Mommy, I need some help. Watch cartoons with me, Mommy. You my mommy. Henry’s a nice pup. I’m hungry, Mommy. I want some pizza. I want some juice. Mommy, I got poop pants. I come outside with you, Mommy. Thanks. Read books with me, Mommy. Snuggle with me. I don’t want to take a nap. Mommy, help, help. You a nice Mommy. When is Daddy coming home. Where is brother. It’s yucky. I don’t like it, I don’t like it, Mommy. Nice dog. Fast race car. My bike, my bike, Mommy. No doggy. Henry’s a nice dog. Give my Mommy a kiss, carry me Mommy. Where is bus. BUS! Find a different one. This. Come on, Mommy. What’s that noise. Go find treasure for you. Mermaids, sharks. Mommy what you doing. Daddy’s at work? Brother is at school. Take a bath. I want to take a bath, Mommy. Splash Mommy. Boats. Submarine. Mommy, I got owie. Right there. How about some cookies. Fine. You stop it, you do it. I found something, Mommy. Open. Yummy food. I want blue, yellow. I want to help you, Mommy. Mine.
Nikki Wallschlaeger’s work has been featured in The Nation, Brick, American Poetry Review, Witness, Kenyon Review, POETRY, and others. She is the author of the full-length collections Houses (Horseless Press 2015) and Crawlspace (Bloof 2017) as well as the graphic book I Hate Telling You How I Really Feel (2019) from Bloof Books. She is also the author of an artist book called “Operation USA” through the Baltimore based book arts group Container, a project acquired by Woodland Pattern Book Center in Milwaukee. Her third collection, Waterbaby, is forthcoming from Copper Canyon Press in 2021. // @nikkimwalls
In bed, I am writing this to you in bed. I spend so much time here: eating, sleeping, fucking. Waiting for the day finish. Longing for the night to begin. Wishing that I were someone other than myself, that I was somewhere other than my bed. “I am a completely horizontal author. I can’t think unless I’m lying in bed…” Supine. Sleepless. In bed there is only the passivity of time. The comfort of duty. You’re supposed to lie there, you’re supposed to lie in bed and wait for sleep to come. Dreaming, dreaming is the one thing I don’t do in bed. There are no smells in dreams, no tastes. A horizontal life.
I climbed up
to shout you from the rooftop.
Fingernails and scrabbling feet
searching for a place to stand
immersed in the visions flowing from
your daydreams and nightmares.
But before I could speak,
the desert heat baked your words
leaving them flat and tasteless.
Bread with no meaning to make it rise.
Alone, watched only
by the blind eye of the sun
I told myself, “Climb down.” Continue reading “Exodus II by Paul Bluestein”→
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