popping knuckles doesn’t mean anything is wrong with you – Zach Marcum

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Photo: Louis Hansel

have been stealing roommate’s Babybel mini cheese-wheels one by one over the past few weeks.

saw person swooshing metal detector back and forth in the park.

he must’ve thought, “ooh, nice day. I should swoosh my metal detector back and forth in the park.”

felt clear, uninhibited sun on my face for first time in months

thought of texting “I love you” to everyone in my phone.

last week fell in desperate love with girl on Instagram

dmed her “I’m in love w/ you,” around 1:46am.

the bag of Babybel mini cheese-wheels is getting concernedly low.

have been trying to take 3 slow breaths in my car before and after driving.

learned that caterpillar dematerializes in its cocoon, unmakes itself into cells.

squeezed an avocado that made my knuckle pop.

thought of the sometimes troubling intimate relationship I’m in as a non-failure.

popping knuckles is really just nitrogen releasing and doesn’t mean anything is wrong with you.

non-failure because it exists at all.

yesterday saw a car turn onto a one way street in the wrong direction, then quickly reverse back to the junction.

walked home from the park imagining I drove in the near lane when the car turned the wrong way and we hit head on, smashing my teeth into my throat.

closed my eyes and shook my head softly.

tried to explain to two 21 year olds the feeling of your late 20s. the sensation of slipping.

stumbled on the words, self corrected, didn’t say much of anything.

girl on Instagram has not responded to my message.

a person sits behind me in class and watches episodes of hell’s kitchen on his phone with the volume off.


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Zach Marcum is the 2000 dunk contest but in human form.

My Daughter’s Reflex – C.C. Russell

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Photo: Nine Köpfer

Suddenly, she throws her arms out –

even deep in sleep,

this memory

of falling.


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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

It’s Not Polite to Stare at Body Autonomy – Shawnie Hamer

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Photo: Josh Newton
  1. 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.

    …..

  2. 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.

    …….

  3. 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.

    ……..

  4. 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.


    ………..

  5. 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.


    ……

  6. 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.


    ……….

  7. 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. 

…….


Author Photo

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.

 

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

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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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?


Ryberg author photo

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

made of honor – december lace

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Putting together parched yellow streamers
on a souring, rain-swollen wall has left me desolate
this Sunday, love. The wedding bell decorations sprouting
up under volcanic eyes while manicured talons toast
my efforts make the small hairs on my neck rise
and my shelled ankles are about to take flight into
the drizzling afternoon. The bride-to-be, displeased
with the weather stomps on the conversation and
swallows wrapping paper and compliments with a
spoiled mouth and a flaming jaw. Woe, to our severed
friendship. Woe, to my barbed wire stomach, my
strangled lungs, my battered heart, my kidnapped spleen.
She has won my anxiety and conquered my loyalty,
draining my good intentions like a one-sided blood
transfusion. I am still hooked up to the pumps and leaking
essence into the floor while champagne dribbles at her lip.


December 45

December Lace is a former professional wrestler and pinup model from Chicago. She has appeared in the Chicago Tribune, The Molotov Cocktail, Pussy Magic Lit, The Cabinet of Heed, Awkward Mermaid, Vamp Cat, and Rhythm & Bones YANYR Anthology, among others. She loves Batman, burlesque, cats, and horror movies.

 

an intruder in your house (hollywood) – david welper

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Filling the glass with milk or
homes with Hollywood furniture.

Greed they say. The piggy bank
run amuck, the loud chair laced
for director.

Humility locates its contour map
of frilly things. This, the next big thing
in show business
because walls become predictable and
daydreams frame digression
with a flexibility of their own.

A briefcase breaks at the corner,
a ballerina’s pillow spreads out
in motion pictures.

Celebrity has a collapsing act.
What she does is her business.


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David Welper is a Pushcart nominated poet, has been a featured reader across the US, has been published in a number of zines and has been active in literary communities.  He is the founder of Buddy Lit Zine.  He is a Psychiatric Nurse in Denver.

Top Photo: Krzysztof Kowalik

in the key of lazarus – paulie lipman

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Hearts fly over my head
Hearts flying over my head
This will be what replaces brain cells
These will supplant canonized rebels

Thumbs in my eyes
Thumbs thrust into my eyes
This will be what replaces good tidings
These will be what replaces the tithing

God is gone
and so the tabernacle
Upended altars
False idols
Pictographical angels

Love is Like is Repetition
Love is like, is like Love is gone
Like gone repeated, Love dragging on
Then gone, like Love is attrition

Gone is God
and us all their children
We all our own altars
Our skin carved and clawed
We are our own sin


FB_IMG_1571175922874paulie lipman is a jewish queer poet, performer, and novelist out of Denver, CO by way of too many damn places. a two time national poetry slam finalist, their work has appeared in The Emerson Review, voicemail poems, ellipsis, Prisma: Zeitblatt Fur Text & Sprache (Germany), and Protimluv (Czech Republic). they are the author of two poetry collections “from below/denied the light” and the upcoming “sad bastard soundtrack: songs of faith and distortion” (Swimming With Elephants Publications).

Church Photo: Harry Miller