note from editor:

"I thought I said love. Maybe I said death." - Erin Croy

"when i grow up" by megan kennedy

Sometimes I think I said things I didn't. I think it, but then don't say it. I figure the universe will read my mind, and answer in some way. I do secret things. I fall in love with invisibilities and other splices of time that are not now

Eventually it all becomes a tangled cluster of misunderstandings, wishes, and memories. But never a mistake. All of it is intentional, even if it comes out wrong. 

This is coming out wrong, I think. I think I meant to say something like, the universe does respond to whatever you mean to say. Sometimes it responds with nature, like a dead sky, or with a city so full of life that it breaks the hearts of anyone who notices it. Dreams can be messages, and death is just a message, not an end. Because we are always saying something, even when no noise comes out. 

 

Claudia Lamar, July 2011

The Alien Invasion Tapes, #87

by Dorene O'Brien


It was back in ’63 they set down in my field,
and I was too damn angry to be scared.
I knew that crop was gone and it wasn’t a thing I could do about it.
When they come out of their spaceship—
no, no it wasn’t a door that swung down like on a castle,
but a giant car door, like on my Buick?—
they come out, three of ‘em no taller than my knee,
and just stared at me, no expression in those big glassy eyes,
no sorrow for what they done to my field.
“We come in peace,” they said without sayin’ it out loud but I heard it in my head
and I looked at my flattened, withered wheat and said, “The hell you do.”
Have you ever seen mangled wheat, the stalks cracked, the feathers singed?
A whole season: It’s enough to make you cry.  And I did.
Standin’ in the middle of my broken field with those three aliens, wellin’ up,
the door to their giant ship propped open,
a sickening light pourin’ from inside
and slicin’ across my barren field like a knife.
They do somethin’ like rock, paper, scissors and one comes over and tells me
I’m supposed to be some kind of alien ambassador.
100 acres, gone, the exhaust from their craft fellin’ my crop like a tornado,
the shoots fallin’ like dominoes, like ambushed soldiers, the stink latchin’ onto my nostrils.
“You fellas best be on your way,” I said as patiently as any man who just lost his livelihood can, and for the first time they look around.
Sure I think they’re doin’ damage assessment, conjurin’ a way to bring the wheat back,
and I picture those fuzzy stalks risin’ like an army of mini Lazaruses across the dead plain,
work hard to send that image to them with my mind.
But they’re fixed on somethin’ else now, and it’s Tessie, comin’ toward us, haunch-slow, jaws workin’, wheat cracklin’ beneath her bovine hooves.
I point to her, my prize heifer, shake my head and give them a firm “NO!”
But Tessie and the aliens, they’re starin’ at one another, stock still, hypnotized.
Even today I wonder what they said that made her walk right past me, through the blade of
sharp light and into that shiny crop killin’ machine:
You’ll be happier with us, He don’t appreciate you, YOU are the true alien ambassador.
So that’s how I lost my wheat and my cow in the same hour.

The man from the insurance company don’t believe me, but I know you do.
You see this stuff all the time, so I was hopin’ you could talk to ‘im,
tell ‘im about the giant car door, the two-foot Martians, a prized cow that trundled,
hooves clickin’, into another dimension.

 

The Small Death

by Erin Croy


I thought I said love. Maybe
I said death.

I have only been speaking
this incomprehensible language now
nearly three decades. Maybe longer.
It is worse than German.

I should grow used
to it like the tree along my street
with three split tops. It could not decide
which sun to go toward. You do not know it;
you have never been here.

I think it is a blue spruce
like the one I was taller-than, then
not-taller-than, in my parent's yard, because the needles have a blue cast
like a heart.

Do you understand me
if I say when you broke
all those dishes,
I would have minded neither
the shards in my back,
nor the scars?

I have had some thoughts this morning.

 

Un-interpreted Dream (4)

by Kate Frank


I am holding the door shut.
Someone, a boy I loved, is helping me
hold it shut but he is also not
there & I am alone in the room.
The room is both the safest place
I can be because I am hidden,
& also the least safe because
I am trapped & they are coming & when
they come & I cannot hold them
there will be nowhere else to go.
I am not dead yet but I know
I am dead. It is inevitable.
The boy's face is at once pock-
marked & smooth, his hair is at once
a stiff mohawk & an army crew cut.
His name is Conner & he eats
an apple while he leans against
the door. It is such an innocuous hallway.
My pursuers were not so frightening
until they were. Conner puts his shoulder
to the door, which is now bulging,
pulsing with the force of my enemies
& he turns his face toward me
with his shoulder still against the door
& smiles like a pirate, rogue-ish, or like
he genuinely loves me & time stops
& starts over in a loop of his head
turning & the enemies pulsing &
his smile growing & frozen on his face.

 

Arkansas

by Kimberly Casey 


I found your body while barefoot in the marsh,
tossed like a candy wrapper on the ground
crumpled and worn from rainwater dripping.
I scooped you up like beach sand in my palms
and pressed you to my ear, listening to the
absence of air in your chest, the hollow loss
of something not yet understood
Your shoulders were still bleeding
the brightest red of sunset
catching the kindling of your bones.
Tonight I will take you home
crack your chest plate with precision
and explore the inside of your shell myself,
picking tiny diamonds from your bloodstream
using needles like chopsticks
cleaning your caverns of all things unnatural
Then stitch you up, create a nest in the ground
grind a gravestone from granite –
I’ll never tell them where you are buried,
upside down under tree roots,
flying weightlessly home.

 

My Greatest Accomplishment

by Matthew Byrne


It began in the living room.
An orange, overgrown puppet
would say “You have ten seconds
to get to your parents’ room.”
Trying to run was like wading
through molasses. Trying
to scream yielded only a whisper.
I felt his grimace on my back.
I’d wake just before he counted
to ten, drenched in sweat,
clenching the blanket,
shouting for my mother.
One night I decided I’d had enough.
He started in but I dragged him
by the throat to the bathroom,
and flushed him down the toilet.
That was that for years, until
one night he paid his last visit.
He stabbed me with a rubber knife,
and we laughed like two old pals.

 

The Black

by Meaghan Ford


I have had so many lovers.
--half the world!
My name sighing out of their throats.
Yersinia Pestis,
Little safety pin,
The Great Plague

I was kisses traveling on the wings on fleas
The coats of rats
The softest taste of metal in their mouths.
Before they even knew what I was they were in my arms.

My beautiful children
Such frail, peach blushing skin
It was begging to be canvas
Screaming out for the stroke of my hands

I couldn’t help myself.
My mark is all
Over you
Blooming with black bruises from all the times we touched
Sun kissed freckles and rings of fever flush
The blood curdling in your stomach

I loved you like the spring
Like you were all the warm days I never knew
Gripped knee shivering in cargo holds
For the promise of a new world.

I am a song on the lips of children in a school yard
The echo of wood wheel’d carts as they groan through your streets
A wrist smelling like dried flowers at your bedside
The last stunted gasp your body will twitch with
The blanket they will wrap you in
And never let you go.

 

Dear November,

by Robert McDonald


It’s strange to think of you today, when the crocuses
bloom
on a lawn decked with snow.  But the grand
blossoming
is not yet come, and the sky

if it had its way
might declare “never,” might call
for sleet,
for snow, for northern wind.
November

frosts the icy glass
of the April day,
and arrests
the slow greening
of the lawn.

November
would push
every bud back
into the earth.
We might long for wings.

We might dream
we are ravens.  Even
a wicked heart
will love
the stained world.

The sky darkens, the snow
becomes
a dance,
and every ballerina
beautifully falls.

 

Smashed Ghazal

by Sarah J. Sloat


My intentions start wholesome my intentions
intend to blend with the rain on the roof
mean to scatter like badland hares
tonight

The plumbing gets busted
the faucet unstoppers its nose

a mind may be open a mind
may be wormholed and closed for repairs tonight

Planet of surrealistic painters. Planet of spanish. Planet of snakes and apes
and plaintalkers who’ll feast on veal and pears tonight

Staggering with enormous adornment, the broomstick implodes:
the straw chokes with cherries
the pole rolls into a cellar replete
with tobacco and roses

where wine bottles
left uncorked seep in their lairs tonight
The ship lists and canters; waves dig wells from the flotsam

the damned captain laughs, unhinged
and unawares tonight. It wasn’t my fault. I was only

lolling about, oily, bashing the masters
of maritime art, plugging round
squares with holes

in the gallery aisle
it doesn’t storm but it pours, O
one single raindrop travels

the stairs
tonight.

 

Ufology

by Susie Swanton


One summer every night on the back porch I read books
and next door my neighbor would slam the back door,
light a cigarette, and sit down.
He sometimes took out what looked like a black fabric pencil case
and from that a needle, tap it, and jab it
into his thigh, right through his jeans.

The aliens flew low those nights
to take him up the tractor beam.
He never went all the way, not into the ship.

He hung in the sky as deep
gold in the streetlights
as my dad's capped tooth.
"That's not me,"
he'd say pointing to himself in the air
while still sitting in a lawn chair on the deck,
watching  his body turn slowly
as he turned slowly to me.
"That's not me. I'm not like that."
He hung quiet, and he'd sit quiet on their back porch,
staring at me while I read
The Martian Chronicles or The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch.

And what was it like to be as old as 19, I wondered,
what could his parents think, how could his mother hate him.
He always loudly whispered,
"That's not me, this isn't me,"
as his body rotated in the force field.
Every dig of the needle his body moved closer
to the belly of the ship.
"I'm not doing this. Only my hands are.
These hands aren't even mine."

 

Another Light


The echoing haunt
of breaking waves
cringe upon the verge
of this world
and the next,
rising to the
tower,

white stone
bleached from
wind and sea and salt,
into the eye
whose light reaches
cresting depths
where Lost Ones
lie in dripping graves,
to fill saddened ears
dwelling upon the loss.

And when Moon staggers in,
wipes its feet upon the mat,
another light is seen
at aberrant angles
from the rocks,
finding form
in lamenting figure,
bleeding, glowing,
bleeding, glowing—
searching for home.

 

 

contributor bios

Dawn Schout’s poetry has appeared in Breadcrumb Scabs, Down in the Dirt, Fogged Clarity, Foliate Oak Literary Journal, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Midwest Literary Magazine, Muscle & Blood Literary Journal, Poetry Quarterly, The Centrifugal Eye, Tipton Poetry Journal, and a dozen other publications. She lives near Lake Michigan.

Dorene O’Brien is a fiction writer and a teacher of creative writing. She has won numerous awards for her fiction, including the Red Rock Review’s Mark Twain Award for Short Fiction, the New Millennium Writings Fiction Award, the Iowa Literary Award the Chicago Tribune Nelson Algren Award and the international Bridport Prize.  She was also awarded a creative writing fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.  Her short stories have appeared in the Connecticut Review, the Chicago Tribune, The Best of Carve Magazine, Short Story Review, Passages North, New Millennium Writings, Cimarron Review, Detroit Noir and others. Her short story collection, Voices of the Lost and Found, won the 2008 National Best Book Award in short fiction.  Her website is www.doreneobrien.com.

Eamonn Lorigan is an annuated Irishman with a spotty publication history trying to write one decent poem every couple of days for the rest of his miserable God-bedeviled life in the obviously contradictory hope that he will thereby find salvation. Age has not brought him maturity and he tends to be the oldest guy at his local poetry slams. Eamonn's work has appeared in such venues as Carve Magazine, Muse Apprentice Guild, Literary Potpourri, Literary Burlesque, Slowtrains, a Literary Journal, New England Architecture and Poetry Superhighway. He lives in New Hampshire with his wife and two sons.

Erin Croy lives in Omaha, NE. She doesn't love talking about herself like this, but thinks you should visit her at www.facebook.com/erinccroy because she wants to talk to people who read poems. Erin has other poems in Origami Condom and Breadcrumb Scabs, and upcoming work in Open Minds Quarterly and The Untidy Season: An Anthology of Nebraska Women's Poetry.

Kate Frank is a fifth generation Oregonian going to school in Western Massachusetts, where she co-hosts a weekly poetry open mic and slam. Her work has appeared in The Reader and on various stages from Maine to Minnesota. She believes in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, brunch and beer

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.

Matthew Byrne is an insurance broker in Chicago. His poetry appears in some journals, most notably Best American Poetry 2007. He is married and has 3 children.  He is addicted to hot sauce, practices yoga, and harbors an (irrational?) aversion to U2 and Dave Matthews.

Meaghan Ford was born a witch but lost all of her magic in an a card game at the Cantab Lounge on poetry night. This led to a paradox in the universe causing people to misspell her name for the rest of her life. This year she received her Masters in Creative Writing, Nonfiction from Emerson College and officially declared herself an ardent liar. She's been recently published in both The Legendary and The Scrambler and aspires to one day be Queen of the Emerald Necklace in Boston, Massachusetts.

Megan Kennedy has been forging dark art for over ten years, and hopes one day it will make her an oracle. Her work has been featured in SNAP! and Vicious Magazine, Fantastic Horror Magazine, as the cover art for numerous local and international bands, as well as an upcoming release from Random House Australia. 

Paul Hellweg has had over one hundred poems published since his debut in 2009. He won the 2009 Coatlism Press full-length poetry book contest, and he has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.  Alas, he has nothing scandalous to confess, but he thinks that's a grand idea and he promises to do something scandalous as soon as inspiration strikes.

Robert McDonald's work has appeared recently in Court Green, Pank, elimae, La Petite Zine, and The Prose-Poem project, as well as issue number seven of Phantom Kangaroo. He lives in Chicago, works at an independent bookstore, and blogs at http://livesofthespiders.blogspot.com.  He is almost ready to believe he is being haunted by the ghost of his sister.

Sarah J. Sloat is a reluctant non-smoker who works for a news agency in Germany. She has seen a flying saucer, but would be glad to be wrong. Her poems have appeared in Bateau, Court Green and Linebreak, among other publications. Her chapbook “Excuse me while I wring this long swim out of my hair” will be published by dancing girl press in 2011.

Susie Swanton's poetry has appeared in the cream city review, MUZZLE Magazine, and decomP magazinE. She performed in the entry of The Encyclopedia Show in Chicago that featured slices of John Wayne Gacy's brain.

Wesley Dylan Gray resides in Florida with his wife, Brenda and daughter, Elizabeth Jadzia. In his spare time, he writes; with these words he attempts to exude a disposition of resplendent contrast, writing things of light and of darkness, things of beauty and of the grotesque. Such writings can be found in various small press magazines and anthologies. Find him online at www.wesleydylangray.com.

 

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