’t been out to my place for a while. His folks gave him a raise on his weekly allowance, and he’d had better places to spend it. He only showed up this Saturday because Bertha had taken a few days off to go visit her mother and help pay for the old lady’s electrolysis. When he saw Emily there, he was surprised, but figured I’d kept the secret to myself in order to get in some good experience without having to share. You should’ve seen his jaw drop when I told him I hadn’t even tried nothing with her. I bet a whole herd of sheep could’ve fit right between his teeth.

“What in God’s good grace is wrong with you boy?” He stammered. “You afflicted or what?”

“No. I just hadn’t thought much about it, that’s all. I mean she’s only fourteen.”

“I don’t rightly see your point. She’s a Blanchard; I’m sure she knows all about it. Besides, even if she were a Rockerfeller, I think an exception could be made for a fourteen year old looking that good.”

“Gardener,” I said feeling a funny sinking feeling in my stomach. “Ain’t you got any morals or common decency at all?”

“Sure I go to church.” That wasn’t what I had asked him, so I just turned around and went home.

 

Five

I thought a good deal about what Gardener said the rest of that day. Especially about the fact that she was a Blanchard and probably knew all about it. I thought about Emily not ever telling me why she ran away, and I thought about poor old drunk Jim Blanchard and how he’d been widowed damn near fourteen years. I thought about morality, and how Gardener apparently figured going to church was morality enough. I wondered if it was, but I didn’t think so. Besides, Gardener only went to church to try and see up Sister Joyce’s skirts when she sat up so high playing the organ. I didn’t think that really counted for going to church anyway. That night I had a dream. At first it was like any dream I might have had whenever I felt particularly frustrated. Only this time instead of Anne Marie or even Ol’ Lady Simms, It was Emily Blanchard. As soon as I realized it, I got that same funny sinking feeling in my stomach, and I knew it wasn’t no ordinary sex dream. Emily really was incredible looking and that made my sinking speed up. I was falling from a great height and I couldn’t stop. I couldn’t stop. When I did stop, I looked in a mirror that was suddenly right at my head, and I saw Emily under me but she was tied up and she had a bruise on her eye. But that wasn’t the most disturbing part of the dream. When I looked at myself in the mirror, I looked like old Jim Blanchard. I made myself wake up.

 

Six

I went to my place that afternoon. As I neared the place, I realised that everything was real quiet. It was eerie. Then I heard some shuffling coming from one of the shot-out windows, and when I looked, I saw that Gardener was there. All hundred and sixty pounds of him. Emily was there, too. It was just like my dream, only this time I was the mirror. And this time the sinking feeling was rising. I stood transfixed outside that window, my mind a sheet of white. Gardener looked up at me and grinned. I was stuck floating in my stomach rising towards the white in my head. I couldn’t do anything until Emily looked, too. She wasn’t crying; she wasn’t whimpering; she was just there. To this day, I’m not sure how I got through that window so fast. I only know that it took me about three seconds to reach Gardener. He was still grinning like an idiot when I kicked him in the ribs and knocked him over. He was still grinning like an idiot when I straddled his chest and punched him twice in the nose. He was still grinning like an idiot when he flipped me over and grabbed my neck. Neither one of us saw Emily with the two-by-four. She hit him once to knock him off me, and then he took off out the window.

 

 

Bed by Steven J. Rogers

Don’t forget to drag that thing out to the curb. It’s covered in mildew, mold, and there’s a little rot. Right along the edge by the small rip with the blood stain.

When it was purchased, the saleslady said to jump on it a little bit. So the form fitting foam that covered the plush top would easily conform to the contours of the body.

There was a joke. Something about fucking. She didn’t get it.

Then, there was her — Long tangled hair, offset by Italian anger.

And her — With her stories about life inside of a strip mall.

And her — With her constant jokes and cackling laughter.

And her — The only her.

She took her first fall from there. Got stuck between the broken TV stand and the wall. Flailed there for hours before…

There were more falls. Until she couldn’t move anymore. Her remaining legs twisted and use- less. A cosmic joke of failed muscles and time.

Then, she was gone. Then…

Drag that bed to the mountains of rubble. To the detritus of humanity. To the lands filled with broken memories.

 

 

The Sorrow by Mike Luz

 

Novice on windshield

explaining mulch

river sliced

graceful mantras,

byways

hummingbirds

mad flight

into poetry

sizable intrigues

obeying rules

jar’s end

a cookie

 

Wretch by Mike Luz

 

A body is

planted or it

burns, a semicircle

twelve-times triangular

interpreted

prosthetic

aimed at

slogan: shoelace

in search of

spacetime

curves bent back-

ward

out of whack

dirempted

melancholic term papers

claims unanswered

a silent ring

flowers an eyeball

sits on

 

 

White Marble by Edward Manzi

 

I am the white marble in the brown dirt below the flowering tomato plant reflecting the morning sun and the blue sky, smooth and hard in the shadow of something taller, expanding my influence despite staying the same size, looking over my shoulder and imagining I had legs that could get me somewhere, so I wouldn’t have to be rolled around by some finger.

 

Wooden Spoon by Edward Manzi

 

Grandma is stirring three gallons of red sauce, as a gasoline-dipped chocolate bunny is burning, sacrificed in front of a skull faced Mary on the old well in the backyard, while the May flies are playing hop-scotch on the dirt road, hoping it will bring them back to the river, never thinking of the trout that will eat them.

 

From The Abandoned Castle by Edward Manzi

 

VI

 

I am not interested in much that will get me anywhere in the preordained real world of elves. I am still trying to figure out how to get the stripped screw out, that remains firmly in its place.

 

In the shrubs, two discarded half eaten popsicles are melting. What if my dead body was found in a river under suspicious circumstances?

Would it add to my unpredictable legend?

 

without by Timothy Hudenburg

 

go on get outside

cooped up as we are

imagining the desolation of March

everything gone silent

gray even the air

cloaks itself into mist

snowdrifts have finally melted

the worn shovel packed

the giant maple out front

gone silent in the season

barren without leaves

even light weakens

what to do with it

look closer into that light

read the meager script

being written

it is so

 

there at the branches

everywhere buds

 

Jennifer Avery is an editor, novelist, and poet from Ringgold, Georgia.  She has had poems published in the “Ishaan Literary Review” and “The Blue Mountain Review.”  Jennifer is also the short story editor for “The Blue Mountain Review” and a member of The Southern Collective Experience.  She is currently completing her first novel, Fangirl Fairytale.

I am Virginia Beards. I have published a book of poems, Exit Pursued by a Bear (Oermead Press, 2014), three short stories in Chester County Fiction (Oermead Press, 2011) and edited a 19th century novel, The Real Charlotte, for Rutgers University Press. I was a member of the Penn State University Department of English for 23 years and published the expected critical articles and reviews. I have a Masters degree from the University of Pennsylvania and a Ph.D. from Bryn Mawr College.

Gary Beck has spent most of his adult life as a theater director, and as an art dealer when he Gary Beck has spent most of his adult life as a theater director, and as an art dealer when he couldn’t make a living in theater. He has 11 published chapbooks and 3 more accepted for publication. His poetry collections include: Days of Destruction (Skive Press), Expectations (Rogue Scholars Press). Dawn in Cities, Assault on Nature, Songs of a Clerk, Civilized Ways, Displays, Perceptions & Fault Lines (Winter Goose Publishing). Tremors, Perturbations, Rude Awakenings and The Remission of Order will be published by Winter Goose Publishing. Conditioned Response (Nazar Look). Resonance (Dreaming Big Publications). Virtual Living will be published by Thurston Howl Publications. His novels include: Extreme Change (Cogwheel Press), Flawed Connections (Black Rose Writing) and Call to Valor (Gnome on Pigs Productions). Sudden Conflicts will be published by Lillicat Publishers and State of Rage by Rainy Day Reads Publishing. His short story collection, A Glimpse of Youth (Sweatshoppe Publications). Now I Accuse and other stories will be published by Winter Goose Publishing. His original plays and translations of Moliere, Aristophanes and Sophocles have been produced Off Broadway. His poetry, fiction and essays have appeared in hundreds of literary magazines. He currently lives in New York City.

A Pushcart nominee, Lana Bella has a diverse work of poetry and fiction published and forthcoming with over 140 journals, including a chapbook with Crisis Chronicles Press (spring 2016), Ann Arbor Review, Chiron Review, Coe Review, Foundling Review, Fourth & Sycamore, Harbinger Asylum, Literary Orphans, Poetry Salzburg Review, Poetry Quarterly, William Jessup University, and elsewhere, among others. Lana resides in the coastal town of Nha Trang, Vietnam, where she is a wife of a talking-wonder novelist, and a mom of two far-too-clever frolicsome imps.

Leverett Butts teaches composition and literature at the Gainesville campus of the University of North Georgia. He is the co-editor of Grand Central Review, an online literary journal. His poetry and fiction have appeared in Eclectic and The Georgia State University Review. He is the recipient of several fiction prizes offered by the University of West Georgia and TAG Publishing. His first collection of short fiction, Emily’s Stitches: The Confessions of Thomas Calloway and Other Stories, was nominated for the 2013 Georgia Author of the Year Award in Short Fiction and his latest, Guns of the Waste Land: Departure & Diversion, has been nominated for the 2016 Georgia Author of the Year Award in Science Fiction/Fantasy. He lives in Temple, Georgia, with his wife, son, their Jack Russell terrier, and a couple of antisocial cats (to be fair, one of them is just dead).

Darren Demaree’s poems have appeared, or are scheduled to appear in numerous magazines/journals, including the South Dakota Review, Meridian, New Letters, Diagram, and the Colorado Review. He is the author of five poetry collections, most recently “The Nineteen Steps Between Us” (2016, After the Pause). He is the Managing Editor of the Best of the Net Anthology and Ovenbird Poetry. He is currently living and writing in Columbus, Ohio with his wife and children.

Tonya Eberhard recently graduated from the University of Missouri. She currently resides in Minnesota. Her work has been featured in Dirty Chai, Lingerpost, Yellow Chair Review, Open Minds Quarterly, Sun & Sandstone, among others.

Jacob Edwards lives in Brisbane, Australia. He may be found online at www.jacobedwards.id.au and posting poems of the everyday at www.facebook.com/JacobEdwardsWriter. He also (to his eternal shame) now tweets @ToastyVogon.

Jason Price Everett was born in 1972. He was educated at Lafayette College, Cornell University and the University of Paris. His first book, Unfictions, a collection of short prose pieces, was released by 8th House Publishing in 2009. His collection Hypodrome: Selected Poems 1990-2010 was released by 8th House in the spring of 2012. Xian Dyad, a poetic travelogue, was published by Spuyten Duyvil in the summer of 2012. His work has appeared in numerous online and print literary publications, including The Mad Hatters Review, Writers Notes Magazine, The Quarterly Review, The Prague Literary Review, Underground Voices, BLATT, Brand, The Alchemy Review, Carcinogenic Poetry, KGB Bar Lit Magazine, Ronin, Revue Mètropolitaine, CV2, The neo:anthology Project, and Apiary. He currently lives in Philadelphia.

Neil Fulwood was born in 1972, the son of a truck driver, the grandson of a miner. He’s the author of film studies book ‘The Films of Sam Peckinpah’. His poetry has appeared in The Morning Star, The Interpreter’s House, The Lampeter Review, Art Decades and The Black Light Engine Room. He is co-editor, with David Sillitoe, of the anthology ‘More Raw Material: work inspired by Alan Sillitoe’.

Daniel Y. Harris is the author of The Underworld of Lesser Degrees (NYQ Books, 2015) Esophagus Writ (with Rupert M. Loydell, The Knives Forks and Spoons Press, 2014), Hyperlinks of Anxiety (Cervena Barva Press, 2013), The New Arcana (with John Amen, NYQ Books, 2012), Paul Celan and the Messiah’s Broken Levered Tongue (with Adam Shechter, Cervena Barva Press, 2010; picked by The Jewish Forward as one of the 5 most important Jewish poetry books of 2010) and Unio Mystica (Cross-Cultural Communications, 2009). Some of his poetry, experimental writing, art, and essays have been published in BlazeVOX, Denver Quarterly, European Judaism, Exquisite Corpse, The New York Quarterly, In Posse Review, The Pedestal Magazine, Poetry Magazine.com and Poetry Salzburg Review.

Timothy Hudenburg was once a Federal Poet, born in Tachikawa, Japan to American parents, a graduate of William & Mary, is or was a soldier a teacher, a poet, resides outside of Washington DC, has been published in Requiem Magazine, Backlash Press, Badlands Literary Magazine, Yo-New York, Yo-New York, American Tanka and Yellow Chair Review.

A native of Western Pennsylvania currently living in Chicago, writer and musician Dana Jerman has been published in Big River Review, Theurgy Magazine, riverbabble, The 2nd Hand, Capitola Review, AfterHours and Skidrow Penthouse. Her books “Diminishing Returns: Seventeen Washed-Up Love Poems” and “Bon Petit Bohemienne: a memoir” can be found via Amazon.com. More literature and photography by Dana can be found at the monthly blog Blastfortune.com.

Mike Luz is a poet and musician living in Brooklyn, NY. Mike published a volume of poems “Ages of Suits by Sam Casino,” and has poetry forthcoming in Outlook Springs. In early 2016, he released a self-produced album under the name Mercy Wizard and recorded at BC Studios.

Subhadip Majumdar is a writer poet from India. He is certified in Creative Writing from University of Iowa. He also edited for a long time a reputed Bengali poetry journal. Wrote a short novel as Tumbleweed writer in Shakespeare and Company, Paris. Two poetry books published and one novel in process of publication.

Edward Manzi lives in Tahoe City, California. His poems have been published in Word Riot, Paper Nautilus, DecomP, The Bakery, Cosmonaut Avenue and other places. His poems have also been nominated for Pushcart Awards and a Best of The Net Award. He has an MFA from the University of New Hampshire.

Sarah Kathryn Moore holds an MFA and a PhD from the University of Washington; her poems have appeared in Poetry Northwest, Electric Lit, City Arts, Cutbank, Pacifica Literary Review, and elsewhere. A 2015-2016 Made at Hugo House Fellow in Seattle, Sarah Kate is a recent transplant to the San Francisco Bay area.

Rich Murphy: My book-length manuscript “Body Politic” has been accepted for publication by Prolific Press and will be out in 2016. Americana my third book was selected as the winner in the Prize Americana 2013 by The Institute for American Studies and Creative Writing. My first book, The Apple in the Monkey Tree, was published in 2007 (Codhill Press); my second book Voyeur was published in 2009. Chapbooks include Family Secret (Finishing Line Press), Hunting and Pecking (Ahadada Books), Phoems for Mobile Vices (BlazeVox), Rescue Lines (Right Hand Pointing) and Great Grandfather (Pudding House Publications). Recent poetry may be found in The Transnational – A Literary Magazine, BlazeVox; Futures Trading; Pennsylvania Review; Former People, Fjord Review; E.ratio; Literati Quarterly; Otoliths; Euphony; The Straddler; James Dickey Review; Red Savina, Review; Big Bridge; Blast Furnace; Blue Fifth Review: Blue Five Notebook; and featured in Syzygy Poetry Journal. Recent prose scholarship on poetry and poetics has been published in Zeteo Journal; Imaginary Syllabus, Anthology chapters, Palm Press; Journal of the Assembly for Expanded Perspectives on Learning; The International Journal of the Humanities; Reconfigurations: A Journal of Poetry and Poetics; The Journal of Ecocriticism; and New Writing: The International Journal for the Practice and Theory of Creative Writing.

Steven J. Rogers is an avid canoesman and beardsman from Northern Wisconsin. Alas, he currently lives in Los Angeles, California. Steven is not an absolutist, so he is willing to accept the idea that there might be a hell. If there is, he’s pretty sure that it would involve writing bios. He has a BA and MFA which he’d happily trade for some beer money. To learn more about him, and his upcoming publications please visit www.stevenjrogers.ink.

Mather Schneider lives and writes poetry in Tucson, Arizona.

Sreedhar Vinnakota is a theoretical physicist and a writer from Chennai, India.

Riley Woods is an English major at Stetson University. After graduating, he plans to continue his education by pursuing an MFA.

Chani Zwibel is a graduate of Agnes Scott College, a poet, wife and dog-mom who was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, but now dwells in Marietta, Georgia. She is a member of The Southern Collective Experience, and poetry editor for The Blue Mountain Review. http://www.southerncollectiveexperience.com/chani-zwibel/