note from editor:

"I love your magazine because when I read it...I was feeling so down that day, like I don't belong in the world and where does a mind like mine ever fit in?????!" - Phantom Kangaroo reader. 

"believe" by jennifer tomaloff

Confession: I was called "the weird girl" growing up, and I never understood why. Why I could feel so normal and be seen as so not normal. I just figured: We're put on this planet for a reason, so why not try to find out why and explore all the possibilities. Why not ask as many questions as we can think of? I want to know what it feels like to be a black hole, or a loch ness monster. I want to learn how to summon a triceratops. To find the ancestor line from a blue whale to an evening star. To fall in love every day. And so many other things I will never stop wanting, and the only thing I can think of never wanting has always been to be normal. Mostly because I don't think it exists anyway. Just some conspiracy theory, if you ask me.

Some weird things in this issue: A poem about Sylvia Plath, (who was definitely not normal), A poem that includes the words: ghost vag, and the secret ancestor line from a blue whale to an evening star


Claudia Lamar, June 2011

Black Cloud Snapshots

for Sylvia Plath

by Andrew J. Stone

“The eyes and the faces all turned themselves toward me, and guiding myself by them, as if by a magical thread, I stepped into the room.” 
-From the Bell Jar

I. Farewell Lover, Farewell Son
You said the white walls                    
saved you from his piercing hands    
but you were wrong, my                    
dearest, blood flushed down your      
thin thighs as I watched us die      
II. Cannibal Lies
She wanted to leave                     
that’s why she killed your son,    
why she asked the man                
in white to let her die on              
the cold operating table                
III. Confessions to a Psychologist
I stood there in white                                
hovering over the limp                                 
flesh below my claws                                
she was my wife, my dearest,                      
And how does that make you feel?


Night at the Sick Hotel

by Howie Good



A famous man’s youngest daughter, tormented by visions of burning airships, trips the metal detector. I feel like an empty gray glove. Strangers crowd into the elevator with us. Only later do they think to ask if we’re going down. The weather has turned. Buds pop, a nation of suicide bombers in dynamite vests.


Hear that? A low wailing? Like a tornado of meat flies? I must have signed my name in the wrong place or acquired the wrong kind of expertise. As I drive into town, the glass eye soaks overnight in a glass of wine. No one among my so-called friends volunteers to save me. There used to be a rule, Monstrous face, monstrous soul. The crow furiously pecking at something red in the road ignores it.


I make a cup of my heart, what should not be but is, the cloud shapes like accusations increasingly hard to dispute. A pornomaniac has been nailed to the cross among the agitators and shoplifters. Why take sides when it could not not be? Love thy neighbor, the homeless man under the stadium says, communicating with obscene gestures rather than words.


by Joshua Otto

Once upon a time, there was one who gave up remembering
and became divisible.  Long before that, another once had
explained the limited utility of one’s telling in detailed,
cotidian scenarios: Laughing, don’t quit yet, I’m counting on you.

I cannot make promises without spilling regrets.

On such beaches, musical waves are spelt to die.  Who
is willing to sing with such heart?  Through the smoke of a pipe
I see your silhouette pinned to the wrist of the melody.
Every geography is mapped in the record of your voice.


Ghosts Don't Bleed, Period.

by Levi Gribbon

She walked up to me and said, “It smells like there is a dead animal in my kitchen.”
“Ugh,” I responded, “is there?”
She replied, “I hope not. God, I hope not. So far, there is no sign of one.”
“You can never be too sure. There might be something living in your room… under your bed, behind your clothes, under your desk, in the vent, in the closet, under the couch… behind the fridge… in some drawer.”
“Aaaaah,” she shrieked, “stop it’s too much too think about!”
I continued ignoring her, “behind the toilet… I always check a toilet before using it. You never know when something is just going to come up and getcha!”
She quickly changed the subject, “we have a huge red ring in the toilet water now. It’s gross.”
“From… from… vaginas?”
“NOOOOO!” she yelled, “I have no idea.”
“Then… from what?”
“Honestly, I’m thinking the ghost has something to do with this. Ghost vagina?”
“Ghost vag, most def.”


Seducing the Stars

by Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal

She wanted to seduce the stars.
Being able to fly she was able
to hover right under them.
But the stars paid no mind to her
exhibition. She began to blow
her nose, pretending to cry.
Her breath was heavy. The stars
gave her zero importance. Her
soft skin did nothing for the stars.
Her exposed breasts made them laugh.  



by Margaret Emma Brandl

And when it was all said and done,
We hurled ourselves through the night streets,
Howling to the moat of a darkened castle,
Slogging through mud and past bright white gas stations.
In a dark room with candy colors
We screamed our lungs out, gorging on sugared soda and ice cream.
We leaned into each other. We grasped for things.
We dragged ourselves down pathways.
And our whispered conversations were carried on the wind
Away from our ears,
And our morning’s memories came back into our hearts

It was midnight, and then it was not.
Sharp winds stung at eyes that would not cry tears
Even staring at that stone skeleton lit
Beyond a tongue of flame reflected in waters and stones,
So beautiful, so beautiful,
So quiet,
And there we were.



by Matthew Harrison


Its image could be anything.

You get the picture.  It burns

with atmosphere.  It lives, consumes

consumers like cinema, a radiant

blood bag for donors big, then bigger

to a mass crave.  You stomach it. 

To end it you think incineration,

but only a slow freeze will do. 

You know, says a cool boy 

to constellations.  He looks away

from the girl behind the house

in Hollywood.  You know,

plenty of people with their right minds

thought they saw things that didn’t exist. 

He thinks of what could be, innocent

as crickets in the backyard.  The parents

stay asleep. The girl is just there. The star system

implies her.  You know, like flying saucers,

the light just right in the angle of imagination.  

He turns and takes her in, alert

with common craving, a blob

soon to be.  His monstrous heart beats

in a drive-in B movie.  Give in to it,

and you grow with horrifying romance.

And if that is what it is, then

this is just an ordinary night.

Pushed off the blues train

by Melanie Browne

I start haunting the tracks,
a woman drinks May Wine
over my grave,
it starts to rain,
sometimes people
want to take pictures,
but I never smile,
that would be rude,
I am
floating in front
of the sleeper car
where he first
seduced me,
softly singing
Guthries' ‘Last Train’,
and now the rain
has stopped,
the woman staggers
towards her house,
clutching at her heart


The Exodus

by Michael Bagwell

Everyone is leaving. They walk in pensive lines
with each eye under the falling feet of those
in front and each hand grasping
bulky sacks of food and clothing.
Dirt lies thick on their fingers like continents
afloat on oceans of skin.

I watch them go from the shore.
No one else lingers there, or even looks.
Just rocks and sand, water and the remnants of stars. 
The windowed faces of the buildings
are like arachnids with their legs torn off.
The whole of the countryside looks like some damaged,
monstrous beast that, perhaps once, had been beautiful.

Even the wild dogs are leaving now,
paddling hopelessly out to sea
so as not to die in this place.

Yet I stay and when the last ship sails
and the last bird takes flight,
I walk back to my home,
keeping the sea at my back.

This is Stephen

by Peter Taylor


And if you had ceased that day
I would not have seen you
Here and understood
The intimate cynicism of the world.
 - Don Coles




We all end on a slab somewhere
open pages from Gray's Anatomy
smelling of ether and formaldehyde
the final invasion 
coming too late


your body 
did not wait
for surgeons and accidents


its pallid strength 
spiteful of itself
yet calm
in its resolution
to remain an enigma


a bruised print


Brother, where are you? 






changed you into ceremonies
kept the others sane


my heart
shrunk to a fist
with the slow agony
of recognition


the moment
I entered that room
until the moment
I exit this


my visitations


between earth 
which holds you
and thought 
in which you exist




Midnight faces 


the firemen I called
knowing they respond faster
helmets firecoats boots
hunched in that basement room


coroner in evening dress
a piece of confetti on his collar
squeezes in
one more body between 
cocktails and a nightcap


instructing the police
to drive my sister and I
over to tell your wife 
and children


we buy coffee and doughnuts on the way 




I think of dying every day


slow excretion of self 
endless form of heart
brain kidneys tiny
waiting to expose the film


I keep your pictures safe
from the infinite exposure 
of the sun


when I advance the roll
you disappear


last frame 
carrying your ashes 
in a box


how little is left




A cold grimace
all you left to the world
and what to me?


tongue swollen as scream
face a pale mask
my night constellation


hand stretches
to touch you 
across film across thought
tearing illusive
filaments of memory


language contaminates
as it creates
the flawed universe
we imagine and inhabit


turning the print
over and over
in my mind


The blue whale phenomenon

by Steve Castro


The blue whale that fell from the sky,
Shattered through steel, concrete and
Disappeared into a sea of chaos and destruction.
The helicopter’s cable snapped - the ensuing
Explosion was a firework display of technological
Failure colliding with a mountain - if the pilot had
Lived, the whole world would have called him
“The human impossibility.” I would have called him
Jonah - If I lived in Alaska, I would be rich because
I would open the first blue whale and grits restaurant.
I would sell a liter of vodka in a blue plastic bucket and
Throw a shard of a blue whale’s tooth inside it and call my drink
“The one of a kind special.” I would sell blue whale ribs,
Blue whale cheese burgers and blue whale steaks with
Eskimo pies served by cute Eskimo girls in bikinis - I would sell
Coca cola with coca leaf straws. I would also sell
French fries made by a real French chef who I would
Convince to move to Alaska for six months out of the year
In exchange for as many blue whale tongues as
He can sell to the Parisian bourgeois - Of course all the
Blue whale meat would be brought to me by
Massive trucks - Helicopters and their faulty cables
Would be banned from my establishment within a
Two mile radius - unless of course “the human impossibility”
Was seen walking up my restaurant’s massive ivory steps


the birds

by Walter Conley


that chirp is
electric, e-
lectronic and
like bullets from
a twenty-two
aimed at
me and you


now you clearly
hear it too
why pretend
that I am crazy
both know
that we will do
metal god-birds
tell us to



contributor bios

Andrew J. Stone is a storyteller and words express what he sees in the world. Without mankind’s dark lusts, his writing would not exist. He tries to expose the dark layer surrounding the heart in order to make sense of this world. His hope is that his poetry will enable other individuals to do the same.

As a compulsive biter, Chad Redden's teeth marks have been recorded on many shoulders throughout the continental United States. As a writer, his work has appeared in analog and digital publications such as Booth, Escape into Life, New Wave Vomit, and Red Lightbulbs.  He also edits NAP.  NAPLITMAG.COM

Howie Gooda journalism professor at SUNY New Paltz, is the author of the full-length poetry collections Lovesick (Press Americana, 2009), Heart With a Dirty Windshield (BeWrite Books, 2010), and Everything Reminds Me of Me (Desperanto, 2011), as well as numerous print and digital chapbooks.

Joshua Otto is currently learning a new language, and reading a powerful book: Riding Toward Everywhere, by William Vollmann.

Levi Gribbon’s work has appeared in Blinking Cursor Literary Magazine, Blink Ink, and Hobo Pancakes. He is a creative writing student at Concordia University St. Paul.

Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal lives in Southern California.  He works in the mental health field.  His poetry and prose has appeared in online and print journals. His chapbook, Songs For Oblivion, will appear later this year from Alternating Current Press.

Louisiana girl Margaret Emma Brandl once studied abroad in Japan and hasn't stopped talking about it since. A graduate of the University of Alabama, she recently won the Michael Goodson Award for Poetry and will be starting an MFA in creative writing at Notre Dame in the fall.

When eight years old, Matthew Harrison was shunned at daycare for trying to hold séances in a bathroom. Now he lives in Massachusetts.  He watches too many monster movies, takes long night walks, writes about spooks and creatures, and he still hasn’t seen a ghost. 

Melanie Browne likes to eat crispy creme donuts while watching the third class steerage dance scene from the movie Titanic over and over again. She also has an online literary journal that you should check out:

Michael Bagwell lives and writes in West Chester, Pennsylvania. His work has recently appeared or is forthcoming in Dark Sky Magazine, Breadcrumb Scabs, Short, Fast and Deadly, and Collective Fallout, among others.

Peter Taylor appears in Australia, Canada, Romania, the United Kingdom, and the United States. His poems explore how history shapes our perceptions of the world. Trainer and The Masons use real antecedents; Cities Within Us juxtaposes ideas with reality. Antietam: A Verse Play won Honorable Mention in the 2010 War Poetry Contest by Winning Writers in Northampton, Massachusetts.

Steve Castro's poems have appeared in Grey Sparrow Journal, Everyday Genius, Underground Voices, Splash of Red, ASKEW, Chiricú, Snow Jewel - a Grey Sparrow Press publication, Divine Dirt Quarterly, Andar21 (Galiza / Galicia, Spain) and they are forthcoming in Cricket Online Review and The Caterpillar Chronicles. His flash fiction can be found in This Great Society. Birthplace: San José, Costa Rica.

Walter Conley got his start writing comic books. His poetry and fiction appear in the small press, anthologies and at such websites as Danse Macabre, Gloom Cupboard and In Between Altered States. He draws banner art for A Twist of Noir and a monthly comic for Pulp Metal Magazine. His current project, as editor, is the e-book series Flashdrive. Walter lives in VA and his blog, Back Again and Gone, is at