but what about the novel? – ellen huang

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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

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a vertigo – leah white

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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

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

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

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unfolding – mela blust

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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

 

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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 

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

four poems – amee nassrene broumand

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Pacific Northwest Gothic

Wires coil within the muddy deep.

Apples thump
upon the ground. Midday dark
becomes bloody murk at dusk,
the hush of streets swallowed whole.

In the kitchen with the red drapes,
she binges cake in the dark.
Mother howls upstairs, upset
by the low & bellow
of the train.

Beaks flicker in the rail yards,
soon to roost by the cold slaps
of the Columbia.

 

Fallout

A rose torn from the ground
rushes downstream in the dark—
from my window I hear
roaring.

Night erupts into feasts & fireflies
& convivial ankles. Electric wheels burst
behind the waterfall—

the year crests down,
a fierce swan about to strike.

Moths thump upon a shuttered pane.
Blood ebbs.
Gulls & sandpipers mourn upon the harbor.
The skies morph into bleared chalkboards—
bang the erasers together & watch the dust rise,
snow bubbling in November’s tumult.

Douglas firs sprawl in the ochre light & howl.

Livid thunderheads—
the city flutters off the earth,
a gleaming kite into the void.
Noise bites my spine, taking hold.

I pause—

the radiant umbrella
sweeps overhead & closes. My skin

falls away, clumps of wet sand. I erode
running through the noise—

everything’s violet.

 

Opal’s Chatterbox

the decaying storefront evokes the suburbs I recall the pangs of spring magnolia trees still erupt in fleshy blooms purple wounds among long & spiky bones the greening of the year passes into the clouds skeletons rumble in a drawer with feathers & a honeycomb ghost until I throw it all away dust of marrow & pine sap eggshells years unspool widening the gap between us bicycle tracks snake through cement like casts of fossilized vertebrae gathering raindrops into mirrors for drowning swallows bound gagging they fade too the drums & the cages there was once a field on the way home where a barn rotted & rotted until the spine gave way & the roof fell—no I don’t have a photograph

Hydrothermal Vent

City street. The ocean bubbles through
a fissure in the tar. No one notices.

A woman leaps from a taxi—
a scribbled sheet, crumpled, falls from her lap
to the olive sea,
unfolding. On the corner

a hypnotic anesthetist grins over fistfuls of balloons.

Nine minutes later a paper child
climbs from the sea, up
through the road
& catches a trouser leg
to the taxi.

 

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Amee Nassrene Broumand is an Iranian-American poet from the Pacific Northwest. Nominated twice for a Pushcart Prize, her work has appeared in FIVE: 2:ONE, Sundog Lit, A-Minor Magazine, Empty Mirror, Menacing Hedge, Barren Magazine, Word Riot, & elsewhere. She served as the March 2018 Guest Editor for Burning House Press. Find her on Twitter @AmeeBroumand.

 

Photo: José Martín Ramírez C

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

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