three poems – j.c. reilly

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Tempest

On the pier at Hawley Arm,
their legs hanging over the edge,
the sisters watch a storm
punch its way from the west.

As the bruised clouds spread,
the air, thick and woolen all day,
shifts and trembles. The lake
blackens in response, while gators,

like logs, sink beneath the surface,
ripples vanishing almost instantly.
A pelican on a cypress stump
takes fright, takes flight, its white

feathers a momentary erasure
of the sky’s embittered indigo.
The sisters ought to go in; a storm
like that can bludgeon a body with hail

faster than they can run the quarter-
mile to the house, but they know
what they will find there: broken hearts,
broken hearts, faded magnolias.

A Syllable, a Dove

A dove drops from your mouth,
round and fat at my feet.

I pick it up, my hands a bowl
for its milk-white body;

it trembles but does not flinch
its gaze. Shell-pink beak sings

of what you could never speak:
your wish to find a sky

unspooling with clouds
of loss, of wind crystal time,

of desire that pelts like sleet.
Song complete, the dove lifts

into the air: your voice on wings,
Goodbye falling, a forgotten feather.

Proverb

In my dream, a bride visits
a blue crystal rotunda, where

an elephant lives in sequins and silks.
If it looks at her with its left eye,

her marriage will be happy,
but only as long as the reach

of wild lemongrass. If it stares
with its right, the couple’s first

thousand days will be as the endless
mangrove, thick with an underscrub

of despair. But should it fix her
squarely with both eyes, blessings

will fall like a shower of silver
rupees on the bride and groom

till they drown, drown—
and the elephant drowns, to bestow such joy.

 

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JC Reilly writes across genres and has received Pushcart and Wigleaf nominations for her work.  She lives with three cats, one of whom is a Communist. When she isn’t writing, she plays tennis or works on improving her Italian. Follow her @aishatonu on Twitter or jc.reilly on Instagram.

 

Photo: Luca Carrà

i am from a lie – nicki quinn

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I am from a lie
From a sad truth that turned into a lie
I am from a place of sadness and depression
I am from a rose that cuts and tears your flesh
I am from a tree of death and darkness
From hell itself
I am from the sex gone wrong
From a waste of time and slavery
I’m from a trench that was dug for me
I’m from Hawaii. A beautiful place
From Hawaii, and a state of regret
From a mother that was a teen
I’m from a sex addict
From a woman wanting to be an owner

 

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Bio: Nicki Quinn is an idea. The main thing to know is that she seems to be one thing but sometimes is another. It all depends on the day, mood, and time.

Photo: Buzz Andersen

death valley – paul ilechko

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Clubfoot bravado
in seventies cheesecloth

he curses as the freighter
pulls away         his heavy

stare reflects a hatred
for all things golden

he lives for concrete
he lives for the hot

black ribbon beneath
a desert sun       a locked-in

world of tinted windshields
and leather plumage

rejoicing in the dialogue
between metal and stone

a voice that oscillates
across the valley

till twilight falls
and the new-found stars

weep again for the madness
of his remembering.

 

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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, formercactus, Sheila-Na-Gig, Marsh Hawk Review and Rockvale Review. He lives with his partner in Lambertville, NJ.

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Photo by David Everett Strickler

two poems – bruce mcrae

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Tugging On The Invisible
It’s in the Great Subtraction where the takers reside.
Their houses are without doorways and walls.
They’ve removed the light from their windows.
In their lives something vital is missing.

The takers, whether you’re fleeing out of Babylon
or staring down a sewer pipe
or rounding up your Christmas chickens –
they’re there, but in and of themselves solely.

Sometimes it’s a seat on the bus or last of the cornbread.
At other times it’s a kidney or a faint breath,
the takers only too pleased to shift the unmovable,
to create an aching from absence.

What began as a fist has turned into a finger.
From beginning to end, our lives are dreamed into being.

 

Banished
Bundle-of-lint, get back into your cubbyhole,
into your linen drawer, your kettle of fish heads.
To the seeping wound from whence thou came.

Silk-purse-out-of-a-sow’s-ear,
get back down into your hole of holes.
Return to the smirking mouth of the salamander.
To the bottom of your olive jar.
To the glove compartment of a burning sedan.

Mister-face-like-a-slapped-backside –
exit with the staged play’s walk-on mob.
Back to your shallow-dug grave in the woods.
Return to your shoebox hidden under the bed.
To your gouged hill scarred with aircraft debris.

Go, and never trouble this existence again.
And may your shadow never cross another’s.

 

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Bruce McRae, a Canadian musician currently residing on Salt Spring Island BC, is a multiple Pushcart nominee with over 1,400 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” (Pski’s Porch), Hearsay (The Poet’s Haven).

 

Photo: Mikhail Shchupak-Katsman

exorcism / the expulsion – kailey tedesco

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exorcism / the expulsion

in the same way your mouth

refuses to close

as you apply mascara

there is a ghost here

the world behind you

reflected in the mirror

is unreal

there is only wall

but the house

keeps growing

eating parts of itself

i can hear you arrive

before you’ve even

fingered for your keys

this is no time at all

for games

as a child i’d wait

for snow

my mother would say

it will not come

if you wait for it

what i know

is i’ll die when i expect it

the very least

 

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Kailey Tedesco is the author of She Used to be on a Milk Carton (April Gloaming Publishing) and These Ghosts of Mine, Siamese (Dancing Girl Press). Lizzie, Speak, her most recent collection, won White Stag Publishing’s full-length poetry contest. She is an associate editor for Luna Luna Magazine and a co-curator for Philly’s A Witch’s Craft reading series. You can find her work featured or forthcoming in Witch Craft Mag, Bone Bouquet Journal, New South, Fairy Tale Review, Black Warrior Review, and more. 

 

Photo: Zac Durant

paper towel roll – jacob butlett

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“Gay males are thought to only represent 5% of the total male population but among males who have eating disorders, 42% identify as gay.” – National Eating Disorders Association

 

While the moon yawns outside the bedroom window,
I think of him as a white paper towel roll at a party:
In the beginning, a baby in the plastic-tight embrace

of his mother. Smooth, sensitive, plump,
he eyed others crowding around him, squeezing him,
soiling him with dirty hands of disappointment,

he believed. Holding me in the bed we used to own,
he once told me he hated himself for being himself,
for being the vanity’s prank upon the planet.

Since childhood, he’s thrown sheets of himself, papery
shreds of flesh, into the trashcan of life. Nothing remains
except a cold gauze of skin over his bones, the exposed

cardboard roll of his spine, which now I caress as he
falls asleep dreaming of what? Dreaming of food he’ll
never eat? Acceptance he’ll never accept?

I don’t want to compare him to a paper towel roll—
to any other object, for that matter—but as long as he retreats
into himself, refusing my help, how can I not see his body broken?

His spine’s a cracked telescope, fractured kaleidoscope,
revealing little in its lens, in its limited lightshow:
a glimpse of the brilliant borealis of his upbringing,

a glimpse of his future—colored slides in the light?
I imagine pressing an ear against his sunken chest,
a smashed treasure chest harboring, I hope, an ocean’s lullaby,

an ocean’s laughter. But now I hear him—
snores hoarse, whimpers raspy—begging to be more,
to be firm as muscles, firm as fat filling dead space.

Tomorrow we’ll talk. He and I will talk about this tomorrow,
before he fades forever like a breeze in the trees outside.
Until then, I close the curtains, tucking the moon into bed,

snuggle down under the covers, dark as an ossuary,
and dream of him—his smile wide as the crescent moon,
his once bulky body now protected in the warm plastic of my arms.

 

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Former poetry editor and longtime gay author Jacob Butlett (he/him) holds an A.A. in General Studies and a B.A. in Creative Writing. In 2012 he earned a Scholastic Art & Writing Awards Gold Key for his fiction, in 2017 he won the Bauerly-Roseliep Scholarship for literary excellence, and in 2018 he received a Pushcart Prize nomination for his poetry. Some of his work has been published in The MacGuffin, Panoply, Cacti Fur, Gone Lawn, Word Fountain, Ghost City Review, Lunch Ticket, Fterota Logia, Into the Void, and plain china.  

Photo: kaluci

what is this oblivion? – larry thacker

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Returning to where we’re from,
to before waking into the question.
Fresh grass taken into the mouth, chewed, swallowed,
brought up, swallowed down to a blankness.
What was the child’s first words? Why me, mother?
A truth-flavored, empty dark scripted of dreamlessness.
Housedress pockets bulging, hanging,
with sleeping river rocks.
Ask anything into an abandoned house’s broken mirror.
Light from a dead star, roaming and waiting
to be seen and named by the fading eyes
a beast stuck by a vehicle
and resting on the roadside.
Empty well. Empty well. Empty well.
Knowing where all the bodies are buried.
An antique typewriter’s stuck, melting +/= key
on the eighty-seventh floor.
The one balloon, released.
Dust on a window brushed by a man’s black wool-
suited shoulder, glanced through
from inside by the retiring barista.
Cup of black coffee, evaporating on a picnic table.

 

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Larry D. Thacker’s poetry is in over one-hundred-and-fifty publications including SpillwayStill: The JournalValparaiso Poetry ReviewPoetry South, The Southern Poetry Anthology, The American Journal of Poetry, The Lake,Illuminations Literary Magazine, and Appalachian Heritage. His books include Mountain Mysteries, the full poetry collections Drifting in Awe and Grave Robber Confessional, the chapbooks Voice Hunting and Memory Train, and the forthcoming full collection, Feasts of Evasion. His MFA in poetry and fiction is earned from West Virginia Wesleyan College. Visit his website at: www.larrydthacker.com

 

Photo: Todd Downs

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

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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).

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