Stained Teeth

Benjamin Joe

The teeth in my hand were white & brown & red
Confusion wrapped itself around me.
I was camped on top of the Mesa
The sun streaming down upon my frail form
I was caught in a sublime fount of light
My hands wrapped themselves around each other
I had no illusions
The sun was rising
But I felt it set
Breaking my molars
Setting my incisors to chattering
In the early pre-dawn frost
A bird squawked
& I turned
All around were rocks and cacti
And I felt so alone
All of a sudden
My mouth bleeding
Memories of a wasted youth
Clutched in my stained hands


Benjamin Joe is an ex-traveler, ex-hippie, up and coming journalist and blogger, father of one and someone who obsesses on how our past creates our future.

John Nyman

for my aloe

I’m sinking in the aesthetic of your aggression,
a fabric of fix and distortion stitched
from faraway doctrines into the hems
of a minute-to-minute—the political

personal, perhaps, or the pea-pod
pains of your labour’s duration,
all of it adding up to a banner
near the back of a long parade.

I’m reconstructing your grassroots
on every platform available. I was raised
on the high of a pledge to never persuade
but to implant, like a botanical graft.

And you realize this dream of a people
is one thing. Altogether another is touch,

which you’ve already noticed is soon abandoned
to alien implements, staining the lips
of a still obscure yet looming punctuation.
I wonder if there is a threat there.

Seeing the ornament propped
in the centre is smallest,
you spoke out.

Your languages bottlenecked,
I get it: you’re reappraising the seams
where I carry your fancy disaster
in a holdable shape.

Laughing, I squint
as the details come out in the wash.
And I applaud you, partner.

But say I say little,
lie a little, then tire
in the corner?

The flat at the bottom got laughed at
in the face of an imbalanced life.

The human you is still hung over
on bad gin and from sniffing tomorrow.

The plant you, well, it’s bland as the bricks
of the institution.


for my aloe(s)

I sing of two capsules
of anarchy, potted, un-
preciously placed
on a sun-warm platform,

and all I can say is whatever
I say to the puppets,
usually slipping it
inside a whisper.

But here, I’ll lend you a shoulder,
juggle my eyelashes’ hint
and retraction like schoolbook
lines towards the bottom,

render this truth at a level
that’s speeding or slower, and sheathe
each topic in the windsock
of a signature.

Gravity calls for its own landing
like gravestones call for the sky.

We’re thrown along,
all bodies ragdolled,

all positions
declining to x.

Why would the sky rise, if not
for the weight of our skyless minds,

who only agree
to be helpless.

You are in propulsion, becoming a
more vastly disorganized mass.

Praise the God-slandering atoms;
all my votes go to the bootstrap.

I am building you a body
you’ll outgrow again.

A taller prospect
can’t be found
than that which calls
on the divine
so many times

their voicemails stack
like money. Like
insolent memoranda
never dreaming,
even of burning up.

I still don’t see
the shoelace
in the blurry
panorama
at the gallows;

I picture photo-
folders crammed
in colder storage,

gravesites overfull
from long before.


for my african violet

My gesture’s a hit on the slick unabsorbed
this morning—that’s usual. It twinkles
like snowflakes in the new regime.

But sometimes my spine clicks a bigger linking line
to your tree-father’s helicopter, caterpillar,
or stop-motion document,

and you emit a thought conquering with bashful witness
and my insides come out microwaved, spilling through lipstick
pristinely. Sometimes it’s the movement of the fruit fly

and remaining awake is a hive of fury,
but we’re toppling faster and faster and loving
every metre of axial progress. What

we touch is no floor—it’s more
electric than an earworm.


John Nyman’s first book of poetry, Players, was published with Palimpsest Press in spring 2016. Originally from Toronto, he currently lives in Guelph, Ontario, where he writes and workshops with the &, poetry collective. He is also completing a PhD in Theory and Criticism at Western University.

Matthew Walsh

ANAGRAM FOR LOVENOX & WARFARIN

When I was born I had an abductor
muscle who could not do their job.
Told they were too weak. Buying shoes
might help, the medical shoes,
which were black, looked like horse
hooves. But they did not correct me—
nothing was wrong, just my leg
slept for prolonged times. Through winter,
if it could, but there was school,
Christmas to get through, and my leg
would not let me sleep. It has a mind
of its own. I once knew a man named Red
Fishta—his father taught ballet—
who told me I could not dance. He diagnosed
me as Too Big. Three or four dancers
in one. My legs were the wrong shape
to pliee. My leg just had a delay. Went on
a date once with a mask collector whose Scrabble
set had lived with him in South Africa
who on a date asked why I was limping
shouldn’t I go get that checked out wasn’t I concerned
for myself, the limping? But I have limped
all my life. When I was tired. I limped. I dragged
it behind me in the Lawton’s Drugs—
my father would say do not do that,
which just could not be
helped—sadly, for him, I would not be
his legacy on any baseball team.
He called me Igor, however it was
lovingly. I liked the way I walked—
with a right-sided gait. My astrology sign
Cancer, the crab, with one big claw, one
little it all seemed so meant to be, starry.

Got older and I got DVT, blood clot
behind my knee, more than three
centimeters long. Diagnosis: crutches for two
weeks, and quit smoking. I loved myself
some Belmont King-size. I loved
pretending I was a caterpillar. My thirties
was a pupal stage before real adulthood
where I was trying my hand at mastering
fine arts. My cancer sign felt more
like destiny. I had to start taking care
of me. No quitting.

Did I love myself? Did I forget to say
I love you? One big calf, one small calf, I
was lonely inwardly. Vancouver can be a
described as a place at the end
of the world. Victoria more so, and I’ve always felt
a shell around me. A protective coating. The blood
clot experts said no more drinking— I was thinking
creatively. I laid around my apartment with a blue
blanket wrapped around my legs. My roommates said
I looked the part of a mermaid or a siren—
I said when do I get to lure men to their deaths?
I started thinking creatively. I was to be a master
of the fine arts. Night monologue:
When I shed crutches
I need to start walking, playing word
games at night, once the blood
clot leaves me
. I would be alone finally
to do what I pleased. Needed to be
changing—not drinking— religiously
taking my experimental blood
clot medicines. Lovenox, Warfarin
I didn’t do the naming. No patent.

I threw all my pill’s down the drain
of an anagram server, found: A wave
of love, A valour inferno, a larvae of nirvana,
a fine flow—all things I wanted inside
myself. Vow. Larval. Winner. Lava. Naval
win. Ox. To err. To fix. Fixer. To win.

I met famous poets who wanted to know—
asked me how’s my knee, how are the feet
in my poetry—a good transitioning
from my medical worries. To think poetry.
A friend half-way through his Saisons
said I had four feet. I said Iamb
is one strong syllable
and a weak syllable. I could be okay,
could choose okay. Build my poetry
back up like strength. Fix my metre,
be stronger than my past Matthews.
The strong syllables get bolded. Trochee.
Wanna live? Or frown? Wanna love? Or war?
I would stand up regardless for myself,
put on my Cancer shell, forget my dystopian
leg. My doctor concludes a history
of blood clots does not run in my family,
little clots, little abductor of my walking
coming from nowhere, like poetry.


Matthew Walsh is a queer writer from the Maritimes. His work has appeared in Arc, The Maynard, Bad Nudes, Matrix, Qwerty and The Malahat Review.

Jim Zola

C

We fell in love in the key of C – Wilco

E muddles his alphabet, stuck on any letter
not his name. A flaps her wings until my patience snaps.
When I least expect it, grief grabs me by the throat.

On the hike to Tupper Lake it was just the guys,
which meant two men, a teen, a boy.
I leapt from root to rock, running far enough ahead
so my imagination could do its work.
Even then I knew what I explored
was already discovered, if only by the man
who named this lake. Mr. Tupper, who trudged
through thicket and underbrush, perhaps hunting
or curious about what was on the other side.
We found a rotted rowboat with oars left
in the Y of an oak split long ago
by lightning. We named it CDC and risked the ride.

See, love was easy once. It raced, it rolled,
familiar. We rowed into the dark. Maybe
Tupper slide down the other side, too drunk
to bother grasping weeds that slice the skin.
Maybe there was no Mr. Tupper.
It wouldn’t surprise me.

Surprise is an element like thallium or gold or fire.
My father, surprised by the sudden wreck
of his burnt out heart, tumbled to the other side.
I wasn’t there. My imagination is my azimuth.
See the sea. E recites what matters, trails his thumb
through evening’s dust. A flies towards the stars.


God is in the Details

Waiting at the dentist for my name
to be called, I thumbed through issues
of Highlight Magazine, entranced
by the hidden picture puzzles.
A toaster in the trees, a chickadee
in a pig’s ear, a wrist watch ticking
in jungle moss. These days, I find
what brings me joy is the details noticed.
I search for the fork hidden
in gravel, the needle in the man’s
clenched fist, a face in the too blue sky.


In the Schenectady of the Mind

I hung with boys
who had no brothers.
We pedaled our Schwinns
to the reservoir
or downtown
to the forbidden zone
where Last Tango
in Paris was showing
at the old vaudeville house.
We eyed locked cases
in shops without signs,
dreaming of knives.

In the Schenectady
of the mind, I trudge
slushy sidewalks,
waiting for ghost boys
to zip by propelled
by red metal wings,
laughing and pointing.


Jim Zola has worked in a warehouse, as a security guard, in a bookstore, as a teacher for Deaf children, as a toy designer for Fisher Price, and currently as a children's librarian. Published in many journals through the years, his publications include a chapbook -- The One Hundred Bones of Weather (Blue Pitcher Press) -- and a full length poetry collection -- What Glorious Possibilities (Aldrich Press). He currently lives in Greensboro, NC.

Glen Armstrong

The New Vaudeville

Two men masquerade
as one horse.

Meat sizzles in a frying pan.
The plot is driven by hopping.
This is a rehearsal.

A redhead in a pencil
skirt chases the horse
around a bare light

bulb hanging from a cord.

This was as good as it gets
for our immigrant grandparents:

a rhapsody in undershirt and wire
nailed to plaster walls,

as if the painting
left behind its bent spine,

as if each actor were nothing more
than his armpit.


Wrong Address

In between the beginnings.
And the beginnings.
Of the ends the newsprint.
Is a means toward.
We stretch naked on a bed.
We start a rumor with our skin.
Or a movement.
The rain beats against a locked door.
We suspect.
It has the wrong address.

Now that we have talked.
I will smell what was said aloud.
In the fabric of the sofa.
In the thrift store leather jacket.
Nothing is done with smoke.
And mirrors just exasperate my parakeet.
Loneliness.
My isolated parakeet song.
The numbers were fine.
But the directions were wrong.


The Bedside Book of Replacement Parts

The town was built on top of another town.
And most of the people

here already seem to be living
in a town yet to destroy us.

We were all built on top of our mothers.
We were all warned
not to watch

the gory movie.

We were all built from scraps
that the slasher left.

I walk through the blue light cast down
from the pharmacy’s sign.

The light seems to come
from another dimension,
but the drugs
all seem to be made

on site, right in the basement
by the pharmacist’s
socially awkward brothers
who fancy themselves druids.

Sometimes a desperate need to be perceived
as an individual
fuels the aftermarket.

Sometimes the rude part of the awakening
matters most.


Glen Armstrong holds an MFA in English from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and teaches writing at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. He edits a poetry journal called Cruel Garters and has three recent chapbooks: Set List (Bitchin Kitsch,) In Stone and The Most Awkward Silence of All (both Cruel Garters Press.) His work has appeared in Poetry Northwest, Conduit and Cream City Review.

Miranda Schmidt

Eurydice

1.
Orpheus sings
and you feel yourself
solidify in lightning,
a liquid kind
of fire.

There is a secret in the lines for you,
a liminal listening you can understand now
whispered in the dark dawn hum of air.
It’s all about the sinking in
to white places,
to the empty left behind,
the dead fictions that we keep
remaking in your image
retelling them into
your absence:
living gods remolding
the dead with our ribs.

2.
your breathing stopped twice before
it stopped for good
and that vein in your neck pulsed
so insistent and small
the last part of you that we saw
move

in the crematorium I could have sworn I saw you move I could have sworn I saw you breathing shifting smile I could have

wanted to give you everything
and so drove
your car into the parking lot and
brought your purse and filled your wallet
just in case you need
it where you’re going
where you are

believed you would ghost us
your voice coming out of the walls
your hands reaching out from our dreams

and your eyes looking in
knowing what
before
you only guessed

but there is only this stark white space missing
your ghost is a nothing
the presence
of absence

3.
Orpheus sings
remaking his love in a tune
with all the joints wrong
and the features cartooned:
higher-cheek-boned, smaller-nosed, kinder-eyed.
But I think it was she who looked back into
the dim grey dark
of Hades
so deeply gone its almost white.
And life was so much
noise.

There is Eurydice longing into
the quiet of the self-negating love
that burns you out and
ghosts you bright and

Here is her Orpheus who
still can’t stop
singing.


Miranda Schmidt’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Collagist, Phoebe, Luna Station Quarterly, Driftwood Press, and other journals. Miranda grew up in the Midwest and now lives with her partner and two cats in Portland, Oregon where she edits the Sun Star Review, teaches at Portland Community College, and occasionally blogs about books at mirandaschmidt.com. A graduate of the University of Washington’s MFA program and a 2017 Lambda Literary Emerging Writers Fellow, Miranda recently completed a novel about haunting and is currently at work on a project inspired by shapeshifting fairy tales.

Julia Tolo

bury this thought hold me forever

I am a soft cloud of marshmallow cream sting

I seeve in and dart out

I hold your hand until it hurts I'm a fire
emoji

one time
you fell in love
and it kept happening what does it mean
to fall apart

one time
I was a stupid stupid song that wouldn't stop

in a version of this idea
all the sounds disappear
and all that is left
is the headache of a high note a memory
of something fuller and
unmissed


leave softness for others

I would like to say
that I am okay
my reality intact
although the picture
is shaking

where

do you get
all that confidence I
disintegrate

when
touched I exist but
am fading

dear you,
please send I plenty of pictures
please be attentive please:
hold your perspective
with both hands
before the mirror
let's see

some ideas can
be found

in a vacuum
but pronouns carry
on

(poetic? I?)

or, when waking
most people will stretch
grab a small piece of
technology, filled

with soft-
ness caress
who they are
in there: leave the rest
for others


things have happened since we stopped being friends

the other day
I discovered music
it was an impossible thing
all shiny slippery pillowy soft a
thing you should see
but can't


Julia Tolo is a poet and translator based in New York. Her chapbook, August, and the snow has just melted is available from Bottlecap, and her recent poems and translations can be read in or are forthcoming from Seventh Wave, Copper Nickel, Belladonna Chaplet 189 and Asymptote.

Jeanette Quick

Ode to a Burrito

inner moistness, the intermarriage of warm cheese and pico
de gallo: tomatoes, cilantro, onions, lime, a hint of salt.
the meaty rigidity of the structure of a bean--its shape pushing
back on your tongue, firm outside, tender inside, black or pinto
whole. But refried is brown sweetness, another suitor
for the queso melted into its depths--yes, some days just bean and
cheese are enough. Other days you wake in your bed with tender
red meat in your eyes, carne asada delicately spiced, sliced,
between rice and tomatoes diced. you tear at beef with your
teeth, gnashing that perfect bite, that one mouthful of meat, bean,
cheese, sour cream, guacamole, pico de gallo, rice, hugged at
all corners with a light yet sturdy flour wrapper, the tortilla to
end all tortillas for anyone else, the tortilla of life and death, the
beginning and the ending of the meal that completes your story,
its interiors full of surprises and mysteries that get all mixed up,
twisted into something different than its individual parts, better,
more life-affirming, the way to live is to keep on living, with all
that we have within us, our light yet sturdy flour wrappers.


Monsanto Platte

Itchy eyes, nose clogged with snot, sneeze after sneeze:
I was not bred for midwestern grains, spores in air;
A splotchy rash on the back of my legs, do I have fleas?
Perhaps it’s to do with the shirt and shorts six times I wear.

Ninety degrees and humid, under the sun’s husky glare;
Today I move red bricks from one stack to another stack,
Which is the same as yesterday. 150 is about all I can bear--
A tower of bricks to the sky, a well, lying on one’s back.

Birds buzz all day, all night; bugs crawl in from every crack;
A cricket under my bed keeps me from sleep, but the bat,
The cloudy water, the buzzing mosquitoes, have a knack
For making me want to dive headfirst in the Monsanto Platte.

Frog, toad, squirrel, moth, deer, grasshopper, moles newborn;
This is the heartland that the coasts forget, but eat its corn.


Jeanette Quick lives in San Francisco. Her work has been published in Rat's Ass Review, The Curious Element, The Bright Line, Penumbra, The Tax Lawyer, District Lines, and the American Banker. She has earned residencies from OBRAS Portugal, Elsewhere Studios, Art Farm, and Sundress Academy for the Arts. She was a finalist in the ARDOR Flash Fiction Contest, Women on Writing, and the 39th and 41st New Millennium Writings contests for flash fiction. She holds a Jurisdoctorate from Georgetown University Law Center and a Bachelor of Arts from University of California, Berkeley. She regularly contributes theater reviews to DC Metro Theater Arts.

Shane Eaves

Collapse

There was a human urge,
a final moment, and the long pause
of falling. The hollow sound
of wood, the confusion
from the bedroom, the calling
the calling,
the body, crumbled like petals
beneath the door jamb.
There was the night
the moon pulling the tide,
the moths humming among the lilacs
in the yard, in the cold,
and you standing in the blanched
moonlight unable to move.
There was the sirens,
the flurry of hands, the wheel
of the stretcher that swung idly
as a fish in a stream, in October
in the mountains you hated,
the mountains you read in
and made love in when the nights
were cold. The mountains
you came to appreciate over 50 years
not because you loved fish or rocks or trees
or because you read Whitman,
but because of the flat tire,
the struggle to fix it, the failure,
your laughter at his breeze blown
hair, the sun affirming that it didn’t care
whether either of you were warm
as it dipped below the tree line,
the blanket in the station wagon
where you slept, the way his lips
puffed the heavy breath of sleep.
There was the ambulance pulling away,
there was the dimness of the house,
the silence, the cat across the street
chasing moths, the tattered clouds
behind the tree, the deep pools
of shadow beside you.


Jean Sibelius, Violin Concerto in D minor

For Jascha Heifetz

His bow arm bending like a crow’s
wing, moving as coldness does,
throwing its hair over roofs,
dragging itself across yards.
Breath the dark red in the leaves
that are falling, the late chlorophyll,
the bright green shoots
of bulbs sprouting in winter.
I feel whittled—
to be a wood stump
sprawled somewhere under
a tree—anything that gives
its carbon back a little slower.
To lie down on my lawn
in the fog, count the ticks of dew
that drop from trees, mark
the time signature of trunks,
their slow, rosined limbs
humming against each other.


Having Just Made Love

We watch the cold body of the moon
nestle itself between the intricate wrinkles
faults have made in the blankets of rocks.
What a quaint idea, that the earth needs us.


Shane Eaves received his M.F.A. in poetry from California State University Long Beach, where he served as the poetry editor for Riprap. He is a two time recipient of the William T. Shadden Memorial Award for his poetry. His poetry can be found in The American Mustard Collective, Rust + Moth, Stonecoast Review, Miramar & elsewhere. In addition, Shane’s work has been featured at Soapbox and Fusion—two multi-media, cross genre art shows.

Nooks Krannie

pigs > humans

the state of crisis for
my well being is a serious

lack of hot potatoes
bursting in the microwave

when you mix buttermilk
with store bought pea soup
you get sad clouds

sadder than me
and on most days
that is a fucking achievement

the pulp inside my eyes
is hardening to fight
this serious crisis

in a ring of plastic tinder sparks
with ultra padded knee plates
mouthy

i will see boys
inside myself

counting till 10 and a hundred
and letting the

ceiling fan judge
my life choices

you don’t get to get over
your inner pig
or other ugly animals

as determined by humans
lower than themselves

and i can’t help but laugh
because animals fuck

from the behind

and we are no different.


ikea faces

i’m going to ikea
today
the sky is keeping secrets

like a sugar free
candy bar
stuck to its organic
wrapper it’s perishable

when chewed right
i’m also perishable

and i have been chewed
multiple times
in showers mostly

the first time was in Hanoi
for spring break

and i just wanted to drown
in grass and wheat

boiled in steel pots

there was no bath tub
so i let go of the idea

and you let go of my hand
it’s important
for teeth marks

to make first impressions
right and equal
on every part of the body

gums showing loudly

measuring girth for penis luck
screaming bodies fucking
in school contests

in every country
i look around

at every face in ikea

and watch eyes unite
and cliques form

on every forehead

measuring girth as faulty reflexes
i blame the teachers

fingers rummaging the rough leather
you can use stove top fires
to burn of maps
and skin

it’s ironic how i feel at home
walking in ikea
with faces

holding hands i will
never hold

it’s human nature sometimes
to try

99% of people fornicate better
on ikea beds.


closed gate community

i’m counting rice in muscles
i’m feeling a tumor feeling me.
i own one chair in our apartment
it is filled with sweat
and underwear that’s been washed too long
in the community washing machine.
we pay for drying our heads
we give head as a form of apology
and birthday presents
because we live in communities
houses with the same parents.
we share barbq chicken hearts
and laugh
we invented fire we think
and then it burns us.
i won’t share my rice
i will eat it directly from the bag
earth is for sale in our mouth
earth is selling doubts in our mouth.
hearts and muscles are often
mixed together
till they become nothing but curry
so we can feel less bad
and more like bats
hanging, chilling.
can you stop staring at me?
my pimples hurt even
before i created them.


Nooks Krannie is a girl and poet. She is half Persian/half Palestinian and full human. Her first chapbook 'I have hard feelings & I wish I could quit chocolate' was published by Moloko House Press in 2016 and her second chapbook 'candied pussy' is forthcoming from Thistlemilk Press. She tumbls at http://nkrannie.tumblr.com/ and instagrams @nookskrannie.

Peycho Kanev

In-depth

And
inside this night
of monochromatic
light I see
my father stepping further
in the clouds – my fingers
reach to touch your place

still warm two years later, darling
when you sat there naked, lighting
your cigarette on a moonbeam...
Seeing your full face,
bathed in deep

backlight and mild pain
(and how I could go on)
in this musicless room full
of your bright memories
and the words
for everything
except—


Interrogatory

where were you at the night of 22nd this month?

- I was at home, writing poetry

then who is responsible for the outbreak of
World War I, World War II, the Holocaust,
the Armenian genocide, the Nanking Massacre?

- it’s not me

are you responsible for the Space Race,
the Moon landing and
the Cold War?

- no, I was at home, drinking water

were you a friend of Trotsky’s?
and what about Diego Rivera
and Frida Kahlo and were you in
Mexico at
that time?

- absolutely not, I was writing poetry
and drinking water in the desert

are you responsible for the sunsets,
the singing of birds, the beggars,
the tax system and the breast
implants?

- I’ve never seen any of them

and are you to blame of all the bad poetry
in the world?

- yes, oh my god, what should I do?

you need to wake up. now.

- good. I’m up.

is that better?

- no.


Zen

Tao of clouds
white in the endless blue

the wind blows in a gust
after gust
and the black shirt hanging
on the wire is flapping

Because light takes time to reach us, everything we see
is already in the past. The sun you can see out of the window
is 8 minutes and 20 seconds old

The dog behind
the fence barks
at nothing out there.


Peycho Kanev is the author of 4 poetry collections and two chapbooks, published in USA and Europe. He has won several European awards for his poetry and his poems have appeared in many literary magazines, such as: Poetry Quarterly, Evergreen Review, Front Porch Review, Hawaii Review, Barrow Street, Sheepshead Review, Off the Coast, The Adirondack Review, Sierra Nevada Review, The Cleveland Review and many others.

Daniel Blokh

How To Act in an Emergency

When you can find nowhere to run to,
find your lungs.
Find your tongue, thrashing,

jutting like a steeple through your lips,
and collapse it.
Glass is glass,

a window is a window,
and anything but stillness
will only swallow you,

will coil hungrily up the tendon towers.
Think fast.
Air is running out of space,

of body to curl into.
If you listen close,
each flame is a whispering.

Each lung is a doorway that parts
for you. Each lung is a room
with a glass window.


How To Be Ready For Anything

In your body you are never
stilled, never silent.

You are stirred and swallowed,
stuck

outside the moment,
stuck in motion.

In your body you are seized
with the perpetual.

The mountains hum.
The sky turns red

and prays for curtains.
Something under the water

is humming,
a voice or a shriek, a beetle

with legs reaching backward,
upward.


How To Pray

Please, lord, do not let me
grow happy. Do not let my heart beat
slow.

Overflood my soul with wind
and hair. Make the sky thunder
like chuckling. Stretch me
out on bicycle chains. Kill me

the way white bread slowly kills us.
The way they tell us fluoride
blooms death into our lungs.

The way this moment passes,
not a gentle sliding
into the next, but as quick and violent
as a crashing bone.


How to Be A 15 Year Old Poet

Anyway, might as well use it
to your advantage. Steal a house
out of a hat. Pull colors from their teeth,
wake neon in the flesh, make colors fizz and flesh tremble with neon.
Carve them with wit and kill air. Bring your head out of the basket
when they least expect it.


Daniel Blokh is a 15-year-old American writer of Russian-Jewish descent, living in Birmingham, Alabama. He is the author of the memoir In Migration (BAM! Publishing 2016), the micro- chapbook The Wading Room (Origami Poems Project 2016), and the chapbook Grimmening (forthcoming from Diode Editions). His work has been recognized by the Scholastic Art and Writing awards and the Foyle Young Poet awards, and has appeared in DIALOGIST, Gigantic Sequins, Forage Poetry, Avis Magazine, Thin Air Magazine, Cicada Magazine, and more. He works as an editor at Parallel Ink and a reader at the Adroit Journal. He should probably go play outside with his friends, but he's busy worrying about the results of his writing submissions.

Mary Ann Honaker

GWEN MAKES PROGRESS

Gwen cracks her ribcage
with a ballpeen hammer.
She spoons the contents onto the kitchen table.
Everything is small,
everything black and oily.
Everything wiggles
like salted death-done slugs.

She forces herself to look at it.
She likes to tell herself this looking
constitutes progress.


GWEN IS A DOG PERSON

Gwen's boyfriend accuses her
of leaving food out for the black dog.

He's right, of course. Soon he'll find
stiff bristles embedded in upholstery

and smell doggy musk in a corner
and realize Gwen let the damn thing in—

that dog has drooled on every pillow
in the house, left a ghostly indentation

on Gwen's pale and thickening thigh
where he laid his bucket head, was patted.

When Gwen goes for a walk in the woods
she drops the leash and tries to leave him there,

but he's swift as air and twice as loyal
as a retriever. He's waiting by the car

when she strolls out, lit up with sun.
Sometimes he's in the car, leash still on.

Gwen, that stray dog has ticks;
if you get bit you'll sleep a whole season.

Stop giving him food. He'll wander elsewhere.
Gwen removes her liver, leaves it in a dish.


GWEN AND THE BIG NOTHING

Gwen notices in the bathroom mirror
that her face grows lighter and lighter each day.

No, not wan, as if sick; not pale, as if needing sun,
but rather more porous, like lace.

The next day, she is like tissue paper, she rustles
in the breeze from the opening and closing door.

A week later, she is colored cellophane, suggestive
of a presence, reflective in wrinkles and folds.

She dreams at night of stepping outside
and being caught up in God's breath, drifting starward.

Now Gwen is like clear cellophane, with nothing to hold.
She crackles and gives off light. Stretched thin, she vanishes.

She is not frightened. She knows she is disappearing completely.
Soon, the world will at last embrace her, like a friend, or a child.


Mary Ann Honaker holds a B.A. in philosophy from West Virginia University, a Masters of Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School, and a Creative Writing M.F.A. from Lesley. She has previously published poetry in 2 Bridges, Harvard’s The Dudley Review, Euphony, Off the Coast, Van Gogh's Ear, The Lake, and many other online and print publications. Her first chapbook, It Will Happen Like This, was released by YesNo Press in 2015. She currently lives in Beaver, West Virginia.

Matt Schumacher

mooncalf are you out there

I sometimes think I glimpse a thriving thing
far more alive than humans

I know it in a snowstorm
its story told by lightning bolt
or shooting star

an organism unassuming as a dewdrop
a soul old as a sequoia

silent as a valley just past dusk
sun descending behind shadowhills

it mends the sky with lavender
its slow rose opens into alpenglow

fitful as a field of fireflies
hypnotic as a moondrunk chasm

in its eyeshine at night I can see
many unidentified wild animals

at midday its supreme aquamarine gleam
the glint of fins and scales
leaping in the sun on its lustrous skin

rare songbird
its laughter establishes
a vast root system

ideas a mycelium
of subterranean largesse
indeed several thousand acres of ideas
they call armillaria
shamanic fungus in the Blue Mountains

mooncalf is it you? come back
show humans how not to ruin and use
helps us own our dead zones and heal sea levels
wearing your suit of weather patterns
please bring back the dying species


the ventriloquist's dummy's firsthand understanding of the uncanny valley

get It sTRAIght, okay, kids?
plot it oN an axis if YOU wish.
here are the rules
and how you play a game
named uncanny valley
TOymakers Forbid:
the morE humAn I look,
the moRe you are afraid,
the MorE YOU look pale and dead.
i'm the mannequin With whom you fall in love
that fILLs you to the brim witH drEAd.
let's face it: only a dummy
might find youR act funny..
but i'll keep LAUGHING
long after you've stopped,
THEn starE baCk like I want to sHake hands.
what scares yOu so much? that I might come ALIVE,
sURpass the Master at long last--
Yes, a SPECIMEN wriggling off its pin,
slipping from your grasp?
or maybe yoU're mAchineRy, purE mechAnism,
duplicated all too easily by LIFELIKE STIFFs?
what If, with a SMILE, i reach out
with a glove to experiment,
AND forever SEVER our cord?
if I, pUnch-and-judy StyLe,
shOVE you ofF A MILE-high cliff?


FROM A LITTLE KNOWN COLLECTION ENTITLED LEGENDS OF SPIDERS AND WATER

Spiders like to drink from your eye when you sleep.

Their many eyes see your eyelashes glisten in the distance.

They part those curled rushes, harvest reservoirs of tears.

The dewdrop on the spider's lip is the tip


Of a tantalizing wisdom and philosophy.

The sound of a spider drinking
is like incredibly delicate music.
If they drink quietly enough,
they may even taste your dreams,
rest on the serene dune of your closed eyelid.


Matt Schumacher’s fifth collection of poetry, Ghost Town Odes, was published in October. He serves the literary world as managing editor of the journal Phantom Drift, and live in Portland, Oregon.

Armen Abalian

VAPOR TRAIL

I woke up to a beautiful vapor trail

Unexpected and orange, across the silence of the daybreak, its hue a kind gift from the waking sun

Straight and persistent, blazing bravely into the dark blue canvas

Most people, still in the midst of some incomprehensible rem sequence, or caught up in the rituals of an anti-daydream existence, will miss this

But I saw it, and despite my best psychic efforts to conjure up a boarding pass, I had to just let it disappear into the horizon.


PREQUEL

Your blond hair less a sleepy golden storm, and more a cocaine and wine-fueled freak tornado

Your porn star body bends and twists a variety of ways, trained by Pilates and a growing desperation

A fear, ever so slight, of all things related to being a bystander as time passes.

Breathless, you feel you can finally breathe, and in your mind you make the leap from frivolous to faithful.

You do everything right to make the experience mind-blowing, hard to forget, impossible to not want to repeat

And we will repeat it, but only once.
It's OK, baby, karma will get me for this.


BALLOON

There once was a girl who filled a balloon with helium.
She was a pretty girl, and filled the balloon just right.
She held it for a while, then let it fly.
As it flew, against its will, the distance grew between it and her and the rest of the world below it Until it popped, somewhere in the atmosphere.


Armen Abalian is an Angeleno living on the eastern fringes of the E.U. empire. Armen spends much of his time taking photos of the idiosyncrasies of life in Eastern/Central Europe, composing music, and writing poetry, to varying degrees of success.

Katie Lewington

Orgasms for All

loneliness
comes quicker, suffocating
under the duvet cover
upstairs a bed bangs
against the wall
was that a breeze, chill
no, those two
fucking in their bed
unwantingly thinking -
you on top or is she

block my ears but
you're loud enough to wake
the neighbourhood

as it quietens
then the noise reaches a crescendo

finally, are you finished

i am in my bed alone
while those two lucky fuckers
are upstairs
in bed.


Boxer

i am not a great communicator
observe
remain silent
this is safer
walk further

drunk though

i'll knock your nose off
thunder

this is not an answer
of all
internal agonies.


Trying to Title your Poem Counts as Procrastination

finger clicking
clit picking
phut of keyboard keys mellowing
my fingers dancing
as if Tom Hanks on the giant board in Big
we have to mention these names
SEO
through literature
to keep them alive and well
incubating comment causing babies
even my predictive text has no idea
what i am trying to say
i am un understandable
no fall stop can stop me.


Katie Lewington wrote her first poem aged 16. Even though, after analysing a poem for her hellish English GCSE, she vowed she would have nothing more to do with poetry. She has now published a number of books on Amazon.com and Payhip.com. She is passionate about helping independent authors find the best audience for their work and likes to listen to music, daydream, watch Cary Grant films, sniff 50 year old poetry tomes, and blog. Her creative writing, and reviews, can be read at https://katiecreativewriterblog.wordpress.com.