note from editor:

"When he awoke he saw that there were no portraits...only windows." - The Portraits, scary story. 

"robed" by jane røken

This is a very special issue for me because it's Friday the 13th. I've been preparing by scaring myself all week, driving down dark roads, calling out ghosts, pretending that I love you. Because of this I've been staying up late at night, looking at the stars, stealing their stories, and wondering how in the hell I'm going to be able to translate them. I think maybe I'll just post them here and you can read them for yourself. Here are 13 stories written by 13 stars. 

Claudia Lamar, May 2011

Dragging the Waters

by Annie Neugebauer


“Keep looking!” she screamed
over the wind.
“Keep looking!”
Panic pitched her voice so high
I almost lost it
amidst the waves crashing
just beyond our feet.

“Yeh heard ‘er!”
the bearded man bellowed
from my right.
“We drag ‘em again!”
and he pulled
his corner of the net
deeper,
me and my corner
trailing with it.

 

Stillborn

by Daniel Romo


I died before birth. My little lungs pleaded for my release. But the umbilical cord loved me too long; wouldn’t let go. I don’t remember much. Not the gagging, gasping. Only the shrieks of my mother. Today she’s a steadfast pillar of guilt. For my birthday she bakes an Angel Food Cake and places it on my grave. She lights the candles but doesn’t blow them out. It would be a slap to his face. She’s convinced the Santa Anas are my premature breath, and I’m an infant ghost. Full-term breathing haunting her every October.

 

It was really hot yesterday

by Febe Moss


By the afternoon I had died,
my lashes and lids stuck 
in a post mortem stink eye.
But like a iron-fisted zombie, I blindly
stalked down the road surrounded by
the devil’s promiscuous heat.
I had too much skin, bones, and blood
to surrender to a Texas sun.

In the evening hours like Frankenstein,
I was jolted alive and roamed innocently
under the artificial water.  I tried my best

to believe I was an amphibian 

in an unnatural world; armies of bubbles
caressed my flesh like a lover
dead set on making my lips wet.
In the tail end of my rebirth,
I came up for air and breathed
victory as the sun fell;
and I watched as the moon
was born out of the clouds.

 

Mechinopolis

by Franklin Murdock


An eclipse can change so much.
 
The world, with its wall of horizons,
sinks into a desolate posture
truly shocking
by how natural it looks.
 
The shadow of the cosmos
ubiquitous blanket,
like the pride of Icarus
falls wanting,
willing for something purer,
making promises to God
only to break them
without hesitation, retraction,
 
attrition.
 
All nations are one under this silhouette,
strikingly different than the dreams
uttered by their fathers before them.
Identity lost
Culture, a liability
the individual dies
and Gestalt is born into social gravity.
 
The land falls silent
and people weep and scream,
murmur ancient words,
cold renditions and recitations
of "eulogy" and "inevitability"
of "threat," "cause," and "effect"
of "deus ex machina"
 
and they die unburied
in this place,
once a beautiful meadow of ferns
now transubstantiated into monster
from which the creatures,
no longer people,
flee.

 

Sonnet: Connected to Each Other

by Glenn Cooper


Connected to each other by synaptic junctions
mediating some simple actions such as whole-body
contraction. Thin rain who are you haunting?
The bowl of congealing cornflakes
on the table is no night to drown in.
“Peace is the heir of dead desire.”
A coherent arrangement of objects
The night smoothes out its black tarp
while fatal songs sing to the moon
a dream asleep in the thin rain. A night
to drown in. An unsusual presience.
An approach known as “geometrodynamics”.
A dead desire is haunting the thin rain.
Mother, I have not found here what I expected.

 

 

Instant religion

“Belief is clinging; faith is letting go.” — Alan Watts

by Harry Calhoun


walking a dirt road and the light plane
soars heavier than the thin coverlet
of light blue sky over the grave ground
 
and I think of when I am beneath all this
one with the centuries behind me
unconcerned with the eons ahead
 
and I begin to fashion a notion
built on the spirits of trees
and the collective consciousness of animal instinct
 
and in the warm light of day
I weave my own myth
from the fabric of dark sky and stars
 
 
one with the centuries behind me
and the eons ahead

 

Pray for Stronger Locks

by Kimberly Casey


When he fell asleep with closet doors open
he would wake up damaged.
Grind church pews into his knees
and carve his fingertips to steeples unbreakable.
Started sleeping with a bell tower under his pillowcase
hand twisted around the rope at all times.
Rituals patterned their way into bedtime stories
brush your teeth, check the closet
wash your face, check the closet
get pajamas, check the closet
shut off the lights, don’t even look at the closet-
hum yourself a cloak, hooded, hide in blankets
and concentrate on breathing.
Every creak of the house speaks of opening doors
erase hinges from existence
pray for stronger locks.
The wolves, cemented statues
on his closet shelves would start to stir,
angry and hungry.

 

 

Horror

by Nathan Savin Scott 

 

We are hiding beneath a faux wood 
deck and you are breathing on the off-
beat. I inhale your carbon dioxide 

 

and we recycle fogged air back 
and forth between us, the air fired up,
molecules erratic, and together you 

 

and I will suck every last proton out 
of this place. This is the place for ghosts, 
you tell me, and I cannot argue with you. 

 

The mist between us. The spaces in between. 
The other day you inhaled a Camel Light 
and blew gray smoke into a grayer sky. The leaves 

 

are dead. My father is dying. The cells 
inside him are turning in against themselves, 
folding inward like the dough I knead at Papa 

 

John’s. I need. One day his cells will pack 
it in until there is nowhere to go. 
I think about that here with you, under 

 

faux wood, the ground wet beneath us, 
the dew. His cells will turn inside and against. 
An infinity inward. Sometimes I think 

 

they will collapse into a black hole that sucks 
him down into the earth. Other times 
I think they will bottle up and then explode.

 

You are thirteen. I am two years older. 
You are white and I am white. The sky is gray.
The ground is wet. These are things I know.

 

You tell me that you think he is gone.
He isn’t. Not yet. We can wait a little longer.
I will keep you warm with my breath.

 

The ghosts are here dancing among the 
molecules. They swish dioxide with their robes.
They know how stupid this all is. So they dance.

 

I admire them. They delight in their
little world. I laugh and you tell me to shut
the fuck up or he’ll hear us. 

 

Double-Feature

by Paul McQuade


The stars were splices of film: 
flickering out of focus, not there then
not there again in spools of 
magnesium. Beneath them,
seared holy into the night:
Gene Vincent, 
and The Girl Can't Help It.

It was
malt-shop success at first, of course, 
at first, but we needed dialogue
so we talked incoherent into our gin&tonics 
     (free-pouring rainwater, a flood of bright lemons) 
and smoked, because it was then, 
and we did not know 

just how poisonous we could be. 
Tendrils of smoke rose
into the aether, 
mingled with the silver light
until we were coiled, 
clasped tight, 
in a seaweed of smoke and mirrors. 

When you’re not you you’re the most
you you could ever be 
We watched as the scene darkened.
Vincent Price moulded wax.
You screamed, with a shudder, 
and your ortolan spine was so damn breakable on the red leather
that I had to bite my tongue to keep from doing it.

Fragments

by Robert Vaughan

 
Can’t fathom what possesses
someone to bolt
so suddenly,
 
disappear
 
noteless, without warning
signs, surely troubled
but aren’t we all…
 
 
What urges someone
to leap off a
cliff, fly into a canyon
 
to be swallowed whole
in fragments
 
dispersed. Only
one freezing January
month after we’d met.

 

 

When you feel fear

by Ty Russell


when you feel fear rising
in your throat
crowding out the vast landscape 
of your soul
greet him as you would
an old friend
learn from what he has to say
listen
but not too much

then when he turns his back
stab the fucker in the soft spot
between his ribs
choke him
set him on fire 
like a den of hibernating snakes
and let the light show you the way

for what is coming 
is coming regardless
it’s already on its way
we don’t need a false messenger
to tell us

Seven Ways to Conjure the Luck of a Saltwater Sturgeon

by Wendy Willis

 

1.  We are obliged 
to seek forgiveness 
from darkling ghosts
for the backwaters 
of what we thought 
we thought.  2. A road pitted 
with milkweed 
and vinca surely ends
in an opaque city,
 a squared-off mayor 
& missus can you spare some change?  
3. Four white feet 
are unlucky 
on a racing pony.  
Never bet 
on a gray.  4.  Warning:  
A late beer 
in a father’s hand 
can only turn out 
badly.  5.  You can’t warm 
to the title widow 
without kissing 
its round-O mouth
and carrying home 
a scrap-purse of stones.   
6. Press slow 
toward 
the milk-sotted morning 
for fear of sparrows
and slant-dreams.
7.  Set the hook 
& spit on the worm 
for luck.

 

contributor bios

Annie Neugebauer is a short story writer, novelist, and award-winning poet. She has work appearing or forthcoming in Wichita Falls Literature and Art Review, Six Sentences, Texas Poetry Calendar 2011, Voices de la Luna, Versifico, Collections I, Ardent!, The Stray Branch, Dark Horizons, Eunoia Review, and Encore. Annie is the President of the North Branch Writers’ Critique Group as well as the Vice President of the Denton Poets' Assembly. She lives in Denton, Texas with her husband Kyle and two cats, Buttons and Snaps. You can visit her at www.WordsByAnnie.com.

 

Daniel Romo is an MFA candidate at Queens University of Charlotte, but represents the LBC. His poetry can be found in Fogged Clarity, MiPoesias, Scythe, Praxilla, and elsewhere. His first book of poetry, Romancing Gravity, is forthcoming from Pecan Grove Press. More of his writing can be found at danielromo.wordpress.com.

 

Febe Moss hails from the mystical land of Cowboys and big hair. She is a thirty-one year old native Texan, who loves to write about the strange side of life. Currently, she is finishing her first novel and will soon be seeking publication.  Febe loves the beat generation, inquiring if the walrus was Paul, and swimming at night.  Febe's blog is located at http://thefeebs.blogspot.com/.

 

Franklin Murdock is a writer and poet from the Midwestern United States. Though most of his work is harvested from the vast landscapes of horror, fantasy, and science fiction, Franklin strives to spin tales outside the conventions of these genres. Beyond fiction, he has written essays that have been published in regional newspapers and that have won contests, has published poetry, has been featured on Internet radio broadcasts, and has written lyrics and music for short films. He also maintains franklinmurdock.com.

 

Glenn W. Cooper lives and writes in Tamworth, Austalia, where he manages an independent bookstore. His books include 'Tryin' To Get To Heaven - Poems About Bob Dylan' and 'His Crucible of Pain: 20 Prose Poems Concerning Rimbaud'. He can be contacted at glennwaynecooper@gmail.com.

 

Harry Calhoun’s articles, literary essays and poems have appeared in magazines including Writer’s Digest and The National Enquirer. He  has been published at odd poetry whistlestops for the past 30 years. His poems have appeared in the book The Black Dog and the Road and and his chapbooks, Something RealNear daybreak, with a nod to Frost and Retreating Aggressively into the Dark. He’s had recent publications inChiron Review, Orange Room Review, Gutter Eloquence and many others. Find out more at http://harrycalhoun.net.

 

Jane Røken believes in coloured lanterns and old tractors. She has been a saxhorn player in a brass band, a research technician in a secret lab, and a member of the Fourth International. Now past sixty, she has not yet decided what she wants to be when she grows up. In the meantime, she writes weird stories and spooky poems. For you. Yes, you.

 

Kimberly Casey is a Massachusetts poet who has made her home in every corner of the state. An Emerson College graduate and member of Emerson's 2010 College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational team, Kimberly remains active in the poetry scene both in Boston and Worcester, while nesting in her current town of Westfield, where she can be spotted constantly sipping tea, writing, and dreaming.

 

Nathan Savin Scott has lived in Boston, New Orleans, San Francisco, and now lives in our nation's capital. He doesn't know a thing about politics and thus usually sits awkwardly and silent during dinner parties he attends there. His work has appeared in some online magazines and some print ones, as well. You can find him on Twitter: @nathan_s_scott.

 

Paul McQuade was born in Glasgow, Scotland, but now lives in Tokyo where he reads, writes and teaches. Occasionally he survives earthquakes. His work has most recently appeared in Goblin Fruit, Fractured West and Six Sentences. He has a tattoo of a teacup on his left arm and a penchant for Hendrick's gin.

 

Robert Vaughan's plays have been produced in N.Y.C., L.A., S.F., and Milwaukee where he resides. He leads two writing roundtables for Redbird- Redoak Studio. His prose and poetry is published in over 125 literary journals such as Elimae, BlazeVOX, and A-Minor. He is a fiction editor at JMWW magazine, and Thunderclap! Press. Also hosts Flash Fiction Fridays for WUWM’s Lake Effect. His blog, One Writer's Life, is: http://rgv7735.wordpress.com.

 

Ty Russell is a recent graduate of the University of Pennsylvania. His work has been published in Apiary Magazine, The Pennsylvania Gazette, Peregrine, at RelevantMagazine.com, and earned an honorable mention in Glimmer Train’s 2009 Short Story Contest and Stony Brook’s 2010 Short Fiction Contest.  He lives in north central Pennsylvania with his wife and their children.

 

Wendy Willis is a poet, mother, and democracy builder who lives and works in Portland, Oregon. Her peripatetic lifestyle that allows her to make dinner in Portland one night and be at work in the coalfields of West Virginia the next lends to her poems a lexicon of the Republic with a strong dash of the domestic. She is the interim director of the Policy Consensus Initiative and has published poems in a variety of regional and national journals including VoiceCatcher, the Bellingham Review and Poetry Northwest.  Wendy lives in Southeast Portland with her two daughters, her husband and his son, and their two unruly dogs.

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