“Sign Language” by Kevin Bartlett


“untitled” by Kathy O’Meara.

Liquidation Sale:
Half-priced Lobotomies

Mix & Match
2 for 5:
Clog All Your Arteries

Sold at State Minimum:
Cigs, Booze, Lottery

I am NOT Responsible
for Lost or
Stolen Property

 

 

Kevin Bartlett was born and raised in Connecticut, and is currently a student at Texas Tech University.

 

“Suture Lines” by Sarena Tien


“Warsaw, 1939” by Jean Banas, acrylic on canvas.

This is when the world ends—
not with fire, not with ice,

but with dirt and water
earth tossed back to earth

without a bang or whimper
only tears cleaving the sky

and the rain slip
sliding down our shoulders,

skeletons who never got to say goodbye
left unburied and behind.

This is when the world begins—
not with a supernova, not with a star

but with a smile
stretched and stitched

down the table, forks clinking
above a sketchbook story

that strung us back together
puzzle pieces pilfered from the past,

photographs of the future and
laughter full of love and loss.

 

 

Sarena Tien is a queer Chinese-American feminist and Francophile. Her work has appeared in online publications such as Transitions Abroad, The Feminist Wire, Bustle, On She Goes, and Argot. When she’s not trying to become a polyglot, she can often be found fighting for social justice or folding far too many origami stars.

 

“Eight Days in Mercy” by Cynthia Morgan Nichols


“Favela” by Jean Banas, acrylic on canvas.

The strip-search nurse counts
my bruises, asks how I got them—
elbow, knee, hip—
I don’t know
I tell her, hands covering my breasts,
legs backsliding as she guides me
to the holding place
where others slump, oxy-blue
in skid-resistant socks; while
a world flutters mercurial, we are
brought back to order,
forced to stay
with dread-locked cravings
pacing a black tar fog
down hallways,
spilling wide-arched
into each other as feeling starts
to come back.

On the East ward I carry myself
with Prozac poise: ask for lip balm, participate
in group (they tell me
my Birkenstocks are smart shoes
for this place). My roommate surrenders
on her knees every morning, every night
against a hard board bed. I love
this place, I think, stripped and walking
patterned paces doubling back
suddenly popular
despite no phone calls, no visitors
saying my name.

Nights we count off
to the guard; a fast file out
into a frozen yard cut
by 12-foot razor wire; humming,
drumming, looping, we circle
newcomers; standing in twos and threes,
we assume vacant spaces; beneath
a void moon, we light
our cigarettes, one off the other, brightening
then dimming; a brief
constellation.

 

 

Cynthia Morgan Nichols lives in midtown Memphis and works at the University of Memphis Libraries. She enjoys painting, yoga and walking through her historic neighborhood.

 

“In Which Sasquatch Moves to the Desert” by Rachel Maggio


“The Overseer” by Jean Banas, Acrylic on canvas, 38″ x 47″.

i. they say the Sasquatch has never been killed
because the face is too human
that hunters looking into the eyes become struck with the fact
that they too are monster;
that Sasquatch have an affinity for chewing tobacco and bottled water
sneaking it from the packs of hikers, careful
so as not to wake the children

ii. the sightings of donovan are rare
perhaps on thanksgiving or christmas
but when he is present the room is alight
the air hangs in earthquake weather
this time the medication is working
this time dono drives a bus
this time he drives us all in the bus to see the christmas lights
this time i bury my head in my mother’s shoulder the whole time
too afraid to look up
this time the air is alive and elektrik

iii. Sasquatch speak their own language
a cohesive language they all understand of grunts and moans
and guttural calls, even the young ones
(they live in close family groups)
speak this language, based on the cries of the young
so the species adapts to speak to babies,
understood from birth that the innocence we all carry
may in fact be our saving grace
not the other way around and the Sasquatch
presumably have their own bedtime stories told in these grunts and moans
and the young presumably grunt and moan
for them to be told again

iv.they move to the desert
my grandma tells me the desert, has more extreme highs
and lows and maybe the sunshine and nature is what
the two of them need
and we go to the desert to see them
past the plaster dinosaurs and donovan rocks a new baby in his arms
to sleep before he disappears

v. the great Sasquatch of the pacific northwest
can communicate with the conscience
and maybe that is why it has never been killed
the great Sasquatch of the pacific northwest often attempt to bring home
the hikers kind enough to bring them chewing tobacco and bottled water
not realizing this is not appreciated
seeing into the greater conscience(but never to the surface)beyond the fear and thinking
instead about the need to escape to nature, but these hikers
cannot see into the greater Sasquatch conscience only to the surface of their own, and therefore
are limited to their fear

vi. when they find donovan’s body
hanging in the garage
my brother deciphers the news through my sobs
and asks me if i remembered to take my medication
wondering if i too will run away into the woods 

vii. offering Sasquatch food ensures your survival
while crying seems to aggravate the creatures
who will punch in your jaw and run at the sight of tears
but apparently no one has told this news to my grandmother
and aunt because there is no food at the funeral but there is
plenty of tears and
in the true Sasquatch spirit,
punching to follow suit

viii. donovan rode his skateboard down pch
to watch monsterquest with me and my brother
and his guttural laugh at the skeptics shown
makes us only more sure of ourselves
Sasquatch live among us
he leaves before the episode is over
and before Sasquatch are found

ix. the Sasquatch’s humanoid face
may in fact be proof that they are real
our cousins in fact
early wanderers who once
fed up with this world’s treatment
fled into the woods,
and spoke a new language of guttural groans
and chewing tobacco
and never came back

 

Rachel Maggio is a freelance writer and student in the English program at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.

 

“Gone Sister” by Dion O’Reilly


“Carriage House” by Jean Banas, acrylic on canvas, 48″ x 52″.

She never fell from her frantic
mare as it reared and twisted
in the mustard fields.
And when she drove high speed
in her ‘67 Karmann Ghia,
she didn’t plummet
off an unexpected cliff
at the end of Swift Street
as she flipped out on acid.

She survived her wild childhood,
divides her time
between three western states.
Summers in Coos Bay, visits in the fall
with the willing men of Kanab,
winters spent
floating across borders,
visiting boneyards of the old days
in this dirty California town,
where she learned the ways of wayward surfers,
smoked dope downtown with strangers,
searched the Boardwalk
at four in the morning
for some stringy-haired boy
to bring home.

Bull-whipped child grown bold,
cast out by her parents at seventeen,
her violence aimed back to them,
when she tipped the table,
stood, suddenly screaming
at Christmas.
Even my father’s fists
slamming her face,
my mother sending her into the streets
in tight lime-green pants and torpedo bras—
none of it killed her.
Without family she’s alive,
sixty-six in a jet-black wig
and Grace Slick bangs, the same
as when she was eighteen
and I was twelve,
her big dark eyes inked with liquid
eyeliner, her plump mouth
shiny with pale gloss, open,
as if calling out.

 

 

Dion O’Reilly has spent  much of her life on a farm in the Santa Cruz Mountains. She studies with Ellen Bass and Danusha Leméris and attends an MFA program in Creative Writing at Pacific University. She has worked as a waitress, barista, baker, theater manager, graphic designer, and public school teacher. Her poetry appears or is forthcoming in Rattle, The Sun, Canary Magazine, Spillway, Bellingham Review, Atlanta Review, Red Wheelbarrow, Porter Gulch Review, and a variety of other literary journals and anthologies. Her work has been nominated for Pushcarts, the Intro Journals Project, and was a semifinalist in The Folio Literary Journal Poetry Contest.

 

“Fuel” by Lanier Wright Fields

god asks why (Fecundity, Expanse)
“God Asks Why” by Peter Groesbeck.
(See also “Fecundity Expanse” by Sasha West.)

I.

My father swears up and down
that, when he was thirteen,
he mistook an unmarked vat
of kerosene for water. In this
as in all things, he drank
with gusto. Everything burned
inside him for days.

II.

I cannot help but feel sick
superiority when I tell someone
I don’t drink. Vodka, whiskey—lesser spirits
might heed whispered invitations
to woozy, jet-propelled calamity. But each
shot of firewater is exactly that
to my guts: corrosion, all the way down.

III.

Walking down my street
past the liquor store, I watch
the neighborhood boys siphoning
gasoline to trade for nips.
Two teenagers hand the tube
to a younger one. They say, “Don’t worry,
everyone swallows some the first time.”

 

 

Lanier (Lane) Wright Fields is a southern transplant living and working in Boston, Massachusetts. Professionally, Lane has performed technology witchcraft, taught sociology, worked in a factory, and gone corporate. Besides poetry, Lane’s hobbies and interests include music and shows, leftist activism, veg*n cooking, straight edge and hardcore subcultures, video game history, philosophy and social theory, and spiritual development.

 

“Indian Remedies for Tereusitis” by Sabyasachi Nag

Fulfilled
“Womb” by Mia Avramut, wax on paper, 5.8 x 8.2 in.
(See also “Fulfillment” by Avital Gad-Cykman.)

Certain alpha hoopoes have the taste
For both, Philomel and Itys.
In India, they prey after dark when exhaust
From the beer factory gags the sky so tight
One can taste the malt in their wing pits.
Gods know. They respond by reforming
Believers into nightingales; into swallows.
Then they take a break from trying.
Conjure new Ovids, request new hosannas.

Certain ranting rebel birds—
They reconfigure into line-following photovores
You find, clung to guardrails
Or reflected on neo-colonial candelabra—
Their muscles pumped with plastic blood
Programmed to put them in auto reverse
Soon as they hit a wall.
Then they make walls, beautiful walls.

Then they take down the lights. Observe.
Those that repeat-fail clearly-laid rules,
They transform them into fire ants
You find, after a storm has warped the steel,
Taken everything.
Their arteries choked with moon-lather
That would put them on burn
Soon as someone touches them.

 

 

Sabyasachi Nag is the author of two books of poetry: Bloodlines (Writers Workshop, 2006) and Could You Please, Please Stop Singing (Mosaic Press, 2015). His work has appeared, or is forthcoming in several publications including, Contemporary Verse 2, Perihelion, The Squaw Valley Review, The Rising Phoenix, Void and the VLQ. Originally from Calcutta, India, Sachi lives in Mississauga, Ontario with his wife and son. He is an alumni of the Squaw Valley Writer’s Conference and is currently a candidate in the Writer’s Studio at the Simon Fraser University. He works in education and human resources.

 

“Time Under Water” by Roy Bentley

Hatchlings
“Turtle Territory” by Lori McNamara, oil on archival board, 2011.
(See also “Hatchlings” by William Woolfitt.)

When I swam away from Gloria Regalbuto the catamaran captain
was watching from the stern as I thrashed about with leg cramps
and waved and began my stop-and-start swim back to the boat.
It was summer. He had anchored off the North Shore of Oahu
and now he was smiling, reaching out as I grabbed a ladder.
Maybe I would have done anything to leave behind the aahh
of her loved mouth and a longing so hot it kept singeing me
and searing the air. Onboard again, I flopped awkwardly
in a corner. Leaned against a great deal of brightness.

I heard dolphins voicing, their fins whipping up
wingtip-white vortices as they raced the catamaran.
My time under water had flashed with starburst fishes
stock-still in the currents and reef as if what they were
was backdrop for a mirror of North Shore blue. I heard
someone treading water and scented a brine of ocean.
Planes of island light broke apart and reformed as if
vanishing and now revealing someone who waited
in the trough of a wave by the rocking catamaran.

 

 

Roy Bentley is the recipient of a Creative Writing Fellowship in Poetry from the National
Endowment for the Arts, and fellowships from the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs and the Ohio Arts Council. Books include Boy in a Boat (University of Alabama), Any One Man (Bottom Dog), The Trouble with a Short Horse in Montana (White Pine), Starlight Taxi (Lynx House); as well as Walking with Eve in the Loved City, a finalist for the 2018 Miller Williams Poetry Prize selected by Billy Collins and due out from the University of Arkansas Press.

 

“Convalescence” by Billie Tadros

squash curl
“Squash Tendril” by Jenn Rhubright.
(See also “Rose” by Dylan Landis.)

 

You can contract the prosthetic

hold, the bad news:
I’m bandaged down to your donor

tissue. The puncture was about finish

lines. Someday maybe I’ll get there
return to my body wondering why

I run, beautifully
I crashed.

 

 

Billie Tadros is a Lecturer in the Department of English at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. She earned her Ph.D. in English from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and her M.F.A. in Writing from Sarah Lawrence College. Her first book of poems The Tree We Planted and Buried You In is forthcoming from Otis Books in 2018. She has also published two chapbooks, inter: burial places (Porkbelly Press, 2016) and Containers (Dancing Girl Press, 2014). Her poems have recently appeared or will appear in Crab Fat Magazine, Entropy, Lavender Review, pnk prl, and White Stag Journal, and she has also published work in the anthologies The Queer South (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2014), Bearers of Distance (Eastern Point Press, 2013), and Women Write Resistance: Poets Resist Gender Violence (Hyacinth Girl Press, 2013).

 

“this is not a love poem” by Gina Marie Bernard

Recovery ( At Rest)
At Rest, image by Karen Bell.
(See also “Recovery” by Jeanetta Calhoun Mish.)

because you return to our bedroom hours after you promised,
because you must steady yourself against the jamb, which means you’ve driven drunk,
because as your silhouette rides up the wall like an island drawn thin by river currents,
i sense the quicksilver pulse of your clenching need,
because your hands grope cold against my bed warmed breasts,
because when i turn away, your lips plant counterfeit baubles against my neck,
and when you ask me why i’m crying, you refuse to let me answer,
and murmur “I would never hurt you,” unaware your tense describes
things imagined but not true.

your breathing deepens and i imagine you’ve slipped into sleep,
but returning from the hypothetical, you roll me onto my back and pin my wrists,
where you imprint semicolons into the paper lantern skin.

beneath you, i too punctuate what must be done: the whites piled in the laundry room,
the dishes unwashed in the sink, hummingbird feeders full of drowned ants.

tomorrow you will awake late, and i will have put on my coffee,
and you may or may not remember tonight, a shadow passing over your face
as dark as the bruises smudging my inner thighs. but i won’t bring it up

because this is not a love poem,

but it is yours all the same.

 

 

Gina Marie Bernard is a trans woman, roller derby vixen, and full-time English teacher. She has completed a 50-mile ultra-marathon, followed Joan Jett across the US, and purposely jumped through a hole cut in lake ice. She lives in Bemidji, Minnesota. Her daughters, Maddie and Parker, own the two halves of her heart. She has written one YA novel, Alpha Summer (2005), and one collection of short fiction, Vent (2013). Her poetry has recently appeared in MortarThe Cape RockNew Plains Review, and Leveler.