‘FATAL FAILURE’ by Matt Lee

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When I returned from the city I settled into a new routine.  During the day I slept, dreamless.  At night I walked laps around the basement, blowing smoke at the concrete floor, the cracks underfoot growing bigger.

In between I watched television, infomercials mostly.  For hours I sat on my mother’s couch, silently wishing I had the money for those four easy payments.  I wanted Billy Mays to solve all of my problems, but Billy Mays was dead.

I was without work so I started spending a lot of time in the woods, partly to get out of the house, but mostly to contemplate self-inflicted violence.

There was a spot up the ridge where someone else had done it before about ten years back.  A kid, still in high school, hanged himself from a tree.

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‘Josie’s Thread’ by Richard Greenhorn

There was one thin thread of flesh which was all Samuel really liked about her. Josie claimed it was a great embarrassment to her, from an unfortunate experience in high school and in the present day, when she wore tights or shorts. Samuel could only assign this to stupid vanity; to him, Josie’s thread was a manifest sign of his love for her. To simply set his tongue on her was to resolve that evening’s bitter dispute, was to soothe whatever qualm had set some unspoken barrier between them during the day. The messiness of morals, temperaments, and all the better angels of the universe could be subjugated beneath the mild application of pressure, and all life’s complications smouldered when Josie threw her head back and burst into a white flame.

Josie’s thread provided a linchpin in Samuel’s mental conception of her, and at times when his affection for her was waning, he could think of her thread and resurrect his former feeling. He could sit and think about Josie’s thread for a quarter of a hour at a time, behind his desk, not contemplating a particular motion, not immersed in any thrall of passion, but simply thinking of her thread in appreciation. Every moment they shared together was a movement towards her thread. All the attributes of hers he found unpleasing, from her vestigial religion to her yoga to her mercurial tears, were hollow ceremonies in the two great seasons of their relationship: Having her thread, when he was very happy, and fasting from it.

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‘Sugar Dinner’ by Jon Berger

I was driving to Gaylord. My mom had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, early-onsets, for about a year and wasn’t able to drive herself there, even though she thought she could. She wanted to visit an old friend from school, who she hadn’t seen in a few years. Her friend’s name was Jacqueline, she lived on a farm and I think she was a hippie. I only met her a few times when I was little. Leaving Saginaw and trying to navigate the change of the rolling green hills up north was like going from a beehive to the top of a big tree. We got into some arguments, Mom was starting to get mean, which the doctor said might happen. She sat in the passenger seat of the shitty minivan with her hands limp and cradled in her lap, looking out the window becoming harder to talk to.

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Three Poems by Based Mountain

a chinese poem at the foodcourt

thru forgotten parking lots & years of weeds crushed under tire tread, the almost automatic doors release a rush of conversation. i eat under asbestos fluorescents – i like broccoli and rice – the floor skuffed beige from basketball shoes. my friend likes kanye but not wocka flocka flame – likes twitter but not facebook – we agree on lovecraft though. the symposium with chrysanthemum tea sums $15.33 – fuck – at home my wallet falls from a bookcase.

 

spraycans or barbarism

so i had a few mongols around. i needed my hair braided. i chill with barbarians in mat-black nike airs, no laces. we hang out in underground carparks – marking up bmws with arrows – drinking clotted mares milk out of skulls – brown paper bag – talking about their fear of water. they keep dropping bankers though. dragging blood and gore and broken teeth thru my carpet – its pretty embarrassing. every time i turn on the television, all i hear is missing bankers and nothing about the 16th century tribesmen screaming for the great blue-grey wolf as i hose off human flesh under a dark and thundery sky.

 

where’s the exit for university city?

when i was on the come up i asked for more than a kraft macaroni and cheese (deluxe sauce). i said i couldn’t concentrate with the broken streetlight outside my window. – blink – “that’s not our responsibility” – blink – fucking bureaucracy. a girl smoking clove in black lipstick laughs out her pierced nose. i put down my textbook – drop a couple of codeine – and think of the smiling moon where life is cold but far away from here.

Two Poems by Giacomo

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until there was no more flesh to grip

we drag barbed hooked happiness through rock pools blossoming red coral sharpness

a hard blue choking back blood freezing razor ribbons held tight between held hands

falling against wet fingers ripping soft palms

our eyes taste bone’s whiteness before the scab

1000 year’s marbled warmth unloved against fragile fists

bent toothed knuckles cracking tear ducts pooling hot love smeared

my mouth screamed throated sobs and from your pockets handfuls of my hair

still wet from the shower

bloodshot black eyes bruised by heavy kisses to bandage neglect of when you needed flesh to grip

and I was sheeted flint cracking from the weight of wet breath

you clear clouded eyes with a rolled sock from our floor and through the hole in your body

a new space that is unchanged except for the cavity of each point with your shape

we rip a square of skin from the soft lined flesh under our eyes

i fold you delicately to place in the damp under tongue and taste you with every kiss

in dark rooms new loves hold my bones under your skin and my hands end with your fingertips

we fall hard rocks crashing from white foam and bite down fierce misplaced lust cracking shards

you are

long after I’m bleached and picked clean by passers by

 

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‘Farm’ by Calvin Westra

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I.

It was hot and humid and the air stung, more mosquitos than anything else. Screen door was full of gaping mouth holes that swallowed the night into the house, so it could keep biting us as we clung to our thermal blankets, lying on mattresses, curled up like adult babies trying to protect ourselves.

Well, this is home now, my friend told me and I grinned and shook my head because I’d be home—really home—in just a week, and he’d be here all alone on his stupid farm forever and I didn’t care too much because he was clearly happy with it.

He was fashioning a water pump, mostly out of PVC pipe and bushings and one-way check valves. Because why should I pay for water when I can get it right out of the ground, he explained. We were killing our data plans, huddling over our phones watching YouTube tutorials, buying wrenches and duct tape and Cokes from the Ace Hardware a half hour down the highway.

Not exactly sure how people did this shit before /out/ or r/homesteading, he said and I couldn’t tell if he was joking.

Looking for farm relics, nothing in particular, I explored drawers in the master bedroom and lifted a crumbling journal. Kept it next to my mattress, carried it with me, read a couple entries while my friend took a freezing cold shower with a hose, spent time with it when he drove to the nearest town for more tools.

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‘The Blue Dress’ by Samuel Stevens

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The couple sat in his room. He leaned on the wall. He had movie posters taped to the walls. Hiking gear and military surplus littered the floor. She sat with her legs crossed on his desk chair. She held her head with her left hand. The diamond engagement ring glinted in the light. Her eyes were deep and brown and her dark hair framed her soft face. The only hardness was around her eyes.

“We already have an appointment for the fitting.”

“You can’t wear white.” He crossed his arms. He looked at his icon of the Virgin Mary on the wall. She sat under it.

“My mom and dad are paying for this, and you knew—”

“Well I knew, but you can’t wear white.”

“What will the other people think? What about your family?” She looked down at the floor. “This is my special day. Please,”

He shrugged.

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