ISSUE 1


 

Malleable by Valentine Cano

I have sewn a tablecloth out of hours

threading entire days into its rows and columns,

waving time into something I can fold and iron out.

Valentina Cano is a student of classical singing who spends whatever free time she has either reading or writing. Her works have appeared in numerous publications and her poetry has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Web. Her debut novel, The Rose Master, was published in 2014 and was called a “strong and satisfying effort” by Publishers Weekly.


 

You Gave Me to a Dead Woman by Angela Dawn

i.

with sparrows for eyes.

long fingers

made of ash

a bottle blonde

drowned in milk

full of children, she

filled me with

formula, she

loved me with

dry bone.

Kansas girl

carried on a southern wind

while you

re-started your life

after the most difficult pregnancy

with a Pittsburgh man

she

fell in love beneath a

young oak and

mothered me before she

died, like many union soldiers

in the capital

of the confederacy.

at night i get cold

i cover up with sparrows

one thousand tiny heartbeats

tell me sleep, be still

they say i’m loved. they

speak in code

i never learned.

this will

mean something

someday.

so while you watch my world

burn away

that is what i tell you;

this will

mean something

someday.

ii.

“you didn’t grieve enough

when your mama died,”

says the P.E. teacher

in the doorway

of the girls bathroom

after breaking up

another locker room fight

she is in her thirties.

but she did not

see my mother’s bed

how i slept in it

for years, even when i was

old enough not to

and she did not

see her birds

how they covered me

like an electric blanket

fighting fire with flame.

Angela Dawn is a poet living in the South Bronx. Her work appears in Least Bittern Books, Cloudy Cephalopod, and Silver Birch Press and she has a poem forthcoming in THRUSH Poetry Journal. Originally from Richmond, VA, Angela currently writes and studies dance near her home in historic Mott Haven but you can also find her at hippie movement circles, yoga studios and clubs without bottle service in Manhattan. Read more at https://angeladawnpoetry.wordpress.com/


 

Sunday Is the Day I Paint My Nails Pretty by Jessie Janeshek

trust I can’t escape the                thick gel of this galaxy.

It’s so hot time stops

and I take off my shirt

bake mermaids or louses or love in our oven.

Sunday’s the day for velour and omissions

so I drink your milkshake

to sleep for three days

dream my father bites me        so I’ll dye a moon

on the back of black cat in a lesbian movie.

At sun-turn, I wake to read Zoo Books

cockatiels shipped in newspapers

a koala bear suckling a freeze pop.

At sun-turn, I troop through the doll heads

remove my compression my     massacre madness.

I try the dry ice, the masked men

the gin. I try motorbikes.

Sometimes I cradle a waterbreak, sometimes a liver

but the black cat dies waiting and I still can’t do calculus

and the pink-voiced computer still whispers

                       Rhythm is essential to the instrument

Paris                           your pussy     an earache      this colony.

        Take all the cysts from your old poems and bury them here

                                   and if this doesn’t work just obliterate. 


 

Dark Heat and Damp Leatherette by Jessie Janeshek

Down in the valley                                          we want to laugh like a jukebox

cheat, meet our sister                                                the gingerbread undulate

but we wait for the death-hat to settle instead

we pierce the yellow kite flying.

Here a limb                               there a limb                           down in the valley

did William snap and kill Alexandra?

We bebop to the bus stop                  can’t do geometry.

Down in the valley we make chemistry sacred

push up, prostitute, procreate.

The cat-loving ragdoll photographs slowly

down in the valley                         dragging a pram.

Down in the valley

the doctor says tragedy cheapens our palms

the blue stream runs nude with our money

the ghost girl comes out of the pantry

to help solve the mystery.

Jessie Janeshek’s first book of poems is Invisible Mink (Iris Press, 2010). An Assistant Professor of English and the Director of Writing at Bethany College, she holds a Ph.D. from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville and an M.F.A. from Emerson College. She co-edited the literary anthology Outscape: Writings on Fences and Frontiers (KWG Press, 2008). You can read more of her poetry at http://www.jessiejaneshek.net/.


 

contribution by Wanda Morrow Clevenger

a presumptuous thing

a day out

of puberty

who’s contribution

to the day

was coordinating

her scrubs

took your vitals

then asked if I believed

in god

you were floating

somewhere

between drugged

and dumbstruck

I was neck deep

between

Rod Sterling

and Edgar Allan

I may have

insulted her

naivety her

inappropriateness

her very presence

in my collapsed universe

but

she asked permission

to pray anyway

Carlinville IL native Wanda Morrow Clevenger lives in Hettick, IL – population 200, give or take. Since graduating from Long Ridge Writers Group in 2009, 322 pieces of nonfiction, poetry and flash fiction appear in 121 print and electronic publications. Her debut book This Same Small Town in Each of Us (released October 30, 2011), a collection of 23 essays (13 reprints), 14 flash fiction (11 reprints) and 9 poems (7 reprints) is available for purchase through Amazon. A full-length poetry manuscript is currently stalking unsuspecting presses.


 

The Secret of the Universe by Kyle Hemmings

As a bow-legged love child, she was a girl genius. The year might have been 1917 & she amazed her teacher by writing in chalky longhand, a yellow flavor–The Secret of the Universe. She didn’t need physics or Galileo’s lost heresies. The teacher was later convicted of desertion from the trenches of WWI. When her mother’s secret was revealed, the girl moved east, took refuge as a worker in a mayonnaise jar factory, wore leather aprons that made her feel heavy, gourd-grounded. The sun rose & set like a fat lazy boy dreaming of crayons. She gave birth  to three empty rooms & settled for the solace of dust. She came home with cuts in her hands but managed to write mother that she was doing fine. Wars passed. Dictators drank Espresso then stroked out. Their sons switched to decaffeinated & the daughters made wine from ruined grapes. The universe stretched or revealed new planets. The girl became a woman-orbit & died from inhaling too much asbestos. Her artificial rubber plants stayed mute at the window. She died without leaving a diary.  The universe sighed. It was relieved.

Kyle Hemmings lives and works in New Jersey. He has been published in Your Impossible Voice, Night Train, Toad, Matchbox and elsewhere. His latest ebook is Father Dunne’s School for Wayward Boys at amazon.com. He blogs at http://upatberggasse19.blogspot.com/


 

Small Sample by Karen Neuberg

I’m a small sample. Of a micro part. Of less.

Yet within is an always. Is an all.

I must remember the universe. The proportion.

That I am portion. Have a portion. Use it.

I call it to me & call it ‘mine’.

{What} have you called yours?

Sometimes I swear I can almost reach through

and stand where all the dimensions

overlap. And there I am, riding my scooter, my bike,

driving the car down the highway to the beach.

A baby, my baby, latches onto me. Later,

I let her go. She goes. This is a small sample

of my small sample. Entirely my own and

fused to the continuum. Much like you.

Like yours. Together, we make what all this is.

We need to offer each other our hands.

Karen Neuberg lives in Brooklyn, NY where she writes poetry and creates collages. She is the author of two chapbooks: Myself Taking Stage (Finishing Line Press) and Detailed Still (Poets Wear Prada). Recent poems appear or are forthcoming in Paper NautilusPirene’s FountainThe Vehicle, and Tinderbox and she is associate editor of the online journal First Literary Review-East.


 

After the Storm by Parisorn Thepmankorn

There was once when we didn’t stutter

like the rut of a piston: remember

how you imagined us as lustrous, gilded

with your mother’s honey tongue, the way

we planned to take the city of sun

by night—I’ve always imagined this

post-war grandeur and glory,

the rhythmic cadence of subversion;

but recall how narcissus drowned in

himself and dragged echo with him.

Afterwards, the lilies rose back

atop the watery plain, forgot how it is

to want and lose, again, a hundred times.

Parisorn Thepmankorn is an aspiring poet from a small town in New Jersey. Her work has been recognized in the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, and is published or forthcoming in Eunoia Review, Black Heart Magazine, and Paper Crown Magazine, among others.


 

Skin Tales by Sarah Lilius

My body, that invisible body that girls keep.

~Anne Sexton

Our skin cells, different

tiny animals than days

we were small girls, hairless

princesses with dirty skirt hems.

Barbie and Ken would do it,

plastic sex, a fast grind and drop

back to the tea party.

Barbie’s blond hair

tragically knotted, unbrushable.

Mother would brush

my ratted hair, I would cry

as if this were the real violence.

Our skin cells, buffed

and soft in high school,

ready for touch,

in unknown basements,

we were teases,

keeping the prize hot.

All we found were hard-ons

on old couches, boys without condoms.

Boys found other girls,

always willing to share

without smiles,

no real reflections

on their skin,

still tight, still smooth.

Sarah Lilius lives in Arlington, VA where she’s a poet, editor, mother and wife. Her most recent publications include Hermeneutic Chaos, The Bleeding Lion, and Moss Trill. She is also the author of What Becomes Within (ELJ Publications, 2014). Her website is sarahlilius.com.


 

Not a Girl Yet by Sarah Pritchard

I swing backwards off metal railings

by the back of my knees

head inches above the concrete

and roller skate or go-cart

down a car lined hill

and make for a gap in the corner

or scooter

after my mother’s Beetle

away from the au pere

who couldn’t stop me

from playing with matches

or take on the bully who ran me over

with his bike

or bite the backs of other boys

I don’t like the look of

or swim to the raft in the lake

with snakes underneath

and try to rock everyone else off

or dive off the highest diving board

because my cousin was too scared to

and climb and climb and climb

to the tops of trees & roof tops & rocky look-outs.

And now my hips are exploding

and my chest is budding

and my father says

I’m sitting on a gold mine

and there are girls

who are not boys any more

who wear shirts all summer

and have come down from the trees

and away from me and the other boys

and sit in shadows glowering at a distance

and read books and books and books

whole collections of pages with no pictures

and I know I am not a girl yet

because I still feel my eyeball

rolling across the words heavily

and I still can’t reach the end of the story

because my pockets are full of swapsies

and better things to do

and Patty says there are arrowheads

down by the bull frog pond

where we found the neat rabbit skeleton

hanging in the bush up-side-down,

so Patty’s not a girl yet either I guess.

Sarah Pritchard: A trans-Atlantic yo-yo of a life; a US military baby born in Norfolk, made in Manchester. Currently a freshly retired drama & English teacher. Pippi Longstocking like I live with animals and spend spare hours free ranging with my dogson Louis-the-lurcher, who walks me in the wild ‘turnupstuffing’ & marveling at all of life. Sassi-the- cat regularly tries to join us.
Still personal & political. Writing & performing in Manchester, UK since 1981; playback theatre Manchester 23 years. Has been published in a number of anthologies: Beyond Paradise, The West in Her Eyes, Cahoots, Urban Poetry, Nailing the Colours, Manchester Poets Volume3, Raindog & Grapple Annual. Breast -‘ocassionally the lilmitations of the love lyric are transcended…Sarah beautifully integrates the themes of the political & personal mutilation into a love narrative.’ Livi Michael North West Arts Magazine.


 

Swansong in Winter by Melissa Leighty

At the water’s edge, a ballet

of black swans hovers

near their young,

still too small to push

out of the proverbial nest.

Mirrored in the water

are the cygnets’ unflushed

wings, juvenile plumage,

unapparelled yet

with the delicate bones

that will structure their later grace

and make flight possible.

February finds

the leaden twigs of branches laced

against a leaden sky

where seedpods hang

like bark-dry cherries, dead anthems

for the last rite of spring.

Yet, in the distance, grey hills frame

a collaboration of petals

conspiring against milkwinter light.

The land sinks and settles

into a premature spring

uncomfortable still in its own skin.

In my classes, too, I feel a change.

My students, like pale pink flowers,

fling themselves unfurled

into the world unbidden

except by the primal notes of spring.

The air suddenly runs electric

between them in subtle ways,

a taxonomy of desire unfolds

into a hierarchy of love

unsung.

They are molting

before my very eyes.

Young trumpeters,

they chuck out raspy calls

in conference

with one another—

more cacophony

than symphony—

and shake their new plumage,

for in this, their second winter,

they sing anew.

Melissa Leighty is an American writer currently living in Barcelona. I divide my time between my personal writing—poems and essays–and freelance writing for magazines. I am also at work on two exciting new projects: a cookbook about Catalan cuisine and a collaboration on a photo book about a neighborhood in Tokyo.


 

NYC by Glen Armstrong

We muddle through with light

and distance:

mundane disturbances

that Richard Kern

would find offensive,

silences and bare

naked murmurs that John

Cage would dismiss.

Our love is thistle flowering

in a dead man’s closet,

the pink crumble of erasure

on the c student’s paper:

all daydream and nation,

all weed and remarks

so carefully chosen

that they’re taken

for some sort of silent

hipster dismissal.

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 new chapbooks: Set List (Bitchin Kitsch,) In Stone and The Most Awkward Silence of All (both Cruel Garters Press.) His work has appeared in Poetry NorthwestConduit and Cloudbank.


 

of us (iwonder) by Brigitte Morency

how busy are you

(iwonder)?

how little time do you really have

for yourself

//

for others

//

for me?

connect with me

–please–

put aside your busyness

and look me in the eye.

show me that you see me,

here,

as i see you,

there.

how is your soul?

tell me.

(iamlistening)

how is your heart?

beat to me.

(beatwithmine)

vibrate with me!

–have you tried it?–

hum/crash/chant/scream

in tandem with my

/screams

/chants

/crashes

/hummings…

connect with me

if only

if only

if only for a moment

–just one of a million in our lives–

and

,oh,

feel it stretch and tug

at the borders

(ofyouandme)

for if –we– are lucky

out will burst:

us.

Brigitte Morency has donned many caps over the past few years, which (in no particular order) include: Nomad English Teacher, Slide Custodian, Wrangler of Children, Soup & Sandwich Maker, Unabashed Francophile, and Smalltime Copyeditor. At the moment, however, she is content to wander around her adoptive city of Buffalo, rocking the blue felt brimmed hat she bought for a dollar.

Blonde by Caroline Walton

Before I knew what it was to be scared, I braided black yarn into my long blonde hair. A dash of darkness to match my chain belt and plaid pants. To match my parent’s rotting marriage, my trendy angst. I pretended it belonged there–that I had grown such a thing.

When I became pretty as a punchline to jokes boys made about dumb girls, I twirled it between my fingers. I collected moments of men running their hands through it, tangled and dirty the morning after, sighing about how long it was.

You’re that blonde girl.

You’re the prettiest I’ve ever slept with.

You’re the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen

at the bars.

The magazines say that men prefer it hanging down to the middle of my back. They don’t say that this makes me more of a target. That it can be fashioned into an extra limb to grab, one that can’t hit back. My hair followed me to bars, extending invitations to men without consulting me.

And  he’d  been  no  different – He’d slipped drink after drink to my hair. Wrapped it around his knuckles and asked it to dance, to let out a schoolgirl giggle. To sit on his lap, its strands draping across the sticky bar floor.

It  was  years  before  I  learned  the  true  story  of  Medusa.    The  one  with  Poseidon  as  the   guy  at  the  bar  circling  her  in  a  cloud  of  smoke,  an  ocean  waiting  to  swallow  her   whole.    The  one  with  her  being  punished  for  her  short  skirt.    Her  long  hair.    For  the   drink  in  her  hand,  for  her  existence,  for  what  he  took.  Instead  we  name  the  one  who   beheaded  her  Hero,  the  one  who  raped  her  a  God.    Instead,  we  name  her  Monster.     Because  what  else  should  you  call  a  woman  with  power,  a  woman  with  a  gaze  that’s   stronger  than  yours?  

Back at the bar, my hair was wrapped around his knuckles, his body an ocean tidal waving toward me. I never thought of cutting it before that day. Fourteen inches, two yellow thick tails that had to be bound with rubber bands. The day I left him, the day I left all of them, the twin snakes of my hair writhed on the floor. They grew fangs and I told them your names.

Caroline Walton teaches high school English in Central Arkansas where she tries to convince teenagers that poetry is actually cool. She represented Arkansas at the 2013 Individual World Poetry Slam and placed second at the 2013 Arkansas Arts Center Ekphrastic Poetry Slam. Her work can be found or is forthcoming in Germ Magazine and Words Dance.

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