Joseph Ellison Brockway is a poet, translator, and Spanish professor. He likes to juxtapose words and signs to disrupt the language on the page and to disturb the reader’s thoughts. Many of his poems also experiment with ideas and images that explore the human psyche and existence. Joseph’s poetry has recently been published in L’Éphémère Review, Moonchild Magazine, SurVision Magazine, and Surreal Poetics. He can be found roaming the socialmediaverse at @JosephEBrockway.
The greens, the greys, the ocean waves—together cross.
Enveloped within infrastructure, like an orb with swirling insides: the waters settle in the center as trees surround them. Three oceans connect through a narrow river; these oceans huddle close. The architecture: high-rise. Sky-high, arching over the oceans, shielding them. The buildings reach out to one another through pathways (connected, like the oceans)—and these know no time. Similar to skip travel, almost. Each piece in this machine of a home fits and functions as planned, always.
The fresh breeze, the silvers, the tides—these are what make up home, and yet, home would be incomplete without its inhabitants. This Realm has always been known for its residents’ hyperosmia: heightened olfactory senses. Other neighboring Realms are known for other things. Hyperosmia plays a vital role in the circulation of energy.
All this Realm’s energy is generated from its very own oceans. There are the tides: natural, relatively predictable, but insufficient and intermittent (the oceans cherish their quiet time, too). There is the concentration of salt: with hyperosmia, energy management poses no challenge. In other words, apart from the tides, the oceans must have an exact percentage of salt for the energy to be distributed evenly in the Realm. An exact percentage, a very specific scent. Each piece in this machine of a home fits and functions as planned, always.
Amidst distinct realms, here lies Elesphal.
The Oliques and Their Ancestral History (Log A.0028)
Elesphal was once led by the Scentress for ages and ages as tales go. Essentially, she was the founder; the scholars of the Realms speak of her oneness with nature and how she foresaw the need for Elesphal to live upon such providence.
The Scentress began, along with a few others of her time, to construct the Elesphal of now, from its architecture to its energies. She is the sole reason for the inhabitants’ hyperosmia; from her the idea of mastering the sense came about and hence, her name.
However, since her passing, the Olique family—the Scentress’ descendants—had taken over. The Oliques maintain order in and ensure the needs of Elesphal. All have equal roles: mother Morea takes the general governance over the Realm, father Lesthe takes interactions with the other Realms, older brother Iressen takes infrastructure management, sister Midence takes energy monitoring, and younger brother Alsgne takes nature development.
Even in the seamless machine of Elesphal there exists widespread rumors of the Scentress. As indicated in the records, she has transformed into an ancestral ghost, roaming around Elesphal, soul stuck for reasons unknown. As much as all inhabitants sand the Olique family would like to further study this and assist in sending the Scentress to fulfill herself into a higher, more peaceful being, everyone fears what she might do to them or their Realm. She later on became detached from the residents after achieving hyperosmia herself, tales tell.
The Scentress Herself (Log C.0147)
The oceans are off, Midence mutters.
All seems well to me, sister, Iressen assures her.
I agree with brother. It might just be your nose, sister, Alsgne has a light laugh.
Midence ignores her little brother, looks away. Had all really meant well, her nose should not be twitching as it is now, should it? Midence tries asking around, but to no avail; the rest of the inhabitants seem fine. Not even her mother and father side with her.
Midence sets her eyes on the oceans once more; she tears away from the waters almost immediately, the scent too powerful for her to even look.
If the oceans are unwell, might this lead to overconsumption, and possibly ruin Elesphal? The worry rings in Midence’s heart. She leaves her brothers and rushes to the records hall, in hopes that the scholars might shed light onto this disruption. As quick as she can, she goes through any and every log in her immediate sight—she fears no time can be wasted.
Midence, nearly drowned in all the books, discovers an eccentric dent in the brick walls. When she touches the dent, a slip of paper falls into her hands and it reads:
If someone were to call for me aloud, or if these very lines were to be found out,
I assure you—have no doubt:
Visiting one, you have my blessings. And now, to you, I shall call out.
Midence resumes her research to look for more answers. She finds that those lines are a message from the Scentress herself. Further research tells Midence that the Scentress, at certain circumstances, chooses to appear to whoever calls for her or discovers that particular message. The scholars inferred that the Scentress appears to the chosen in either episodes of erratic voices and visions or through her unique aura projected onto ordinary objects in the Realm.
Never had Midence feared knowledge until this moment. The Scentress might—oh, the thought alone is awful, Midence winces—play around with her, haunt her, torment her. There is no way to rewind, and Midence is well-aware of that fact. She continues on, averting the ocean crisis while convincing her kindred of the Scentress’ words.
I’ve never heard of this before, Iressen says.
The scholars might have made mistakes, too, sister, Alsgne taps his finger on his chin.
And in those moments of skepticism, obscurities arise: glitches, bright sparks appear before Midence’s eyes. At first only she was directed by the Scentress, then the latter began making contact with Iressen and Alsgne as well. Obscurities—yet clearly of the Scentress’ mark—and other times the most ordinary objects in the oddest of ways: tree branches intertwining, reaching out to them, intertwining, and repeat, and more. The three siblings share the same fright in the beginning. Her motives incomprehensible beyond compare, they believe the Scentress made her presence a curse for having found her message, a supposed secret.
Midence continues with the oceans. Moment after moment of the Scentress’ calls upon the three, at long last, she appears fully to the siblings.
“Visiting one—and her company—you have my blessings.”
She is…at best would be to say: light, albeit a dim one.
A silent nod, a greeting from her to the three. The Scentress proceeds to explain the behavior of their oceans:
“Our marine energy has been fluctuating—too strong or too weak for the established scent—due to the lack of light. Have you ever considered the light?”
The three shake their heads in sync.
“Elesphal, truly, and I discovered this only upon my passing, is a world of light. Elesphal…comes from light sphere, you see? For our Realm to continue with its marine energy at normal levels, we must intersect it with our innatelight capacity. Both energies must work alongside each other, yet this light energy has been neglected for so, so long. And that is one of my deepest regrets as the Scentress—not having utilized our truth.”
The three siblings look at the Scentress in awe, still trying to process her words.
“This architecture is my fault. Too completely enveloped, trapped, shunning ourselves of our open sphere and the oceans that yearn to sparkle.” The Scentress looks upward, then down in dismay. “Midence, and Iressen, Alsgne: you have always been doing well—the Oliques truly never fail. And so I must ask of your assistance to set this all anew.”
“Elesphal has,” she tries to disguise her brokenness with soft sobs, “it has become a machine, all too rigid. We directed our focus to the oceans…if we do not solve this, I foresee the oceans may lose their power and Elesphal will, in turn, fall.”
“Here, visiting ones,” the Scentress says and this time, faint and friendly glitches surround them. “What we must do is make use of both light and waters. With the warmth of direct sunlight, we will utilize the temperature of the surface of the waters. In other words, visiting ones—”
“Now, not only the scent matters, but the heat from the light as well,” Midence interrupts.
“Indeed, indeed,” the Scentress smiles.
Elesphal, with the guidance of the Oliques, turns anew: the architecture opens up, allowing light to spread onto the oceans. The energies return to the usual, but with a faint—warm—change.
Elesphal lives with the ocean and the light, now a true home to its inhabitants, to the Scentress, to itself.
The Scentress to the Olique Children (Hidden Log)
Every exhale is an act of devouring space and time.
Now, it is one hundred percent clear. Absolutely.
Visiting ones, here I must send my deepest thanks, and bid my farewell. I shall rise.
The ancestral spirit of the Scentress disperses and brightens, light above Elesphal. She is finally fulfilled into a higher being.
The Scentress is dearly missed by the inhabitants of Elesphal. Scholars say she makes appearances from time to time, to those who call out to her, or to those whom she wishes to call out to.
⑆ka⑉t⑇ is a BFA Creative Writing student very much into unreality. She tries to channel unreality through her works and her fashion. She can be found as typeflux on Tumblr, Twitter, and Instagram.
I was told (who told me? what voice?) to imagine a porthole, to focus across the blue. Wait
for the glare of clarity to abate, subdue it. Acknowledge the blue, it said, like breathing used to be. It will be cold, like the first snow, as you ease yourself across. There is the sea. Concentrate. I become my focus, which is her. She watches the sky (I remember the sky). I don’t
see her, it is not sight, yet she’s there on the terrace watching the clouds, seeing vertebrae. The voice says, It’s like blowing. I remember breathing, taking in a deep breath. The thought, or what sounds like a thought, makes me smile. (A smile is just a metaphor now.)Focus. I’m entranced with the mirror image. I need the sea
for practice. She’s searching for letters – an L – but clouds
are untamable, they stand on end, wisps trailing away into a spider’s thread that I follow (again,
a metaphor) in wonder (now I know wonder)
and she is no longer on the terrace, no longer
looking, though her ache crimsons the scent of pine and honeysuckle. I translate touch, sound,
sight, want, pain. She is trying to translate, but knows
only blue, sea. Sees only vertebrae, thinks I don’t hear.
I resist dissipation. I dally, imagining our two mists
mingling (what sex used to be?), though I’m becoming wisp already. Her every thought like a blood-red
light flashing in the empty blue.Listen.
Kymm Coveney was born in Boston and has lived in Spain since the 1982 World Cup. Some poems are in Under the Radar, Prole, and The Interpreter’s House. Several flash pieces reside at 101Fiction. Online translations include a poem at Surreal Poetics and a short story at Palabras Errantes.
inside each memory egg a gold inlay of an incident
how the brain compartmentalizes like a chambered nautilus
yet it is all one sand – the brain distinguishes one from the other to understand
i’ve made a career of privacy and compartmentalized objects
i’ve made a career of my traumas
what is privacy here with all exposed and sifting over one another in an endless span
how much of privacy or keeping secret is wrapped up in fears around judgement
light exposures popping up – the privacy book the mean latitudes of reason
a wish to bold concave belly flesh shoulders wrapped in marbled warscape
a wish to stand tall to withstand the seas at the door
i biked all over town in the early dawn popping off light exposures drunk on tall boys and crashed into a lexus
the me then the me
mortal rigor in the fountainin the landscape chasm
to rack focus like an aperture to let light in
object/frame stillness among the raging
majestic orifice right there
alate lion in the yard
these death energetics
i swallow hieroglyphs like a carceral bee
fires all around the island in a glacial crisis
war on my nerves a pallor a fungus
the lens has holes in it
a disintegration of the ephemeral
the segmented abdomen becomes integrated
losing its segments as an insect ages
cerci wave in weapons of copulation
wingless among the deciduous
the sense making
malicious octopus reticular trap
alphabet laughter in the yarrow
when you become the lens itself
so the pallor is swallowed, excreted
the moult can moult
Electra clasp the wretches
wretched the wretches wash ashore
pubic schemaold days of the goddess
stressed bellythe “curved inflorescence”
irascible pharaohegg-shaped coffin
bury me in this alleged
Hers is thefelled hearta sword-shaped segment
when i curve toward you
the air stretches me pinnate
radio neuron electraradial split inquisitive
I splitI fire on all radials
electrons of nostalgiaacquisitive longing
how the “stigma persists at the tip”even though its buried
how trauma persiststhe skins a sun coming through it
wild mouths wild mouths
when the agor settles
when gold dust lament
covers it all
i am a beetle captured
my green thorax aglow
among the amber
my pincers akimbo
like come at me bro
i still believe in a female god
Melissa Eleftherion is a writer, librarian, and a visual artist. She is the author of field guide to autobiography (The Operating System, 2018), & nine chapbooks, including the forthcoming trauma suture (above/ground press, 2020). Born & raised in Brooklyn, Melissa now lives in Mendocino County where she manages the Ukiah Library, teaches creative writing, & curates the LOBA Reading Series. Recent work is available at www.apoetlibrarian.wordpress.com.
Dennis Etzel Jr. lives with Carrie and the boys in Topeka, Kansas where he teaches English at Washburn University. His work has appeared in Denver Quarterly, Indiana Review, BlazeVOX, Fact-Simile, 1913: a journal of poetic forms, 3:AM, Tarpaulin Sky, DIAGRAM, and others. Etzel is the recipient of a 2017 Troy Scroggins Award and the 2017 Topeka ARTSConnect Arty Award in Literary Arts. He co-edited Ichabods Speak Out: Poems in the Age of Me, Too with Dr. Jericho Hockett whichfeatures poems against sexual assault from the Washburn University and Topeka Community. He is a TALK Scholar for the Kansas Humanities Council and leads poetry workshops in various Kansas spaces.
Stephen Frech has earned degrees from Northwestern University, Washington University in St. Louis, and the University of Cincinnati. He has published three volumes of poetry: Toward Evening and the Day Far Spent (Kent State UP), If Not For These Wrinkles of Darkness (White Pine Press), and The Dark Villages of Childhood (Midwest Writing Center) His fourth volume titled A Palace of Strangers is No City, a sustained narrative of prose poetry/flash fiction, has been published by Cervena Barva Press. He published a translation of poetry from the Dutch: Menno Wigman’s Zwart als kaviaar/Black as Caviar. He is founder and editor of Oneiros Press, publisher of limited edition, letterpress poetry broadsides. Oneiros broadsides have been purchased by special collections libraries around the world, among them the Newberry Library (Chicago), the Beinecke Library at Yale, and the University of Amsterdam Print Collection. Stephen Frech is Professor of English at Millikin University
into whatever weather drips, ices, the shop car park
through the detached nozzle of cleanliness.
Latest Fad Is
with the soft robots
under your skin.
Caterpillars and pigs
your transparent skin
and muscle into shadow
plays of nostalgic silhouette
cathedrals, medieval streets,
Capability Brown gardens,
rivers tumble from mountains.
Only the rich can afford
the best internal silhouettes.
Some prefer strip shows
and a pole dancers writhe
inside them they control
with a flashlight. Others
fantasy battles. Internal
tattoos that some say
rot inside after so much
bleeds into vital organs.
Paul Brookes is a shop asst. His chapbooks include The Fabulous Invention Of Barnsley, (Dearne Community Arts, 1993). The Headpoke and Firewedding (Alien Buddha Press, 2017), A World Where and She Needs That Edge (Nixes Mate Press, 2017, 2018) The Spermbot Blues (OpPRESS, 2017), Port Of Souls (Alien Buddha Press, 2018),Please Take Change (Cyberwit.net, 2018), As Folk Over Yonder ( Afterworld Books, 2019).Forthcoming Stubborn Sod, (Alien Buddha Press).
as the missiles launched by the famished, agency-severed headless palmyras make love as yatchan/yatchini in the expansive space above the sea, unusually intense acid rain pours down which enthralls the soft-spaceships orbiting the earth.
‘the upholders of absolute truth say—.’ in the process of putting down: ‘in this wounded era in which a few of those still remain, those who had lost along with their limbs and memories their history to those that call themselves civilized; in this era that makes one wonder how is it even possible to be this much cultured, in this cultured era in which the ancient invisible technology that creates histories out of fictions and makes them myths has meshed itself finely with high technology, truly they say: a society that has not written down and preserved its history proper will be wiped ou—’; in the process of putting down and reading this, does a missile called silence advance up toward my vocal cord and sever my part-asinine chain of thought.
the multiplied yatchi/yatcha missiles fly past mountains and cities invisibly, lighting up electromagnetic spectrum, picking and savoring microwaves, but unsatiated and still famished, they migrate in many directions, departing and arriving toward the targets.
Ahimaz Rajessh (@ahimaaz) has been published recently with Marlskarx, Burning House Press, Big Echo: Critical SF, Paint Bucket, Speculative 66, formercactus, Dream Pop Press and MoonPark Review. He lives in the Union of India.
Kailey Tedesco is the author of She Used to be on a Milk Carton (April Gloaming Publishing). Her collection, Lizzie, Speak, won White Stag Publishing’s 2018 poetry contest, and her newest collection, FOREVERHAUS, is forthcoming from White Stag in 2020. She is a senior editor for Luna Luna Magazine. You can find her work featured or forthcoming in Gigantic Sequins, Electric Literature, Nat. Brut, Black Warrior Review, Fairy Tale Review, Bone Bouquet Journal, and more. For further information, please follow @kaileytedesco.
The final portion of this poem previously appeared in Caustic Frolic.
Nicholas Beren is a New Jersey native. In addition to his poetry, he has written film criticism and arts features for sundry outlets, online and in print. You can find him on twitter @BerenNicholas. He still lives in New Jersey.
stories only 🡪 this message has no content / i will devour / like a written thing 🡪 loomed untitled. /// The / empathy empathy / the main character should die 🡪 submenu / enter // my question is when u say you are say u are sad, what are you sad about? are you sad about the world? the compounded sadness? is a thought sad? how is happy? whose is it and what is it like? mouseclick 🡪 palpable turn //// thought n. – a reliquary of loss; an open document; a semblance; a letting; a source; everyone who’s there.    🡪 the season nonetheless some evocative partially solid thing 🡪 extra limbic 🡪 carrier wave 🡪 mostly 🡪 really 🡪 and as the subject of / what do you see 🡪 praxis in reasonable portions 🡪 father on religion save / save save the whales 🡪 they sick / from heavy metals (character’s demonstration of preconceived prerecorded a priori desires /// “exist” or 🡪 my biological episode (to descriptor string   blessed end blessed beginning) 🡪 second death / wearing the gradual retreat still heard and felt / Object. / have been the road       see if you put this like this and this like this / you can make / a mouth a mouth a myth / and it’s the same the same same [the question is]
Ian recently finished his MFA in Poetry from Louisiana State University. His work has appeared in the tiny and Aberration Labyrinth and is forthcoming in Always Crashing. He lives and walks his black lab, Gabriel, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
CLYDE: YOU’RE A SCARED HEARTLESS HORRIBLE LITTLE MAN–
EDGAR:you’re acting like a fool–
EDGAR:don’t you ever do that again–
EDGAR:Clyde ((where are you going
EDGAR:Clyde ((i’m sorry
EDGAR:Clyde ((please don’t leave me
EDGAR:Clyde ((i’m begging you
THE LIGHT, RIGHT BEFORE (IT GOES OUT)
we are eating our separate smoke in
your living room: you prop your broken
window open with a weapon-part when
the hot air coaxing us into a fine sweat
my body back into the last jail cell: for weeks
afterwards i wake up dragged out of my car
& my hands cuff-numb again in both our
beds: i’ve decided love is the awkward way
we dance around the word itself: so in the
interest of being transparent i am admitting
i am an expert at pretending to be asleep:
i have done it while another partner fucked
someone else in my bed next to me &
i have done it to stay home from grade
school & i have done it in jail to placebo
myself into stillness: i promise i am not
lying even when i say the same things as
i’ve said into similarly uncertain mouths:
love is me telling you how to devastate me
& you choosing not to: love is you wanting
me to believe all the awful things you assume
would make someone tell you to leave: or, it
is knowing we are pretending not to watch
each other move / liquid-like / right before
the light / goes out.
THE NEW JERSEY DEVIL STOPS BEING A PACIFIST AFTER WATCHING COPS BEAT ITS FRIENDS INTO THE PAVEMENT
The New Jersey Devil is being followed by an unmarked car (again) (today). The New Jersey Devil sits across from the jail-warden and looks at its own mugshot upside-down. The New Jersey Devil watches the camera watching it eat naked shit naked sleep naked sob naked glare back at it naked. The New Jersey Devil finds the only not-Bible book during the one un-solitary hour and it is Hamlet so thus reads each sentence twice then recites it back to itself like it is the Ghost and the voice-crack and the Accident and the scene-change all at once. The New Jersey Devil is told it is unsafe but the jail-warden is not telling the New Jersey Devil how it feels he is telling it how it is classified. The New Jersey Devil does not know how long it prayed to a sliver of sky before realizing it was just a brick wall’s painted taunt. The New Jersey Devil has handcuff scars for months after. Later, the New Jersey Devil learns a prayer exists in a lover’s language that begs the skulls of their enemies cracked open on rocks like brunch eggs. Later, the New Jersey Devil practices the script of its emergency contact number so often it recitals in its sleep. Now, the New Jersey Devil does not have it memorized (yet) (again). Now, the New Jersey Devil gets one phone call and it rings and rings and rings and rings and rings and rings and rings and rings and rings and rings and rings and rings and rings and rings and rings and rings and rings and rings and rings and rings and rings and rings and rings and rings and rings and rings and rings and rings and rings and rings and rings and rings and rings and rings and rings and rings and rings and rings and rings and rings and rings and rings and rings and rings and rings and rings and rings and rings and rings and rings and rings and
L. Reeman is an interdisciplinary archivist and poet haunting highway rest-stops. They are the author of INVENTION OF THE MOUTH (Dream Pop Press, 2019), and BAITED MEMORY (Ghost City Press, 2019), as well as other chapbooks, and they have work in the 2017 Bettering American Poetry anthology. They want to hear about your favorite bridge.
fishers line the sides, though I’ve never seen them movea landscape
I can’t totally trust
because I keep coming back
Recently, objects have been vanishing, or simply
giving up the ruse
cattails reared in absence
nimble false bearings
There’s a stranger yet to arrive – summoned back to me;
We’ll shake hands, I’ll ask where they’ve been, though I know the answer
I’ve only ever emulated the business of obfuscation
What is the opposite of water displacement? When a thing erupts from deep volume?
The belief is there, but in practice I’m another statue sweat
Nobody has fallen from the sky in years
Phil Spotswood is a poet from Alabama, and a PhD Creative Writing student at Illinois State University. His most recent work can be found in baest, The Wanderer, and Tagvverk. He is the recipient of the 2018 Robert Penn Warren MFA Poetry Thesis Award judged by Tonya Foster, and the 2017 William Jay Smith MFA Poetry Award judged by Daniel Borzutzky. He tweets @biometrash.
Mare Leonard’s latest chapbook was published in 2018 at Finishing Line Press, The Dark Inside My HoodedCoat. Read some reviews on her face book page: Mare Leonard Poet and Teacher and send a message with comments and if you would like a copy. She is also searching for home for a chapbook of ekphrastic poems
deemed pure. Sequestered, then you feel the sting,
the first of countless cuts. No one is there
besides the chiromancer, your shrieking.
He asks if one of them did braid your hair.
It was the elder, her ominous palms recalled.
You were once girl they make a voodoo doll.
Kristin Garth is a Pushcart, Best of the Net & Rhysling nominated sonnet stalker. Her sonnets have stalked journals like Glass, Yes, Five:2:One, Luna Luna and more. She is the author of fourteen books of poetry including Pink Plastic House (Maverick Duck Press), Candy Cigarette Womanchild Noir (The Hedgehog Poetry Press), the forthcoming Flutter: Southern Gothic Fever Dream (TwistiT Press), The Meadow (APEP Publications) and Shut Your Eyes, Succubi (Maverick Duck). Follow her on Twitter: (@lolaandjolie) and her website http://kristingarth.com
. . . something about a man and his dog (in the grand, non-linear scheme of reincarnation) as being one in the same. Soul, that is. Ethereal transient dweller, is another. Here now, there they are: Situated between two distinct, bloody meat husks, between two separate states of existent being — at once, under one roof, simultaneously — with one foot in man, the other, a dachshund-terrier mix.
. . . is comprised of both end and endless, singular and infinite, of omniscient oblivion, bright-dark heavy-light, of both shape and void, each with their own distinct name. As a man: Brandon. In dog form, she is Mocha, among countless others (i.e., Mochi, Mookie, Monkey, Chunky, Chubbers, Chunkmonster. . . ). As mutual entity, root identity, as timeless core incarnate, a loose translation: Daielaareux.
. . . will spend seven months at the shelter, gone unadopted longer than any other dog, before rejoining herself again. Meanwhile, she cries her jaw off. Starves herself down to a coffee-boned silhouette. Even draws blood from the hand of a guileless child, to make clear the message: I will never be yours. She waits patiently for what she already knows will eventually be.
. . . remembers what, on pure impulse, will drive him to the shelter in this manic grasping for purpose, going on six days without medication. He will come upon himself, caged separate. His ovaries scooped clean. Groggy with shots to keep him quiet, stagnant, alive. Not even finding himself to be particularly cute, or unique, or enthralling, yet feeling instantly connected, just the same. Might he’ve recognized then, in those muted eyes, himself? She knows the next years ahead of them together will be nothing so glorious — that they are in no way ready or responsible enough to take adequate care of themselves. They will ingest things that will make them violently ill. They will be too poor, too careless, to seek medical help. Will endure vast chunks of boredom, chewing holes through themselves, incapable to leave the house. Will watch themselves from the foot of the bed sulk and rot away for days on end, treading the grey wash of their skull, directionless, besides down. Will be the only life force to keep them afloat, strong enough to pull themselves upwards, and eventually, out.
. . . yanks on their leash in unruly directions, and, out of sheer spite, he tugs them back the opposite way. Each will struggle to tell themselves what to do. He instructs her to obey: Sit. Heel. Eat. Fetch. Up on the couch. Now, off. But she refuses to listen. Years later, their heart crushed by a lasting love, lost — the one who used to (she now learns) smack them in private, but still loves her, despite the abuse — two months out, having still not washed the pillows or sheets, incubated with the tortuous scent of their ex’s shampoo, she has no other choice than to piss on the bed. She instructs him to: Be calm. Go for a walk. Know your self-worth. Move on. But he refuses to listen. He tells himself: No. He calls herself: Bad girl. They scream as themselves: Shut up shut up shut up.
. . . Daielaareux, in countless other forms: A bridge in New Zealand. A strip mall in Detroit. An unbuttered croissant. A great big pile of leaves. A spanned lineage of prehistoric, neon-colored crabs. A comfortable silence. An impossible dream. The 37th Annual Miss America pageant. A one-hit wonder. An impotent king. A fortuitous accident, recognized only in hindsight. The Divine Mouth taking the earth like a vitamin. A newborn horse’s first step. Another one biting the dust.
. . . forever amounts to, returns back to, self-love.
. . . just seconds before the New Year, 2018. Time hibernates. Thoughts shuffle like a deck of cards. Head loud. Skull turned inside out on psychedelics. A blubbery, sunken, self-contained mess of fleshy slop packed inside a transient shell. A dark stain on the carpet, on a mother’s pelvic floor. He rushes to the bathroom, convinced an empty bladder will cure him. It does, then doesn’t. Grime sits in every wrinkle. Gravity’s tandem held hand lets go. The universe’s veil pulled down like a shower curtain, their many forms spilling out over the linoleum floor. On their knees, hands, back, she perches on his chest and he catches it — a quick glimpse, the uncanny resemblance, atoms stacked like dodged shoved in a cage. He holds herself behind the ears, kisses himself on their wet, hot stinking teeth. Noticing it fully, this tethering between them — an ethereal cord, conjoined. He she they them are all was once will have had we become continuous as one day slips seamlessly into the next without a clock, as the crackling bursts of fireworks resound from outside, at last. They have made it, for now.
. . . in the same windowed timeline, will cease just as abruptly as its start: The man, at the tender age of fifty-six, from an untreated pulmonary obstruction; as a dog, age nine, a pack of stale Oreos left accessible at the top of the trash. And yet, both still remain incapable of saving each other, themselves, from what must be in order to happen again.
Stephen Wack is an Atlanta-based writer. He earned an undergraduate degree in Neuroscience from the University of Georgia, where he briefly interned at the college’s literary magazine, The Georgia Review. His work has previously appeared in Five:2:One, Rougarou, and Cleaver Magazine, and is forthcoming in The Hunger and New Flash Fiction Review.
In this diorama, an intermediary exists in between
the good and the bad, but it’s hard to tell the difference
and sometimes the forces combine.
This room is for the disobedient whores
to be stabbed and wrapped in plastic
and then placed in an ornamental circle.
In this room, tiny log shaped ornaments
sometimes change color
or shape or size to warn you
the next fire is about to begin.
In this room, someone will tell you she can cast a spell
in order to reveal who your real friends are,
but what if you find out you don’t have any real friends?
More broken hearts will sink under the ground.
More spells will turn your life invisible.
Everyone has their own interests at heart
to be rearranged into good, bad, evil, dead
Juliet Cook is a grotesque glitter witch medusa hybrid brimming with black, grey, silver, purple, and dark red explosions. She is drawn to poetry, abstract visual art, and other forms of expression. Her poetry has appeared in a peculiar multitude of literary publications. You can find out more at www.JulietCook.weebly.com.
as a wild woman in red on fast horses out of our time
but I know every minute of every week
toward the moor or the seashore.
You say I’m futuristicbut I’m cloyingly nostalgic
well-read in the gothicabandoning
the conga line of bleached blondesto forcefeed the dying cat
Christmas crackers and charades
and wink if it’s a murderplaid pants and my father’s failed guillotine trick.
If you have time I’ll teach you stuffed with sweet pecans
otherwise you can look in the clear purse
with the blue gingham pocket for secrets
vampires haunting New England
and Vampira on late-nite TV.
I wear a wig like hersbut I’m not starving you
in my smart suitin my flowered shell
and all the good noirs take place by the Hollywood Bowl
a minute per page in the trick house we hear them
except the one where the girl falls off the boat
in her stolen furs
and you gut a dog to switch on your sex drive
and I waterski to our eroding island
sex twice in the summera middy dress play
so even when her coat’s shinyI won’t forget she’s dying.
I pray for an earlier night no matter what
I pray to come in the storm in a full-skirted green dress.
I’m saving it up for the riverbed chase scene
for the wasp-waisted Los Angeles rainbow
for the end is immortal/immoral
for the femme fatale exits unscathed.
Jessie Janeshek’s three full-length collections are MADCAP (Stalking Horse Press, 2019), The Shaky Phase (Stalking Horse Press, 2017) and Invisible Mink (Iris Press, 2010). Her chapbooks include Spanish Donkey/Pear of Anguish (Grey Book Press, 2016), Rah-Rah Nostalgia (dancing girl press, 2016), Supernoir (Grey Book Press, 2017), Auto-Harlow (Shirt Pocket Press, 2018), Hardscape (Reality Beach, forthcoming), and Channel U (Grey Book Press, forthcoming). Read more at jessiejaneshek.net.
for a voice. Squelching arteries. Shine the jugular,
Upside down the garments
Of the Sun. Right-side up now, Watching her light spill out.
And this is how I’ll play,
This is how I play.
She knows more than she can handle,
She knows more than me,
A girl-child child-self holding a program for the apocalypse.
She dreams of heaven every night she runs away.
She dreams of heaven every night she can’t run away.
And this is how I play,
And this is what we play —
A symphony the susurrus of ancient leaves,
Worn down by a million solar winds.
Spines lying bare at the mother’s feet,
the poetry slipping out her teeth.
Us lying awake — him reaching, she running, we becoming
little nothings, all over again. Smash the keys.
The stars shine, all over again.
The seas rumble, the F Sharp screaming
against D Minor’s weeping –
all overwhelming again.
Emptied bellies growing fangs, together
The kids gang up on the weather.
Heal the ice caps by melting their knees into hot tarmac.
No ancestral fevers now to wipe the ash of the world with,
Just these songs. Just these songs,
Sang into the hollowed-out trunk
Of a dead tree. A prophecy
constellated in the stars. Brightly now
the fingers of children
dreaming themselves alive
between arpeggios and wet bed sheets.
The planet’s heart strings
in every child’s unheard
A Strange Joke
Sometimes you bruise a fruit
To make sure it’s real.
The songs of plastic
Have nowhere to go
But back into the
The hollowed-out hearts of their
Price tags. A scratch on this orchid
Won’t release the same
Geometry into the air
The form of bliss, the shape of scent.
The sugars in these melons
Won’t attract ants, not even in decay
Will they be squashed. If not for the
Fire the winds wouldn’t sing
Through them. She told me, “Here,
This flower, token of our
Love, look. It won’t ever die.” She placed it
in a vase full of water, a strange joke. Alone, I said,
“But it smells like nothing. Can we really
Call it love without ever having breathed life
Into it, without having gardened
Through debris and detriment, building from nothing
The roots needed to feed
The stories we shape – or is this enough,
A slide across the screen, the slippery
Borders between attraction and rejection,
Handing our love over to the anxiety
That nothing here was built to last past
The twenty-first century, so why should we ever
Get real flowers for each other? Why should
Anything living be kissed
into the lonely water of the flower vase,
To grow old, to wrinkle up and dry,
To die. Why risk it,
When all our foods have turned
More lifeless than stone?”
I want to be fed by the heat
That comes from fears overridden not
By staying somewhere in the middle,
Draining the feelings out of every sentence. I want
To be a vessel for the kind of dreams
That grow through even the worst decay —
But she never heard a word I said
As she sunk her head back into a pixelated wall
Further away than I could see. And that
Was the last I heard of her, for my phone never
Rang again. The apps stopped their pulsing for my attention
After I drowned the old thing in sugar and spice
And everything nice. The ants cling desperately
To the floor, the vacuum cleaner we bought
Isn’t strong enough to clear out
All this rot.
Dhiyanah Hassan is an artist, writer, and energy worker whose practice explores the relationships between art, storytelling, and healing. Her work seeks to connect the soul and soil of the internal worlds orbiting within us, finding transformative expressions of the wild, the mystical, and miraculous through artistic and multidisciplinary mediums, facilitating spaces and conversations where creativity is utilized as a catalyst for healing and trauma recovery. Dhiyanah’s poetry has appeared in sister-hood, OCCULUM, and Rambutan Literary. Website: http://www.bydhiyanah.com