‘Increasingly Volatile’ by spacemortuary

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I come from a sleepy little hellhole that churned out a couple more humans than it knew what to do with, so it took their lives: some with shotguns; some with bricks; or maybe

just maybe

they took them of their own accord.

It’s hard to say what’s predetermined and what isn’t.

I guess it’s all a matter of what you believe, but there isn’t much left to believe in anymore –

just the shadow of a man etched into the back of that old decrepit farmhouse you’ve driven past 100,000 times but God Damned if you still can’t remember the color of the front door.

And whether or not you think you act upon this world or it acts upon you doesn’t matter, not in the slightest,

because either way, a relatively undesirable target is to blame for the things that happen to you that you wish just wouldn’t.

But they do. And they will.

And the door’s still closed, it’s always been closed (what fucking color was it?)

and nobody has ever gone in because you’ve never seen it happen and you’ll never know who or what lives in there or why and someday it will burn down or just be gone and their eyes are on you they’ve always been on you and their eyes never close and lord knows your eyes can’t look away fast enough –

and there’s nothing here for any of us
and none of us are here enough
for anyone


spacemortuary is an aspiring tattoo artist from the Pacific North West who’s just out here tryin to draw as many flowers and spread as much hope as possible. pancakes and strawberries and twitter @spacemortuary

 

‘Aztec’ by Bort Champion

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The life of an Aztec sounds pretty cool

The flower war and uh the flower and song

As well as tomatoes, corn, beans, a giant fucking floating city

For real though, it’s like a European painting

But hold up, all these flowers are seeped in blood!

You could switch out blood and flower in this poem and it’d still work

I think, anyway, shouts out to Hungry Coyote.

Bort lives in Springfield where his sister gets all the credit. @Aenurx22.

‘Two Etymology Poems’ by Matt Mitchell

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THE ETYMOLOGY OF MOUTH

(n.)

Old English mup “opening of a gate to a country of teeth sharp enough to gash the moon.” Garden of thorns made from pink cheek exoskeleton; colony of cul-de-sacs at the end of my great aunt’s street; voice whispering jetstreams into the vacant sky; air filled with flecks of dandelion; the color of summer; taste of bare neck in early morning; lips split open in the shape of glaciers from air conditioner horsepower; what undresses my ribs & arranges my birthmarks into constellations; cathedral at the head of a river where I open the earth & sing my love into.

THE ETYMOLOGY OF NEEDLE

(n.)

Pharmaceutical jargon naedl “small, pointed instrument for carrying an ocean of life through the fabric of a body, etc.,” from endocrinologist’s mouth naethlo, literally “an elegy of permanence wrapping around God.” Meaning “piece of magnetized steel in a compass,” or ruptured artery in my thigh after insulin needle splintered through fatty muscle, or my translator for a death waiting behind a whole map of skin tearing.

Matt Mitchell is a writer from Ohio. His first chapbook, you’re my favorite garçon, is forthcoming from Ghost City Press in 2020. Other words he’s written appear right now, or will soon, in places like BARNHOUSE, NPR, Gordon Square Review, Frontier Poetry, and Glass: A Journal of Poetry, among others. He’d love to talk to you about basketball.

‘ Two Poems’ by Tom Snarsky

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In the quiet water of subtidal habitats,

you have enough breathing room to misread
subtidal as suicidal, your brain predicting
what it sees now will be like
what you’ve been googling, low in your cove
of grayblue feeling. All the arts,
all of them, have led us to this ice. You
mix paints for the sea slush
and you’re out of green—you squeeze
the tube and it gives you nothing, the sides
touching through a thin layer
of dried paint, and instead of giving up
you leverage colorblindness as an asset
and mix in red instead, so the little
cove you’re painting starts to look like clay
so rich and malleable you could almost eat it.

Escape Rope

The truck’s mud flaps say STARGATE
& I’ve never felt closer to the earth, to the

Basic conceit of burial—i.e. if you go down
Far enough, if you live enough to have

Friends to bury you, then maybe when you get
Down there, after a little time has passed

The gates will open & there will be
Sandboxes full of stars for you to play with

You can make castles you can tear them down
You can shepherd the toy truck across

The bridge over the moat to safety
Its mud flaps still emblazoned

but faultlessly clean

Tom Snarsky teaches mathematics at Malden High School in Malden, Massachusetts, USA.

‘Three Poems’ by A.H Lewis

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reminders

There is happiness and sadness all around us,
that is the magic of the universe.
Our moods are as fickle as the wind
and absorbent like clouds,

where our emotions throw us
into sunny tumults and skies of starlight.
Inspiration can come from
anywhere if you let it,

if you’re willing to find
the innerness of you
and choose stimulation over hurt
from the reminders of ruined things.

A nostalgic cartoon. A car horn.
A slow song. A made-up memory.
A sad hello. A green smile.
An open heart. A broken heart.

shrinking delight

The heaviness behind my eyes
gathers at the corners if I let it,
but today it stays where it is.
I am as small as a caterpillar
inching along a green stalk
with all dozens of grips
around the silky bridge.
I could bathe in a thimble
and find fullness from spilled crumbs.
No bigger than your thumb
or the buttons on your sweater
when I shrink like this.
It happens too often for my taste,
but down here next to the puddles of dew
there are pussy willows like skyscrapers
and dandelions like forgotten gods.
A butterfly flaps politely overhead.
Being small has nothing to do with my size,
as I sigh. It’s my best kept secret,
tucked under the mushrooms.
I examine my fingernails too little to be seen
and bury them in the ground beneath me.
The dirt smells newer when I’m this close to it,
like I can absorb its nutrients through my palms,
discover the earth’s age just from tiny handfuls.
The heaviness ebbs the filthier I get.
A slug oozing past lures a laugh out of me
that rings through hollow felled trees.
It’s rained recently,
everything is soft and squishing
between my fingers and toes,
wet with friendly remorse, welcoming me
if I choose to stay small forever.
This time, I just might.

the absence of things

Darkness and cold are not actually things,
but the absence of things. Darkness is the absence of light;
cold, of heat. (Scientists, I may have embellished.
Poets, humor the science.)

If something is dark, it is the amount of light
that is missing from a space. One says, “turn on
the light,” not “turn down the dark.” Darkness has
no measurement or unit on this planet.

Coldness is the heat being extracted from
another source. When you are cold, you are losing
your heat rather than gaining coldness.
Temperatures reflect heat and lack thereof.

So when you feel like darkness is too much or you
feel too cold, remind yourself that what you should say,
instead, is that you need more light and more warmth.
In fact, most times a single object produces these two things.

The scientist may be thinking of the sun.
The poet may be thinking of a person.
A poetic scientist, or a scientific poet,
knows they are the same.

A.H. Lewis is a 26-year-old poet from Pittsburgh, PA, with an English degree from Allegheny College and a Disney addiction cultivated since birth. Her first collection of poetry, The Smallness of Everything Else, is forthcoming from Dorrance Publishing in spring 2019, along with other pieces published in various publications and social media accounts. For Lewis, there is no weather too warm, no blanket too soft, and no bowl of gnocchi too big. You can follow her on twitter: @ahlewww and IG: @ahlewww

‘planet of the’ by Paul Hanson Clark

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kanye tweeted, they want to control us with money and mute the culture
i keep looking at presidential race info
democrats are war mongers too
being anti is doomed
i watched part of a movie about saddam hussein
thinking about john lewis not speaking at occupy atlanta
cuz of some guy trying to make a point
how one voice shouldn’t be more important
which, maybe?, but all that happened was
refusal of john lewis’s request to speak
when it seemed like most people there wanted to listen
for years i was lost in a fool’s gold desert, an oasis of acid trip epiphanies
i didn’t become god i became a dude w a more fucked up brain
i used to look at amber rose on insta
videos of her shaking her ass, sure, but also the story of her life
her son, her travels, her thoughts, her ideas
i have a positive opinion of her
& a conflicting feeling that celebrity gossip is a fucking scam
i tweeted, it’s good to always have yr house kim & kanye ready
tiff faved but we don’t follow each other anymore
she came at me for retweeting austin & i was confused
didn’t realize she had a problem with him
& had i known, i wouldn’t have retweeted him in the first place
we had a weird contentious back and forth
will probably never speak again
even though it was fun that time
walking around nyc
fucked up on drugs
me and rachel split from the group
wandered into a bumpin’ pizzeria at 2 a.m.
she bought me a slice and i was so happy
when you look at the most successful movies of all-time
it’s like “transformers 3, avengers 2, spider-man 4”
jfk got iced by oswald but also it was a vast conspiracy to destroy the world
the military industrial complex won despite general eisenhower’s stern warning
pete seeger is dead & his grandson is a fortysomething cokehead
i guess i shouldn’t folk music gossip either
dear mom, dad, & everyone i know
why did we love television more than each other?
i remember super mario on snes, working together
to figure it out, having chill times
but those ended
& order of operations became
i in basement on my tv
dad in living room on his
mom in bedroom on hers
everyone everywhere always on their screen
like they say, “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”
this is life in marvelous times
only time i ever heard that song come on at the bar
was mulligans this spot in boise idaho
i rapped along & a girl named virginia made fun
asked, why are you rapping about bed stuy 82
9th floor three tiny rooms one view
if you were born and raised in nebraska?
i smiled, or laughed, i don’t remember
i wanted to make out but she left
she texted kyle later asking for my number
but he didn’t give a fuck
was too busy partying on that ego sailboat
but yeah, we live in a super computer
i’m trying to escape from it right now but it’s cutting the shit out of my neck

paul hanson clark is a poet and multi-disciplinary artist living in lincoln, nebraska.

‘Les petites heures’ by Brad Liening

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One last figure
flees to the beach
the moon a glossy
white tomato
full of seeds
the collective dream
of bats flapping
into anvil-shaped
heavens blowing
through some eternal
afternoon en route
to one last sunset
one last nest
of presidents
digging into deaf hills
we espy from this
corridor of antlers

Brad Liening is the author of Deep State Come Shining (Publication Studio Hudson, Spring 2020). He lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.