because you can’t drink with your mouth closed – colin dodds

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He pissed his cornflake juice
in the expensive of the hallway belonging
to the soap opera queen.

From the din of the kitchen,
people wearing last year’s orgasm
tossed glances like stones at his wet head.

Awful faces hanging on fangs—
pancake make-do and sideburns stitched
to a general sense of pointiness—in a place
where the winged quality-of-experience police
have no jurisdiction.

But he had to go and do it,
he opened his desert flower onto
the auctionyard of seized cars.
His friends said:

“We’re your friends
and we’re not your friends,
we can never leave
but we’ll see you later,
okay?”

Anyway, it was little miss
whoever’s whatever birthday
and she spent all day getting into those pants
and men appoint themselves
bouncers in stripclubs as we speak
so maybe you better lower your tone
in regard to the birthday girl and Ms. Nose.

But won’t shut up, he threw a moist box
at Toby the BMX-racer’s head,
the crowd is ready to open into him
with its toddler teeth, and Cody
and the boys’re goin to turn
that sky inside out
and make a closet of bruises.

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Colin Dodds is a writer with several novels and books of poetry to his name. He grew up in Massachusetts and lived in California briefly, before finishing his education in New York City. Since then, he’s made his living as a journalist, editor, copywriter and video producer. Over the last seven years, his writing has appeared in more than three hundred publications including Gothamist, Painted Bride Quarterly, and The Washington Post, and praised by luminaries including David Berman and Norman Mailer. His poetry collection Spokes of an Uneven Wheel was published by Main Street Rag Publishing Company in 2018. Colin also writes screenplays, has directed a short film, and built a twelve-foot-high pyramid out of PVC pipe, plywood and zip ties. One time, he rode his bicycle a hundred miles in a day. He lives in New York City, with his wife and daughter. You can find more of his work at thecolindodds.com.

Photo: Jamie Street

art – mikhail s.k.

Artist’s Statement:

e t h o s

As I grow older, I begin to understand that core mechanics of all things – from business, to politics, religion, even interpersonal relationships – all boil down to psychology, and the strange nature of the mind. Human consciousness is a bizarre and fascinating place. Fragile as it is, it can be a powerful force. It creates and imposes meaning from nothing but conjured-up thoughts, and distorts our perception of the world and ourselves. I believe, these ‘distortions’ produced by the mind are reflections of its own state – a subconscious cry. I redirect my own curiosity via something between glitch art, and surrealism, flirting with themes of the subconscious.

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Mikhail SK is an industrial designer, who has been an illustration artist since childhood. His work often revolves around humanism, and expressed via psychological surrealism. Being a multi-media artist, Mikhail draws a lot of inspiration from the various methods and techniques of his craft, and then translates them into visceral experimentation in his art. As he delved into his studies in architecture and work as a carpenter, his way of thinking gradually shifted to a calculated, pragmatic, approach which although is design-oriented, still seeps into his art. www.msk.design

you’re really something – bruce mcrae

railroad

I’m the unpronounceable something
that lives behind the garden wall.
Something that begins with the letter something.
The something from something for nothing.

I’m really something, or I’m something else –
we can debate the various uncertainties.
We can discuss our purpose, divine a plan.
‘A thing unspecified, a thing unknown’,
the dictionary patiently explains.
‘An amount being stated that isn’t exact’.
Like ‘I love you something terrible’.
Could you ever love me in return?

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Bruce McRae, a Canadian musician currently residing on Salt Spring Island BC, is a multiple Pushcart nominee with well over a thousand poems published internationally in magazines such as Poetry, Rattle and the North American Review. His books are ‘The So-Called Sonnets (Silenced Press), ‘An Unbecoming Fit Of Frenzy’ (Cawing Crow Press) and ‘Like As If” (Pskis Porch), Hearsay (The Poet’s Haven).

submit to south broadway ghost society.

marks for perseverance – patricia walsh

barnyards

Exiled to a lonely corner, wanting more than letting on
something is wrong with the state of myself,
love as transaction, flowing freely of course
being silently watched, no effort at a smile.

Making the world go round, insolent situation
cutting hands and feet to ribbons in protest,
I don’t care about you anymore, if I ever did
rolling one’s own jelly babies not really my problem.

Serial butterflies galvanise the rotten core,
protected in instances of eventual delivery
home-grown opportunity not a mortal sin
just the run of the day, everything is special.

Principles aside, nothing at a loss.
Breaking through ranks, ass being grass
and me being the lawnmower, catch you out
mutual benefit never hurt anybody.

Instant messages, never mind the duress
the tawdry ambition ascending for the kill
bleeping phones on a constant adventures
transmitting turn-ons, a glorious guilt.

Streetscape for want of a better life,
the passer-by muscles by a hearty congratulations
knowing less than required, plugged-in cartoons
advertising psychosis hidden in a purpose.

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Patricia Walsh was born and raised in the parish of Mourneabbey, Co Cork, Ireland. To date, she has published one novel, titled The Quest for Lost Eire, in 2014, and has published one collection of poetry, titled Continuity Errors, with Lapwing Publications in 2010. She has since been published in a variety of print and online journals. These include: The Lake; Seventh Quarry Press; Marble Journal; New Binary Press; Stanzas; Crossways; Ygdrasil; Seventh Quarry; The Fractured Nuance; Revival Magazine; Ink Sweat and Tears; Drunk Monkeys; Hesterglock Press; Linnet’s Wing, Narrator International, The Galway Review; Poethead and The Evening Echo. 

thirst – sam albala

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thirst

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Sam Albala is a poet nestled in the mountains of Colorado. She has a horizon habit and can often be found gobbling up the sky line while babbling about road trips, tea, and anatomical hearts, all with her mouth full of light. To see not-real-life horizons find @keepmindscreative on Instagram. To read more composed words, visit samanthaalbala.contently.com.

submit to south broadway ghost society.

victoria/artemis/insinuated – moira murphy

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victoria

I inhale the pungent ambrosia
the brackenwater of
you deathly loins.
The pulse quickens against
bolts of funeral lace
and you will reach the ecstasy
of the trite.

artemis

I massage algae into stone,
Create histories on your chilly face
melt my muscles to shape your flanks
One moment fluid, the next:
sturdy as a ponderosa pine
I change, but you?
Half a million years ago
you yawned.

insinuated

Your words are dust
Swirling into desert storms.
Your words are sand
Itching underfoot.
Your words are weeds
Choking up my roots.
Yet I know that you need me.

Like a fire that ravages,
Clears the forest land.
I destroy all virgin soil
To let you seep in again.

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Moira Murphy is a vocalist, pianist, and songwriter who fronts Oryad, a band that marries metal and opera in a trance-inducing ritual.

han’s solo – mark blickley and keith goldstein

Keith Goldstein - Acadia NP.jpg

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Editor’s note: the following piece is an ekphrasis, a rhetorical exercise where usually an artist bases a piece of writing off of an image. In this case, Mark Blickley based the following story off of Keith Goldstein’s image above, a picture of his son at Acadia National Park.

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I’ve had this recurring Bridge Dream for nearly fifteen years. It first appeared one night after being exhausted by cram studying for my Bar Mitzvah. In this initial fantasy I was a swaddled infant left on the very beginning of a long and twisting walkway through a vibrant yet desolate forest. I was crying and there was blood from my bris seeping through the fabric covering my groin. We don’t need to dig Freud up from his grave to figure out I was about to undergo a ritual of manhood, so I must’ve been thinking about the genital mutilation that first signaled my acceptance into the tribe. What’s quite disturbing about this recurring dream as it appears today is that after fourteen years of experiencing it, I’ve only move forward incrementally from the bloody infant that was first placed on this forest path, into a six year old boy that balks at moving forward. In the real world I’m about to turned twenty-eight.

My name’s Han because my parents are both Star Wars freaks and the worship of this film series is the only real religion practiced in my household. They obviously were not the only disciples. When I was in Pre-K, there was another boy named Han as well as a girl named Leia.

What’s strange about my abandoned boy at the bridge recurring dream is that it’s always just a prologue to whatever else I’ll be dreaming that night. This winding walkway always introduces whatever anxious or peaceful visions my brain has decided to focus on that night—nightmare, erotic ecstasy, exciting adventures, idyllic beauty.

These days in my dream I am a first-grader who is really hesitant about moving forward, but I also see it as my feet turning into the classic ballet 4th position. My mother taught ballet for years so perhaps my foot position on the bridge is a nod to her. Once again I don’t need to disinter Freud to figure out this bridge snakes into a representation of my life’s journey. By the way, did you know that babies double their birth size by age five months? Yet in my recurring dream I remained a crying, bleeding infant for years —no physical growth, no emotional growth.

I’m a bit confused about relationships with women. My testosterone tells me to be more aggressive and not to feel so shy and unworthy. I’m always terrified of saying the wrong thing. In High School I didn’t really have a girlfriend because I always hung out within this circle of friends that were both males and females. Most activities were communal, not individual dates. Recently I joined a dating app called Bumble. On Bumble only women can initiate first contact which I like because it reduces the stress of rejection, yet I’ve been registered on this app for five months and have yet to receive a single hit.

I’m presently undergoing E.M.D.R. (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) therapy, which also includes hand tapping and listening to ambient sounds, like ocean waves, via headphones that seesaw these sounds from ear to ear to promote a kind of aural hypnosis. One of the side effects of this treatment is that it can cause vivid, realistic dreams, but my recurring dream happened years before I entered therapy. My therapist insists I keep a journal between sessions in order to maintain the session’s progress she insists is occurring.

My shrink Martha works for the V.A. but please don’t think I’m some sort of Veteran war hero suffering from PTSD. I never even enlisted in the War Against Christmas, yet I’ve never known a world without suicide bombings, school shootings and acts of terrorism that take place in my backyard, not in some distant land. Martha is also an ordained Lutheran pastor but she never mentions God in any of our sessions.

I tell Martha I’m so sick of reading/hearing reasons why Millennials can’t grow up. My shrink calls it a “First World” problem not unique to young men my age. I am depressed and anxious all the time but don’t know why. I am always smiling and laughing at jokes I don’t think are funny so people won’t discover how unhappy I am. I feel like I’m faking everything. Being an adult to me means not doing things you enjoy doing, yet that’s nuts because my parents still act like kids at Star Wars Conventions.

Why am I so miserable? I had everything I was supposed to need while growing up— emotional and financial security, a good education and now I have a more than decent paying job. I do feel guilty that they are so many less fortunate than me and know it is unmanly to be so constantly sad. Every day there’s somebody crying out what privileged assholes we Millennials are, so I always feel pressured to pretend I’m happy.

My shrink says I should spend less time always surrounding myself with people and more time being alone, even if it means being bored at first. But I can’t relax by myself. I tried all different kinds of things, but I can’t slow down my goddamn anxious thoughts. I’ve tried drugs, porn, video games and even different kinds of meditation—Zen Meditation with mindfulness on breathing and intentionally focusing on the moment. Then I did Metta meditation to focus on a loving kindness towards myself as well as empathy for other people. In my final workshop I studied Sufi mediation to try to achieve mystical union with a Supreme Being.

In every class and workshop I’ve taken, I seem to be the only one who can’t obtain this metaphysical knowledge and peace. I would often comfort myself in class by thinking my fellow students are just bullshitting their enlightenment to try to make me feel like shit—but thoughts like that defeat the entire purpose of meditation, which is to get to know myself and pull away from the outside world to focus on my inner world, instead of blaming everyone else for my failure. Do you understand how fucked up a person I am? Hell, I even get sad deleting old tweets because it feels like I’m flushing away a big part of who I was and who I am.

Last month Martha suggested I try using a weighted blanket that applies deep pressure touch. She says it simulates the feeling of being comforted, like a swaddled baby, and is supposed to help my insomnia and anxiety. So instead of fighting my anxieties like a real man, I retreat into acting like a fucking baby again, all tucked inside my crib beneath a blanket with 30 pounds of pellets sewn into it. So far it hasn’t worked.

When I ask Martha how she arrives at the concept of what exactly my emotional age is, she turns the question back on me and asks what do I believe is my emotional age? I tell her I don’t know anything except first my dick is snipped at birth and then as I advance in life I have my balls constantly broken by social proclamations that I MUST BE SUCCESSFUL!

I worry I’ll never live up to my own expectations. I grew up being told I could be anything I wanted to be, but I’m coming to the realization that I’m not as smart, talented or special as I thought I was and that fuels an obsession with having to succeed. My friends and I seem to be growing up poorer than our parents. My Mom and Dad can afford to go to Star Wars conventions all over the world but my important travel plans are still handcuffed by student loans.

I get incredibly stressed over not being able to find a WiFi spot, forgetting passwords to online accounts, the buffering sign when I’m streaming online—it’s like taunting me that my life is going in circles, like the areola of a maternal tit. I stress when unable to find my T.V. remote just as my favorite Netflix show is starting.

Why am I unable to advance past the age of six in my recurring dream? Is it because I’m a victim of helicopter parenting? During my childhood my Mom and Dad hovered over every experience and problem I had growing up. Cell phones are the longest umbilical cords in the world. I was taught to be afraid of strangers, playing sports, sexual contact. Is that why they claim we Millennials act more like children than adults?

This outburst of self-pity is very tiring, so I’m going to disappear under my state of the art weighted blanket and hope tonight is the night it crushes my recurring dream of being a child stranded on a spooky bridge inside a dying, primeval forest. And if my heavy blankie is unable to extinguish the dream, perhaps when I wake up I will have at least gained a year of emotional age so I will be a seven year old boy on that walkway, just three quarters away from achieving my true age of twenty-eight.

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Mark Blickley is a proud member of the Dramatists Guild and PEN American Center as well as the recipient of a MacArthur Foundation Scholarship Award for Drama. He is the author of Sacred Misfits (Red Hen Press), Weathered Reports: Trump Surrogate Quotes from the Underground (Moira Books) and the forthcoming text based art book, Dream Streams (Clare Songbirds Publishing). His video, Widow’s Peek: The Kiss of Death, was selected to the 2018 International Experimental Film Festival in Bilbao, Spain. He is a 2018 Audie Award Finalist for his contribution to the original audio book, Nevertheless We Persisted. 

Keith Goldstein is a freelance photographer and photo editor in New York City.  Keith began exhibiting his photography since the1980’s. His work has appeared in many publications including  ABC News Australia, Now Public, Flak Magazine, JPEG Magazine, Time. His work is included various private collections and in the Erie Art Museum, Brooklyn Museum, and the S.K. Neuman Culture Center, Brno, Czechoslovakia. Website

the haunting – the ghost of esperanza

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How do I write that I love you?  How do I say that I love you in a way that doesn’t want to possess you?  When you laugh and your eyes squint it fills me up.  When you look into me, you make me feel seen and alive.  Like I want to feel everything.  Your touch, your gaze, your compassion to all my energy, makes me feel like warming up the world instead of burning it down.  The way you process the world astounds me.  You make me more loving to myself. You challenge me to be better than my bad habits. You challenge my negativity.  I have never felt more love than when I am around you. I feel free and trusted.  You nurture me in a way I have needed.  When you let me in and let me see you, I am recharged.  And I have asked you for deeper.  And I am also scared of deeper because like you I am clumsy until one of us has to be the gentle one with the steadier touch.  You make me secure even when I fear myself.  You’ve helped me see my magic as the reality it is.  And I don’t think that you see that you are magic.  You give me so much life.  I need security.  I desire security that we can’t always guarantee.  You teach me patience with me.

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