Eric James Cruz

At the Beginning of Dark

To point where the bodies come alive, where fireflies
gather now that it’s warm, imagining our own lives bending
as the grasses do now, recognizing, too, the fully knotted dance,
the summer’s foot-hold, the buried no longer bloom
held in this world a few weeks more than deserved, 
to gasp at such brief light, at the circles and the bleared ring
left in air, to know we often feel the end of it all
and wish for better, to still our beings in the wilderness
of no and urge on and praise, to behold, to be holding
any small part, even ourselves, even as the night sweeps on.

Eric James Cruz is poet and high school teacher living in San Antonio, Texas. His most recent works have appeared or are forthcoming in 8 PoemsCarveRiver River Review, and Black Napkin Press. Cruz is pursuing his MFA in poetry at the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson. Follow him @encodedmuses

Jessie Lynn McMains

Leda’s Swan Song

they all use ‘seduction’ as a code word for rape, the old versions
of my story make me complicit as though in my secret recesses
i desired the kiss of a cob’s beak but couldn’t admit it in mixed
company or maybe they meant it was more like coercion, as
though zeus was a drunk frat boy cajoling hey baby, you’re so
fine, baby, c’mon you know you wanna screw a greek god, hey
honey i’ll wear a trojan, i promise, what if i put on my finest
feathers does that turn you on?
and i, sultry and a bit bored
of fending him off gave in to his honking advances. later,
i hatched his babies alongside my husband’s brood and
shrugged, oh well, one pair of brats is not much different than

in the feminist retellings he took me violently. accosted me
as i sat on the riverbank, lazily trailing my pretty fingers in
the water. pushed me into the muck then pinned me down
with his enormous white wings, pecked me half to death, pecked
so hard i was covered by bruises, speckled as an oystercatcher’s
egg, and had his way. i never recovered, they say i was so deranged
by grief i couldn’t even care for my hatchlings, they say i wandered
that riverbank until the hem of my dress was ragged, permanently
mudstained, that i beat my breasts with featherless arms, squawking
demented torch songs about what that birdthief snatched from

but they’ve never let me tell my version because it’s too disturbing
to think it was true want not acquiescence or attack, too odd
to think i stood at the water’s edge wearing nothing but my desire
and zeus came singing how he’d do anything i asked him to, and
i was so tired of men and gods who looked like them, i want another
kind of love
i said will you wear a swan’s mask for me? yes,
i watched his limbs feather, his nose turn beakbright orange limned
with black, his neck stretch into a beautiful white question mark
he flew into my arms and in the reeds we rooted and rolled oh
the trumpet that blew from my throat as i came and the babes
i wanted them too most of all i wanted a girl celestial and
disastrous as i am the kind of beauty that turns gods to birds
that men start wars for my daughter what i did not bargain for is
beauty like ours means our stories belong to everyone
except us.

Jessie Lynn McMains is a poet, writer, zine-maker, and small press owner. Her words have recently appeared or are forthcoming in Memoir Mixtapes, Dirty Paws Poetry Review, Left of the Lake Magazine, Anti-Heroin Chic, and others. She collects souvenir pennies and stick & poke tattoos, and is perpetually nostalgic, melancholy, and restless. You can find her website at, or find her on Tumblr, Twitter, and Instagram @rustbeltjessie

Amy Watkins

Museum of Personal History

On the first floor: all the things you expect.
Certificates of birth, baptism, marriage. 
My high school diploma. Photos of my grandparents,
smiling like my siblings in black and white.

On the second floor: heirlooms. 
A green baby blanket my grandmother crocheted. 
White cheeked porcelain dolls, stiff
as playing cards. Objects left behind
or never passed down. Lace doilies. 
A bone china teacup. A gown, not quite white, 
worn by three generations, but not by me. 

On the third floor: excavations, objects lifted
from graves. My grandfather's glasses. The bones
of my big red horse. The wig they knit into my
sister's hair in a coffin like a wedding cake.
If you could visit this collection—peer at the bones,
the trinkets, the satin fading from white to something
deeper—you would move at your own pace, decline
the guided tour. You are a true historian. 
You look for the items uncatalogued. 
The basement is full of them: grocery lists, 
library books, the boarding pass for the first flight
that took me anywhere but here. Trust these. 
Memory is precise, but almost always wrong.

Amy Watkins lives with her husband and daughter in Orlando, Florida, where she write, teaches, and makes elaborate collages out of old comic books. She is the author of the chapbook Milk & Water (Yellow Flag Press) and the art editor for Animal: A Beast of a Literary Magazine.

Kristin Garth

the ballad of lola and jolie

your second feline tragedy, you name
her lola when yours is jolie. black/white
behind a washing machine, kiss untame
pink skittish nuzzle jelly bean as light
a lift as if she’s stuffed with pellets, not
leukemia and bones — you take her home
and didn’t know — even though, she was sought
for you, replacement kitty — can’t be alone
you summon to a lap and stroke to sleep. 
she’ll stay alive for seven years, serum
injections twice a week you pay for with
your topless cheers.  transfusions, tears become
details — kneesocks, pigtails — a naked myth.
miss her every single fucking day. 
you’re not jolie; lola’s gone away.


Kristin Garth is a poet from Pensacola and a sonnet stalker. In addition to Ghost City Review, her sonnets have stalked the pages of Glass, Luna Luna, Occulum, Anti-Heroin Chic, Burning House Press, Bone & Ink, and many other publications. Her chapbook Pink Plastic House is available from Maverick Duck Press and she has two forthcoming: Pensacola Girls (Bone & Ink Press Sept 2018) and Shakespeare for Sociopaths (Jan 2019). Follow her sonnets, socks, and secrets on Twitter: @lolaandjolie

Jacob Fowler

Alameda County Death Club Guidelines

punctuality is particularly important; you must be on time for all meetings, murders, and suicide

death to all impulse

you can’t sleep wearing something as black
as the inside of your eyelids so we take
off our robes and hang them up before
bed and intentionally crease the garments to
allow the folds of the garb to look like a
series of canyons wide enough
for shouts of discontent to echo; 
attacks bellowing through the valley of
moronic self-directed insolence
is proper hanging technique

death to all reason 

you can think the source text is silly but if you
say anything
expect silliness to follow you;
conversely, if you speak like thunder
you will begin to look like it

death to all impulse

ambition is allowed though not encouraged

death to all impulse

patience is limited yet never tested

death to all competence
communication with others is not forbidden
but you will find it
impossible instead
learn to speak with the quiets of your eyes
death to what we have

we have gavels for your use;
allow your hysterics to make
the wood come out of the white
to tell itself about the intersection
of insecurity and power

death to all impulse
you can ask greatness from others but stop expecting it from yourself


Jacob Fowler is a recent college graduate and current fourth grade teacher in the Bay Area. His love for poetry has been a long and arduous love affair and he has only recently started writing his own. His work has been accepted for publication by Riggwelter Press, Levee Magazine, and The Otherside Magazine.

Marcus L. Kearns

The Reaper’s Ex

for a time i was an escort for the grieving
followed the mournful home in a
black mercedes where the ground
growled against me and i wore
their aching on the knees of black slacks 

held thermoses of tea with fake wedding rings
padded my bank account with the abstract
of loss. 

walk up the stairs hand in hand
and, oh look, we’re having sex
with my shoulder blades slotted
between railings

but i don’t have to worry about
rug burn or bruised hips
because their opulence built a home
with stone stairs and marble banisters

they barely touch me and that’s alright
because we’re not here for intimacy
and the ice clawing through my lifted thighs
says more about them then it ever could
about the hole in my chest

Marcus L. Kearns is a Creative Writing student in the at St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas. He graduated from Interlochen Arts Academy in 2017. His poetry has appeared in Cult Magazine and won several silver keys from the Scholastic Art and Writing Competition. Marcus’s poetry seeks empathy; rooting itself in the light of the natural world to find the unexpected hiding in the shadows.

Kayleigh Campbell

He has a secret

A woodlouse is dying in the sink.
Faded, familiar bathtub
shivers around his shaking body.
Wired mind, bloodshot eyes
stare blankly at the mouldy ceiling.
A rusting razor blade shimmers
in bright bathroom light,
Mum will be fine, she’s got the dog.
A picture hangs in the hallway,
tinted from the sun; snapshot innocence, 
his childhood in Spanish Suburbs. 
The woodlouse has stopped struggling.
He presses his naked body
against the window, watching
flashes of blue.


Kayleigh Campbell has almost completed her MA in Poetry at The University of Huddersfield. She has been published in Independent Leeds Magazine and has poems due to be featured in Former Cactus Press and Riggwelter Press. She will be volunteering at Stand Magazine in July.

Ian Brunner

Jungian psychology

both pleases and unsettles me. 
Part of me wants to have some semblance of connectedness to You.
We walk the same planet, and breath the same air- 
living lives that are somehow different, yet the same. 
It means that I am never truly alone in much the same way that fairy stories are true.

Maybe the Collective is like Faerie- time moves differently there. 
Maybe, somewhere, I am still cavorting with woodland sprites, 
dancing for the joy of it because it will never end.

On the flipside, if I am, and never have been connected to You, 
then perhaps there is hope for us after all. 
Perhaps, where Mab whispers in my ear, God, or Jesus, or some deity and denizen of Light whispers in yours. 

I read a lot of books that contain incest and rape. 
Maybe, it’s because I crave power and some kind of unbreakable bond. 
Maybe I want blood to run thicker than water
because my sister used to climb into my bed at night seeking solace from her monsters, and now that she no longer needs me, I climb from my bed seeking monsters. 

She is never in the kitchen like Charles Wallace preparing coco, 
because, I am, in fact,                                                                                                             alone.

Perhaps, if I am alone, like a celestial body in the void, then men’s Oedipal fears need
not play out, 
and we need not fuck our mothers and kill our fathers only to become them at some
point in time. 
Perhaps, if there is no Collective, 
then not all of us are still lost somewhere, 
raiding each other’s caves, and taking their women. 

The caveman equivalent of dunking on their fellow man.

Perhaps, if there is no Collective, then I am truly unique and through You love me- You do not love Me, because You don’t know Me. 
You are a neighbor of the Self, changing My Self like the moon affects the tides, 
just as I affect Your Self. 
I hope You are happy in our neighborhood because You could always just be passing through, but I’ve got the table laid out for two,
and You can dine with Me, 
and I’ll dine with You and
You can dive into My well.
Stay long enough and you might experience a haunting or two.

Ian Brunner is a Buffalo-based writer. He is the author of the chapbook Ruminations and has recently been published in Riggwelter Press and Daemon College’s Iconoclast.


M. E. Hoban

Killing my Dependents and Feeling Bad

Look, for the second time in one year
The house plants have died.
And the first time it was succulents
And they did not like the shuttered windows
And wasted away to little twigs in the dark.

Now it is some flowers from Easter.
We have not beaten death this time.

I suppose it is my fault but I will blame you too and
I will blame my hands for shaking and
I will blame my blunted brain for forgetting that
Water is to plant as iron to blood,
No sinews formed in absence of either.

Ok, so, it is the second time this year
That decay invaded my home first.

The succulents and the spring buds both
Started their lives in the dirt.
They wove themselves into the earth by force and
Even in death they clung to the soil sucked dry and
They wanted to stay, they wanted to stay.

M. E. Hoban earned her BA in English from the University of Michigan, where she spent four years on the editorial staff of Fortnight Literary Press. She is now a poetry reader for Bombus Press.


Sara Ali

Being the Other Girl, Part I

You text me at three in the morning while you’re drunk and horny
Laziness and convenience is no stranger to you
After all, I live right down the street
You tell me to come over for a beer if I want to
I rescheduled my sobriety for another month anyways
You’ve already confessed to me your love for her
You say “we’re trying to work things out.” 
But that doesn’t stop you from kissing me that night
We’re both high and drunk and making bad decisions is built within the fabric of our existence
You put your arms around me and hold me while playing with my hair
I can feel your beard rubbing against my cheek
Our faces slightly turn and your lips meet mine
I don’t stop you this time
Even though you told me you had no recollection of the first time you tried to kiss me
No sparks, no butterflies, no emotional rollercoasters
Just two aroused, drunken hearts looking to get off
It’s just the way I like it
It’s the next day and you tell me again you want to work things out with her, and that should be your focus
It was a one-and-done kind of deal
I see the way you look at her and envy strikes my bones
Because I want to believe that love exists as much as you believe you feel it
I was never one for love
Never understood it, never felt it, never wanted to
It’s just a cultural concept we’ve appropriated from mythology to give us a reason to exist
But my mind begins to race and thoughts implode from curiosity, wondering what it is you see in her
So I can know what to look for if I decide to go hunting for love
I wish I was a dementor
So I can suck the love right out of your heart and into mine and for a moment understand what it feels like to hold your other half in your arms as the whole world freezes and there’s no one else there except for the two of you
I want to erase infatuation from my memory and feel the way it feels to fall into your lover’s eyes and nothing else matters but the color of her iris and how her pupils get bigger as she looks at you
Love has escaped me at every opportunity I thought I had to experience it
Like a plumber jumping into a green pipe escaping into a new world going for the easy catching coins
I was never one for monogamy
But I’ve been told it is because I haven’t found love yet
That when I meet “the one,” my desire for copious amounts of meaningless sex will change  
Love is the glass I shattered after looking in the mirror
Its shards I dig into my skin
So I can bleed for you, love
So I can believe in you, love
So I can feel your presence, love  
But I look down at my wrists and there is no blood
The shattered glass is gone
It was never there in the first place
Like a dementor grabbing your face and sucking and sucking but nothing comes out
Because you can’t feel something that doesn’t exist
All I wanted was to fuck you. 
But a myth destroyed that chance
And your heart is set on her
But it’s not the path to your heart I’m looking to follow
It’s the lust in your bones I’m looking to extract


Sara Ali is a freelance journalist and works full time in human services. She spends her nights lurking the streets of Buffalo, attempting to discover the parts unknown. She’s also a cat fanatic and endeavors to be the world’s most famous cat lady someday.

Nicky Tee


Cornucopia is the equivalent
To menagerie, a variety
Of animals, a menagerie
Of animals 

But I can imagine a menagerie
Of furniture too, a beautiful
Excess of anything

You would say what
A curious menagerie of
to express
That it looks cool

And that furniture,
As furniture does, appears
As a bunch of strange
Animals roaming about
The room

I was actually thinking
Of myriade, like the
Myriade of décor in
Our egos

But myriade is
for abstract ideas

Nicky Tee’s poems have appeared in BAD NUDES Issue 2.3 and its 3.2 print, Soliloquies Anthology 21.2, it’s 22.2 print, and Half a Grapefruit Magazine in Toronto. His poems are all expressed by the voice, the imagination, and the emotions of inanimate objects and elements of the future.


Catrice Woodbury


They said they wouldn’t take me
because I was gay.
Or rather,
my pastor said they wouldn’t.
And you did not come
from a place of malice,
only pure caring and honesty.
No working in
youth ministry for me.
A red B emblazoned on my chest -
BISEXUAL. Do not touch.
Is this what it looks like,
gay Christianity?

I felt like a witch in a Puritan town.
cloaked in my robe,
cloaked in moonlight,
they’ll burn me on the pyre,
will you
stand and watch?
I think not,
but sometimes I worry.

I felt the five stages of grief
but now I’m in the stage of anger,
now I want to burn our
sanctuary to the ground,
spray paint the steeple,
let everyone know there ain’t no rest
for the wicked.
With every crown
comes the guillotine.


I remember when my neighbor saw
our female dogs licking each other’s faces
and he said “now, none of that gay shit.”
Now my neighbor’s looking at me
like he wants to know
what my pussy tastes like.
I will defend myself this time,
become Wonder Woman,
the bracelets of submission,
because I will not submit to you,

or your cisgender, heteronormative,
white, patriarchal,
toxic as hell standards.

I want there to be a heaven.
I want there to be something more,
something greater
but when I cry out,
all I hear is echo.

You asked me how I felt
after you spoke.
I said I felt limited,
I felt like people thought maybe
my sexuality was somehow contagious,
like the plague,
like run for the hills,
here comes the gays.
I felt disappointed
I felt like I didn’t belong
and you kept reiterating that I did,
but still,
it felt like nails in my palms
because this thing will always
be my cross to bear.
I said I wanted to touch
the fucking sky,
feel infinite.
I said I wanted to feel


Catrice Woodbury is originally from Worcester, MA and recently relocated to Charlotte, NC. Her debut spoken word album is called The Patron Saint of Eating in Bed. When she’s not writing, she’s typically reading YA fantasy books or playing with her dog.


Bee Walsh

The Mourning After

The morning after the pine trees
froze still, we woke up honey
tongued and arms wrapped smoldering,

pulling close cinders, four lung
ice ponds too thin in the middle,
and the sound of a body going in.

The morning after you fell ice
pond through I stood chest
expanding outwards towards the

mountain morning fog I didn't
understand but wanted to become.
Your fence post legs, my “maybe

I should go” shoulders, all of it
laced boots, all of it the back door,
all of it slow motion ice water

limbs. No fire to bring blood back,
no warm coffee mouth, only
more pine trees froze still.


Bee Walsh is a poet, freelance editor, and introvert from the Bronx, NY. She has been published in such literary journals as Velvet Tail, The Vagina Zine, Vagabond Lit, Wyvern Lit, and as well as Synaesthesia Magazine, where she is currently the Poetry Editor. You can find her work, her upcoming book, as well as her editing services at


Shan Cawley

tag yourself, i'm the vending machine with the sign that says "the light is out but i'm still on”

so scared of
the next chapter
of my life to be
boring and normal

i am very good
at being the worst
person i know 

keeping tabs
on my awfulness
like how many
i have open
on google chrome
right now

like “which korea
is the bad korea”
and “how many times
do i have to stare at myself
until my student loan debt
becomes a reality” 

i do not want
to be fearful of
my shitty tendencies
in the fear that
they will breed
more shitty tendencies 

the truth is never
dreamy in fact it
is kind of my worst

i do not want
to think that i have
the capability
to destroy myself
in more ways than one

Shan Cawley is an Appalachian poet and student residing in Morgantown, West Virginia. Shan is the author of kingdom now (Maudlin House 2018) and has had work appear in sea foam magazine, apt magazine, tenderness, yea and elsewhere. You can follow Shan on Twitter and Instagram @shancawleywvu.


Marilee Goad


The way the smoke curled round my tongue, bloomed ghosts
through my nostrils, it shouldn’t have me happy and yet I was
elated to taste the warm apple steeping in my mouth: cigarettes
were awful, but hookah was a gift of the gods, the end to nights
full of puffy warm bread dipped in hummus, tahini and chickpeas
match made in heaven, the baklava dripping sweet syrup down
your chin, shards of phyllo sticking to your fingers: if I could
pinch the memory between my two fingers and whiff its magic
somehow into my present day doldrums, would I still dream
of hot coffee and cardamom scalding my tongue, or taste
the real thing, fresh and steaming? Leah died years ago and
still grief lopped off my bridge to her house, aunts seeing me
and wailing their bitter hymns, curse the evil eye and stay away:
I whisper prayers to her ghost to stay alive and still yearn for
hot summer nights, threading smoke between us, stolen kisses
secrets; we kept saying we were friends though we were not
only friends, and every night I burn incense and chant blessings
for her soul, wanting the sting of hookah, preventing myself
from sucking its memories of her dry, keeping her deathless.


Marilee Goad attended the University of Chicago and has work forthcoming or published in OUT/CAST and Georgetown University School of Medicine’s Scope arts magazine for medical students.


Catherine Fahey

Gold as Straw

It starts with sheep. Prosaic, 
unmagical sheep. Shearing, 
washing fleeces. Picking
out shit and grease and plants, saving
whatever wool is left. Spend
winter carding, combing. Thinking
think there is nothing else. 

Walking back and forth
at the great wheel, spinning
fluff into form, wearing
a trough in the ground. Knowing
exactly how saints are broken by wheels. 

Spinning done between
other chores: cooking, washing, feeding, growing. 
Unskilled work, it’s easy
to scratch your hand
on the great iron spindle, get sepsis, die. 

Spinning, dyeing, weaving, knitting, fulling, sewing, fitting, mending, rags. 
Hands are a channel for thread.  
My shuttle doesn’t fly, just falls.
My needle won’t guide a prince to my door. 

It’s never enough for my father.
It’s never enough for my husband. 
It’s never enough for him. 

You, listening
                       to my stories, 
Do you even ask my name?

Catherine Fahey is a poet and librarian from Salem, Massachusetts. She is the former Managing Editor and Poetry Co-Editor of Soundings East. When she’s not reading and writing, she’s knitting or dancing. You can read more of her work at

Emily Tuttle

The Cure for Anxiety is to Stop Worrying

I like to have everything
laid out in front of me,
closets empty, drawers open, clothes strewn
in mosaics, unfinished
race tracks, thoughts
jumping into
soft, argyle sweaters.

Mother is the opposite.
She hangs silk dresses
on thirty dollar hangers,
coaxes t-shirts into perfect squares
and lays them
in beautiful boxes,
clutching them close,
hidden so you
only see
what she wants you to.

She asks why I don’t do that,
keep everything folded neatly
inside myself,
and I tried, but the way the boxes
stare back make me nervous,
like I should burn them.

My left eye twitches
and there is a dull pain
in my back leg,
I follow the patterns it leaves through
volcano cracks of
my brain,

Hyper anxiety

cancer Cancercan
I wish I was made out of cellophane
because, you see,

I like having everything
laid out in front of me,
muscles flexing, not twitching, heart mimicking
metronomes, not my
shaking feet
watch the blood flow
without clotting

because I do not trust what lives
my own chest—
what may be lurking there
like the creatures
mother hides
her wooden boxes.


Emily Tuttle is a graduate of the University of Maryland College Park, where she was editor of two on campus journals and editorial assistant to Poet Lore for two years. She has been awarded the Jimenez-Porter Literary Prize for Poetry. Previously, she has been published in District Lit, Blotterature, The Doctor TJ Eckleburg Review, and Sigma Tau Delta's Rectangle, among others.


Sean Glatch


If man inherited the earth that means
the earth was left in god’s will
which means that god is either dead

Or pretending to be. I think about this
while filling my car with gas
or grocery shopping, filling the mundane
with the spiritual

Since they’re not so far apart, weighing
red bell peppers the same way
god weighs hearts, readying their ripe bodies
for the gas stove, 

The chopping block, the incinerator in the sink. 
God gives us the earth
and I wonder what else he left in his will,

Whom time belongs to, or atoms, or lust,
and what kind of instructions god left with the transaction? Be sure, he says,

To wind up time, or else it stops. Do the same thing with lust.
And the angel he gave lust to,
maybe Gabriel or Michael or some other
white-winged Fabio 

Asks god why lust needs to be wound up? Isn’t it sinful?
Doesn’t it wind itself?
God doesn’t respond, because the cashier is asking

If I want to set up a rewards account. And I say no, 
as always, filling the newborn silence
with fantasy, 

Biting my lower lip with my left incisor
with a mouth wound tight from wanting.

Sean Glatch is a sophomore studying psychology at the University of Central Florida. He is the author of the chapbook Late Night Drives and the literary editor for Tongue Tied Mag. Sean's work has been featured in Rising Phoenix Press, Zig Zag Zine, and L'Éphémère Review. He has an obsession with the surreal, the uncanny, and the vaguely familiar. You can find more of his work at his blog

Juliet Cook and j/j hastain

Flying Knives and Entrails

I don't want to incorporate my writing
into pet supplies. I want it to explode
like a volcano.

Each word a tectonic plate
converging or diverging,
trying to elevate
into an elaborate puzzle.

A Guinness Book of World Records prize
for the longest burnt nails
deceased and then desiccated
and then burnt into flame
or flambé to be eaten at the local high-end
restaurant by everyone all at once.

Side effects may include abnormal
discoloration of everyone's tongues
turning into cannon balls,
flinging magma at the proprietor
who called us all dogs, 
tried to cut off our burning tails,

tried to form us all into a new appetizer
and pretend he had invented us himself.
Now watch our utensils fly up to the ceiling
and crash down upon he who lies.

Juliet Cook is a grotesque glitter witch medusa hybrid brimming with black, grey, silver, purple, and dark red explosions. She is drawn to poetry, abstract visual art, and other forms of expression. Her poetry has appeared in a peculiar multitude of literary publications. You can find out more at

j/j hastain is a collaborator, writer and maker of things. j/j performs ceremonial gore. Chasing and courting the animate and potentially enlivening decay that exists between seer and singer, j/j hopes to make the god/dess of stone moan and nod deeply through the waxing and waning seasons of the moon.