‘Four Poems’ by Dale Brett

Grecia, Greek

IMMACULATE

Ghost-coloured
teardrops have congealed.

Every external globule has become
hardened, distorted.

Twin orbs shot-through and
sugar-glowing.

Your eyes, immaculate.

CRUSHING

Paw at the entrance of
my translucent being.

Your contemplative eyes
shadow-fucked with ardour.

Heavy grandfeathered
lips tarnished with sweat-ridden
bullets.

Inner emotions laced with promise locked
down and kissed-away.

Any remaining common courtesies
buried and blind-sided.

Hopes of shimmering intimacy
vehemently soul-crushed.

GELATINOUS

Asterism irises align.

Star-shaped splotches
orb-plastered in trans-sclera
illumination.

Rose-quartz facets
flake skyyyward and
peripheral.

Her eyes drowned in
happiness,
still

deeply wounded.

SLEEPLESS

Tenuous dreams float
hollow like fish balls.

Mind slide migration meets an
infinitely

blank state.

Talking logos reveal:
digital secrets of
a hush-licker.

Snacking on sweet nubile legs
& never-deleting

my only mistake.

Dale Brett is a writer and artist from Melbourne, Australia.
He is interested in exploring the melancholic malaise and technological ennui of the 21st century. His debut novel Faceless in Nippon is forthcoming on Expat Press in 2020. His work has been featured on Burning House Press, Back Patio Press, Surfaces, Silent Auctions and many others. Hypertextual artifacts found @_blackzodiac.

‘Special Mention’ by Douglas Ross

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My wife called me a dog in the journal. She said everyone put something there. Her
editor had a pug named Iskra. All she could think of was ‘Brooklyn’. I told her she was
an aunt to four. It didn’t feel earned.

We toured some cages. I spoke up and they got smaller. We learned the different types
of prolapse, how when you saw a bulldog it was either ruined, or somebody’s.

Short of that, I made our front porch hostile. I laid stone cherubs, pots of barbed
succulents, a St. Francis. Mothers came anyway. There were close to a thousand now,
down the street. They liked to sit and smoke together after missing curfew. I bought a
machine for her that put out creek sounds. A pillow for her arms and knees.

From her cycle app it was clear she was padding things by a few days. I came into a tetra
water. Heard a canner and his child rooting through our bin. They checked the bottle
under our porchlight, decided against.

One guy from her unpeopling group showed up drunk. He gained speed, launched a
cart at the Wegmans. What went through my head was: Lenin’s mom helped him. The
doors opened, admitting it inside. She stopped him, helped him to his knees, puke
flowing on the asphalt, over the woodlands and the admirals’ mansions.

My father hit the ground in his own way. I flew to Providence. They scheduled two
machines for his heart. She was home, interviewing an expert on Retreat. She promised
he was gay, he couldn’t want anything. But he’s brilliant, I said. She said, that’s true.
The next morning I did my tests. Squatted, rose. They didn’t put me on a treadmill.
We’ll do this every three years, the doctor said, in case that gene wakes up.

I went straight to the shelter from JFK. Lock the doors, I announced, nobody lets me
leave without one. I’d taken three benadryl. The volunteer led me through. Behind the
wall, a cage popped open. Who’s first, I said. We thought we’d start you with King, the
volunteer said. I asked why ‘King’. Well, they said. He loves everyone.

‘Work Weeked’ By Roy

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it’s a thursday night & ive listened to 32 hours of audiobooks this workweek scifi novels there’s gold
in the audiobook content mines. there’s all that stuff about novels being bourgeois, you know the stuff,
what does that mean for audiobooks tho and what does it mean that ive listened to dozens of hours of trashy scifi this week
thru my apple™ earbuds but not the disposable airpod kind working on the spreadsheet farm escapism
is the real escape how else are academics gonna pursue their true passion of yelling at activists on facebook, defending rapists, and donating to kamala harris there’s no time for doing the reading!
the fucking teens are out of control! they don’t want to be learned by war criminals!

Alas it is Thursday tho! No Time! Woe! There are serious matters to discuss! but it is a Thursday! No Time! The teens are mad at JK Rowling! No Time! Australia’s on fire! No time! Fuckaroo!
Tis a Thursday and my eyes grow bleary from the fatigue of pretending to work while posting all day.

Thinking about doing some ‘real poetry’ right now about work like

“floating through an office at eye level / cubicle / trash can
slightly askew / legal box full / of rejections.

Ant traps stacked three high / Newman’s Own pizza box
Thru the window: Squirrels sorting / flower petals.

In the breakroom / a coworker
boiling tap water. Studiously
avoiding the squirrels / outside the window”

you want to know if the squirrels were ‘real’ well well well an artist never tells ok they weren’t real. the flower petals
were damp brown & smelled like mulch the squirrels were stamping on the browning flower petals waiting
for french fries but this isn’t what anyone wanted to hear even in a twenty (20) first (1st) century poem let’s pivot to YouTube the true MVP of Thursday nights
on the couch with a tuna melt & the french fries the squirrels weren’t fed giving dril’s adult swim show a chance

‘i’m an independent journalist covering my own life’ describes a fair number of poets except they don’t understand the ‘independent’ part:
“i’m an independent journopoet theorizing my own locality cosmopolitanally sponsored by the Ford Foundation i’m the Judge Doom Professor of auto-poetics at the Koch School of arbitrage prose”
but it’s a thrusday! I don’t have time to read the Judge Doom Professor’s ode to the American consultants who made a spreadsheet showing touchscreen ordering would be more profitable in western european fastfood franchises!
No time!

There might be time for a quick joke or a quick citation of a poem I read recently uh let me twitter search myself real quick for an appropriate quote to close this poem… Quick!
“Medvedev likes to quote Brecht on writers who “imagine that they have got hold of an apparatus which in fact has got hold of them.”
is listening to audiobooks a ‘lifehack’ or bourgeois affectation? will the poets ever spot their own contradictions? Hit that subscribe button to find out if our sci-fi hero
can speculate himself into & out of a worse poem to finally kill batman & redistribute his wealth!

Fuck it let’s kill batman right now! Boom! Dead!
Enough waiting around for heroes
write your own poem below:

__

write your poems in the reply and follow Roy @creepingmraxist

‘His Favorite Bookless Poet’ by Prince Bush

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He had read it through the gates
Of ivory, less, like a smaller

Amount of, or not as much as
Him—but yet at least his

Favorite. And lower rank is
Archaic, thought Prince the Less,

Apis of Argos. Phoroneus,
Bringer of a price, wasn’t telepathic,

Was proud and worshipped with hell:
That which Apis was thankful for,

Else he’d inherit nothing, and
What’s worse than being

Bookless—far-off, or of the pear
Tree, or contract-less, which is

More important than his name, more
His name than his name—unthankful.

Prince Bush is a poet in Nashville, TN with poetry in Cincinnati Review, Cotton Xenomorph, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Pleiades: Literature in Context, SOFTBLOW, and elsewhere. He was a 2019 Bucknell Seminar for Undergraduate Poets Fellow and a nominee for The Pushcart Prize.

‘Two More Poems’ by Tom Snarsky

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MANAGORGER

The air was fragile and traveled so fast
into and out of the cat’s lungs. I felt so sick
then didn’t, light headache, manageable.

That was almost managorger if Autocorrect
had had its say, but I said no w/my thumb
so it came out correct, not corrected

but still changed a little, since if I hadn’t
done anything a hydra would’ve burst
through my head for only two colorless

plus one green mana, starting small as a 1
/1 and then getting bigger every time a spell
hit the stack, eventually trampling everything

including the cat and probably me, my
life, my phantom sicknesses, all the beauty
I’d ever come to know, including the ambiguity

of whether that ’d in line 15 meant had
or would and why, like was it trying to hide
something, or believe it or not trueing

to hide something (when did I type that?
Do you have to type something for it to appear
in the autocorrect dictionary? I don’t know,

nor do I know why it’s sometimes uppercase
& sometimes not) the way lies sometimes do
everyone a favor by keeping a hard truth

obscured from ruining everything under wraps
soft? fuck it no words come close to my lover
’s spit / and I’ve only ever tasted it / in ash

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.

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

‘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.

Interview with Craig Rodgers, Author of “The Ghost of Mile 43”

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I had a chat with Craig Rodgers about his new book that we released that I thought was pretty fun and provided interesting insight into the thought process behind this amazing novel.

—————

Where did the inspiration for Shaw as a character come from? There are hints from a past life he once held before he exiles himself but not many details, did you originally come up with Shaw as a full fledged character and use that as a starting ground or did you just throw Shaw into the wild and feel it out from there?

 

Everybody has those thoughts about just being done, leaving everything and moving off to the woods, or here it’s a ghost town.  But the world comes right along behind, you’re never really leaving it.  Everybody’s lost things or had some straw dropped on them and they just feel done with it.

What events in your life, our lives you’ve witnessed, made you want to tell this story? How does “The Ghost of Mile 43” reflect reality as you’ve witnessed it?

 

A few years ago my identity was stolen, and going through the process of trying to wrangle that, all the calls about debt that wasn’t mine, the idea of up and literally walking away seemed appealing.  This is probably too literal an answer.

From both your perspective and from the perspective of Shaw, do you feel he is better off at the end of the novel? Why or why not?

 

I don’t want to tell anybody what they should or shouldn’t take away from the ending or the story as a whole, but if I were to answer in the most general fashion I would say he is not better off at the end, no.

There are a lot of characters that tend to meddle in Shaw’s isolation. The two teenagers, for example, refuse to give up on helping him. What do you think motivates these characters to get involved with Shaw?

 

Misguided energy.  Misguided optimism or the intention to do good.  Their motives are pure enough, but the way they go about it misses the mark.  This man’s a complete stranger.  They don’t have the tools or the perspective to be the help they want to be.

The ghost car is certainly a rather vague abstraction that readers can apply meaning to as they see fit, but what does it mean to you? Why is it haunting Shaw?

 

Oh I definitely won’t be answering that.

There is a running theme of survival and resilience in the book that I found particularly alluring. Despite wanting to escape from society as a whole, Shaw still wants very much so to live. He fishes, poisons himself with a frog, and scavenges to supply himself with nourishment. He maintains human form and principles despite not being a part of the collective whole of humanity, what do you feel that means for us as a species, as animals?

 

There’s something appealing in this visceral way about surviving in circumstances that are miles outside your norm.  This guy is not an outdoorsman, he has no idea what he’s doing, but he’s doing what he can with what’s there.  There’s a satisfaction in that.

What do you do to clear your head when writing gets to be too much for the day? Are there any hobbies or little moments you like to soak up in order to unwind?

 

The boring things. Cliche things. Drink too much coffee. Buy office supplies. You feel like you’re doing something when you buy office supplies. Someday that spiral notebook’s gonna be full of stories. And you can never have too many notebooks or pens.

As for as artistic inspirations go, whether it be painter, musician, or writer, who has influenced you and how? What artists have you been drawn to throughout your own endeavors?

 

Flannery O’Connor, Walker Percy, Donald Ray Pollock. Who else. Shirley Jackson. Robert Aickman. I’ve been going through a Dashiell Hammett phase lately. I’m spacing the names of painters. Shit. You know Genieve Figgis?  I like her stuff.

What other projects do you see yourself working on in the future? What aspirations are bouncing around inside of your head? 

 

Oh tons of stuff. I’ve been working on a series of short stories that take place in a lake town.  They share some faces here and there and some locations, but they’re each their own thing. At first I wanted to write it for screen as each one being a few episodes in an anthology, a sort of shared universe thing, but that’s all well outside my wheelhouse. I’ve also been showing around another book, so maybe that’ll pop up soon. And other things.  Always other things. But a lot of that I’ll need to pair with an artist for. That’s down the road stuff.

Any final words, shout outs, or random snippets of information you’d like to share with the readers?

 
Yeah, just enjoy the story, tell a friend, you know? Enjoy the next one too.

 

“Building Bodies” by Jane-Rebecca Cannarella

 

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This morning I touched the swarm of knots at the back of my head to confirm that we had sex last night. I was glad it happened even though I drank too much to remember anything other than you explicitly asking me for my consent and how I bit your freckled shoulder.

My hand still clutched my hair as I reached for my belongings, it was a bun made from motion and when I removed my hand it stayed in its wad. I dressed and moved out of the pillared beam nakedness of your bedroom. The paint stains were the only decoration on the grainy exposed wood and it always felt like you would get a splinter just by being inside.

When I looked in the mirror before I left, I was wrinkled and too-dry. When I was younger I didn’t know that dehydrated skin looks like the creases in clothes after being pulled from a pile of laundry mountain-ing in the corner of a bedroom. But here we are. I am a body made of pleats. I let myself out; there was no one else to see me out, anyway, except your roommate’s cats and they don’t like me.

 

 

On the mud banks of the snow slush train station where I waited for my train, you sent me a text that said, “you’re out of my place, right?” and I respond back “I had to fight a robot to get out but I succeeded,” followed by a bunch of emojis to indicate that I was funny, and casual, and cute when silently I was hurt that the only question was if I was out of your home. What did you think I would do? Stay? …Because in all honesty, that’s what I did for a while. I slept late and held your pillows like they were bodies and it was okay that they didn’t hold me back. The weight of the text asking if I had vacated like a shitty tenant carried itself deep and sunken within me as I thought about how nice the insulation of your blankets had been only a handful of moments ago.

Overly blue days that are also cold are so annoying when you’re in that sort of dull emotional pain that comes with not totally being in pain, feeling feeling-less. It makes the prettiness of passing bright hours feel sharp like pieces of glassy ice against sensitive teeth. The train came as my phone buzzed, and it was you again, and you texted, “you’re such a cool girl. So easy breezy.” And those words were loaded gunmetal grey. I’m not a girl; I’m 34.

The train showed up and glinted against the big big sky. And its hollow body housed me while we both traveled through Philadelphia station after station, carrying me to my job in a paternal motion like a baby being rocked. The broken bodies of abandoned buildings were planted in huge unharvested rows. They had jagged window teeth like teenagers who needed braces and I loved them for their fawn-ish adolescent shyness, covered with ivies and with red bricks like cracked chapped lips from teeth-held bites during winter days.  In the very least, I wish I could have remembered us kissing last night. But I don’t. I don’t think we did.

The mouths of mournful building bodies, like children not holding hands while crossing the street, became multiple-night-stand mile markers, and the train and I coasted by a station three stops before my own. I played a game that I used to when I was a teen, making bets out of probability and the universe with the too too big sky a kicked off comforter from swinging legs above me. If he texts me again before the Fern Rock stop, he actually likes me. And again, if he texts me before the Jenkintown stop, he actually likes me. But you didn’t text so my phone stayed quiet, branch fingers from vulnerable trees gently clawed the windows of the train. Once more, if he texts me before the Glenside stop, he actually likes me. The train rocked forward and I got off at my stop.

 

Jane-Rebecca Cannarella is a writer living in Philadelphia, She is the editor of HOOT Review and Meow Meow Pow Pow Lit. She was a genre editor at Lunch Ticket, as well as a contributing writer at SSG Music. In her spare time, she is a candy enthusiast and cat fan. 

When not poorly playing the piano, she chronicles the many ways that she embarrasses herself at the website www.youlifeisnotsogreat.com. Her chapbooks of flash/prose-poems, Tiny Thoughts for Tiny Feelings and Unicorn Tracheotomy, were published by BA Press, 2002. Her forthcoming story collection, BETTER BONES, will be published by Thirty West Publishing House come summer 2019.

‘Crumbling Castles’, ‘Testimony to My Paltriness’, and ‘ My Last Poem’ by Aahna Jain

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CRUMBLING CASTLES

As the wind carries with it sandcastles of hopes,
As crumbling walls finally give way,
As fires burning from aeons extinguish,
As years of life fade into oblivion,

The child in me gets terrified,
Of change brought too soon,
Of times forgotten and never reminisced,
Of losing the old in the thirst for new,
Of moving on before letting go.

THE TESTIMONY TO MY PALTRINESS

I hate the stars.

They rave of their freedom.
Of the space that they claim
Of the endless expanse
That they call home.

They rave of my eternal enchainment.
Of my teeny tiny territory
Of the gravity that pulls me down
The reasons I can’t explore what’s beyond.

They rave of their immortality
Of the undying fire within them
Of the generations of mortals
That they have seen perish.

They rave of my fugacious soul
Of the minuscule time between my dawn and dusk
Of the truth that I’ll be forgotten
Lost in the shadows of history.

I hate them not because of what they symbolize,
I hate them because I’m jealous
Because they speak the truth
The truth that I’m too scared to say.

MY LAST POEM

Before dusk:

I was too broken and too wrecked
To complete the list of things.
Things to do in your lifetime.
So much as glance at it.

Under the pitch black starless sky
I did what I do best.
My only activity for years.
I wrote.

But this time I wrote
Not about your perfection or absence or the fact that you smell like home though I never know where
you are.
A suprise-I didn’t write about my ex
Whose forgiveness I seeked,
Warmth I could never forget.

It was not a tale of hunger and greed,
How one leads to another,
Then eventually to destruction.
Didn’t concern the mountains or the sunset or the raindrop that touched my lips yesterday.

I swear I didn’t write about my dead grandma.
Wasn’t in regard to God,the hypothetical being who failed to bring me hope when I needed it the most.
‘What did you write about then?’
You must wonder.
Surely the feeling of despair as you slipped into the void,never to return?
No.

I was never written about, captured of course,
In pixels and polaroids.
But they call it capturing for a reason,
For it binds your body in a 5”×7″ sheet.
Your soul caught between reality and illusion.
Writing?It liberates.

So under the yellow tinged sky ,
I wrote of myself.
Of the little miracle I was(read:had been).
Unknown to the world,never written about

I wrote my eulogy too,
Suprised there was so much to say.
You’ll call it selfish
To end my life with my thoughts.
Maybe selfish was all I ever needed.

With the sky decorated in hues of orange and purple,
And my pen automatically working its way on the paper,
I realized that you weren’t so perfect
and my ex not so chaste.

As sun rays pinched my eyes,
I knew the time.The exact one.
Their dawn.My dusk.

After dusk:

Aahna Jain is a 14 year old Indian girl whose hobbies include reading and writing. An introvert,she sesses over the ideas of freedom and her ephemerality.She seeks to immortalize herself through her words and leave a permanent mark on the world.

‘A Letter to My Partner’ and ‘Another One on Memories’ by Lynne Schmidt

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A Letter to My Partner

You were who I was looking for when I was fifteen,
The one whose hands clumsily touched my body,
Whose nose pushes against mine,
Whose teeth clink when we’ve had too much to drink.

You were who I looked for the night he slid his hands down the front of my pants,
Pausing briefly because I asked,
“Have you done this before?”
To which he answered, “This is the farthest I’ve gone.”
So I let him touch me.
Let the darkness of the room feel like safety rather than a prison cell.
Only to find that there was someone else.
And she’d gone farther.

And so we are fifteen years and several partners later now.
And here you stand,
Like a seventeen year old
You giggle when I reach for your hand,
Because you don’t have to tuck your love into a drawer to be pulled out later.
You don’t have a combination on your heart that I don’t have the code for.
You are right here,
In front of me,
Asking if I want to be more than friends.

And I look at my hands,
My legs,
My body,
My brain.
I look at what he’s taken from me,
What the rest have said and stolen, too.

You are who I’ve waited for my entire life.
And now,
I think
I might be too broken for you.

Another One on Memories

Some days, I am too present.
Too aware of the situation at hand,
Your fingers laced through mine,
The cloud placement in the sky,
The exact placement in the parking lot where my phone rang,
Where I answered it three steps away,
When my sister asked, “Why would this happen?”

Some days, my brain retains these memories
Stores them like files in a cabnent
So that when I see you again
Or I stand in this exact spot,
The memories flip through,
A slide show of everything we have experienced together,
Until the film catches flame
And my hands drop to my sides.

Because these things are just memories.
And you are standing in front of me.

And we look through each other

And keep walking.

Lynne Schmidt (she/her) is a mental health professional in Maine. Her memoir, The Right to Live: A Memoir of Abortion was the Maine Nonfiction Award Winner and a PNWA Literary Contest finalist and her poetry has received the Honorable Mention from Joy of the Pen. Her work has appeared in Royal Rose Literary, Sixty-Four Best Poets of 2018, 2018 Emerging Poets, Frost Meadow Review, Poets of Maine, Poets of New England, Maine Dog Magazine, Alyss Literary, UNE Magazine, Her Kind Vida, and others. Lynne is the founder of AbortionChat, and has been and continues to be a featured poet at events throughout Maine. She prefers the company of her three dogs and one cat to humans.

Twitter: @LynneSchmidt