C.C. Russell has been published here and there across the web and in print. You can find his words in such places as The Meadow, The Colorado Review, Cimarron Review, and the anthology Blood, Water, Wind, and Stone. He has been nominated for Best of the Net, Best Small Fictions, and the Pushcart Prize. He currently resides in Wyoming where he stares at the mountains too much. You can find more of his work at ccrussell.net
Sarah Jane Justice is a fiction writer, poet, musician and spoken-word artist based in Adelaide, South Australia. Among other achievements, she has performed in the National Finals of the Australian Poetry Slam, released two albums of her original music and seen her poetry and prose published in Australia and internationally. Find her at: on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
I got sick at Sunday School today—threw
up outside our portable building when
we got to that part in the Good Book where
Jesus raised up Lazarus from the dead.
I don’t want to die at all but when I
do I want to stay dead or I’ll scare Hell
out of everyone when I get up
on my feet again and all covered with dirt
and maybe blood and guts, depending how
I kick. And for breakfast all I had
was Tang and cornflakes and they came up all
over the spring-green grass where the spigot
leaks by the front porch, that’s as far as I
got before I vomited. If my dog
had been there he would’ve lapped it up but
I would’ve stopped him though still he’d try. I
asked Miss Hooker after class—she let me
sit on the porch while class was going on
without me sitting in our half-circle
(she’s my teacher and a lot to look at,
red hair and green eyes and freckles) if I
would go to Hell for getting sick in class
and she said, No, no, that I had gotten the demons out, meaning Tang and cornflakes
I guess, and I forgot the milk, maybe
it had soured, it came up, too. My stomach
was naked—empty I mean, naked is
a sin, I think, especially at church,
they don’t even bury dead folks that way.
I usually walk home but this time
Miss Hooker drove me after Sunday School,
it’s not far, a little less than a mile.
When we stopped in the driveway I got sick
all over again, but it was just love
that made me start to dry-heave and all that
came forth was air. Still, I got out of there
fast and barely said goodbye but I’ll get
my place in Heaven, Miss Hooker felt it
too, even if she’s 25 to my
10, and now I’m afraid to go back next
Sunday with her in my soul instead of
God but I think that’s how babies get made
and without them we wouldn’t have people
and no one else would ever rise again,
in Heaven at least, and live like angels
forever and never get hungry and
never hurl. And all because God hates us.
In Sunday School today Miss Hooker said that if
we have an enemy we should love him.
Or her. And if he wants to take our cloak,
to let him. Whatever a cloak is. Or
her. And to give him our coat, also. Or
her again. She says that Jesus said so
and He’s the Son of God. That’s good enough
for me, I guess. No wonder they killed Him.
They didn’t get away with it because
He rose from the dead. It took three days. Me,
if I had to rise from the dead, without
any help from God, I mean, I’d still be
trying to rise at the end of the world.
I’m small for my age. 10. Miss Hooker says
—and she’s our teacher and she ought to know
—that when I die my soul goes to Heaven
to be judged. She says that in our church that we
don’t think the soul just hangs around until
Judgement Day but that it goes lickety
-split to Heaven. I guess it hardly has
the time to know that it’s not still inside
a body. It shows up at God’s throne and
He asks an angel to pass Him the Book
of Life and the angel obeys, that means
he does what he’s told, or she, and God looks
through the Book and hunts up the name and if
He finds it you get to stay in Heaven
but if He don’t—doesn’t—you go to Hell.
She says it’s that simple. I wonder if
God wears glasses. He’s older than Father and
Grandfather and all the folks who’ve ever
lived and ever will. That’s powerfully
old. Miss Hooker says that we need to pray
everyday to be forgiven for our many sins. I don’t think I have many
but I’ve been wrong before, about plenty
of things. Like the one about the screen door
on that submarine to keep out the fish.
That made sense to me. It keeps out the bugs
at our house. But a screen door in a sub,
that’s short for submarine, would let the sea
Then the sailors would drown. They’re sailors
even though they’re underwater. Well, not
underwater all the time. But on land
are they still sailors? I rest my case. When
Sunday School’s almost over Miss Hooker
tells one of us to say the Lord’s Prayer
and we all say it along with him. Or
her. This morning was my turn. I stumbled
because I was thinking about the screen
door on that submarine. It might work out
when the sub isn’t underwater but
floating on the top. It would keep out birds.
Then there may be a fish who likes to leap
out of the water and back in again.
In that case he’d bounce right off it. Or she.
So I guess that I’m not entirely wrong, entirely means completely. Only sin
is entirely wrong, and I never pray
to be forgiven for being stupid.
If I die in being-stupid I won’t
go to Hell. If I die in sin, I will.
Someone might say that sinning is stupid
but they’re just mincing hares. Hares is rabbits.
Gale Acuff has had poetry published in Ascent, Chiron Review, McNeese Review, Adirondack Review, Weber, Florida Review, South Carolina Review, Carolina Quarterly, Arkansas Review, Poem, South Dakota Review, and many other journals, and has 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.
Dani Ferrara is a poet, writing teacher, and self-proclaimed ‘pataphysician. She proudly graduated with an MFA from the School of Disembodied Poetics alongside some of the most incredible writers she’s ever met. Her work has been featured in Dream Pop Press and Black Sun Lit. She is in three garage bands: Warm Dad, Bad Bath, and The Spellmans. She is also part of the extended Black Market Translation Orchestra. Dani lives in Denver. [Daniferrarapoet.com]
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Fifteen years old was when Shane Allison wrote his first poem. Since then his poems have appeared in countless kick ass literary journals such as Chiron Review, West Wind Review, The Brooklyn Rail, and others. He is the author of four collections of poetry. His new collection Sweet Sweat is out from Hysterical Books. He is also the author of two novels. Harm Done and You’re the One That I Want.
Body Autonomy sits next to M & I at a bar named Vesuvius. The kind of place people sit facing north, & maybe each other when the weather is right. Josie the bartender is chatting up a couple a few stools down, shows them a video of Johnny Marr playing a Clash cover to her in Los Angeles. “You are very magnetic,” M says. Josie free-pours silver tequila into cold glasses, says “I know.” Body asks for a remote to the tired TV, flips through channels, mumbles mention of the news headline, a mother pleading for assistance in finding her 17-year-old son, who left in the night to a city she can’t quite name or find on a map. “The heart leaves when we don’t make a home for it,” he whispers into his whiskey lemonade. I don’t feel the need to leave.
M & I stop to stretch our legs in a tiny town named Big Sur but isn’t actually named Big Sur. A town of stasis, of pausing movement while inertia presses forward in form of rented RV & restless toddlers. A town built on trinkets & organic oils & overpriced rooms. I light a smoke, stretch— one in the same, these days— M snaps analog photos of flowers that sway palm tree green. Body walks by in overalls & combat boots, long blonde hair. She places time-worn lips together into red highway line, hums, “Yummmmmmmm. You don’t see enough people smoking these days.” Swings her bag of chips like a little sis as she continues seaside.
My parents haven’t seen Body in years. Met them once at a corner on Baker Street. In aisle 5 shopping for Frosted Flakes. A sticky interaction, one worn like memory, like cut-off jean jacket hiding in the back of the closet. When M & I leave for Highway 1, they feel the grief. Miss Body, wish their children could have seen the swag of their grin, heard the sharp cuts of Body’s laugh. They want to tell us these things, want to postpone the distance, but say “Be careful” instead.
M & I stop for gas in North Lake Tahoe. We barely make the sunset, water lava-lamp-like, holding ground as we stumble over twigs & tired feet to catch a glimpse. We find the cheapest gas in town, only two options. Fill the tank slowly. A busted black Corolla drives in slowly. The teen boys inside open the door, speak slowly. Say, “Hey! Slow down, baby.” M & I move quickly. Body watches from the next pump, filling up his baby blue Bronco. Shakes his head slowly, says nothing.
Body agrees that being locked in a car-sized cage & being licked by Kevin Spacey for a year is better than living out every “would you rather” scenario in alternate dimensions, but not by much.
M & I stay with our friend L in San Francisco. L takes us to their neighborhood bar. Tells us the first time they really felt their legs was when they took rose-oil-infused-ketamine with Queens at a Pride party. Body sings “We Are the Champions” with the karaoke DJ as we take boomerang videos of our apricot beers clinking.
M, L, & I talk numbers, how they follow us. M says 5 is her favorite, a sign of luck when she drives the 12 hours from Minnesota to Denver, & then back again. L says seeing 22, 23, & 24 before their 28th birthday lets them know when to leave someone behind. I have an affinity for 32, my first jersey when I was 9. Tell them about the time K told me about my palm. Told me that I’d meet Body when I was 32. Said, “This uncertainty will be gone at 32.” Body passes us on the sidewalk, crosses south to head down Hyde. We head east, back to the car before the meter runs out at 12:45.
For Marie, who played 1,632 games of Would-You-Rather with me while we remembered Body’s face.
Shawnie Hamer was born in the heat & dust of Bakersfield, CA. Her first book, the stove is off at home (Spuyten Duyvil, 2018) is an experimental art & poetry book curated through a community ritual which focused on the identification & exorcism of trauma. Hamer is the founder of collective.aporia, & a co-conspirator of the off.collective. Her poetry can be found in publications such as Bombay Gin, Tooth n Nail: practical advice from and for the everywoman, The Birds We Piled Loosely, SWP Guerrilla Lit Mag, & Tiny Spoon Lit Mag. She is currently living & creating in France.
Grief visited me like a roaring fire
from my round belly.
like a volcano
using me to clear a path for destruction.
Anguish took me by the hair and flung me around
day to day
like a tornado
ripping apart entire towns
launching metal into sky to make electricity.
I couldn’t understand the hunger
of a first true heartbreak
until I lived through the disaster.
When the white-hot violence finally reaches my community
it is with a shock
because we are the good,
one of the models in minority,
and despite this,
if our bodies are still deemed different
enough to be dispensable,
are we brought to reckon with our internalized shame
that led us to believe our existence depended on
being an unwilling willing confidant to our supposed
To reckon with the idea that
we are better than
those whose land we
and those whose bodies were
ground to the ground
to build a sense of nation?
where is home?
When you are constantly asked where you are from,
where you belong
while you straddle several worlds,
what choice do you have
but to make yourself your home.
Plant that lovely garden around you
and stay a while.
my english words
My black bata english medium boarding middle school shoes –
glossed and shined.
A singular activity
with black polish on a soft bristled brush
then a hard-bristled brush
that buffed and swiped until
I met the rules on appearance:
my reflections clear on the tops of my shoes
distracted from the black
on my palms,
under my fingers
my english words then
were mumbled under breath,
rehearsed out of sight,
practiced until my
when my father called cable companies
and asked me to interpret his spoken english,
the ear on the other side of the wire would finally understand, would
finally care to hear.
No longer would they laugh and
ask me to repeat
when my Ca-lee-for-nee-ah became kal-uh-fawrn-yuh
my cu-tit-ow-tuh became cut-it-out.
Shlesha Basnet is a clinical social worker and a part-time dabbler in poetry as a means to self-healing. She was born in Nepal and has resided in Colorado for more than half her life. Shlesha loves to hike, listen to stories, and attempts to love cooking.
The books were dumped from a box when I moved out of the house love from jersey built to make room for more books in the box which were dumped on top of the books first put in the box and set on the bottom where the consequences would be obvious I am alone as an ego trapped in a book pile. I have not read a book in one hundred years. I see so many words. They scroll past me at two thousand years per hour. Everybody is a prophet with a platform standing over attention yelling at old men hear me in four corners I am high on the definition of right now. I did not write it down. I slept a sound, dreamt of better saints, temporary, telling stories of what just happened, today we make our own news out of the dirt beneath the dust that gathered on ink left picked up blew off there is a storm coming I can sense it in my eyes. Information it has been reported, sides, who hurt? The corners do not hurt so much if you lay on a side, I am laying on the side facing you, it is comfortable, beautiful, we have built a circle from rectangles, there is no getting out of, the outer language of rhythmic desire, expression at the limit, how to say what is over there, what is over there, escape me. Be here now let us pray. In the beginning, word, then in the end, book, I am looking for a way to begin the book, I haven’t got a word and never want it to end, feeling, lord make me a channel of your objects, lord make our channel an object send someone else to name it, what is that sound? Do I rise and follow its call, is it calling at all, how would I know, it did it again. Want me like a pattern, over over, form never repeating, you are coming to close the covers, I could lie in the dark call it the new thing, it feels better than the last time, it feels together with the last time, it feels like the same thing, like the first day of my life is still going, like I’m a different person than the baby I used to be, that I perceive myself to be, wish, why is my body so sore and when did you get here? Cannot sleep as peaceful as when I was young with these ghosts to stand above, they cannot live like I do and I am not as important. I am an idea the history surrounding me had already. Adapted for TV. With commercial breaks. Write a check Facebook, I am selling mindspace to the highest outbreak for wallets, you should get in on this, we’ve got six hundred pages burning a hole in the budget and five paragraphs to change. I introduced myself in a rage by the thesis opinions were facts the mob concluded, colluded with schoolchildren in the conspiracy of education. Why do they want me to know these things, why do I want to know anything, will it make my dreams more interesting, will I sweat harder, do they hold the cure for fevers? I believe to addiction in a world rewarding faith. I believe in being scared and sickness. Read deep between the lines of idols and practice self-medication. I am talking to myself again when I should be writing. Sometimes it’s more fun not to fuck.
…………..stained glass watercolor ink old soul new testament
you look like you know the answers
…………..there’s a finality an apocalypse a heaven-hell-dichotomy to your tone
you found me alone in the elements, dressed in black
…………..hand-held through your opening, hat off hair tucked back
I want to ask so many questions, like what are we—
…………..you rest a finger to your lips, shh it’s time for a baptism
I find discomfort in your pews but kneel, kneel always
Kylie Ayn Yockey is a queer southern creative with a BA in Creative Writing & Literature. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Glyph, Meow Meow Pow Pow, Night Music Journal, Gravitas, Ordinary Madness, The Stray Branch, Not Very Quiet, Prismatica, Gingerbread House, Butter Press, honey & lime, and Capulet Mag. She has edited for Glyph Magazine, The Louisville Review, Ink & Voices, and is poetry editor for Blood Tree Literature.
It sounded like she said,
“Every day when I get home, I find a naked body in the bed.”
And in this light, the lines on her face show the naked worry in her head
As I wonder if the body is awake or sleeping,
there is naked fear inside my chest
And the smell of the other’s cologne in the room is a validation of my dread.
We were always meant to be temporary,
But now I feel as though I am being bled
By a stranger,
One that I thought was a ghost.
A name no longer to be said,
A memory of what once was,
Between the one I love,
And the naked body in her bed.
Veronica Love is a writer of fiction, poetry and editorials. Her work has appeared in several literary journals including Page and Spine and Flash Fiction Addiction. She spends her free times traveling to places rich with culture, reading, writing and laughing. She is always on the lookout for a new and strange adventure and loves dancing in the rain.