‘The Pressing Need’ by Colin Stein

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THE PRESSING NEED

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

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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.

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

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

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

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

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Step foot across the threshold, reality’s line.

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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.

‘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

‘Pond Poems’ by John L. Stanizzi

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These are poems from a project called POND. Every day, for one year, I will walk to our pond, jot a few notes, and take a photo or two. Then I’ll write a 4-line acrostic using P, O, N, D as my first letters, with the extra caveat of never using the same first-word twice. I began the book on November 9, 2018 – will finish November 9, 2019.

11.20.18
11.33 a.m.
34 degrees

Pluvial night, the rain hangs on as mist.
Opiod-ripples as a branch releases its gems of rain,
normal and lonely an act as releasing its leaves,
downward in silence, all around me the sound of rushing water.

11.22.18
8.54 a.m.
12 degrees

Thanksgiving

Perforated by the wind, each tree creaks, and I see
only the spaces between them roughly outlined.
Nightspot of cloudy ice crowds the spout;
driven ripples ride the thin coastline of ice covering half the pond.

11.25.18
10.51 a.m.
45 degrees

After all-night rain all the snow is gone, pond starting to thaw, stream-beds bursting

Palaver between culvert run-off and Fowler’s pond;
one day in summer, when the stream is dry,
nary a drop of water in the overgrown streambeds,
daydreams will invoke thin ice – a map on black paper, drawn with silver pen.

11.26.18
2.14 a.m.
46 degrees

Rain beginning

Proteges of the wind — cardinals, washed-out goldfinches;
ocular distortions through the ice lifted from the pond;
nebulous tilting shore, strange as Frost said it was.
Derelict images which I embraced consumed again by the choral streams.

11.27.18
12.22 a.m.
35 degrees

Pond completely thawed

Prostrate switchgrass, brown now; not much else green
outside of the coarse cedar, its knuckled cones,
needles, and sweet ubiquitous scent.
Downwind, even standing in two feet of snow, I’ll summon spring.

John L. Stanizzi is author of the full-length collections – Ecstasy Among Ghosts, Sleepwalking, Dance Against the Wall, After the Bell, Hallelujah Time!, High Tide – Ebb Tide, and Four Bits – Fifty 50-Word Pieces. His newest book, Chants, will be out in February with Cervena Barva Press.

‘Paramour’ and ‘The Fear’ by Wil Michael Wrenn

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Paramour

He had not loved
or been loved in years;
he had forgotten how it felt.
And then one day
he saw her,
and instantly he knew.
Now she comes to him
whenever he needs her.
On moonlit nights they meet
and walk hand-in-hand
over rocky ridge and sandy shore.
On bright, clear days,
they stroll at sunset
along abandoned beaches.
On cold, rain-soaked evenings,
they sit by a fireplace
and talk of dreams and wonders.
So, he is no longer unloved,
no more sad and alone,
no longer empty and unknown.
They laugh together
and cry together,
sing and sigh together,
and all he has to do
to be with her
is to call her name,
and she will come to him,
right there by his side.
Then the past with all its sadness,
loneliness, and emptiness
will melt away into the mist
as he leaves it all behind
and starts each day anew,
filled with the presence
of his paramour,
ever faithful, ever true,
his loving paramour –
of the mind.

The Fear

Besides death,
maybe what I fear most
is that I’ll really learn
to live life to the fullest,
that one day I’ll be soaring
high above it all,
having glimpsed the meaning
or even grasped it,
and just at that moment
when I’m most alive
in every fiber of my being,
something will happen to my wings,
and I’ll crash back down to the earth,
and my life will be snuffed out
without ever really knowing
or being known.

Wil Michael Wrenn is a poet/songwriter who lives in rural north Mississippi. He has an MFA from Lindenwood University and is a songwriter/publisher member of the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP). His work has appeared in numerous journals, magazines, and anthologies, and he has published a book of poems. His website can be found at: http://www.michaelwrenn.com/

‘Milk’ and ‘Honey’ by Amie Norman Walker

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Milk

I fold my sheets, neat, something real not loud

Neath’ blankets rhythmic wants understand
Wonton me, magic charm, gestures folding
open armed at an angle.

Weak knees turn pirouettes, instead of resting weep face, run,
discern, cry nothing against societal rhetoric, filthy thick,
might exalt backside.

Rattled me bones, learn what we have here is down right into
the linens empty, indeed, term it retrofitting a fuck style,
measurable to the new era.

Hi. I like you. Brand new delusions refine love in comical censorship,
bared teeth laugh laminate across tickle spectrums,
when I belly up you, new style.

Hold me down, sheets and all, neat.

Honey

Slow as January creeping on,

Slow the hours steep,

Backward as if to repeat a tremble so weak.

Mercy, bathed in its medium,

No more laughter, no comedic air

To cleanse a palate ready for war

Against all the prophets asleep in their chair.

Pull my hair dealing a reason to wait, palpable state.

Slow like honey on springs thaw,

Slow down, empty, slow down raw,

Intentions rake the communal call.

Honey down dripping into song

Rip apart the aftermath, weep where you bleed

Across an understandable distance, desire

Won fighting, inspired,

Sucked up oxygen ready to fall

Into the heart of abandoned boyhood

Forth comes a stampede of what would

Be fatalities ring, a woman made to sing.

Amie Norman Walker is from metro Detroit, Michigan. Writing in her free time, she works in the community mental health field, while raising two children. Find her previously published work in Ash Tree Journal and X-Ray magazine. She tweets at @crawlintohabits

‘eight funerals’ and ‘y/our valley’ by Adrian Belmes

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eight funerals

moving to the city, i discovered
what becomes of the body when it dies.
it goes into the ground, but it is never buried.
you wear it on your chest, with pride.
you don’t see the dead in small towns.
they’re hidden, like secrets,
in little pockets where the real estate
is bad enough to never dig.
nobody dies in a place like this.
they just grow old inside their home behind the gate
built on the ground where the groves once stood,
up the hill from the high school everybody knows.
we used to hop the fence,
roll spliffs beneath the avocado trees,
talk about the kid who split their face
driving home to the shiny new community.
there’s the telephone pole.
there’s the brick wall.
there’s brendan wu, smashing his ankle hopping back over,
so they scale up the picket to keep the kids away.
the men on the grid put up the new houses,
clean them up and kick the squatters out,
so we get out, or we don’t get out,
grow old in our gated communities,
hash through the same six accidents,
the same three years at prom,
and the one time with the leaking gas,
until we are buried, until we forget.

y/our valley

after the sign blew out and said ICE POT for months,
people couldn’t help but talk:
do happy accidents still happen in a town like this,
or was it the same old shenanigans
as the clint eastwoods in the hills
that someone put up and someone else later took down.
just one of them held out, still standing, watching over the valley,
judging the kids who went up one night
to fire mortars from the nearby hills,
lying why, never getting caught.
some things never change in a place like this.
the night always ends at the burger stop on foothill road,
the only thing open by the time you shudder home
from memorizing the road to a girl’s house
on the power of an erection, climbing a mountain
only to discover at the top that no one
thought to bring a lighter.
with the lights off,
the view makes the car sex worth it.
from the ridge, the town is some dark island
rising from the lights, the six lane streets,
the blinking mile of red that you forgot
was normal since you moved away.
you wouldn’t mind the wait if it wasn’t for
the charming scent of grease, the warm food
growing cold, so you’re grappling
for the tuning knob, just to hear
successive stories of all the brakes that failed one year,
that crashed three cars into the same cheap restaurant
at the bottom of the hill, the one you take
to get to sugarloaf, the one
you scoured for the oakmont monster with your friends,
arguing the morning after new year’s if it’s real.

it’s real because you believe it is.
it’s real because it is.

Adrian Belmes is a Jewish Ukrainian poet and book artist residing currently in San Diego. He is a senior editor for Fiction International, editor in chief of Badlung Press, and vice president of State Zine Collective. He has been previously published in SOFT CARTEL, Philosophical Idiot, and elsewhere. You can find him at adrianbelmes.com or @adrian_belmes.