but what about the novel? – ellen huang

steven johnson.jpg

The scene is in middle school, in two separate lines to electric chairs.
They won’t use the electricity. All we do is sit, they inject, and it’s done.
Then we get up and hop on over to the happy place–
a colorful room fluffed with pillows and stuffed
animals, the comfiest pile, the biggest slumber
party. Relax until sleep kicks in.
Before I know it, I’m next in line.
We’ve been chatting for a while, me and a tall, brown girl
who’s called up before me. Cheerily, she says she’ll see me soon. She means heaven.
Oh yeah, I say, casually. Casualties in the comfy room
didn’t occur to me. I’m called up next, and I’m at ease.
As I stroll to my death, a little thought asks,
But what about the novel? I realize I’m not ready to die.
I have a novel to write. The nurses, once so nice,
reveal themselves to be witches, escaped sirens from my story.
Lightning spews from their fingers when I run.


Ellen Huang is a cape-wearing mortal living her best life, with a BA in Writing & Theatre minor from Point Loma Nazarene University. She’s been known to possess vast knowledge of myths and fairy tales, as well as practically live in a prop closet full of exotic decorations. She has pieces published in Sirens Call, Wax Poetry and Art Magazine, HerStry, Diverging Magazine, Awkward Mermaid, Enchanted Conversation, Writers Ink, Between the Lines, Quail Bell Magazine, Ink & Nebula, Rigorous Magazine, Whispers, The Folks, Hummingbird Magazine, The Driftwood, The Gallery, and Perfume River Poetry Review. She enjoys reenacting movie scenes, burning things, and swimming in the sea. Follow if you wanna: worrydollsandfloatinglights.wordpress.com 

Art: Steve Johnson

cropped-eye-of-providence.jpg

a vertigo – leah white

siyan ren

a.

the world is much more wonderful when you think that it is
the world is much more wonderful you can think that
think the world is wonderful and it is much more wonderful
you think the world is wonderful but it is much more wonderful
than you think the world is more wonderful if you think it is
the whirl is munch munch, one of the four with your shrink wrap it is
various things create a vertigo.…………..yes it is

 

b.

Cherie is blurry weary
worry is sorry
starry theory
merely heavy

I flounder
fluid flowing flute flipping
flicks leap end flap
flinch flake

varied things create a vertigo
you think the world is
wonderful but it is
vertical…………..then vitriol…………..then vigil

 

c.

a vertigo as in heightened contrast
as in soft soft soft…………hard
as a confuse……..new view that feels

everything written on water
a room of water
I flounder…………for the words

try to flinch in water
try to have a scare try to have a
have is
in water


Leah White is an MFA candidate at University of Colorado Boulder. Originally from Tempe, Arizona, she currently teaches creative writing, works on Timber Journal, and runs a reading series in Boulder.

Photo: Siyan Ren

protest poem in three parts – c.j. strauss

protest poem

I.
Dedicated to Burroughs and Kerouac the Beats and their Fathers all them lads who sang
………….America awake, kampf’d das gut Kampf way back when,
all the way back, them hard times, them good times,
………….back before PornHub, back before dope on demand, back when any old bum
could summon up a death sentence in five months or fewer
courtesy some odd San Francisco shitter…
……………Them real good times.
I’m just kidding. Fuck those filthy bastards. Fuck those porcine perverts. Go fuck yourself with your Man/Boy Love. This is a form of warning.
…………………..Kids, gets your Wikis. Get your Multi-pedias, your Googlies and your Who-Hows. Kids, watch out for the Ginsbergs and the Kammerers, those fowl manbeasts, those irredeemable, insensitive, hard-boiled…

The tranny doth protest too much.

……………I go to a very expensive university. They built the atom bomb here, U know.
My professor who is old and white and wears Doc Martens says that all is fair in love and satire.
…………..So I can talk like this. I can make like the Beats and sound off. But I ain’t ‘gon say the N-word. Hell no.

…………….The greatest minds of our generation…
Down the hall Fatima phones her mother back home:
…………..Hey mom—today I cured cancer, ended world hunger,
…………..and discovered an unlimited source of renewable energy.
I masturbate on stolen Wi-Fi. Kill cops with my brain.

Hoover was a Columbia man. Or maybe that was Eisenhower? What difference does it make…
…………He said something about a cock in every mouth, a Jeep Wrangler in every garage, and free pot for everyone. God fucking bless this America. God fucking bless us all to death.

II.

Interlude.

A brief lesson from the White and Blue, now Robin Hooded down to you. Free, unless you’d like to make a donation. In which case, I take Venmo, PayPal, cash, and wire transfer. Slide into my DMs.

…………..If one wishes to improve their writing, and this fact is incontrovertible, …………..one should always, invariably, and unequivocally avoid verbosity (that is, …………..floridity, or the excessive use of language) in their prose.

And now, back to your regularly-scheduled-desperate-wailing-into-the-great-unknown.

III.

I’m not—
sorry.
I’m an “academic.”
I don’t purport to be
the Michael Jordan of being trans.
I don’t purport to be anything. Ich, ich, ICK!
Oh Daddy, give it to me just like that. I love it when you traumatize me.
I’m an academic. A hooker with an internet connection. And that’s showbiz, baby.
…………[Moloch]
Oh Sylvia, Oh Sylvia. You do not do, you do not do.
Gone too soon. Loved by too few. Just like a Jew.
…………[Moloch]
I too, may be a bit of a Jew. And what else?
A pastiche of Boylans and Bonos (not the soda, not the singer…)
But my fingers are god’s gift to womankind, my tongue a unique endowment. I could make Mother Mary quiver. This flesh flays finery, and I implore you to find out for yourself.
………….I’m the greatest thing since gluten-free bread. I’m the greatest thing since modern measles. Wicked smart, too. Like Einstein, smart. And humble.

………….My therapist says I’m not a narcissist, by the way.

Allen Ginsberg, I’m still mad at, about, and around you. What the fuck, man? Like, thanks for the inspiration,
I guess. This is some form of protest. Where does this queer shoulder go? Lord knows I don’t have a driver’s license.
Moloch. Moloch. Moloch. First chance I get I’m having a hysterectomy. Moloch.
And if I’m lucky, Moloch, Oxford will pay for the whole procedure. Bet you didn’t see this one coming, Moloch.
Wouldn’t you like it if I hitched a ride to Newark and shitted a swastika onto your grave? Just kidding. That would be disgusting. Sorry, have I offended? It’s 2pm, Friday the fifth, haven’t had, Moloch, breakfast yet. Moloch. Is it hot in here? O my enemy. Do I terrify?

I got a pair of Doc Martens. Birkenstocks, too. Thinking about getting some Timbs when I have the money. I should treat myself, right? I keep my shoes in a walk-in closet. Woe is the ever-wanting lesbian. Woe is the hole the holy alone.


C.J. Strauss is a transgender writer and artist currently pursuing their B.A. in English at Barnard College. Their art and writing has been published both internationally and domestically by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, The Claremont Review, Vade Mecum Magazine, GREYstone Youth Litmag, Echoes Literary Magazine, RATROCK Magazine, and the Barnard Bulletin. C.J. presently interns at the Poetry Society of New York and the Visible Poetry Project where their responsibilities include social media management and community engagement.

Photo: Jon Tyson

cropped-eye-of-providence.jpg

self-portrait as bird flying into window -wanda deglane

dead bird

and when you pull over, you’re still screaming,
hands held shaking in front of you like the skin

of them must not be real. my body hurled into
your windshield like mid-autumn hailstorm. my body

leaves streaks of blood and feathers and blindsided
desecration. my body the railroad tracks and

the trainwreck. the punching bag and the percussion
instrument. the pigeon queen, at once both sickness

and softness. you’re stumbling out of your vehicle,
sobs chiming from your throat. you see from

far away a mash of gray and white and red and bone.
tell yourself you can look at me up close. the carnage,

and the tenderness vomited from its mouth. there is
a strange grief inside you and you don’t know how

to free it from your ribs. there was a grief inside me,
and it spills an ocean on this asphalt.


Wanda Deglane is a night-blooming desert flower from Arizona. She is the daughter of Peruvian immigrants and attends Arizona State University. Her poetry has been published or forthcoming from Rust + Moth, Glass Poetry, Drunk Monkeys, and Yes Poetry, among other lovely places. Wanda is the author of Rainlily (2018), Lady Saturn (Rhythm & Bones, 2019), Venus in Bloom (Porkbelly Press, 2019), and Bittersweet (Vegetarian Alcoholic Press, 2019).

Photo: Chris Slupski

self-portrait as ghost with dementia – nathan elias

elias ghost

elias


Nathan Elias is the author of the chapbooks A Myriad of Roads That Lead to Here: A Novelette and Glass City Blues: Poems. He holds an MFA in Creative Writing (Fiction) from Antioch University Los Angeles, and he has served as editor on the literary journal Lunch Ticket. His work has appeared in Entropy, PANK, Hobart, Barnstorm, and elsewhere. His films and screenplays have been official selections or finalists in festivals such as Cannes Court Métrage, Glass City Film Festival, Canadian Film Centre, Texas Independent Film Festival, and both Hollywood and New York Screenplay Contests. He has taught a variety of creative writing classes, including fiction, poetry, and screenwriting. | www.Nathan-Elias.com | @_NathanElias

Photo: Meriç Tuna

cropped-eye-of-providence.jpg

i run into wolves running – ghost #13

ruslan

i run into wolves running
into me into mirrors into
switchbacks into endless
forests along endless rivers

i run into wolves running
into walls into hiding into
rebirth into fires in rooms
that they may not ever find

i run into wolves running
into death into memory
into the precision of a
scalpel into the western west

and therein i die and i die
and i run and i die and i
see it there on the shelves
the dust attracted to the

light like moths attracted
to fire like wolves attracted
to movement to packs to
new mentality until they too

die. and i too die. and if
not now then when and
if not now then when?
then when?

 we are ghosts. then when?


ghost #13 is something something something. they are from somewhere, sometime. this one is dedicated to someone someone, another ghost, i’m sure.

Photo: Ruslan Bardash

cropped-eye-of-providence.jpg

unfolding – mela blust

suzanne-d-williams-794133-unsplash

daughter is the sun
the religion i once shunned
i place my hand on my belly
where life once bloomed
mother womb’s fertile whisper
the musings of god
as the waning rays of child-light fade
i can no longer hold her in the gentle
butterfly net
her wings
budding now through cerise skin –
how love can be
a guide into the ether
how i cannot let it be a trap

 

wolf_silhouette_png_clip_art_image (1)

 

Mela Blust is a moonchild, and has always had an affinity for the darkness. Her work has appeared in Isacoustic, Rust+Moth, Anti Heroin Chic, Califragile, and more. 

Photo: Suzanne D. Williams 

three poems – nate fisher

wil-amani-1215967-unsplash

Haunt

Nobody is loading a shotgun because
the hardware store has accused nobody
of illegal dumping. The cul de sac
is absent of a shape tearing beer cans
in half, a voice swaddled to empty lung
by a winter night,
nobody screaming
is this what you want is this what you want

The airedale terrier across the alley
no longer labors in breathing.
Most passerbys begin to wave back,
say to the new neighbor, once
there was a ghost here. For real.
I saw it there. And there.

The rumor is that nobody would sit motionless
in a black sedan overnight during the freeze,
open french doors in the morning as if
they were clearing brush from a trail,
and walk their knife around the block.

The mountain hemlock that lined the sidewalk
didn’t hurt nobody, but nobody blamed them anyway.
The houses shawled in yellows and pinks
didn’t hurt nobody, but nobody haunted them anyway.
The basement nobody lived in was a mausoleum
the size of a father. The good man who used to live
there was smothered in his sleep during the wildfires.

Some say he lives again, drinks iced tea while mowing,
always looks like he wants to apologize to strangers.
He rolls the garbage out, stands there, listens
to the neighbors walking up and down the stairs.

 

DIY Wishing Machine

Set aside several empty drawers,
so many of those little coffins,
a whole chest of them.
Unscrew a pair of cymbals from that drum kit
you never bothered learning to play.
The wiring won’t have to be up to code,
but blockade your front door before proceeding.

Fill drawers with those letters and photographs
you refuse to throw away. Contemplate
an eventual stillness for every hand
responsible for making them. Place
drawers stacked inside a dark closet
to let them breathe. Attach positive terminal
to top cymbal, negative to bottom.
Find a cassette recorder that hasn’t
been touched for at least twenty years,
and begin recording over whatever tape
is inside without reviewing it first.
Form a wired connection as follows:
cymbals to recorder to closet.

Lie flat, place head between two cymbals.
Concentrate on the most hidden of all things.
Invisible thing. Colorless thing. Allow
no harshness of the face. Raise your right hand,
and begin the first stroke of an autopsy.
Donate to a tax-deductible charity organization.
Raise your left and build a palace of mirrors.
Do not be alarmed if you hear the sound
of an engine turning over, or a quarry
full of dynamite. There, that point of light,
be distracted by it instead. Your memory
will snow. Watch your footing. One thing
and another are now colored things.

You can now allow yourself to be afraid.
Your liver is failing. Your children will
have a twenty-five percent chance of being born
with a rare congenital disorder. Nobody will ever
raise a toast to you again. Feel this sink in
and harden into the trunk of the body, you beautiful
son of a gun. Goddamn, you’re looking so fine,
you have any plans tonight, sweetness?

Do not turn yourself down or stand yourself up.
Politely reschedule if necessary. Raise
your left leg; make note of the prophecy
that arrives to mind later. Raise your right,
and ignore this instruction. Something’s here
or just beginning to hear. Thinking thing.
Wishing thing. Marry your genitals to beauty.
Keep in time with the lub-lub, lub-lub that now
heaves into the cymbals. Dwell here. Move everything
from your apartment into this space. Tidy up.

Wait for a shortness of breath, and then speak.

 

Speaking to the Lady of the Lake at the Koi Pond in Moscow City Park, Idaho (2:30 AM)

Moths can smell the kind of drunk that likes
to wander
through the baking streetlamps

and the figure rising from the water

says                                          lend me a mirror

i say                   no because you’re going to say
this is a dead mother thing
like every other dead mother
thing i fill drawers with: binoculars,
pocket magnifying glass from a sewing kit,
widowed spectacles; which, if you wear,
do feel removed somehow

says        let me initiate your sojourn
                                               or whatever it is
                                               you need women to do

i say                     i’m not looking for healing
i’m not going to try and heal you
no offense

says                none taken

i say                     my secrets are limited to
knowing the moths must be
cold tonight and
it’s slowing them down.

i’m
slowed down.

says you make jokes in the morning

i say                    yeah

says you’re very intent on staying out of that drawer

i say                   stranger things are happening

says tell me about it

and brushes her hair with a heron’s beak

i think about cold wings going colder
and my favorite doorways
the ones i had to stop in
to reach back, take the temperature
of the threshold

i say                  do you mind if i crash here

says i want to hear a joke in the morning

i say                  me too

and lean into my coat collar
drifting, but thinking
a moth walks into a bar
and can smell the wander on itself.

 

wolf_silhouette_png_clip_art_image (1)

 

 Nat(e) Fisher is a poet, musician, and educator from rural southern Illinois. He graduated with his MFA in Poetry from the University of Idaho-Moscow in 2016 and currently teaches at Southeastern Louisiana University.

Facebook

Instagram

Photo: Wil Amani

three poems – j.c. reilly

luca-carra-1329957-unsplash

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.

 

wolf_silhouette_png_clip_art_image (1)

 

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

buzz-andersen-145254-unsplash

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

 

wolf_silhouette_png_clip_art_image (1)

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