miscarriage in train car #4 – lauren napier

letoh

The salt of embryo and ocean
The grounding of the shoreline and rubber tread
Here is where true nature is seen
Here is where fleshly goodbyes are said

Parallel lines in a hotel room
A parallel universe unfolding within a surreal frame
Enfolded in two familiar arms
Embracing again for the first time
Renewal – the act of letting go

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Inspired by all forms of energy and art, lauren.napier takes comfort in the written word and in creative performance. She lives within a lush realm of bittersweet melodies and phrases alongside her black feline, her guitar, and typewriter. Wherever lauren might be, her work may be found online at punkrockdoll.com or followed upon instagram.

Photo: Jonathan Pielmayer

two poems – sandra santos

santos

have you ever asked a butterfly
if flying once transformed is hard
and how much weight is lost meanwhile
the wasteful creaking of the world’s skin
the copious slash on a piece of blow
pushing your smile through the night
— you belated hour end a cycle
music is the dawn
you trace in my way of surrendering to sleep
the remembrance that fills my heart with a sudden longing
to have you here someday
lightly
unveiling the beauty
of our flight
that heads to silence.

nunca perguntaste a uma borboleta
se lhe custa voar quando transformada
qual o peso largado no voo
e é custoso o ranger de pele do mundo
o corte copioso sobre um pedaço de sopro
movendo o teu sorriso pela noite
— ó hora tardia que findas um ciclo
a música é a aurora
que traças no modo de me abrir ao sono
a lembrança que traz ao peito um súbito desejo
de te ter aqui um dia
já leve
desvendando a beleza
do nosso voo
rumo ao silêncio.

if I were a dagger
I would drop
the blade
every day
on the wet grass
until it came back
in blossom.

se eu fosse um punhal
deixaria cair
a lâmina
todos os dias
na erva molhada
até ela regressar
em flor.

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Sandra Santos is a poet, teacher, writer, and translator from Portugal born in 1994. She holds a B.A. in Languages and International Relations from University of Porto and got her Master’s degree in Editorial Studies at the University of Aveiro. As a translator, she has published her work in Portugal, Spain, and Latin America, working back and forth in Portuguese, Spanish, and English. Her own poetic work can be found online at: http://sandrasantos-ss.blogspot.pt/.

Prepared and translated by Nicolás Barbosa López

Photo: Claire Brear

 

two of pentacles – robert beveridge

two of pentacles

The table sits in the corner. It
is brown. The fixture over
the table holds four lights. One
is burnt out. One is missing.
The other two are low watt
bulbs. The walls on two sides
of the table are beige. Chairs,
mismatched, face the table
on the other two sides.

The table is empty save a single
sheet of paper. It bends upwards
at the edges as if it had been
folded into thirds, placed
in an envelope. If there was
an envelope, it is not there.
It has been moved from the table.

A thread dangles from between
the two expansion leaves. It is
attached to the body of a spider.
The spider catches every draft,
drifts in the wind on the end
of the silk. The spider cannot
read, does not know what
the paper says. The Russian
Blue who lives in the house
jumps up, bats at the paper,
knocks it from the table.

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November 2018 marked Robert Beveridge’s thirtieth anniversary as a publishing poet. When not writing, he makes noise (xterminal.bandcamp.com) in Akron, OH. Recent/upcoming appearances in Pink Litter, Triadæ, and Welter, among others. 

two poems – victoria moore

candy

I HAVE A LOVE-HATE RELATIONSHIP WITH PLANNED PARENTHOOD

purgatory has a purple accent wall
where outdated times
chime me too
in grim agreement with
messages preaching
planning as solemn power
smear piss and pricks
of blood
the pretended portents of modernity
we come to calm infernos
hearts in hand
ripped bloody out of wounded chests
since a slaughter succeeds the fairy tale
starry eyed notions of invincibility
stricken before the scales

 

 

SWEETTART

I like waiting rooms with complimentary candy
get us to forget the float
how we drift
buoys untethered through a living supposedly
linear
hum a schoolyard taunt
first comes sex
next comes death
finally you get your white picket fence
hold in breath bated by the immemorial
war drum of suburban America
if you’re lucky the upgrades an Audi a3
and he’ll smile over more than a drink
we hear the chant in our socially collected cerebellum
that this progression is not up for debate
at this month’s city council meeting step
back from the podium shrills the superintendent
and fall
back to involuntary lines
we were born in rank
in the back
of a Walmart wound up
by blinking exit alley signs
point us deep through mirrored mazes
my neuron tangle goes
national
grid
electric
cus waxed paper is decked out with
juicy, shiny, bright, hot
watermelon
dum dums I always liked
consumption in a way
suggestive
of sex with childlike affinity

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Victoria Moore is a poet, student of history, and museum professional. She is currently finishing her MA in History and Museum Studies at Tufts University and hails from Chelmsford, Massachusetts. You’ll most likely find her nestled in library alcoves reading up on medieval popular religion, wandering through New England forests, or grabbing Dunkin Donuts like a true Yankee. 

Photo: Sharon McCutcheon

five poems – homeless

homeless

i.

The man standing
next to me on the A train
keeps taking off his sneakers
& then putting them back on
& then taking them off
& then putting them back on.

He’s either shitfaced
or just really misses/likes
the sight of his socks.

ii.

I just noticed that
his socks have little,
yellow ducks on them.

It’s really
anyone’s game
now.

 

 

 

 

 

Your greatest achievement in life
was that sand castle you built
by yourself when you were
five years old.
Not because the sandcastle
was awesome
but because of the simple
yet massive amount of joy
that building it brought you
even though you knew
sooner or later
some high tided, son of a bitch-wave
was going to come along
& destroy it.

 

 

 

 

 

She moved through 7-11
like music being played
from a harp that someone
found in a dark alley
& she wore her “bag lady” coat
as if it were lacy black lingerie.

I wanted to give her
the s’mores Pop Tarts
I was standing in line to buy.

Kind of like a chocolate-frosted
“thank you” to her
for just existing.

 

 

 

 

I used to get offended
when people stared at me
like some unattended backpack
but these days I just walk up to
whatever person I see doing this
then lean in close to their ear
& whisper,

tick,tick,tick,tick,tick,tick…

No one stares at me
like an unattended backpack
after that.

They stare at me like
I’m something else.

Something
I actually
am.

 

 

 

 

 

The housing-impaired man
lived in a big cardboard box
right outside the downtown R & W
28th street subway entrance.

That was his home.

There was an empty Coors Light can
standing on top of his box.

It looked like an aluminum
chimney.

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Homeless is a shithead laureate / crap artist who publishes poems and hangs “art” on the streets & in the subways of NYC. The streets & subways of NYC both hate his poems & art & have begged him to stop but Homeless refuses because he has “nothing better to do” with his time. He has two books forthcoming—“Ghost Crumbs,” a collection of poetry (University of Hell Press), & “This Hasn’t Been a Very Magical Journey So Far,” a novel (Expat Press). If you’d like to reach him, you can find Homeless nestled on the virtual streets of obscurity at… Instagram, Twitter.

the washing machine sang – jane-rebecca cannarella

dollhouse

All of the appliances in Jen’s apartment sang. In her grown-up home with central air and functioning gadgets, she’d asked me to watch her mature cat — mature as in mellow, not aged – while she was away on a trip, like the ones actual adults take. “A mini getaway.”

It was the day after her departure. As the sun changed the sky into soapsuds of color, the washing machine glittered upon start, spin cycle, and finish. A jaunty sweet song like the plastic teeth of a Fisher Price record bleated at the end. Matt and I had been watching a TV show about magicians and were startled out of a static reverie. Matt ran a hand through his long dark hair and said the machine was probably singing the song of its father, which sounded very theatrical.

I’m going to put the songs of washing machine forefathers on a playlist, or at least put the task of making this playlist on my radar– just like how paying my loans is on my radar, and not taking every single emotion so seriously is on my radar, like how getting quarters to take my laundry to the laundromat on 43rd and Chestnut is always on my radar.

While the washing machine sang, I turned the sound up on the TV to drown out the lullaby. I ran my own hand through Matt’s dark hair.

My appliances don’t sing, but I don’t have any modern-ish appliances to begin with–not even a microwave. People always ask how I live without a microwave. I say something cavalier about using the oven, but really I just eat food that is cold or raw. I don’t care – I honestly don’t care – until sometimes I do, like when I’m staying at Jen’s and everything is merry and melodious. Even her microwave twinkled music as I made ready-to-eat chocolate mousse from a power packet I found in her cupboards along with her leftover milk – not even past its expiration date. I marveled at the microwave’s friendliness. My envy is not contained in small ways, it is the flow of the chocolate-y pudding under a silver skin that forms on top after staying out too long.

Throughout my stay, I drank all of the vodka in the freezer. The refrigerator beeped because I kept the door open too long, pouring from the bottle into my mouth, glugging like a fish. In the freezer, there was an ice cube tray she’d bought that didn’t just come with the place. I have never thought to do that. Buy an ice cube tray. Hers was rubber and blue, and the ice popped out easily, and I envied that too.

***

A day earlier, before she left, Jen had bought us cheesesteaks and cheese fries and we’d drank too much. Jen put away the leftovers but chucked the fries because “fries aren’t good reheated.” The next day, with her gone, I lay in her bed in my underwear watching reality TV on my phone. I ate the cheese fries with my snail fingers, having fished them out of the garbage. Matt said he couldn’t show up until later, so I waited. Sometimes I called, “pss-pss-pss” for her cat to come out and join me, but he never did. He never even made a sound.

The only things that make noise in Jen’s home are the robots.

***

Then later, Matt came over, and there was the music of the appliances. And we had pizza, and new fries, and magicians on TV, and really bad sex. We tried our best, but he wasn’t hard, but we attempted to do it anyway with limited success. And when it was all over, I apologized, and he left, and I took out the load of laundry from earlier and replaced it with the soiled sheets. I cleaned the apartment. The washing machine happily launched into a song to announce that the sheets were clean. I thought about Matt’s joke from earlier, about the washing machine’s father’s song and it made me angry. Where do we learn how to commit to pain? It’s pointless to kick a washing machine because it doesn’t get your hurt – it’s too busy making music to feel anything.

***

I wondered who has loved just like this before in Jen’s grownup space. With computers as companions and even a faucet that chimes – are all trysts here mechanical? Or do hers turn out better than mine? Does love look better when you’re an adult who has their shit together?

I pulled the sheets out: a blue piped one, a bird patterned one, the white pillow cases where, earlier, I’d found a long strand of Matt’s dark hair and felt like even that feathering touch made the entire pillow unclean. I assume Jen’s love is more meaningful, made under the watchful eyes of tender electronics. The bodies she invites into her home power down to melodies of automata, consecrated with the sweat of responsibility.

Then, since there was no machine for folding laundry, I became the robot. And since I was the robot, I felt like I should sing. I hummed while collapsing the bedding into pleats, while fitting fresh blue sheets onto the mattress. Jen would be home in a day and then I’d be back in my non-harmonious, appliance-less shithole of an apartment.

I never could find her fucking cat anywhere.

 

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Jane-Rebecca Cannarella is the editor of HOOT Review and  Meow Meow Pow Pow Lit.  She was a genre editor at Lunch Ticket, as well as a contributing writer at SSG music. In her spare time, she is a candy enthusiast and cat fan. 
She received her BA and M.Ed from Arcadia University, her MFA from Antioch University, and attended Goldsmiths: the University of London and Sarah Lawrence College. When not poorly playing the piano, she chronicles the many ways that she embarrasses herself at the website www.youlifeisnotsogreat.com. Her chapbook of flash/prose-poems, Tiny Thoughts for Tiny Feelings, was published by BA Press, 2002 in 2011 – which she concedes is confusing. 

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

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

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