museum of lost things – howie good

lost things

Now and then a person in his or her fifties or even sixties walks into my little shop. The men in particular try to maintain a dignified demeanor, but the more they stare at the price list, the more obvious the desperate nature of their situations becomes. I operate a business that rents neckties and briefcases to job interviewees. Most of the customers are recent grads who never needed a briefcase or tie before. I may seem to care about how they’ll do in their interviews. I don’t. Why should I? They frequently return briefcases with the snap locks broken or with strange items left inside. Ant traps. Lace-trimmed panties. A blurry photocopy of an 11-page suicide note. And yet I can’t always bring myself to just throw the stuff away. In fact, I crowd more items onto the storeroom shelves every week. A chrome lighter engraved with the initials KKK. One child-size red mitten. The takeout menu from the Bowl O’ Rice Restaurant. It’s like I’m the curator of a museum of lost things. Minibar bottles. A losing scratch-off ticket. The musty remnants of a hundred surefire plans.

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Howie Good’s latest collections are I’m Not a Robot from Tolsun Books and A Room at the Heartbreak Hotel from Analog Submissions Press. 

Photo: Heather Zabriskie

holes – hillary leftwich

holes

They lay down on the bed, his head inside her chest. He thinks of how a heart is like an engine, if the oil runs out it will seize. He saw a broken engine at his mechanics once, right after their daughter Lily disappeared. See that? The mechanic said, pointing a socket wrench at the hole. If you don’t check your oil, that’s going to be your engine. That’s going to be his heart. Too many cigarettes, too much booze, and love tethered then clipped. She slips him inside of her, asks if he wants it faster. He answers in heavy breaths. When the shaking subsides, she doesn’t touch him. They fall asleep and wake to an Amber Alert on his phone, flashing like a neon sign. He shuts his eyes and dreams of a little girl stolen. The girl is in a car with a man speeding down a curling highway. The trees lean in on either side of the road, straining to see inside. The man tells the girl the engine sounds funny, and if she isn’t careful he’ll bust a hole right through her heart. He hands her a gallon of strawberry milk and she drowns herself in pink, erasing her face. The man whistles to the music on the radio as he drives, the trees in the rearview mirror folding like two dark wings.

When he wakes up, the dog outside is barking, the coffee machine is grumbling, and she’s gone, a hole on the side of the bed where her body used to be.

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Hillary Leftwich currently lives in Denver with her son in The Murder House, a registered historical landmark and notorious 1970’s flophouse. She is the poetry and prose editor for Heavy Feather Review and curates At the Inkwell Denver. In her day jobs she has worked as a private investigator, maid, repo agent, and pinup model. Currently, she freelances as an editor, writing workshop instructor, guest instructor for Kathy Fish’s Fast Flash Workshop, and writer. Her writing can be found or is forthcoming in print and online in such journals as Entropy, The Missouri Review, The Review Review, Hobart, Smokelong Quarterly, Matter Press, Literary Orphans, Occulum, and others. Her book, Ghosts Are Just Strangers Who Know How to Knock, is forthcoming from Civil Coping Mechanisms/The Accomplices in October of 2019.  Find her online at hillaryleftwich.com and on Twitter @hillaryleftwich

Photo: Fancycrave

january edition / 2019

a look back on our january selections on south broadway ghost society.

photo: Danny Trujillo

girl and plane

poetry : :

lana bella : : five poems

ghost #117 : : eyes full of soul

lee frankel-goldwater : : mask and a flame

s. cearley : : the ghost in the machine

sam albala : : three poems

promise clutter : : they are under my comforter of stars

adrian s. potter : : midwestern meditation

the french destroyer bambara : : revolution #10

ghost #13 : : new balloon

ghost #4 : : where the color gets out

morgan leathem weiss : : cutting bones

michael brockley : : the poet who keeps a stripper pole in her bedroom

jessie lynn mcmains : : our faithful, reckless hearts

shelby yaffe : : on bones

photo: Nick Sarro

where the color

short story : :

corwin moore : : challenger

ron burch : : struck horse

photo: Yener Ozturk

jen kolic

letter : :

jen kolic : : 12/15/09

 

12/15/09 – jen kolic

jen kolic

I broke into your house not knowing what I was looking for. You, maybe.

Instead there’s an overturned stroller in the living room. Piles of clothes that must be yours. Empty picture frames like open mouths. Your mother’s dishes.

You’re dead, and I’m dying.

Through every window you watch me from the dark porch, waiting for me to say it. Waiting for me to open my mouth.

In the attic the rain is deafening. And you’re down there somewhere. Sprawled on the garage roof or the front lawn or Cherry Avenue. In every memory your eyes are already vacant. I never liked it up here, the sloping ceiling pressing down to meet me, and all the sleeping rooms below.

There aren’t any stars tonight, and anyway they’re not for us. You’re dead. And I killed you. And I’m dying.

moon

Jen Kolic is a writer, editor, and know-it-all living in Denver. She co-hosts Queen City Companion with Brian Flynn, and Mutiny Book Club with Byron Graham. Jen enjoys cats, junk food, and mystery novels, ideally all at once. 

Photo: Yener Ozturk

on bones – shelby yaffe

sweat.jpg

If I could give you the beat
I think King David danced to
I would use my rib bone as
my holy drumstick, my skin
pulled taut to be my drum, taut
like women pull at their flesh
in the mirror when they cry

If I could give you a boat
hewn from my own clavicles
bound with red cord, mortared with
red lipstick, I would let you
laugh and jump in the water
and I would glow when you called
my bones useful, sharp, precise

If I could give you my bones
weapons brittle and moonlit
with sewing needle scratches
the flaws of a blood diamond
I would say, Bones do not cry
Bones have no mouth to open
when they scream into the grave

moon

Shelby Yaffe is a queer author, poet, and singer-songwriter living in Denver. Her short fiction has been featured in the Fast Forward Anthology Flash 101: Surviving the Fiction Apocalypse and in Suspect Press. Shelby would love to write a poem for your girlfriend. You can find out more about Shelby and her work at shelbyyaffe.com

Photo: Jay Halsey

our faithful, reckless hearts – jessie lynn mcmains

reckless

even yr ghost is shitty. no crisp bleached linen sheet ghost,
no         lingering

scent of lavender. you fly in here stinking of schwag &
cheap as shit        beer. so

dirty yr shiny. frayed as a patch on a crust punk’s bum flap. even
yr ghost

needs punching but my fist’d just float. right through ya. i
think about you          more

now than i did when        you were alive. did you know. i
donated some copies

of my zine to that raffle. they held in yr name. for yr
memorial fund. to give          to yr

kid. you fucking asshole, you had a kid. i keep reliving the times
we met.

everything you did and said. that pissed me off. like that night in
the crowded          apartment.

christ, it was 4/20. did you know. at first i thought you were
cool. we all shot          gunned

blatz n’ turned the empties. into weed pipes. all stoned & drunk
on the cheap

shit. everyone talking about party drugs & butt sex. you
were the only other         fucker

in a battle vest. all studded & sloganed. patched & poked. the
conversation

turned to Wisco punk rock. we namedropped. back & forth.
Avoided, Pistofficer,                   even

that real old school shit. Die Kreuzen, Sacred Order. but by the
time I

mentioned Boris The Sprinkler. you had yr dick           flag
flying. you said           they don’t

count cuz they’re pop punk. pop punk is for girls & fags. well
I’m a girl & I’m

a faggot, I should have. didn’t say. tried instead to ignore
ya. later you        said

something like it’s gross when chicks don’t shave. I had glitter
in my armpit

hair. wanted to rub yr stupid face in it. I went out to the kitchen.
so I wouldn’t           strangle

ya. asshole, when I found out you were a dad I was like,
ugh, I can’t believe

a chick would even touch you. except to kick yr ass. ugh. to
think of all that         toxic
nonsense you were passing on. & that other night. you
smashed a rotten

pumpkin on the downtown sidewalk. in front of the bar we were
stumbling                   out of.

juvenile move, delinquent. like you were twelve, not thirty-
two. someone

coulda slipped. n’ you left it for the local business owners to
clean                 up. later

I heard the owner of that bar was a creep. so I forgave ya.
but knowing you

it wasn’t any kind of righteous. just mayhem. asshole. when you
followed                  me

on Instagram & liked my selfies. I texted L. ew. guess he
doesn’t know

I hate his guts. it was kinda funny that you dug me. in my
Ramones shirt. since you          hated

pop punk so. much. after I heard you’d killed yrself. I felt
no vengeful,

not joy. just morbid. curious, I visited yr Facebook. yr last days
you devolved,         dissolved

into paranoia. afraid of yr own shadow-self. sure the world
was out. to

get ya. so now yr shitty ghost just haunts. me. annoying me with
might-have-beens.          buddy

if I hadn’t loathed ya we would’ve. been best friends. we
are. we were? the

same. ever-reckless. drawn to self-demise. faithful only. to the
tools of our                  destruction.

holding the whole world. at arms length. convinced no one
would ever. for real

love us. the only thing that saved me. is praising. my tender.
loving my holy          wounds.

there are so many. things I should’ve asked ya. like hey
asshole, why. did you

do it. like, hey. what did you want. what wounded yr most.
secret, heedless                  heart.

that you wouldn’t. let yrself. ask for. if you’d just painted.
yr nails sparkle

pink n’ let a girl. peg ya while you listened to pop punk. would
you still be          here.

it’s been a year. now. if I could find yr grave I’d slamdance
on it. I’d bring

grave goods. leave offerings. of glitter. & pumpkin guts. I’d
come with my                  spray

paint & leave you. slogans. 666 world is a fuck. born to die.
young. too

late. damn you. we were the last. living punk rockers. now yr
dead &          I’m just

a poet. asshole. i wanted to punch ya. but I didn’t. wish
you. ghost. fuck

you. who am I gonna argue about. music with. now?

moon

Jessie Lynn McMains is a poet, writer, zine-maker, and small press publisher; a collector of souvenir pennies and stick & poke tattoos. Their words have recently appeared or are forthcoming in Barren Magazine, Philosophical Idiot, The Ginger Collect, Sad Girl Review, ISAcoustic, Cauldron Anthology, Anti-Heroin Chic, and others; they’re also a contributing writer for Pussy Magic. You can find their personal website at recklesschants.net, their press at boneandinkpress.com, or follow them on Tumblr, Twitter, and Instagram @rustbeltjessie

Photo: James Sutton

the poet who keeps a stripper pole in her bedroom – michael brockley

to the girl
I am drawn to your poems about women in barfly Nirvana. Your fascination with rattlesnake tattoos on the arms of PCP-stoked men. And your lifelong feud against nuns: Sister Eleanor of the Lash, in particular. I stand in awe of your courage when you challenge her Inquisition zeal. Barbed wire encircles your ankles. A primitive rose winks above your right breast. I have your initials branded on my wrist. When you blow your harp, the blues man Deaf Persimmon Fillmore rasps back. You installed a stripper pole in your bedroom for your lovers. Added a Hohner tat under the Chinese character for paradise across your back. And studied with the masters. In The Lives of the Diva Poets, I read you never wear jewelry anymore. Or perfume. Just biker jackets over tank tops and ripped designer jeans. When Sister Eleanor reappears on Mulholland Drive armed with her ruler and the vengeful God of Revelations, you taunt her into a duel. Her tuning pipe against your Fuego Azul. She doesn’t stand a chance. I met you in your Lucky Strike year over a bacon-and-eggs breakfast in a town renowned for labyrinths. You autographed a book with “last call” on the cover. When you play the harmonica during poetry tours, frat boys sit in the front row. You advise them to deep ink Betty Boop on their biceps. They want to hear you say fuck. I want to hear you recite the poem that tells what women want.

moon

Michael Brockley is a pseudo-retired school psychologist who still works in rural northeast Indiana schools. His poems have appeared in Clementine Unbound, Third Wednesday and 3Elements Review. Poems are forthcoming in The Blue Nib Magazine. In regards to social media, Brockley can be found on Facebook.

Photo: Naomi August

cutting bones – morgan leathem weiss

bone

They cut bones
while their lover saws coconuts.

Lining them up against the brick wall,
there is nothing for the sun to bleach.

Tinny, tenacious shrieks
pierce the air and emit an aria.

Metallic, it leaves a poor taste on the tongue,
the kind of putrid fur no scraper can peel.

The sound of bones primordial
against a backdrop of bold, fuzzy shells

hangs over human heads,
calculating, ruminating, no other than a bored specter.

One person struggles to find meaning,
but is left with the other cradling the saw.

Trapped within the jungle’s fury,
even the bones are not themselves.

moon

Morgan Leathem Weiss is a writer and folklorist from the Midwest. Her poetry has appeared in The Raven’s Perch, Really Serious Literature, Ghost City Review and is forthcoming in Clockwise Cat, while her essays have been featured in Jadaliyya and Folklore Thursday. When she is not interviewing archaeologists, she enjoys podcasts, experimental film, and exploring ruins. She splits her time between Oaxaca, Chicago, and the forests of Connecticut.

Photo: @zellersamuel

where the color gets out – ghost #4

where the color

That person is a tight furrowing.
We are doctors of light, cauterizing
the wounds where the color gets out.
There are people who want to eat
your color. My last partner said,
half-eaten is eaten, & she was disbarred.

Having your color eaten by night wolves
is a subsequent inevitability: a sentient
outpouring of colorlessness. Everything wants
to eat. It’s gone before I look around.

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Photo: Nick Sarro

struck horse – ron burch

Struck Horse

Coal-black mare. Solitary in the darkened field, its crooked, broad teeth grasping green strands. Gray clouds heaped upon one another, a thunder inside, one strike, two strikes, the mare on its front knees, slow-motioning as it tilted on its side, thick muscles shaking as the large body smacked the wet earth, mouth open, singed, a thin drift of smoke rising from the trembling haunches, tongue out, eyes wide.

A lone farmer ran through the field toward it, yelling its name. His green hat flew off in the rushing wind that embraced him with arms of rain.

The farmer dropped knees-down, wrapping his long arms around the mare’s head, its eyes all white. Spittle dribbled out of its agonized mouth.

“Please,” he pleaded, “don’t die.”

The horse rested in his arms, breaths like unanswered questions. The eyes returned to their normal state, the eyes of the mare meeting the eyes of the farmer, firmer breaths as the farmer’s hands stroked the dark horse head, until the mare asked, “What the hell just happened?”

The farmer, astonished, stuttering, “You, you, you were struck by lightning.”

The horse, whose name was Mare, leaned back its large head, the nostrils flaring, “Did you just talk to me?’

The farmer, more astonished, “You talked to me first.”

“Holy fuck,” replied Mare. “I guess I did.”

Once the miraculous had been accepted by the farmer, his immediate thought was, naturally, commerce. With this in mind, the farmer approached the mare who declined his offer of public performance.

“I wouldn’t like that at all,” she said.

“It’s no different than the conversation we’re having now,” the farmer protested. “You just have it with other people.”

The mare neighed in response, saying, “Other people may not be as kind as the farmer.” The farmer laughed.

“Nonsense,” he said, “I’ll be with you the whole time.”

Using his phone, the farmer recorded a short video of he and the mare discussing the weather while standing in the farmer’s north pasture. The video lasted less than 30 seconds and the mare completed three complete sentences and expounded on what she believed tomorrow’s weather was going to be like – crappy again. The uploaded video went viral, making the major social media sites, with ongoing arguments from the viewing community as to whether it was really a talking horse or not.

To confirm, the farmer and the mare were invited to one of the national televised morning shows, followed the same day by visits to two late-night shows. One of the late-night shows had on what they were calling a “Talking Horse Expert,” some guy dressed like a country rube with a straw hat and a pitchfork, a joke until Mare unmasked the man as someone knowing nothing about contemporary farming. The actor dropped his pitchfork realizing that the horse was actually talking.

Mare’s fame exploded. Her likeness was put on coffee mugs, t-shirts, plates, and hundreds of other trinkets. Even her own calendar. Crowds greeted her at the events she attended whether it be the opening of the local county fair to television shows. She was even asked to do the play-by-play for the national horse-racing derby, which she turned down, citing that she believed that humans racing horses for money was wrong. The derby representative, a stern, pasty old man who was a local politician, complained to the farmer, who apologized but felt the same way.

She didn’t understand why she had to do a dog-food commercial. “I don’t even eat dog food,” she said. “Do you?”

The farmer shook his head and said that it was just for the money. Mare complained that too many humans only cared about money. The guy holding the boom said she didn’t know any better because she was only a stupid horse. Mare cantered over to the boom operator, backing him up against the wall and said that if it wasn’t for humans and their slaughter of innocent animals to feed their overweight, smelly bodies, that this world would be a much better place.

You could hear the hum of the background lights.

They finished the shoot but the atmosphere was tense. As the farmer led out the mare, she said to him, “I’m only telling the truth.”

The farmer nodded his head. “I know.”

Later, that night, someone leaked a shaky video of Mare’s comments from the commercial. The comments were excoriating, and the farmer didn’t see the need to tell the mare about it. This was bad press and perhaps, the farmer considered, that they had made enough money to live happily for a number of years.

In the living room of the farm house, where Mare was now living, he told her it’s time to retire.

“Thank god,” she replied and nuzzled his neck as she once did when she was much smaller.

They still had one more talk show to do and decided together that it would a great way to say goodbye. The farmer would say that the mare woke up silent again, and she would merely stand there while the camera pushed in on her face.

Minutes before she was to go on live television, the farmer couldn’t find her in her assigned dressing room. He asked a couple of the people backstage if they’d seen a horse but nothing. He heard a shot – he knew it was a shot – he was a hunter, he knew. He ran toward the direction and out an emergency exit. A white car pulled away. She was on the ground behind the building, crumpled across two parking spaces, her body broken on the cement dividers, her mouth bound with white rope, her blood, from a gunshot, pooled around her mane. He held her still head in his arms and even as the grief broke across him, he refused it, so it would feed him for a long time, never letting him forget.

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Ron Burch’s fiction has been published in numerous literary journals including Mississippi Review, New World Writing, PANK, and been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. His novel, Bliss Inc., was published by BlazeVOX Books. He lives in Los Angeles. 

Photo: Erin Dolson