note from editor:

neighbors by eryk s. wenziak

"When there is nothing left to burn you have to set yourself on fire." — Stars, Your Ex-Lover is Dead

I'm building pyres for all of my past lives(/loves). Before I die I plan on living at least twenty lives. The thing about living then dying then living again is that sometimes memory can be like an elephant. In the sense that it's as big as shit, and if it gets tired it'll sit and crush everything you've made of yourself. 

Burn it. It'll haunt you anyway. New paragraph: 

Sometimes a day will go by and there will be no sign of beauty, no matter how hard you stare at it. Studying all the details, picking up rugs, checking your belly button. There is just no beauty. All that you are left with is absencesinvasions, crazy women and sick cows

"The starry night loses an axle, veers off," says a poet. 

Coincidently? There is a poem about a man's head on fire. He doesn't seem to know what the hell is going on either. 

 

Claudia Lamar, September 2011

wolf

by Amy Elisabeth Olson


wolf 1

when he visited me last
night he left me
with three black hairs.

each one he said
would allow me to change
a moment past. with a wood
match i lit one on fire
and inhaled the thickness of burning
hair. with a bone needle i wove
the other into a ball of yellow
yarn. i spent four days knitting
a scarf and wore it instead
around my waist. i pressed the
third hair across my tongue and
let it stick between two
teeth. when i woke up this morning
it was there, still. i am sure
it will never not be.

wolf 2

i yellowed together the wolf-worn
tatters, gathering wool and teething
apart patches. the blunted scissor
legs clasping together fabrics long
left in willowed grasses.

you left me pausing
and watering, you left me
wolfing and sallow. maybe not as
edgeless as to seam, but you left me
much more toothy than green.

wolf 3

from the no
rth the win

d floated

to me a how
l. i under
stood i

t to be a sign

that my tend
er predator was still the
re, though no
t haunting me any

more with his teeth,

anymore with his hair.

My Greatest Fear

by Brad Liening


It’s hard to tell what the greater fear is:
to be discovered or no one caring
to discover you. A holy man
thinks about it for a long time.
The earth trembles, sending up a few ghosts
while others fall into brand-new chasms.
In a century or two, people will ride
donkeys down into the now-old
chasms on tours to ooh and aah
and be bitten by poisonous snakes.
Some poisonous snakes roost in the sky
and are incorrectly identified as clouds.
Someday they will drop to earth and
it will be horrible. It’s my greatest fear.

You Are My Sunshine

by F.J. Bergmann


You held my gaze a second too long.
You were smiling when you didn’t mean it.
I thought I heard you say my name
in a conversation with another woman.
When the moon waned with the year,
I felt threatened,

so I left the letters on your desk, written with
a Rapidograph filled with blood (mine)
and an anti-coagulant; unsigned,
because I knew that you knew.

I sent you the nesting marquetry boxes
containing dried poppies and a grackle skull.
I nailed maimed homunculi braided from black grass
to the outside of your house at points corresponding
to the six cardinalities, where you will never find them.

No translation should have been necessary
but you did not acknowledge or apologize
so I entered your dark house while you were
asleep and hid behind a large rock
and met you less than halfway up the mountain
as you trudged back home from the valley of night.

Womanslaughter

by Gale Acuff


Miss Hooker died last night, I dreamt. She's my
Sunday School teacher but, last night, no more,
she didn't see the Mack that had no lights
and I was driving it, I want to be
a truckdriver when I grow up, I'm just
9 now to her 25 or so, she's

old, or was, and I want to marry her,
or did, but now I can't, not just in real
life but in dreams, too, unless she comes
back to life for me tonight and I hope
she isn't angry and forgives me, like
Jesus does, or she said He does--unless

I'm so sinful that I'm sent to Hell, where
I'll live an eternity of torment,
not that I don't deserve it, I cheated
on my last math test and flunked anyway,
though to my credit not by very much,
but that's sin for you, it only takes some

and not a lot to sink you into fire.
And to my credit again, in last night's
dream I called the cops and turned myself in:
Yes, it was an accident, I said, but
I knew better than to drive without lights
after dark, and, no, I wasn't drinking
and you can test me. They did and I passed
so that's something. Boy, was her family

steamed at me, who can blame them, and wouldn't
let me attend the funeral, and then
I went to court and pleaded guilty, which
was the least I could do though it didn't
bring Miss Hooker back. They executed
me but it only hurt a second and
then I guess I went to Hell but--holy
moley--I woke up this morning alive

and dressed for Sunday School but was shaking
so much I couldn't straighten my clip-on
bow tie and wound up with it on upside
down but never noticed 'til Miss Hooker
told me after class and fixed it for me,
her fingers at my throat and all her grace.

slither.

by Georgie Delgado


You can’t imagine the ease
with which we travel between towns
when none of your angry sword-swingers
remember to check the swamps.

Each one grows fat with our kind.
The mountains, too.  At night,

we have often been mistaken
for high-rising trees, swaying
in the wind outside those caves
where even the oracles would lose
themselves amidst our undying.

Every life we enter
ends the same way:

screaming
fracturing
clanging
fire

and so we slither on, watching
all the little children being spun
god yarns in the comfort of bed,
“If you throw dirt into the hydra’s mouth,
all its teeth turn into skeletons.”

We have wondered at times
how it would feel to exist in a place
where that sort of thing was the truth.

and it is more difficult to believe in
with every passing year,
with every new pond of gore
left burning white hot and acidic.

Little ones, your time would be
better spent keeping this in mind:
the mouth of a demon
is hardly the kind of place
you want to go throwing dirt.

You might stir up a hunger
for your own bones.

Mermaids

by Holly Day


we were going to take the boat out, sail
to the edge of the world, tease
the monsters waiting there with out
bare, dangling feet, toes tickling the ocean skin
like tiny pink fish

but you had to go and ruin it
chase shore-hugging mermaids instead
had to search clam-shell bikinis for pearls
find out where baby mermaids come from

we were going to become pirates
treasure hunters, world explorers
wrestle giant squid at the world's edge
find the fountain of youth

but you had to go and spoil everything
in your search for suburban normalcy
chase dreams of apron-clad mermaids
who'd give up their kingdoms for you.

Red Water

by Michael Andrew


all dennis wanted to do was eat burritos but he was stuck watching the livestock by the time he got to the field they were madly walking in circles bellowing by mid-afternoon their urine had turned red and purple last year the hills around his farm had been transformed into translucent triangles and polyhedrons he wondered if this could be the cause of his animal’s illness

Getting up to meet yourself coming down

by Rick Bailey


A man wakes in the middle of the night and discovers his head is on fire. His wife sleeps beside him, exhausted from years of childbirth, the daily work of children, hearth and home. He knows better than to wake her or burn her nice pillow cases. He slips out of bed and stands in front of the mirror. It’s such a big one, he whispers, more than enough. He tamps out his sideburns, confining the flames to the top, then pulls back the curtains, opens the window, and climbs out on the roof. Above their silver maple, the moon is a giant cookie. Damp under his bare feet, the brittle shingles scratch and tick as he crawls toward top of the house. He is a torch. Tonight he could be a meteor. He could dive to earth and make a crater that would fill with cool water. His remains, mere crumbs, would puzzle scientists from around the world for years. Beneath him, his children roll in their beds with dreams of their own. His wife turns toward his place, inhales, exhales, and rests an arm where his chest should be. When he reaches the chimney, he rests his back against it and waits, grateful for the warmth of the brick. A breeze brings the smell of apples already starting to drop. He can’t see much after all. Now what, he wonders. And why.

                                                  

A Series of Short Poems About the Chinese Invasion (1952)

by Simon Jacobs


I. “This Ain’t No Land of the Rising Sun”

Cyclical,
the revolutions,
& where they started
under oppressive scorching heat
at the beginning of the day.

II. “Rare New Forms of Bacteria”

An old newspaper
brown & faded with age
reads, as if hysterical satire:
“Beware the Eastern Threat!”
If only we’d known.

III. “Vestigial Organs”

The words “puppet state,”
said over breakfast,
conjured gruesome images of split-armed marionettes
come to snatch boys like me & take them away
in airships.

IV. “No-Fly Zones”

A solitary zeppelin
purring on the orange horizon,
nosing gently at the air,
a slothful, harmless animal,
pouring leaden death from above.

V. “Everything Was Clear for a Moment in Time”

Communication standstill,
stealth planes only
creeping metaphorical tides of red.
Until they weren’t.

VI. “Pachysandra in the Atomic Garden”

For the sake of diplomacy
negotiations failed.
For the sake of peace
they went to war.

VII. “Maoist Punks Are the Worst!”

Banners painted thick with crude portraits and slogans.
The rain doesn’t dissolve the paint—
curiously, the water cannon does.

VIII. “Traces of Black Magic”

He always knew
when the trains had just left the station;
slick concrete, where the steam condensed,
or red flags flickering in the distance.

IX. “Victorian Futurism”

My grandfather said, “We could go underwater,”
my father said we didn’t have the means.
My grandfather replied by unrolling a dusty set of blueprints;
a machine to take us there, he said. 

The girl whose face is in faux porcelain bowls

by Tammy Ho Lai-Ming


She makes no apologies. Full of sleep,
Her subtle rudeness is no one else's responsibility.
You believe that she's sweet. She smiles, she nods,
She says Yes. She's most certainly not listening.
She's fantasising about Indian clouds, Polish maps,
Dead magazines on French desks.

She makes no apologies. She reads and reads
Whole night long like a hypnotised sheep.

She makes no apologies. Her bizarre upturned lamps
Littered in her house are like grail cups. They hold
Solidified drops of past and present love.

She makes no apologies. Any indulgences
For her are necessities. Three coffees
Before sex just so she burps caffeine
After sighing: Go deeper. Go deep.

She makes no apologies. Call her a Cambodian
And she laughs. Call her an 'authentic' Chinese
She would flinch. Where's her cheongsam?

She makes no apologies. The only spontaneous
Things she does are motivated by changing status
Of consciousness, but more often, body fluids:
'Creative juice is selective about lying.'

No apologies.

Winter Solstice 2010

by Thomas Piekarski


The old unseen serpent swallows up the stars.     — Anne Sexton

1.        

The moon eclipsed two nights ago,
Went full the following night.
Everywhere. This time it cries.

Swarmed by battalions of extinct fish
That inky sediment infiltrates its scales,
Mantis, Mantra, Manhattan.

Winter solstice yesterday, light shut down.
Squid squirt ink darker than deepmost
Disconsolate sea cisterns.

Licentious: Libyan land grab gluts headlines.
To avoid wavering amid unnerving quietude
Axis shifts onto men’s worm-eaten

Flesh piled high to be burnt within the hour.

2.

The bellicose rhythm of Lonely Hearts Club
Is no idiom. This is not a place
Where cranks can pray upon the native dead.

The day begins starkly, then migrates
From its woodless crypt like a fat termite.
The starry night loses an axle, veers off,
Gets clouded over. Ten moons glow faintly.

O show me the way back into shadows
Of milky galaxies beyond compromise.

My reach limited only by infinity.
Its best pitch can be rightly deduced
Provided existence weighs in the balance.

Twice betrayed! Once with his father’s demise,
Second by a witch whose love proved guise.

Absence

by Vanessa Young


It has been a while
since you explained
time as a dream,
a collective trick
made to deceive
me from believing
that I am at once
the child, wild curls
in the breeze,
and the old woman
I have never seen.
It has been a while
and it never shall be.

Two magpies

by Walter Bjorkman


mourn as one, chanting barn cackles from empty lofts. Outside, night woods choruses echo their sympathy. Paint my neck yellows, crimson and green, I scratch - bleed it black, I no longer feel. Lie forever on your side, I will bring tufted grass to your lips, you will not eat. Every seven years I move the soil atop your body, my withered arms turn over your bones. Left alone, they would never stir.

contributor bios

Amy Elisabeth Olson is a twenty-something suburban refugee armed with a BA in English, electronic music and her grandmother’s silver.

Brad Liening lives in Minneapolis. He's the author of Ghosts and Doppelgangers (Lowbrow Press).

Eryk S. Wenziak is a drummer and teaches management at the graduate level.  His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in: elimae; Short, Fast, and Deadly; Thunderclap Press; Used Furniture Review; Negative Suck; Psychic Meatloaf; Dark Chaos; Guerilla Pamphlets; Deadlier Than Thou (anthology); 52|250; Long River Run.  Currently, he is working on a chapbook, the flowers were trying harder, a collection of prose poems, each accompanied by a photograph. 

F.J. Bergmann frequents Wisconsin and fibitz.com. She is the poetry editor of Mobius: The Journal of Social Change. She once participated, half-heartedly, in a very small orgy.

Gale Acuff has had poetry published in Ascent, Ohio Journal, Descant, Adirondack Review, Worcester Review, Verse Wisconsin, Maryland Poetry Review, Florida Review, South Carolina Review, Carolina Quarterly, Poem, Amarillo Bay, South Dakota Review, Santa Barbara Review, Sequential Art Narrative in Education, and many other journals. She’s authored three books of poetry: Buffalo Nickel (BrickHouse Press, 2004), The Weight of the World (BrickHouse, 2006), and The Story of My Lives (BrickHouse, 2008). He has taught university English in the US, China, and the Palestinian West Bank.

Georgie Delgado is a 21 year old troublemaker from Puerto Rico, who currently resides in Amherst, MA. He loves the moon, Harry Potter books, most sub-genres of metal and punk, Coca-Cola, and Zooey Deschanel. He often wishes that the Universe would reveal that he is, in fact, either a werewolf or a son of Poseidon. In 2009, Georgie was one of five members of Hampshire College's College Nationals poetry slam team, The Human Missile Crisis. That same year, he was awarded Best of the Rest for his poem "Broken Jail Cell Sestina [for john dillinger]." Georgie has one tattoo currently, and a total of 6 planned. The next one he gets will be the Sigil of Cthulhu, as depicted in Lovecraft's "Urilia Text," because Cthulhu is a cool guy as far as ancient evils go, and Georgie likes to imagine that he is too. Cool, that is. Not evil.  Maybe ancient, though [there's not much substantial evidence to the contrary, after all].

Holly Day is a housewife and mother of two living in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Her poetry has recently appeared in The Oxford American, The Midwest Quarterly, and Coal City Review. Her book publications include Music Composition for Dummies, Guitar-All-in-One for Dummies, and Music Theory for Dummies, which has recently been translated into French, Dutch, Spanish, Russian, and Portuguese.

Michael Andrew is a full time student at NUIG studying Philosophy and Celtic Civilisation. His work has appeared in Blue and yellow dog, shamrock, mancini press, guerilla pamphlets et.al. He can be found here: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=622160272 . Or alternatively you can visit him for a cup of tea in Galway.

Rick Bailey is a stay-at-home father who raised go-away kids. The poem in this issue looked ahead to this day. Alone now he divides his time between the basement and the roof and is undecided whether to go lower or higher.

Simon Jacobs continues to attend an aggravatingly tiny college in the Middle West. He has contributed to Thought Catalog, and his fiction has appeared in Monkeybicycle and is forthcoming in Do Hookers Kiss? His blog of artistic pursuits resides at emoboysandgirls.tumblr.com.                  

Tammy Ho Lai-Ming is a Hong Kong-born writer currently based in London, UK. She is a founding co-editor of Cha: An Asian Literary Journal. More at www.sighming.com.

Thomas Piekarski appeared in Agni, New York Quarterly, Paris Review, Southern Review, Ploughshares, and others. His first book was published in 2010 by Nimbus Press.

Vanessa Young is the executive director of a nonprofit arts organization in New Jersey and a graduate of Fordham University in New York City.

Walter Bjorkman is a writer, poet and photographer from Brooklyn, NY now residing in the mountains of Pennsylvania. His poems and short stories have appeared in various issues of Poets & Artists, O&S, Wilderness House Literary Review, Blue Print Review, Metazen, Dark Chaos, OCHO and MiPoesias. His collection of short stories, Elsie's World, was published in January 2011. He is Associate Editor of THRUSH Poetry Journal.

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