two prose poems – howie good

Matt Clifford - Photo Credit Matt Diss ALOC Media

Bad Dream Coma

Your teeth are falling out. You’ve lost your car. A flood is bearing down on you. You’re being chased through dimly lit streets, and though you repeatedly look back, you can’t even see who is chasing you. You’re trying to scream for help. You’re out of breath. What is inside you is going to come out: your dog’s dead body on a blanket on the floor. Your walls and curtains are covered in chemical formulas. You have no idea at all what you’re supposed to say next. You raise your hand for paper and are given a slice of bread.

Song for Ancient Children

I wake up from an afternoon nap on the couch to the thunderclaps of the younger generation chanting, “Fuck the clown! Where’s my clock?” The place is very much alive. It’s like an archipelago whose volcanic islands rise and fall with the waves. I try to believe we’ll be OK, that no one gets forgotten simply for having scant hair or wearing mom jeans, but I can’t. We see buildings toppling backwards into fire, broken leg bones refusing to heal, shadows crawling out of the ground. Our memories whisper and pulsate. There aren’t even parking spaces big enough for them.


with uke

Howie Good is the author most recently of Stick Figure Opera: 99 100-word Prose Poems from Cajun Mutt Press. He co-edits the journals Unbroken and UnLost.

Cover Art: Hans Eiskonen

 

 

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two poems – lauren napier

Matt Clifford - Photo Credit Matt Diss ALOC Media

A Definition of the End

When the devil drives
The heart takes a backseat
Down a path tread by broken stares
false hopes
empty deeds

Blades of grass damp and clinging to the ground below
Damp with tears meant to quench the gasps of burning bridges
And clammy hands no longer afraid
But awaiting
To grasp the end
A definitional moment
An end to the anger
Of the peripheral glare of the reaper’s shadow
A tongue finally forbidden to slander

When the devil drives
The heart must relinquish the keys in the ignition
For
Needs must

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Who I Found Virginia City, Nevada

What are you thinking about when your fingers twitch in sleep?
Thoughts that are voiced with that one whiskey over the tipping point
The phone was dialed
And answered in a ghost town graveyard
Desert wind and your voice
A yearning heart’s medicine

The coyote greeted me at the gate
The scent of sage in flared nostrils
An urge to follow him over the hills and into the brush
Dissolving into his dusty camouflage
Until a
Murmur through the phone line
Asks “where will we find our peace?”

Wherever are you whenever your bones are in the bed next to mine?
I find myself lost between the whispers and the dreams
Down paths that do not disappear within the day
And those that I will follow into the night

When did these footsteps appear just beyond the fence?
When my gaze was distracted by the moon rising above the cliff
I heard a deep and and heavy sigh
And decided whenever
Wherever
And there
I would follow the moonlight wisdom in the shadow’s hair


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lauren.napier finds solace in melody and the written word. She has penned a children’s book, All My Animals, stories for NPR Berlin, amongst other texts and songs. lauren is often traveling with her feline, notebooks, and acoustic guitar, exploring her surroundings and sharing stories. WEBSITE | INSTAGRAM | TWITTER 
Cover Art: Davide Ragusa
Author Photo: Barbara Rodriguez

her tongue – paul ilechko

Matt Clifford - Photo Credit Matt Diss ALOC Media

She pushes her tongue
into the hole of his castration
his vacancy the hollow
and her saliva mixing
with the memory of loss

                          a hawk shimmies into
                          the place within the sky
                          where the sun used to rise
                          before the blackness
                          became merely emptiness

along the border she finds
men nailed upon crosses …
suspended as a temporary
measure until their paperwork
might be verified

                          a desert is a field
                          that has lost a lottery
                          for which it never even
                          purchased a ticket and really
                          how cruel must that be?

she dreams of children …
and children might once have been
possible might even have been
welcome but not now
not here in this field of bones

                          he remembers being a man
                          in the time before they stripped
                          the tendons from within his
                          flesh and tied him to a post
                          beneath a dying sun

she thrusts her tongue
into the desert of his throat …
squeezing out moisture
that might just keep him alive
for one more day.


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Paul Ilechko is the author of the chapbooks “Bartok in Winter” (Flutter Press, 2018) and “Graph of Life” (Finishing Line Press, 2018). His work has appeared in a variety of journals, including Manhattanville Review, West Trade Review, Yes Poetry, Otoliths and Indicia. He lives with his partner in Lambertville, NJ. INSTAGRAM| FACEBOOK

Cover Photo: Jared Verdi

ghost ghazal in prose after the marriage – nathan elias

Matt Clifford - Photo Credit Matt Diss ALOC Media

Before I went, loving you was the best part of my life. There you are, emerald eyes, in each memory when I reflect upon my life. You couldn’t see me as I hovered near you while you wept on the couch, thumbing through the box of photos that represents but a fraction of my life. I tried to speak your name and was amazed when the sound was a bird’s chirp. You stood up, went to the window, and momentarily forgot my life. In this realm of transparency and emptiness, we cling to fleeting moments. We dance throughout history, for time is not linear in the afterlife. I wanted to see your birth; I wanted, regrettably, to see your death. I wanted to drift through the detritus that creates a composite of your life: New York. Florida. Australia. California. Coordinates that, on the other side, do not exist. In the city of angels, and through your eyes, emerald, I can see the best parts of my life. In circumnavigating the remainder of your days without me, I’ve come to understand the art of moving on and letting go, even though I could not master this art during my life. And this is why I must now transcend. Evaporate. Disintegrate at the sound of you whispering, “Nathan, my love, I will see you when I go, but until then I must live my life.”


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Nathan Elias is a finalist for The Saturday Evening Post’s 2020 Great American Fiction Contest. He is the author of the chapbooks Glass City Blues: Poems and A Myriad of Roads That Lead to Here: A Novelette. He holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University Los Angeles, where he served as editor on the literary journal Lunch Ticket. More of Nathan’s writing can be found in Entropy, PANK, Hobart, and many other publications. www.Nathan-Elias.com | @_NathanElias

Cover Art: Jack Anstey

lali & the void (a love story) or, he gives me gifts -yesica mirambeaux

Matt Clifford - Photo Credit Matt Diss ALOC Media

Last night I dreamed I had a torrid love affair with the void

 

Sometimes it would take on its true form and everything around us would blur        tip       and slide inside it

awash to points unseen

 

I would stand impassive and watch it consume piles of matter and aether alike

 

all things that were once thought to be lost were certainly found              here

 

it would gaze into my eyes nakedly, lovingly, and select a sneaker-clad leg from a pile of refuse

 

so I would watch the bones crunch in its enormous maw

and admire it for being so fully                                            itself

without a hint of self-consciousness

 

just the quietly, unabashedly rapacious beast   it really was

no shame

no real evil, even                        in its deliberately passive

elaborately encompassing                  self singular

wu wei

 

 

sometimes it takes on another form

of a beautiful young lover with messy curls that hang to his shoulders

all dynamical plenum, a sleek frowzy heroin chic slinking about him

languid and passionate all at the same time

 

in this form he laughingly chases me            through white-walled apartment complexes

slamming me up against the doorways and

pressing up against me

in long,                             interminable halls

my very own aphairestic machine

 

he is the void and it consumes me fresh each time

 

still no matter how many times he visits

or how long I stay

 

I still remain to tell the tale

naked                                     and    unscathed

 

the only trace of our trysts a certain wisp of a peaceful       and       lasting              wu wei

 

that    braids   and    sinks itself               into my wide-open dna

a stubborn  keepsake         of  a  sudden    calling


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Yesica Mirambeaux is a longtime writer with a passion for the written word in all its many and diverse forms. At the age of 16 she won the Walter J. Suskind Award for a short story and has continued writing, both in her personal and professional life. As a content manager, information architect, tech writer, and corporate blogger, she enjoys the challenge of understanding a company’s story and finding the best way to share it. As a perpetual storyteller to her loved ones, she is happiest when crafting personalized poetry and entertaining snippets for the circle of people she loves most.

Cover Art: Mohamed Nohassi

an open letter to hannah wilke – stephanie hempel

Matt Clifford - Photo Credit Matt Diss ALOC Media

Dear Hannah,

The moon is exactly half carved of your belly, your hair is now exhausted, and your mass is so madly and how did you meet the person who lives under your flesh? The pale and ripe body that births the gesture through the exoskeleton? You stuck gum to your naked body, shaped like a series of miniature vulvas, and I put my breasts on the scanner, cut my hair, curled it next to a knife. How can I locate this body? How else could I locate this body?

And you did, and when you did, did you let yourself have it? The museum deity? The attention from the audience as they scolded you for the hairpin curve around your nipples? The chewed-up gum, your chewed-up gum, the photographer’s chewed-up gum, saliva stuck over your face, the nape your neck, the line of your pelvis, mountain crease of your hip bones. Woman covered wholly in woman.

Who chewed the gum, Hannah? Was that your own spit? The rubbing between raw flesh and the plasticity of bubble gum. Hannah, I was in Athens when I learned the rape wasn’t my fault. I was four years old and it wasn’t my fault. I was at my uncle’s house and it wasn’t my fault. My mother told me that as a child he had also been raped, also by an uncle, also so young. I tried to make sense of this while standing in the Aegean Sea, freezing, my legs turned purple and numbed but I saw the sun reflect crystalline gold onto the pigments of my skin. I saw all the ways a baptism wouldn’t save me in this human life time.

What does it mean to inhabit, Hannah? What does it mean to inhabit the life space, among organisms, possibilities, war, triumph, gallery shows? What does it mean after you’ve passed, your line break? When he touched me, I felt like the plasticity of chewing gum, rough, burning into my flesh with venomous saliva. Since then my desire to meet death has been intimate, I always feel her neighboring through the avenue of my spinal column which is all marble, all marble since age four, no more bone, no more bone.

When language doesn’t work, we turn to the body, Hannah. Language never worked for the men in my life. It only worked for me by default. Something had to work, something had to work for survival, a poesis of working.

-SOS Series, “if you look at them as gum, you’re always gonna look at them as gum but if you look at them as a metaphor, you can see what she was doing, she said the reason I use gum is because this is what men do to women, they take them in, they chew them up, and they spit them out…she knew herself, she knew how she looked, she knew what she wanted.”

and what if I do not know how I look? What if I’m merely 8 trillion sliced atoms of color plastered against a wall? What if I am non-locatable? Hannah, what do I do? Hannah, what do I do?
Hannah, what do I do?
Hannah, what do I do?
Hannah, what do I do?
Hannah, what do I do, then?

Sincerely yours beyond death-


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Stephanie Hempel is an MFA candidate at Naropa University’s Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics. She is a multi-genre writer, editor, and performance artist. Her writing and art have been published in Saudade Magazine, Guttural Magazine, Osier Root Collective, and Apricity. She is the Co-Founder and Editor-In-Chief of the literary magazine, Tiny Spoon. Visit tinyspoon.org for more information about the journal.

Cover art: Charles Deluvio

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real turkey supper – summer j. hart

Matt Clifford - Photo Credit Matt Diss ALOC Media

The shadow wore Gucci.

She picked out his last suit from the stash he kept in the trunk of the Lincoln Continental GT, the one with the keypad lock. She could tap the code in her sleep.

She leaned against the kitchen island, poured Chardonnay, & waited for the meds to kick in.

After the funeral, she started cutting the suits into tiny identical squares, the way she diced tomatoes, stacking them into neat piles in the closets & under the beds.

He hovered by the dishwasher.

The tubes, oxygen, wheelchair, morphine had all become necessary evils in the end—the four fucking horsemen, he had joked, coughing & taking another drag.

This form cut a confident silhouette.

Stay awhile, I guess, how does that song go? He floated under the artificial daylight to an empty chair & held out his hand.

A constellation of tiny, jagged stars twinkled in the swirling dark of his palm. Cubic Zirconia, she thought, as they clattered onto the blonde oak table.

His sleeve began to unravel, his hand to dissipate. She wished she could see his eyes, his tell, but the darkness was fading now, sinking into the linoleum.

The Sunday after he died, she stole letters off the church marquee because what did they actually know of ghosts, holy or otherwise?

She slapped them down on the table like she was dealing: REAL TURKEY SUPPER
His silent laughter rattled the silverware.

She contemplated the empty bottle—squinted her eyes at it until it wavered & split into two. The suit had uncoiled itself into a single tangled thread, his body an inkblot on the tiles.

She pulled out leftovers from the fridge.

Cigarette smoke & unfamiliar perfume clung to the air between them.

Some things even death can’t change.

She stepped over what remained, to the microwave, & hit reheat setting 1. She stared at the slow spinning plate, counting the clunks made with each rotation.

Maybe they were diamonds this time.


SJHARTphotoSummer J. Hart is an interdisciplinary artist from Maine, living in the Hudson Valley, New York. Her written and visual narratives are influenced by folklore, superstition, divination, and forgotten territories reclaimed by nature. Her poetry appears in Northern New England Review, vol 39 & Third Point Press, Issue 14. Her mixed-media installations have been featured in galleries including Pen + Brush, NYC, Gitana Rosa Gallery at Paterson Art Factory, Paterson, NJ, & LeMieux Galleries, New Orleans, LA. She is a member of the Listuguj Mi’gmaq First Nation. WEBSITE | INLIQUID SITE

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night drives – taylor jones

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All of us jammed
into the back seat
perhaps
accidentally
I end up next to you.
The force of the curves
presses me against you
and I feel your warmth
through your coat.
My stomach aches, cramping
as my body
sheds blood tears
aching for you.
And as the city blurs by
indifferently
I watch
your lips
not move.


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Taylor Jones is a conservation biologist by training, and spends her days either trying to save the world or escape it via writing and reading. She is an aficionado of the weirdest things in nature, and hopes to one day meet an alien. She lives in Denver, Colorado, in a house full of plants. Instagram: @tjonespainting

gas station famous – jason ryberg

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for Victor Clevenger and John Dorsey

It was a hot and windy Saturday morning
in mid-September and Summer was clearly
letting us know that it wasn’t quite done with us yet.

We were buying coffee and donuts and DayQuil
at a gas station just outside of St. John, Kansas
in a desperate, pre-emptive effort to circumvent our
looming collective hangovers before they really kicked in.

I was wearing all black,
doing my best shabby working-man chic /
3rd rate Tom Waits / Johnny Cash shtick: big boots
big belt buckle and paper-boy hat, rakishly angled.

Victor had more of a quaffed and groomed
punk rock / hip-hop thing going:
red Chuck Taylors, baggy jeans,
silk bowling style shirt showing his sleeves of tattoos,
a black stingy-brim and faint hint of cologne.

And John was just doing John as only John can do:
golden ringlets and big, bushy beard,
classic black-rimmed nerd glasses and Doc Marten’s
with Virgin Marys painted on them.
I suppose we must have appeared a bit exotic
and out of place to some of the locals who
came and went with their purchases that morning:

just sitting on the bench outside,
sipping our coffee, scratching away at lottery tickets,
trying to figure out our next move while
watching a lone tumble-weed drunkenly
meander its way North on US 281.

We were on the road and off the grid—
AWOL, MIA and whereabouts unknown:
three wayward, vagabond gypsy-princes of poesy,
tethered to nothing and beholden to no one,
spreading the seed of The Word wherever the wind took us…

Eventually, the girl working there came outside,
fired up a Pall Mall and asked us,

Y’all famous?


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Jason Ryberg is the author of thirteen books of poetry,
six screenplays, a few short stories, a box full of folders, notebooks and scraps of paper that could one day be (loosely) construed as a novel, and, a couple of angry letters to various magazine and newspaper editors. He is currently an artist-in-residence at both 
The Prospero Institute of Disquieted P/o/e/t/i/c/s and the Osage Arts Community, and is an editor and designer at Spartan Books. His latest collection of poems is Standing at the Intersection of Critical Mass and Event Horizon (Luchador Press, 2019). He lives part-time in Kansas City with a rooster named Little Red and a billygoat named Giuseppe and part-time somewhere in the Ozarks, near the Gasconade River, where there are also many strange and wonderful woodland critters. 

Top Photo: Christopher Paul High