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.
I am and I become
abecedarian as a personal charm
to am and become
to be and become
remind me to be light
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 fountain in 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 schema old days of the goddess
stressed belly the “curved inflorescence”
irascible pharaoh egg-shaped coffin
bury me in this alleged
receiving familiar Legend
Hers is the felled heart a sword-shaped segment
when i curve toward you
the air stretches me pinnate
radio neuron electra radial split inquisitive
I split I fire on all radials
electrons of nostalgia acquisitive longing
how the “stigma persists at the tip” even though its buried
how trauma persists the 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.
Third shift at the night factory
assembles the simple, elegant machine of night.
Workers, like figures in a shadow play,
hammer the fitted parts home,
extend the handle of a wrench with a pipe,
and brace a foot against the stubborn bolt.
Engineers pour over the schematics of the moon
trembling on the surface of oil in open buckets.
In the last of the dark hours,
welders extinguish their torches
while the foreman inspects the welds
with a candle held behind the seams.
Pinholes in the bead or casting
fill the factory with starlight,
a constellation of flaws, a myth and map of stars
we made to find our way out.
Queued at the gate and parting
at the whistle into morning,
shift workers call to each other:
‘night, see ya, so long, take care
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
out the machineries of cold manufactured delight.
Push broom down aisles of persuasion,
Tidy stray cardboard packaging, lost lollipops,
Tab ends, water bottle tops into clear bags.
Push sud and scrub machine down
Avenues of enticement, lift shoe scud,
rice, sugar, dripped carbonated water,
my own boot print to be released, slopped out
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.
our feet have bottomed
out in the earth-slit.
let it be known
buck was once the name
of a dog, but not a dog
of mine. my toddler
arms suffered hives
from his lick, burned
redhot from within
- i feared his cleaning
himself, a nautilus
my own body
could not shape. in a kitchen
like any other, the smoke
left a beeswarm. before
fire, i figured allergies, my skin
blistering honeyblood. a maggot
lived in buck
for nine days before
anyone noticed. when plucked,
it was golf-sized, full of
dog. mother fed me
a milkbone for a moment of
peace, bleached the
sink of its bloodsplatter until
our dishes were
poison. the sun rises &
there is less
& less of us. we hold
last vigils by the jesus-
shrine, ask for him to
be with us & in us – a
maggot. how afraid
they must be, jesus
and the dog, having never
seen hell before. we are
constantly feeding; the holes
in all of us.
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.
California mouth sore
gas station brass
where a rich black mass
is still in the window
I feel like
and now I know
how it ends
don’t walk sign
just says walk
in either orange
I always wonder
what her cruelty means
She tells me
it means nothing
Hauntings take time
you cannot haunt
all at once
and if you ever tried
you wouldn’t understand
what it truly means to haunt
like a horse in the jungle
the cool smell of chlorine
the nearness of your dress
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.
J. EDGAR (Dir. Clint Eastwood, 2011)
i don’t like to
i don’t like to dance, mother,
i don’t like to–
EDGAR GO LOOK IN THE
MIRROR TALK THE WAY THE DOCTOR
TAUGHT YOU TO BE MY LITTLE SPEEDY
((i can spit my words out with ((with
((i can spit my words out with
i don’t like to dance
i don’t like to dance with anyone
i don’t like to dance with women
–DO YOU KNOW WHY –ITS SHORT FOR
DAFFODIL HE SHOT HIMSELF–
SIX WEEKS AFTER
–I’D RATHER HAVE A DEAD SON THAN
A DAFFODIL […] SON
EDGAR: you know i care so very much for you […]
CLYDE: IS EVERYTHING OKAY–
EDGAR: yes i’m fine–
CLYDE: DON’T YOU MAKE A FOOL OF ME […]
CLYDE: HAVE YOU BECOME PHYSICAL–
EDGAR yes we have–
EDGAR: do you want me to be half a person–
CLYDE: IS THAT WHAT I AM TO YOU– INCOMPLETION–
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.
When we started I thought
—so that’s the way light tastes.
I called light—future.
Now I feel its loss in my teeth, jaw, hands.
My hair still smells like your hair.
I can’t think of my own body
without thinking of yours,
without thinking of swimming pools lit
by waves of lightning so close I can taste
their ozone and how there was a time when that taste was hope.
How many dawns did I greet hoping
you had not stopped breathing in your sleep
or whatever we should call the blear
between high and not high?
My love for you kept me awake—
what little I knew then—
watching over you, thinking that
if you died I would want to die too.
I tried to love you like this: all or nothing.
How many times did I shake you back to me? Do you remember
what I said? I said
here is my only life—take it.
I mean if you’re breathing, stay with me.
I mean if you’re not
stay with me.
If your hand is in my hair, leave it.
If you are this hurt,
let it hurt. I can take it. Don’t ever
be done with me.
I’ve been circling lakeside for years
cypress knees are fine fine thought
they were a breathing mechanism, but recently
researched into support marginal buttress
more waist-high concealment
Every loop a filmed apocalypse held
the length of a lizard’s tail
easy to detach
I’m sprung aloof
By the end, memory is abandoned
& I’m still speechless
swaddled in a thicker gunk called glow
say gray diligence
from perfect repetition the loop
devours all possibility, gurgling
warm at the center everyone still
blank where I left them
Here I am, laying out the longest
waiting room – red carpet gone to sun-bleach
I watch the lake for displacement,
though I’m not sure anything can live
in a constructed hollow;
fishers line the sides, though I’ve never seen them move a 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.
on canvas she’s shaped like an Easter egg
in life she’s young and sexy
Marie-Therese at 17
wakes from an erotic dream
moves her fingers
over and under her body
we watch Marie Therese
shift see her
eyes close her hips lift
she spreads out on a divan
she stretches over the canvas
we hear lullabies
sweet Marie sweet
he rocks the egg
he moves his brush
Picasso’s soft touch
shakes her yearnings
she rolls into life
far from Pablo’s hands
Mare Leonard’s latest chapbook was published in 2018 at Finishing Line Press, The Dark Inside My Hooded Coat. 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
they make a receptacle of pins —
pale proxy still proximate to him, palmist
whom they proffer pathology (absent
middle finger valleys mean they’re ruthless)
these cunning folk he sends away, to your
village, though you’re allowed to stay behind
stone parapets in plaits, a veil demure,
a pupil with a higher left heart line
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.
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.
blood-red nails tiny ferns or creek-side bloodletting
he swears rain is coming
and, oh yeah, she’s pregnant
and they name all their kids after each other
ink changing color, blend in
and their defense is to present me
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 futuristic but I’m cloyingly nostalgic
well-read in the gothic abandoning
the conga line of bleached blondes to forcefeed the dying cat
Christmas crackers and charades
and wink if it’s a murder plaid 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 hers but I’m not starving you
in my smart suit in 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 summer a middy dress play
so even when her coat’s shiny I 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.
the planchette spirals out
of control a giant dog howls
in the coffee reading cracks
shadows swirl in the crystal
ball all the tarot cards are blank
the runes have shattered
the mirrors broken
the petals I burnt with our names
come back dead moths fly
through the dollhouse windows
white eyes flutter
in the palms of your hands
the moon has dimmed
the dolls are awake
your crystal pendulum
catches fire the divining
coins land on their edges
the scrying bowl opens
to an infinite well
the threads unwind
the trees are yawning
a light is shining
from a split in the yew
tonight is the night
now is the time
this is the place where
the souls pour through
Lucy Whitehead writes haiku and poetry. Her haiku have appeared in various international journals and anthologies and her poetry has been published or is forthcoming in Amethyst Review, Anti-Heroin Chic, Barren Magazine, Black Bough Poetry, Burning House Press, Collective Unrest, Electric Moon Magazine, Ghost City Review, Mookychick Magazine, Neon Mariposa Magazine, Pink Plastic House, Pussy Magic, Re-side, and Twist in Time Magazine. You can find her on Twitter @blueirispoetry.
in the house of my body the light is mostly low
the rooms filled with ghosts performing an orchestra
of sorrow about all the broken glass
once, in high school, a girl i had never talked to
taught me how she held her breath until she passed out.
“after the light goes dim, you don’t remember anything.”
in the rooms of my body i wander, shuffling papers into
boxes made of songs i can’t always remember the words to
because i held my breath so many times
once a man held my balled-up fist in his own and
compared it to the size of the human heart. i noticed
how he held them both and i could breathe
in the cathedral of my body undulating rays of light
spell hope on the cracked facade and sometimes
i remember the words to every song
“Out Come the Ghosts”
The ghost of Guillaume Apollinaire writes on the walls of dilapidated buildings. His calligrams get lost amidst the strangest graffiti.
The ghost of Jane Austen wanders through the Roman baths at Bath. In the steam of time she glimpses people that fall in and out of love.
The ghost of J.G. Ballard watches airplanes coming in and out of Heathrow Airport. In the names of airlines he discerns a secret code.
The ghost of Roland Barthes writes love letters without recipient. He tears them into pieces in order to keep only certain fragments.
The ghost of Charles Baudelaire keeps on hiding from his creditors. He moves from loft to loft when he sees dust dancing in the sun.
The ghost of Felice Bauer likes to take long walks through empty streets. She wears a pair of small boots wet by the August rain.
The ghost of Samuel Beckett keeps looking for crossroads. In each one he sits down to wait for who knows what while he examines stones.
The ghost of Roberto Bolaño works at a closed down detective agency. He goes thoroughly through the files of all unsolved cases.
The ghost of Jorge Luis Borges walks up and down the corridors of enormous libraries. He looks for an encyclopaedia that describes the limbo he lives in.
The ghost of André Breton wanders slowly through flea markets. He searches for uneven objects to marry them in dreamy ceremonies.
The ghost of Max Brod rescues papers that are thrown into the fire. He reads them all trying to find the signs of a masterpiece.
The ghost of Italo Calvino hunts for old maps. With soft, deft fingers he draws new cities on top of beautiful ancient metropolis.
The ghost of Albert Camus goes to bars to watch soccer games. The screaming passion of the patrons makes him smile with nostalgia.
The ghost of Raymond Chandler takes advantage of the happy hour at melancholic bars. He orders gimlets even if they come in empty glasses.
The ghost of Agatha Christie specializes in tasting poisons. She writes down her opinions in a small notebook bound in the nineteenth century.
The ghost of Arthur Conan Doyle designs nets for hunting fairies. He tests them in ancient forests where silence is the one and only king.
The ghost of Julio Cortázar smokes blond tobacco by the side of the Seine. In the flow of the river he glimpses the hair of suicidal women.
The ghost of Simone de Beauvoir sits in her usual chair at the café Les Deux Magots. She flips through a book with only blank pages.
The ghost of Gérard de Nerval takes his lobster out for a walk when the day dies. Amidst the shadows the red pet keeps changing form.
The ghost of Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa likes to go to seafood restaurants. He gets drunk on the different smells from the sea.
The ghost of Charles Dickens writes long love letters to the ghost of Ellen Ternan. He trusts in certain birds to deliver them.
The ghost of Marguerite Duras writes on a bench in a park covered with dry leaves. Her ideas materialize in Chinese characters.
The ghost of Sigmund Freud dusts his divan every afternoon. He sits on a chair in silent wait for a patient to knock gently at his door.
The ghost of Gabriel García Márquez stops beneath a storm of yellow butterflies. In the distance he sees the immortal glow of ice.
The ghost of Patricia Highsmith distrusts the calm of Switzerland. In the boats that cross the lakes she sees bloodstains.
The ghost of Christopher Hitchens argues against the existence of God. His audience are paintings of different divinities.
The ghost of Henry James explores vacant mansions. He calls dead children and servants by their names to keep him company.
The ghost of Milena Jesenská picks up letters from empty buildings. She looks for love stories hidden between the lines.
The ghost of James Joyce wanders lost through the streets of Dublin. He looks for guides that show the way to Molly Bloom.
The ghost of Franz Kafka hates insecticides. He tells himself that nobody knows which metamorphoses the night will bring.
The ghost of Pier Paolo Pasolini drives a silver convertible. He takes off his dark glasses to admire handsome young men smiling.
The ghost of Cesare Pavese haunts the house where Constance Dowling died. He keeps looking for the eyes of the actress.
“The Dead Sailors”
[A ghost story in 20 tweets]
1. The old port groans at midday. Dead sailors come out to watch the sun strike the waves. Eyes full of longing salt and terrible dreams.
2. Dead sailors get drunk on air and stale beer. Hands following routes drawn on forgotten maps. Voices hoarse with nostalgia and foam.
3. Dead sailors wait for the swirling mist to rise. “Something’s coming,” they whisper among themselves. Skin crawling with anticipation.
4. Dead sailors stare at a broken moon. Hoping it would give them a subject to speak of. Mouths agape with a thousand words unsaid.
5. Dead sailors dream of being alone at night. Dark waters around them like cold blankets. Fireflies swimming through the enormous silence.
6. Dead sailors walk slightly hunched over. Carrying the weight of gigantic invisible ships. Feet leaving prints full of muddy water.
7. Dead sailors usually get moonburned. Skin crawling under the light of a million distant stars. Air full of stinging bees of freshness.
8. Dead sailors like to read bedtime stories to themselves. Childhood memories shimmering in the shadows. Words floating like dark pollen.
9. Dead sailors pray for rain. Looking for dark, heavy clouds inside themselves. Palms turned up in order to feel drops caressing them.
10. Dead sailors watch the sun rise over the sea. Old songs pouring from their parched lips. Eyes blinking against the first light of the world.
11. Dead sailors collect messages in bottles. Never reading them but just staring at them. Hoping their content will be revealed in dreams.
12. Dead sailors have nightmares scorched by thirst. Waking up coughing in the middle of the night. Tongues filled with the taste of sand.
13. Dead sailors keep waiting for the flood. Hearts beating slowly in their sunken chests. The smell of imminent disaster in the air.
14. Dead sailors grow tired of staring at the ocean. Hands clutching rusty compasses and torn maps. Wind howling around them like a madman.
15. Dead sailors sing to attract sirens. Voices full of iodine and foam, longing and regret. Lyrics talking about forgotten languages.
16. Dead sailors bathe in moonlight. Hands massaging tired arms and feet. Ancient beads of sweat glistening like perfect diamonds.
17. Dead sailors walk backwards. Hairs at the nape of their necks bristling with fear. Distant footsteps getting closer and closer.
18. Dead sailors listen to old radio tunes. Ears pricked up to catch trembling voices of ancestors lost at sea between bursts of static.
19. Go with the flow, dead sailors pray. May it take you far away from home. End of the air or end of the sea. Whatever comes first.
20. Who rules the deep blue sea? dead sailors sing. Amidst the waves, amidst the storms, amidst the rage. Who rides the chilled wide sea?
Mauricio Montiel Figueiras (Guadalajara, Mexico, 1968) is a writer of prose fiction and essays, as well as a poet, translator, editor and film and literary critic. His work has been published in magazines and newspapers in Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Italy, Peru, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States. He has been Resident Writer for the Cheltenham Festival of Literature in England (2003) and The Bellagio Study and Conference Center in Italy (2008). In 2012 he was appointed Resident Writer for the prestigious Hawthornden Retreat for Writers in Scotland. Since 1995 he lives and works in Mexico City. Since 2011 he has been working on a Twitter novel, The Man in Tweed, in part through the account @LamujerdeM. Instagram: mauricio_montiel_figueiras.
There was a girl named Swan Elias. I don’t remember what grade she turned up in. She was overweight, nice and sweet, and had blue, cool blue eyes and light, wavy brown hair. I would watch her erase her paper. It seemed her hand and the eraser were made of the same textures, gummy soft. And warm. It seemed she could erase her paper or incorrect markings so effortlessly. Because there was, in my mind, this special oneness between her hand and the eraser. A certain chemical reaction which made the eraser really malleable.
Sometimes, when maybe I erased, I erased too hard and could leave a mark. A streak. But she could erase really cleanly. Leaving no tell-tale sign. Not that it mattered. We were allowed to erase. But it was a kind of magic she possessed and performed and for some mysterious reason it caught my attention. I would become transfixed and allured by her head turning toward me with what I now imagine to be a seductive and sweet smile while she worked her wonder. I wonder if she was doing something to my heart and mind in that moment. Hypnotizing me slowly, warmly, and softening my heart, relaxing my zaniness, and releasing my uncontrollable urge to please. It was like a you can be near me look she gave, and back off a little and watch. You can swim in my electrical, starspinning aura. All those things kids, we kids were attracted to. Sparkles, bangles, gold, magenta, azure, rainbow colors of glitter swirling in Swan Elias’ aura while she smiled at me. And I swirled with them. I was them for that moment and then would land in a pure stream of milky-colored happiness.
Blue eyes, plump, warm hand. Clean white paper. Pink eraser. Charcoal pencil shaped to a fine point. A cylindrical hive of possibility humming at the tip. A cylindrical hive of possibility humming into a fine point. Shavings and curls of shavings resting sweetly in a metal canister—future beehives. No, future bird nests. And I swear, I think Swan Elias wore a head band with birds and baby birds hatching from their nests. Her clothes are in my mind now brushed into a fine velvet. Everything was fine about her. Her sweat beads, her chewed lips. She was good enough to eat. I must have been in love with her, though I didn’t know it. Her big, strong marks of letters, cursive on her paper. Her wrong answers. All of it was acceptable to me. All of her. All of Swan Elias acceptable to me. Swan Elias and her golden heart.
Danielle Notaro grew up in Easton, Pennsylvania and has been writing, acting, & directing for a zillion years in the Lehigh Valley. She also taught acting & playwriting to kids in the Lehigh Valley as well in Boston where she studied acting with Reality Theater. She participated in several Les/Bi writing workshops. In NYC, she studied with Karen Malpede, Jean Claude Van Italie (Open Theater Playwrites) and at the Henry St. Settlement she studied with Crispin Larengeira. In Vermont she was in a longstanding writing workshop led by Cora Brooks. In 1982, she joined The Feminist Writer’s Guild and started a theater group, The Onsemble Theater. She has published poems in Women Spirit, Gaia, Womankind, Juxtaposition, Love Your Rebellion, Ovungue Siamo and written a few pieces for Healthy Living (a Rodale newsletter). She published her first book of poems and some prose in 2013 entitled, Limn the Mask. In 2019, she released a CD of pieces from her book w/ improv music entitled, Limn the Chord and won Outstanding Spoken Word Artist from the Lehigh Valley Music Awards.