‘Re: buk!’, ‘the same’, and ‘drunk texts’ by Anthony AW

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Re: Buk!

Fuck yeah!
Rock music!
Bang heads!
Record it!
Vodka T’s!
Tiled floors!
Some screams!
Sweat pants!
O, scars!
Dive bars!
Skid down

the same

waking up
falling a
sleep, again
bed. Hard pressed
Up, yes. ten
minutes till
work, commute.
Dead. Drivers
wreckless. Fine
alive. Time
passes. Feet

prances. Small
spaces. Clocks
in and out
in the car
speeding down
to some bar
drinking now.
Gonna go
to sleep some
time, watch the
TV on
my phone screen
light, then dark

drunk texts

You left me on
Read in the middle
Of a dark room, by
bright light thru a
tunnel, some kaleidoscope apocalyptic
ultra-violescence. The Angel is
a city of palm trees
metro trains & all the
crazies. Delusional, was I?
….typing….Can discourse happen
between two people
over airwaves? send, typing….
Can I ride these
waves to you?send,
typing….Am I in too
deep? send, typing…Do
I look like I’m
breathing to you? typing….

Anthony AW (@an__o__) is a writer. His work has been published in Drunk Monkeys, Seafoam Mag, and Vagabond City. He lives in Los Angeles.

“Surgery for Dummies” by F.J. Bergmann

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You decide that you have figured out exactly where to assign the responsibility for all your problems. It makes perfect sense. Despite lack of cooperation from the health-care personnel you approach, the solution is obvious. You have some medical training. Knowledge, anyway, in spite of the intrusive thoughts that keep interfering with your optimum functionality. Just because you had to withdraw (the Dean’s office staff was very understanding, but kept giving you pamphlets about the university counseling services) doesn’t mean you didn’t learn anything. You spent a lot of time in the medical college library, reading books that weren’t required, but that met your needs.

Anyway, it’s a simple operation. You’ve collected all the necessary equipment. What you couldn’t purchase yourself—one item at a time, each time from a different pharmacy or big-box store, spread out over several months—came mostly from emergency-room visits. You had actually begun to look forward to those interminable waits in private alcoves—private and stocked with tools and pharmaceuticals.

Before people came to rely so much on the medical profession (mainly in the last fifty years, you think) they were more self-sufficient with regard to their own health. On the frontier, in isolated cabins, there were no doctors—it was either go ahead and do the appendectomy or Caesarian section on your own, or watch a loved one die. In emergencies, individuals have been known to amputate their own limbs, cauterize their own infected wounds. Lots of them. Even prehistoric skulls show evidence of trepanning, to release their personal demons. Who knows you better than yourself? And don’t forget that farmers have always done plenty of successful minor surgeries on their livestock, without a veterinarian or even formal training. As long as care is taken with aseptic procedure, it shouldn’t be a problem at all.

You wait until your roommate is gone for the weekend—camping with friends. You aren’t a friend, but sometimes, if he hasn’t seen you that day, he’ll knock on the door and ask if you’re okay in there. You always say, “Yes, Jeff, I am okay in there.” He thinks this is very funny. He always laughs when you say it, anyway.

You decide to start Saturday morning. This will give you plenty of time to clean up, since Jeff won’t be back until Sunday night. You have shaved and scrubbed and injected Xylocaine, which you got at the dentist’s, where you were also left unattended for long stretches of time, to numb the area. You are about to perform the first incision when you hear the door buzzer. Has someone found out what you’re about to do? Are they spying on you somehow? You say, “Just a minute,” into the intercom, take off the clean hospital gown (fortunately, you have extras), and pull your pants back on.

The UPS man, with a package for Jeff that requires a signature. Jeff didn’t tell you he was expecting a delivery. It could have ruined everything if you had been disturbed at the wrong moment! You are angry and, after the UPS man leaves, hurl the package into the dumpster behind the building. No one can read your handwriting anyway; you will tell Jeff that someone else must have forged your signature. You have to scrub all over again. And then you are sorry about throwing away Jeff’s package because it is not his fault and it might be important to him, so you get dressed again and go out and climb into the dumpster to retrieve it. You have to stand on a discarded, cracked wastebasket to get over the edge; it doesn’t occur to you until you have dropped down inside that you will need to stand on something to get out. If you stand on Jeff’s package, you can heave yourself up, but then you will not have the package. You feel like you are about to burst into tears. You can’t decide what to do. While you are dithering—deciding—someone throws in more garbage: a bag full of used cat litter, coffee grounds, and potato peels. They also throw in the broken wastebasket. You wait until they leave to climb back out.

And then you have to take a shower before you can scrub a third time. Also, you are not sure if more local anesthetic would be a good idea now or if you should wait. You don’t have the accompanying literature, so you look up Xylocaine (lidocaine is the name of the actual drug, it says) in an old Merck Index that you acquired in the course of your preparations, where you learn nothing useful. You decide to wait—you can always inject more if it starts to hurt.

You have set out a filled syringe and extra ampoules, two scalpels, clamps, swabs, Betadine, suture thread, needles, and latex surgical gloves. You are not allergic to latex or to the Betadine, which is a plus. Everything is ready, arranged conveniently on several layers of clean towels from Goodwill, which you will put in a garbage bag and throw in the dumpster. You will put the covers back on the needles first, so they do not stick anyone by accident.

You could still change your mind; it’s not too late. But you are more convinced than ever that this is what you need.

You pick up a scalpel and lift folds of flesh out of the way. At the last minute, you decide that more Xylocaine is a good idea after all. A droplet of the lidocaine solution quivers at the end of the thin, thin needle. You hardly feel the first injection go in. When you delicately slice through the skin and the blood wells up, you don’t feel anything at all.

You could have practiced on animals, but you were too squeamish. The Humane Society probably wouldn’t take back an animal with evidence of recent surgery, without veterinary records and an explanation. When you tried to volunteer at the animal shelter, it turned out they didn’t let “unqualified persons” do things like that there. But you had watched procedural videos—dogs, cats, livestock—online. There are even websites giving advice—medical, psychological, and legal—for people who want to do what you are doing, but for completely different reasons. Their motives seem peculiar to you, and sad.

What is inside your own body looks different from textbook and monitor images. In the flesh. The membrane enclosing each sac is silvery, shimmering, a veil parting beneath the blade. The seed containers slip out like soft eggs; there is so little adhesion you don’t even need the scalpel to free them. As they dangle from each tubule, you feel the lightest of tugs, as if the single string on an ancient musical instrument had been gently plucked, twice, its echoes vibrating soundlessly inside your pubic bone.

You set down the scalpel carefully, even though you are done with it, and pick up the blunt-tipped surgical scissors. You snip midway up each vas deferens; you are confident that the contamination does not appear to have spread outside the seed-pods themselves. You begin painstakingly suturing the incision with neat, minuscule stitches. It’s like embroidery, really. When it is all finished your muscles are cramping from staying bent over so long and you are very tired, but you feel a deep sense of satisfaction. You acted in time. It’s better for everyone this way. If it had gone on for much longer, you would have lost control completely, and who knows what would have happened, with them in charge of your life.

You pick up your discarded testicles and drop them in the kitchen sink. The sink is stainless steel, so they should be safe there for the time being. Even though there was little blood loss, you feel a bit woozy. You need to clean up before Jeff gets back so he does not get upset like when you put Morty, the dead hamster of Louise from next door, in the freezer because you had promised to bury it for her after it died of old age and she was so sad, only the ground was frozen so you were waiting for spring.

You fold the absorbent pads and place them, with the wads of bloody gauze and used cotton swabs, in ziplock baggies, which you put inside a black plastic trash bag. The Betadine can go in the medicine cabinet, but the other leftover drugs and syringes and equipment you regretfully toss into a cardboard box and seal it with duct tape. You will will put it all in the Dumpster—the non-recycling Dumpster, you remind yourself—tomorrow, before Jeff comes home.

You drift in and out of focus as the garbage disposal grinds, snarls, and occasionally hiccups, while the faucet runs. It may take a month or two for your testosterone levels to fall and stabilize, which will probably calm you down. If not, you may have to consider the influence of the adrenal glands. These are inconveniently located inside the abdominal cavity, behind the liver, but not logistically inaccessible. But the important thing is that the things lurking inside your scrotum were—thank goodness!—removed in time.

You had tried to discuss your condition with Jeff, shortly after he moved in. You had long since given up discussing the matter with anyone else, but you felt that he should be aware of the risk in case he was affected too. He had been very nice about agreeing to pay more rent for the larger bedroom. He looked concerned when you described the visions and compulsions their infestation was inflicting upon you, but when you tried to pull down your shorts to show him the parasites visible just under the skin, he had retreated hastily.

“Dude, sorry; I just don’t swing that way. Y’know?” and he left to spend the night at his girlfriend’s apartment while you were still muttering incoherently. You could have used his help today, but you don’t seem to have a knack for explanations. And it’s possible that he would rather be camping in any case. All the same, you are proud to have dealt with the alien spawn before they could hatch inside your body, take over your brain, and set about infecting the rest of the human race.

The disposal quiets to a mumbling purr. You look down into the gleaming sink and sigh with relief, letting your fingers trail in the lukewarm, swirling water. Your hand is trembling a bit, and you feel cold. Time for some hot tea, and perhaps after that you will feel up to heating canned soup and making toast.

Then the disposal noise stops abruptly, before you can turn it off. The sink quivers as you lean on its cool edge; it takes you a moment to realize that the shudder you feel does not originate from your own body. Fine, translucent, twitching filaments, laden with new spores, are rising from the drain, growing and lengthening ever more rapidly. You scream as the questing tips lance into your wrist and forearm, even though you feel no pain.

 

F. J. Bergmann edits poetry for mobiusmagazine.com and imagines tragedies on or near exoplanets. Work appears irregularly in Abyss & Apex, Analog, Asimov’s, and elsewhere in the alphabet. A Catalogue of the Further Suns won the 2017 Gold Line Press poetry chapbook contest and the 2018 SFPA Elgin Chapbook Award.

‘The Pressing Need’ by Colin Stein

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THE PRESSING NEED

23
My hands tremble in anticipation. A video of the cubic contraption plays in my head. Then I see it. The gargantuan metal door.

22
Resplendent maw opening and closing. Two circles await with which to choose my destiny.  Rise to the heavens? Descend to Earth’s core?

21
DING. I hear the crowd, smell their cake, perfume. I enter, caress onerous steel sides. I should fear.  But I fantasize.

20
I turn around to see a blockade of circles. Each a fate. Apply pressure and life changes before your eyes.

19
I pushed, but I do not lead. I float, I transport.  The device dictates the destination, I merely follow.

18
The mouth shuts, beast grunting from strain.  I move with haste, explore a new place, after its swallow.

17
Stillness is anathema, atrophy to my brain, heart, and soul. Motion equals learning, evolving, a better me.

16
Limbs flow like water, part of the instrument. Weightless euphoria, forgiving hand of God, you see?

15
My body betrays me, undercuts my psyche. Everyday movement is torture, but you couldn’t know.

14
The outside world pounces, wolf on a lamb. Flight, fight? Freeze. I can’t go.

13
My mind acts without consent, unreliable partner, physique a stranger in the night.

12
The machine bestows me liberty. Most take for granted this “inalienable” right.

11
The kind where intellect and flesh work as one, if fleeting.

10
My spirit ascends as we decelerate, musical chime signaling greeting.

9
Jaws creak, then release. Light illuminates where I’m standing.

8
An unknown planet emerges. Curiosity, wonder, joy.  Landing.

7
Step foot across the threshold, reality’s line.

6
Beyond gratitude, humbled, honor all mine.

5
Feelings of sadness, inner tension.

4
Leaving the benevolent invention.

3
Its teeth seal.

2
They appeal:

1
DING.

2 Visual Art & Poetry Hybrid pieces by Scott Wozniak / Andrew Nutini

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Scott Wozniak is a poet/chaos enthusiast living in Oregon. His works are widely published both online and in print. To find out more, follow him @sewozniak on Twitter.
Andrew Nutini is a graphic illustrator living in Denver Colorado. His art can be found pasted on walls around the world. To find out more, follow him on Instagram @found_image_design.

“The Boy” by Matt Weatherbee

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Men don’t cry, boy. Stop that, a gruff deep voice said. I’m going to tell you a story. Two boys were left in the desert with nothing but themselves. One boy survived, made it out and became a man and the boss of the Pandilla cartel like his daddy. One boy died. He stayed a boy forever.

Someone in the passenger’s seat got out and opened the back doors. The boy’s heart pounded. A hand grabbed his swimming trunks and yanked him out of the van. He flopped onto cool sand.

Get up, a smooth deep voice said.

The boy got up. A hand shoved him forward.

Walk.

The boy walked.

Cut him loose, the gruff deep voice said.

The duct tape ripped off, stinging the boy’s mouth. The zip-tie around his wrists snapped off. The blindfold whisked away. The boy looked at where he was. Too bright. He clenched his eyes shut and pressed his face into the crook of his arm.

What’d I do? he asked.

Carlos, the smooth deep voice said and clicked its tongue three times.

What’d I do?

You were born, boy, the gruff deep voice said.

Three doors slammed. Then the van drove away and the brightness turned off.

The boy lowered his arm and opened his eyes. Night. The dim red brake lights of the van disappeared over a dune. He crawled up the dune, digging his fingers and toes into the sand. There were two boys in the gruff deep voice’s story. But what about him, the third boy? He figured his story would end with his mom rescuing him.

At the top of the dune he shivered and cried. The van was gone, lost to a moonless black night and a desert. Dune after dune after dune. So much sand.

It reminded him of San Clemente State Beach. He and his mom had had a fun day there and she was buckling him into his car seat to leave when two men came up behind her. One choked her out and one kidnapped him.

Thirsty and hungry and tired, he started down the dune. Something told him to head the way he thought the van had gone and to do it now instead of later. He walked to the next dune and climbed up it.

You were born, boy. Yeah he was born all right. Happy fucking birthday. Everyone was born. He didn’t deserve this. He was six and homeschooled. He watched MMA with his mom and took classes. He talked about it a ton but that wasn’t bad. He hung around La Siesta Mexican Restaurant where his mom worked, played games on her phone and laughed at stupid memes. What did he do?

The sky lightened. The sun rose in a cloudless blue sky and heated up the sand. Soon the sun was burning his back. Then the sand was burning his hands and feet. The glare of the sun reflected off the sand. He squinted and put more dunes behind him.

His head aching, his mouth dry, his limbs heavy, he slowed. Where was his mom? She should hurry and rescue him. He wanted to sit on a towel in the shade under an umbrella with her. Drink a cold Hi-C and eat a tuna sandwich and some Pringles while she applied enough sunblock for three boys. He wanted to lie down next to her and relax. He fell.

Supine and sunburnt, he lay in the sand, a third of the way up a dune. Dust powdered his stomach. An invisible wool sock gagged him. The heat kept up and the boy didn’t cry.

 

 

Matt Weatherbee writes things.

 

Collages by Shane Jesse Christmass

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Shane Jesse Christmass is the author of the novels, Belfie Hell (Inside The Castle, 2018), Yeezus In Furs (Dostoyevsky Wannabe, 2018), Napalm Recipe: Volume One (Dostoyevsky Wannabe, 2017), Police Force As A Corrupt Breeze (Dostoyevsky Wannabe, 2016) and Acid Shottas (The Ledatape Organisation, 2014).

He was a member of the band Mattress Grave, and is currently a member in Snake Milker.

An archive of his writing/artwork/music can be found at www.shanejessechristmass.tumblr.com

Instagram: @sjxsjc

Twitter: @sjxsjc

‘2 Poems’ by J.B Stone

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To Every Minute Missed, and Every Museum Left Untoppled

For Frank Turner
Oh how I reminisce over the nights
ending with us
strolling past the bar strips
of Bleaker Street
moving in the image of
damaged marionettes
slacking from bent strings
just a raging youth
cutting lose of the chords
that kept us bound
as we vomit echolocation
instead of leftover rounds
trying to find each other
after poor attempts at finding ourselves
we took these nights to moon every
passing vehicle plastered with
‘Pro-Trump’ bumper stickers
still tried to spray paint the words
“Nazi Punks Fuck Off”
over every swastika grafffitied brick
in a 40 mile radius
placed flowers from dying gardens
onto the windshield wipers
of every ticketed vehicle
just to show them there are others
who give a shit about them
even when they stop giving a shit
about themselves
feeling like a band of Robin Hood wannabees
trying our best to feel like heroes
if not through a series of late night antics,
but for a time where worries were less
& joy was a convenience store
only a block away
no one ever told us
how far the distance would grow
when 700 feet, turns into half a mile,
then to a mile, then several miles, then ten,
then 20, then 40, and so on..
until the thoughts that once put a smile on our faces
become an uncharted territory of distant memories:
this is the moment where our minds
become mausoleums
and buried underneath these marble tombs
lays our youth

Listening to 99 Luftballons on the Eve of Election Day

the night of November 5, 2018
the world is a panic switch
a nuclear detonation button
placed below a mad man’s desk
& I’m sifting through spotify playlists
trying my luck as a translator
rewriting the messages
in the Google-search lyrics tab
just thinking how long the finger
upon this doomsday device
has lingered
postcards from the apocalypse
slipstream to the P.O. boxes
of an anxiety-induced mind
Nena echoes the spirit
of Nostradamus
launching a vocal barrage of truth
astral projecting visions
of an ultra-violent state
crawling out of cold war rubble
as nightfall looms
so does the fate of a nation,
yet I sit here, waiting,
hoping the music will save us all

J.B. Stone is an neurodiverse poet/fiction writer from Brooklyn, now residing in Buffalo. Stone is the author of A Place Between Expired Dreams And Renewed Nightmares (Ghost City Press 2018). He also has work featured in Occulum, Riggwelter Press, Peach Mag, BlazeVOX, Mystic Blue Review, Breadcrumbs Magazine, Flash of Dark, Crack the Spine among several other publications. You can check out more of his work at jaredbenjaminstone.com, and follow him on twitter @JB_StoneTruth