note from editor:

" ... a man can only be a man except in those rare cases when he is more ... " - David Tomaloff, LOUP GAROU I-III {a suite}

#12 by keith higginbotham

#12 by keith higginbotham

I am trying to be more. More inspired. More woman. I've been wanting to become a little bit Russian. Something sinister, dark and scarlet. How to become things that you are not is like trying to become the sky at night. Stars are stretching themselves and burning out, but pretending not to burn out. Sometimes I feel threaded into the universe, and other times like a loose string. I beg the gods to burn me off. 

My voice falls from space and dissolves into the voices of other people — people that are poets, or poor — and I demit everything I ever thought of myself or my shape in life, and I just become things that I am not, but at the same time, things that were always inside of me. 

(Other things I beg for: dig me a grave, trash in my veins, a heartbreak in a dream.)

Claudia Lamar, August 2011

Note: This issue's artwork was submitted in collaboration with David Tomaloff's poem, also featured in this issue. 

Mad Mother’s Lullaby

by Caroline Misner


Hush, hush, sweet baby boy,
not a word must you utter.
Shut your eyes against the night,
without you the night would be much better.

You diminish me, sweet child, bit by bit;
fragments of a broken puzzle
that never seem to fit.

Keep quiet, my love
and don’t say a word.
Hush, hush, sweet baby;
you don’t want to be heard.

A creature of silence and sometimes of sound;
if not for you, sweet baby,
I wouldn’t stay around.

Hush, hush, sweet baby boy,
not a sound must you utter.
If you were dead right now,
my life would be much better.

Mother tomorrow and mother today.
Hush, hush, sweet baby
and please go away.

LOUP GAROU I-III {a suite}

by David Tomaloff


i.  LYCANTHROPE

hyper
werewolf

;  soft it was
,  the city sliding

off its back

a man can only
be a man except

in those rare cases
when he is more


ii. VARIATIONS ON A THEME

some cities are cities
;  other cities are fires

the undead of the forests
that preceded them

still inhabit the cracks
,  where they live

on the gin
& the blood

of the living

we count the days
by the stars that pass

;  we forget what we can
by the blue light of day


iii. AMONG/AMUCK

the sharpened teeth
;  the shoulders

sometimes
,  she said
,  I fear for the worst

Voraginous Wounds

by Drea Jane Kato


What I want is not anything
offered here.  What I want
is jeweled red horses, chains
connecting all my organs,
a mangled music box heart.

Reality is destroying me
and something great
is seeping out
through my veins.
I inhale the smoke
and accept things as they are.
It is officially dissolved.
Promises, promises..

What I want is a nostalgia
like acid burning holes in me.
What I want is angels reaching down
from their delicate ether palace,
touching me underneath my clothes.

What I want is a mosquito net
to choke you with
and a pond to toss you in after.
What I want is to watch
a river of mucus float by
filled with fish that dance
and light up like
little balls of hope.

I want the air to smell like
candy and animal flesh and coffee.
I want to see rainbows every day.
What I want is every president's
head on a platter.  What I want is

to eat and drink and have sex
like everyone but I can't.
What I want is to live in crystal castles
and her death; I imagine it sounding
like velcro, then a weak
almost inaudible sound.

What I want is to pull a trigger
that pulls a million triggers,
a watermelon scent in the brain,
a sunflower field, additional siblings.

What I want is trash in my veins,
every single person walking down the street
sane and well and
sex with cake.

Her, gone, 3 a.m.

by Harry Calhoun


Woke in the middle of a hard starless night,
all dark in the bedroom and chilly cold outside.

I could almost hear the tubercular darkness
coughing hemorrhage. It had gone so wrong

with her death to my presence.
The slimmest moon will not spit its shadow

onto the wall of her absence. Once the gibbous
lit our way into and out of the shadows,

but now the wolf has its way, creeping
into our old backyard and your new savage wanderlust.

My old faithful dog and I do not like this.
We are not timid but there is much to fear,

waking to bland black water pressing
with the quiet suffocation of loneliness from all sides.

The void with her gone crackles between my ears,
white noise in the radio receiver of the mind.

I place my body like a slovenly bookmark,
a poor offering between the sheets where we

used to sleep. Hope to pick up some wreckage of rest,
adrift on the beach of a hard starless night.


Scarrings

by Jack Hodil


Which is worse,
the girl who
cries after the abortion
or the girl who
does not?

They will both be eaten
by the same god, after all,
despite how well they may
walk through their respective mazes.

Sometimes the shortest of distances
can be the most overwhelming,
with bodies that have grown too full
to be carried any further.

These are the things that only
happen when nothing else can.
Like a stabbing,
you won’t feel it until
they have already taken it out.

rêve à la gauche

by Jennifer Lobaugh


I dreamed with my head to the left last night
cheek pressed soft into the pillow
my breath hot, and even as time
my mind an unkempt garden

I heard your voice through a tunnel of light
beckoning from times long past
           Remember when?
you used to speak in polygons
and the lies were kinder then

I saw an Easter morning, starchy white
Sunday drowsy, Sunday clean
it was stereophonic violet
a heartbreak in a dream


Sarah's inside Sarah

by John Grey


When they called
the girl Sarah,
they didn’t know
they were creating
another Sarah,
a body within
hers waiting for
the name to latch onto,
to slide inside
in a fist of clear light
and grow as the outside grew,
but deadlier, darker.

When she bloomed
into a lissome beauty,
blonde as a captured sun,
the shadowy brunette
was already too large for her cage
and  scratched against the pink wall
with a dagger.

And when the man whispered
in a delicate pink ear,
“Sarah, Sarah”,
the hidden one would
leap out and shower
him with the kisses
of her singing blade. 

Poem for a Poet

by Kirby Wright


These days I find blood
In strange places,

Drops falling like rain
Staining the carpet.

I remember the razor dragging,
Unzipping me from myself.

Why do I plant
The arms and legs of dolls

In the earth
Of the redwood planter?

It amuses you.
I know.

Am I planting myself?
My only pictures of you

Are on the flaps of books.
You search for women

To belong to
When you know, deep down,

You belong to me
Or at least the part of me

That makes you hunger
For more bloody morsels.

Gathering

by Lauren D.M. Smith

 

Yellow eyes,

Slit pupils,

Stare out from the darkness

 

Leaves that rustle,

Shadows twitch,

No winds blow through the night

 

Escaping,

Clouds move past,

The sliver moon appears

 

A bright line

In dark sky,

The reverse of those eyes

 

Tail swishes slowly,

The eyes stare,

The cat watches you move

 

Another cat,

And another

Come to sit, staring at you

 

Glowing eyes,

Stepping back,

The cats follow you

 

Turning back,

You move away,

Only to find more cats

 

Up in the skeleton

Trees, and on

The roofs of the abandoned houses

 

The cats gaze

Down at you,

Silhouetted against the night.

 

Bushes rustle,

Cats there too.

On the path, claws gouging the earth.

Shining bright,

Against the dark,

A curved menace, hidden by fur.

 

Everywhere

Yellow eyes

Staring straight into you

 

No escape,

Surrounded,

They slink slowly forward…

 


The Night I Realized I’d Long Ago Lost My Son

by Nancy Flynn

 

hemoglobin red              most lurid hue

that scar

come by           one night in the 90s      riding your no-light bike

smashed              a month until 20              Monday night football

(Jello shots?)          how does it happen?       what

makes a boy fly               into a car?

windshield crystals                slicing through lip

not a look            you desire            in a family photo

to this day                 turning             angles that restore

your face               leading man         (empirical)

low-pitch rumble           your voice                ramped-up

toward jarred            gangland sweet             that summer

every hoop court         tar-taped             nothing

patched, only play      never the payday         always

hazard hazard hazard

postures            potholes             pop/guns

how near           a face can get               and yet

the maximum                  son in the flesh

(after he’s tanned it forever)

why didn’t it peel?         because mothers

cling like lichen              swab the rash

tweeze the miniscule grit

eviscerating            the high-beam glare

inside     then sinking                    no, sunk

my sorry        love-shot stone

your boyish lostness

what did you feel          behind your matte mask

tethering to gauze      who’s dissing you        ugly?

she tries to recall the ranting

in the emergency room

from his drunken        mangled mouth

instead that echo

the man in the car        who cried

Did I kill him?

 

See Stitches

by Nazifa Islam


I’ll slit my throat in front of you.
Watch me.  Slitting wrists is only done
in private but I’ll draw the knife
across my jugular in front of you
and a mirror if that’s your demand.
I’m not shy.  I’ll strip naked first
if you prefer.  I’ll light my clothes
on fire and try to cover myself
in the ashes.  It won’t work but I’ll do it.
You’ll see how stubborn I can be.
You’ll see mania.  You’ll get acquainted
with blood.  I’ll make your dreams
nightmares – that’s what I’m here for.
Why the hell are you laughing?

*

by Simon Perchik


I dig this grave
the way migrating birds
remember the exact site 
-the spade pecking at itself
till all that's left to eat
is the dampness in its bones.

It took this crow forever, first
to darken, then
to fly but I am still afraid
keep widening this hole
not sure -all night each star
returning to the same spot
and this blade somehow heavier.

I lay down a bird
that still has wings
has a place you can use -the air
is not so safe anymore
and the dirt against its body
already growing into light

into some great mountain range
and these few feathers around it waist
looking all over for you 

-you are always falling into rivers 
-what you breathe now
comes from these shallow graves
emptied then filled -this crow
with its back to the sky
and no room left on Earth.


Nightmare radio report

by Walt Garner


“A Mister Thomas Bliss of Stonington
is missing and presumed dead this morning.
He was taken from his home at knife point
by a roving gang of motorcyclists
police have had no luck in apprehending.
Four other men in Bliss’s walk of life
(he teaches at the elementary school)
have disappeared from their Connecticut
homes in identical circumstances
(they were taken while reading Robert Frost).
By the morning after the abductions
the previous four were found in pieces,
their skulls having been hollowed out, their ribs
gnawed on and showing signs of being boiled
to extract the marrow for soup or stew
these renegades, cannibals, murderers
create to shore up strength for ensuing crimes.
Police have found what they can only call--
ghoulish as it sounds-- ‘belly sentences,’
which they think Mister Bliss in writhing wrote
upon the ground surrounding their infernal
campfire. (The Palmer Method was employed.)”

“ ‘Plato laughs and cracks a bone across
his knee; Demosthenes drinks Southern Comfort
from a skull. Gnawing on a bloody arm,
Aurelius is watching as I write
these words. They’ve killed four teachers just like me.
If you can’t save me, you need to know
their names and ways so you can stop their run
of rampaging through the ranks of men who
teach at the elementary level.’ ”

“The police surmise the captors watching
Bliss wriggle like a worm in the outer edges
of the firelight would not have known
that he was communicating with the law
enforcement community, but instead
they’d ascribe his worming to timidity,
self-pity, cowardice, lack of manhood.
But what he wrote in man-sized worm castings
amounts to an indictment the D. A.
only needs to write in legal jargon.
Bliss named names in his belly sentences
that’ll put this gang away for good.”

contributor bios

Caroline Misner is a graduate of Sheridan College of Applied Arts & Technology with a diploma in Media Arts Writing. She was nominated for the prestigious Writers' Trust/McClelland & Stewart Journey Anthology Prize in 2009, as well a Pushcart Prize in 2010. In 2004 her novella received Honorable Mention in the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest. A short story was also a finalist in the same contest. A novel, The Glass Cocoon was a semi-finalist for the William Faulkner-William Wisdom Award the following year.

David Tomaloff (b. 1972) is a writer, photographer, musician, and all around bad influence. His work has appeared in fine publications such as Mud Luscious, >kill author, Thunderclap!, HOUSEFIRE, Prick of the Spindle, DOGZPLOT, elimae, and many more. He is the author of the chapbooks, Olifaunt (The Red Ceilings Press, 2011), EXIT STRATEGIES (Gold Wake Press, 2011) and MESCAL NON-PALINDROME CINEMA (Ten Pages Press, 2011). He resides in the form of ones and zeros at: davidtomaloff.com

Drea Jane Kato was born in the great state of California and was raised Buddhist by a gypsy-like artist mother and a Japanese farmer who currently grows pineapples in Hawaii. She is a Capricorn, Dragon, INTJ, HSP, Atheist, singer/songwriter, abstract painter/artist, iPhone photographer who likes yoga, fasting, and the beach. She has been published in magazines such as The Blue Jew Yorker, My Favorite Bullet, Ink Sweat & Tears, The Beat, Ditch, Pomegranate, ReadThis Magazine, Otis Nebula, and Alternativereel.

Harry Calhoun has been published at odd poetry whistlestops for the past 30 years. Last year, his poems were published in the book The Black Dog and the Road and his chapbooks, Something Real, Near daybreak, with a nod to Frost and Retreating Aggressively into the Dark. He’s had recent publications in Chiron Review, Orange Room Review, Gutter Eloquence and many others.

Jack Hodil is an English major and Creative Writing minor at the University of Richmond. His poems have been published in a handful of magazines, such as Word Riot and the Camroc Press Review. He finds his hands too dangerous and his feet misleading.

Jennifer Lobaugh is a writer, musician, and current student at the University of Oklahoma. Fluent in English, French, Russian, and Sarcasm, her poetry has recently been published at The Camel Saloon and is forthcoming in Gutter Eloquence Magazine. She's pretty sure a ghost once kidnapped her pet turtle.

John Grey is an Australian born poet, and US resident since late seventies. He works as financial systems analyst. Recently published in Xavier Review, White Wall Review and Writer’s Bloc with work upcoming in Poem, Prism International and the Cider Press Review.

Keith Higginbotham's poetry has appeared recently or is forthcoming in The Beatnik, Cricket Online Review, ditch, Eratio, The Montucky Review, and Otoliths. He is the author of Carrying the Air on a Stick (The Runaway Spoon Press), Prosaic Suburban Commercial (Eratio Editions), and Theme From Next Date (Ten Pages Press).

Kirby Wright was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii. He is a graduate of Punahou School in Honolulu and the University of California at San Diego. He received his MFA in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University. Wright has been nominated for two Pushcart Prizes and is a past recipient of the Ann Fields Poetry Prize, the Academy of American Poets Award, the Browning Society Award for Dramatic Monologue, and Arts Council Silicon Valley Fellowships in Poetry and The Novel. BEFORE THE CITY, his first book of poetry, took First Place at the 2003 San Diego Book Awards. 

Lauren D.M. Smith is a Canadian currently living and working in Japan as an ALT (assistant language teacher). She is a recent graduate from Bishop's University and is currently trying to find a job back home to support her writing habit.

Nancy Flynn hails from the coal country of northeastern Pennsylvania. Her writing’s received the James Jones First Novel Fellowship and an Oregon Literary Fellowship. Her poetry chapbook, The Hours of Us, was published in 2007. In a past life, she’s certain she was an art colony bohemian, an Irish peasant, or—why not?—Cleopatra! A former university administrator, she now writes creatively and edits carefully from her sea-green (according to Crayola) house near lovely Alberta Park in Portland, Oregon. More at www.nancyflynn.com.

Nazifa Islam is a poet from Novi, Michigan.  She has the misfortune of being born on the day that resulted in Abraham Lincoln’s assassination as well as the sinking of the Titanic.  As if in accord with these ominous tidings, her favorite poets are Sylvia Plath, Dorothy Parker, Dorothea Lasky and Edgar Allan Poe.  She has work forthcoming in both Breadcrumb Scabs and Disingenuous Twaddle, and regularly updates her blog Thoughts Interjected.

Simon Perchik is an attorney whose poems have appeared in Partisan Review, The New Yorker and elsewhere. For more information, including his essay “Magic, Illusion and Other Realities” and a complete bibliography, please visit his website at www.simonperchik.com.

Walt Garner has been teaching in a public school for sixteen years, and though he hasn't had a motorcycle gang after him yet, he's had a large number of weirdos gunning for him – if only in his dreams.

line index