sad stories of the death of kings – howie good

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I ask a friend if she can remember the last time that the stars and moon hatched from a golden egg. She doesn’t answer straightaway, just tucks a stray comma of hair back behind her ear. Because it’s one in the morning, the darkness outside is more like a solid than a liquid or a gas. I’m suddenly really tired of struggling to stay awake. The answer comes later, when I read in the paper that they sliced open a dead whale that had washed ashore and found in its belly plastic cups, plastic bottles, plastic bags, and two flip-flops.


Howie Good is the author of The Titanic Sails at Dawn (Alien Buddha Press, 2019)

Photo: Edu Lauton

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self-portrait as ghost with dementia – nathan elias

elias ghost

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Nathan Elias is the author of the chapbooks A Myriad of Roads That Lead to Here: A Novelette and Glass City Blues: Poems. He holds an MFA in Creative Writing (Fiction) from Antioch University Los Angeles, and he has served as editor on the literary journal Lunch Ticket. His work has appeared in Entropy, PANK, Hobart, Barnstorm, and elsewhere. His films and screenplays have been official selections or finalists in festivals such as Cannes Court Métrage, Glass City Film Festival, Canadian Film Centre, Texas Independent Film Festival, and both Hollywood and New York Screenplay Contests. He has taught a variety of creative writing classes, including fiction, poetry, and screenwriting. | www.Nathan-Elias.com | @_NathanElias

Photo: Meriç Tuna

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1632 (the witch) – december lace

tuna

After Claire C. Holland’s “Thomasin”

Dead roots from an infertile farmland
wither all around her

She is the only sprouting thing for miles
in this muted abandoned wood

Her ripening lips wish for stained glass,
butter, and a pretty dress

She left her heart in an established
country across the sea, unwilling

pilgrim bound by a parent’s faith
She shivers as an outcast, unsnared traps

leave her stomach broken, the whisper of
the dark side growing louder. Kill the roots,

they say. Kill the roots.


December Lace is a former professional wrestler and pinup model from Chicago. She has appeared in The Chicago Tribune, The Molotov Cocktail, Pussy Magic Lit, The Cabinet of Heed, Awkward Mermaid, Vamp Cat, and Rhythm & Bones YANYR Anthology, among others. She loves Batman, burlesque, cats, and horror movies.

Photo: Meriç Tuna

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i run into wolves running – ghost #13

ruslan

i run into wolves running
into me into mirrors into
switchbacks into endless
forests along endless rivers

i run into wolves running
into walls into hiding into
rebirth into fires in rooms
that they may not ever find

i run into wolves running
into death into memory
into the precision of a
scalpel into the western west

and therein i die and i die
and i run and i die and i
see it there on the shelves
the dust attracted to the

light like moths attracted
to fire like wolves attracted
to movement to packs to
new mentality until they too

die. and i too die. and if
not now then when and
if not now then when?
then when?

 we are ghosts. then when?


ghost #13 is something something something. they are from somewhere, sometime. this one is dedicated to someone someone, another ghost, i’m sure.

Photo: Ruslan Bardash

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skim milk – jack orleans

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Marie met back with herself after quite a long hiatus. She was sitting in the den, reading the paper and letting tendrils of smoke vine up at her wrists. She met back with herself after she decided to take up gardening and collecting old National Geographic. She met back with herself after realizing that she wasn’t the one she needed to escape from. She met back with herself after she dumped all the pills in the toilet, and swore not to reach down and take them one-by-one, dry them off, and save them. She did that to two, swallowed one, felt half, and let the rest go.

She was reading NatGeo after stepping inside to make tea. The magazines looked like an attempt to get back to the land. In it there were glossed pictures of African women and Siberian native men, seemingly happy, seemingly without knowledge of more intimate pleasures. The most she’d seen is pictures of a few factory workers—some Soviet, some Chinese—stepping out for cigarettes, or drunk after hours. But even the cigarettes looked otherworldly. Between the fingers of people that weren’t her, and in a place she couldn’t be, the cigarettes looked healthy even. Like Chinese Coke, bitter and more bubbly, less sweet. Like Russian Kvass; healthful for fun. As for the tribal folks, the most there was a shaman taking the strange brew, which looked less like fun and more like duty.

Marie thought of what a mistake it may have been to throw out the pills. How, they swam down the pipes and tubes in a moment of peace, and how she might wish she wouldn’t when times became less easygoing. And in some ways she was right to sense that she in the future would be scolding of her in the present. That thought alone brought some tension, some punctuations in ease. She tried to lose herself from it, hiding between the glossy pages, under people who knew better, and beside them as close as possible without kidding herself. She put down the magazine to grab a beer from the fridge. The cigarette in her hand had fizzled out, but it was burnt enough to even think about relighting it. She came back to the magazine with a pint glass of stout, watching the black middle get sandwiched between two shades of foam.

She took small bird-like sips of it, now cautious of anything that feels good. A substitution couldn’t be on its way already. Anything that feels good; enemy. But she kept sipping it and tumbling through the rest of the pages, looking for an answer after having found the camaraderie. She put the issue away and grabbed another from the magazine holster beside the armchair she sat in. This time, the ‘67 issue. It felt heavy, and a bit too holy to not have a few more sips of beer and a cigarette beforehand. She wanted to read it, but wanted to enjoy herself, so she huffed the cigarette until the ember was longer than the ash and took one huge chug of stout. She took a deep breath and opened to the contents. In it was an article: Skim Milk. The title reeked of incredulity. Invitation by title alone compared to the others that started with ‘how’ or ‘when.’ It described the end of the Civil War one-hundred years later.

When soldiers returned from battle, they also returned with morphine addiction. Those who’d survived survived with a slow illness, rather than quick ones. Even if they’d not been killed or severely maimed, they still returned for carvings for the good stuff. To which, they were either put in asylums, or slowly died from the addiction. A doctor treating them had grown infamous for his advice: “to treat morphine dependence, the afflicted should make in their regimen a cup or two daily of skim milk.” Meanwhile, people who went to him still had the disease. The skim milk didn’t save anyone. In fact, drinking skim milk doesn’t even cure calcium deficiency. But they drank the skim milk, still used morphine until death or cold-turkey.

She looked through the myriad of pictures of soldiers trying to stand still. They did a good job, but the slump rest just beneath their eyes. Their pupils were the size of pin-pricks, and for good reason. Eyes like that make the light dim. They maintained their rowdiness in candid shots. Gathering around a small table playing dice, drinking, smoking on pipes. They were distant, unseen, clouded in sepia and scuff marks on the thin glass panes that served as film. They looked like they did, everything normal, just with the weight of morphine resting on them. Everything they did or could do, they would have done. But they hunched over, going about the day-to-day, but weighed.
They didn’t stop drinking skim milk. Even though it didn’t do anything, they didn’t stop drinking the skim milk. They may have died from overdose or stress, but earlier that day they most likely drank a heaping cupful of skim milk. And they didn’t ask themselves why. It didn’t help, but it didn’t hurt. Her interest grew into it, looking glued to the article. She finished her cigarette so she could read more, and the beer was making her woozy. So she clasped the magazine in both hands and tried to dive in.

She couldn’t understand how a doctor—someone who’s in the business of help—could suggest something so bizarre. She couldn’t understand the logic. It wasn’t perfect but they had methods for every other thing. It wasn’t perfect but it was better than years before. It can’t be perfect but it’s always better. She thought that that sort of advice would’ve been outgrown by then, after the war, after most of history. She couldn’t understand it, but also didn’t mind going for a glass of skim milk.

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Jack Orleans is a Denver writer whose work has been featured in Birdy Magazine (‘Nobody Leaves,’), SUNY Hopewell’s literary journal, The Finger (‘Edward III’), and Suspect Press (‘Orchid’). He has also published a photo-essay in Stain’d Magazine (‘Paris Syndrome’), and an essay is forthcoming in Litro. Jack can’t seem to fall asleep. He takes the bus late to have coffee. While taking the bus, he’s happy until someone fucks up on the bus. After, he’s happy but with caveats. He knows that he’d be awake regardless of having had coffee. He prefers to be awake and alert over awake and tired. He just doesn’t know what he wants, but it better involve lots of undeserved perks or skymiles. 

Photo/Ceramics: Tom Crew

what you are rebelling against – matt dube

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We sat on the floor,
backs against couch cushions.
On the screen, two grown men
Acting our age eyed each other
on the concrete lip around Griffith Observatory.
Sal Mineo’s gun was the message,
and he wanted to give it to James Dean.
He couldn’t live and he wanted
someone to know why
he had to die. Chris showed me
the movie the first time I crashed
at his house. It was important
to him that I saw the movie,
So that after we could talk
about it, to make sure I got the message
he was telling me. He wasn’t going to live,
that secret between us in the room,
held us hostage like a loaded gun
so that even when we looked away
that was what we saw.

 

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Matt Dube teaches creative writing and American lit in mid-Missouri. His stories and poems have appeared in Moon City Review, NIght Music, Rattle, and elsewhere. Twitter: @matthewdube

Photo: Frank Okay

speaking in bootongue – mark blickley and amy bassin

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New York fine arts photographer Amy Bassin and writer Mark Blickley work together on text based art collaborations and videos. Their text based art collaboration, ‘Dream Streams’, was featured as an art installation at the 5th Annual NYC Poetry Festival Their video, ‘Speaking In Bootongue,’ was selected for the London Experimental Film Festival. They published a text based art chapbook,’Weathered Reports: Trump Surrogate Quotes From the Underground'(Moria Books, Chicago). Bassin is co-founder of the international artists cooperative, Urban Dialogues. Blickley is a proud member of the Dramatists Guild and PEN American Center. Their text based art book, ‘Dream Streams, will be published in 2019 by Clare Songbird Publishing House. 

divining rod – patricia mccrystal

divining rod

Come now, circle cut in dirt
finger twist & bend cup palebreath
dreams command
snakes, sing
sultry song-tissue & fissured
……………………………………memory

descend, you who taught me cruelty
of blindness stumbling moonless & concussed
by nightforest, your terror- dipped step switches
through blades barefoot
……………………………………violet eyed

after you I welcome the visitations
yes, they become me

seizure of warmth
damp blackness these things
……………………………………a kindness

why do I trust the future
you’ve pinched into your dirty palms
divining rod pressed to my mind

somewhere blood twists uproot a child
awakens, nightforaged visions mangling her
chaste memories of land, of home and the size
……………………………………of herself within

do you remember the sun? you ask
your hands open
and close like mothwings

my only knowledge in the dark
……………………………………you love them to be so

each night I hear myself say no
no, I cannot remember
……………………………………things like this

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Patricia McCrystal is a published poet and fiction writer from Denver, Colorado. She’s currently pursuing her MFA in fiction at Regis University’s Mile High MFA program. She believes she was followed by a poltergeist from ages 10-24. She is sad to see it go. 

Photo: Omar Roque

the ventriloquist dummy pretends to be a spiritual medium – matt schumacher

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my ventriLoquIST diEd, but i kept right oN talking.
i know you’re sorry for my loss. HEy, want to Know
what’s on the other side? come up here and whisper in my wooden ear
to your dead santa claus. ask that stIff I caLLED a boss.
recite a wish list for the dead ventriloquist.
it’ll be a job interview gone wrong. you’ll see.
hear the dead head Man uncomfortably rEPLy to all my quEries.
whAt a riot. talk about having the bosS on the ropEs!
see, I’ll remiNd him he’s past his expiration date,
as he awards me employee oF the year.
too bad nO one caRes about his opinion. the Man’s deceased.
and you—like THE POLICE, you Keep askiNg questIons
about your FatE, If there’s an aFterlIFe, a heaven
where good boys aND girls go. but IT’s immaterial.
and i’m already dead. how the hell should I know?

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Matt Schumacher’s poetry collections include Spilling the Moon, favorite maritime drinking songs of the miraculous alcoholics, and A Missing Suspiria de Profundis, forthcoming from Greying Ghost Press. He serves as managing editor of the New Fabulist journal Phantom Drift, and lives near a Paul Bunyan statue in Portland, Oregon.

genesis – cassidy scanlon

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he pressed seed to soil,
convinced that force could yield to growth.
the earth does not spit out
the beginning of your becoming.
for this, she is a true mother.
nurturing despite herself,
a sacrifice you are indebted to.

you know
the burden of a seedling
in tough soil. of plants
born in desert sand.

you know
what it’s like to grow
in a hostile womb,
suspicious of all things
padded for protection.

you are born
when the sun is at its height
cruel and unforgiving in exposure
of the elements.
your mother
tries to shade you,
casting shadows
you conjure when evoking
your father, an abandoned wind
lining the crowns of trees.
he speaks in metaphors
and you respond with poetry.
but language eludes you,
a longing lingers between
tongue and desire.

you search for roots
the potential of recognition
ravages
your family’s vines
concealing
the conception
of the first rejection.
the initial fortification
of want without resolve.

teetering on
a petrified foundation,
the past is porous
and swelling with decay.
but instead of dying takes
another form. molded
in stone, a fossil
imbued with traces
of recorded history.

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Cassidy Scanlon is a queer writer, Capricorn, and astrologer who received her BFA in Creative Writing from Chapman University. Her work has been featured in L’Éphémère Review, Loaf Mag, and WITCH. She writes about astrology on her blog Mercurial Musings and is a regular contributor to rose quartz magazine. You can follow her on Twitter @sassidysucklon. 

Photo: Brent Cox