did they forget – nick perilli

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Those bones piled on the chairs at table twelve weren’t always bones. They were three people, once, hungry for salads and eager to experience the rest of their lives. They had a movie at 10. Some new picture at the old theater up the street. It wasn’t the best theater, but it was close enough to their house for them to walk.

David doesn’t like to talk about it, but he let them starve to death. It’s not entirely his fault. He was new. The bones never spoke up. Sometimes customers blend with the art on the walls. Plus, the bartender working that busy night had given him some poor advice.

“If they won’t complain, they’re at the bottom of the chain.”

That was Francis. He was a dick and was fired the next week for skimming from the register. He tried to burn the restaurant down the week after that with all of us inside, but he couldn’t do anything right.

Technically, the bones’ check is still open. When the staff wants a little more than just a meal for their break—like a dessert, which aren’t covered—they’ll put it on the “skeleton tab.” It must be up to a few thousand dollars by now.
Right before closing, David will put three garden salads at the table and sit with the bones. He adjusts the skulls on the table so that they appear to be speaking with him. Some nights, a cloying wind will rush through the kitchen when David sits with them and the bones will reassemble. They pick their bare skulls up from the table and connect them to their spines. It makes a sound. Like a dead stick when you knock it against a tree. I think this whole thing happens when the moon is a certain way, but I’m not sure exactly what way because I was late the morning David and his mystic friend went over it. I’m dealing with my mom at home. I have to leave for college, but she wants me to stay. You know how it goes.

David eats with the bones on those nights. Their conversations are lively. David tells them about the latest movies until he inevitably breaks down into apologizing for what happened to them. But the bones must be forgiving, because they all hug him together, in the only lit corner of the dim restaurant. Then they collapse into bones again. David piles them on their chairs, with the skulls on the table.

He made a joke to me on my first night closing that he was working up the courage to starve himself to death in the fourth seat. I laughed hard. He laughed harder.

But he’s manager now, so I shouldn’t say much.


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Nick Perilli is a writer and librarian living in Philadelphia with loved ones who have yet to watch Gremlins 2 with him. More work of his can be found in Breadcrumbs Magazine, Bending Genres, X-R-A-Y Lit Mage, Short Edition dispensers worldwide, and elsewhere. He tweets @nicoloperilli and spared no expense on his cheap website: nickperilli.com.  

Top Photo: Mathew Schwartz

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.

 

endling – n.v. lott

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To have a body means you have raised a body. Maybe it was your own that was raised for the last time, here, in one of many places emotion had you. This is how we often receive our own vessels. If you haven’t, you’ve probably done one of many things: wished to and touched it for yourself, held the great flanks of skin like a precious enemy;  some animals talk to the moon until they get what they question. Years ago, walking with my mother on a night of a full one, she asked me what I knew about werewolves and I cursed out loud for the first time, right in front of her. I knew much about change, hardly about monsters. They were kept at bay by her own strong hands. She asked me about what kind of man-wolf I would want to become, and I said damn or shit or hellfire until my tongue greeted her with endling, also terminarch. I wanted to be the last one, no more bad than the moons that plagued us. I would only want to be a whisper to the wind instead of great big bad hands, and when the day came that I fit into my father’s old shoes, she took my small body in her wide palms and rocked me with cautious prayer.


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N.V. Lott is a poet from the South. He writes about how much he hates summers there. 

Top Photo: Nathan Dumlao

art – shannon elizabeth gardner

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ShannonElizabethGardner

Shannon Elizabeth Gardner is a graduate from the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point with a Bachelors in Studio Art and a Minor in Art History. Her interest in horror and the macabre came about while exploring nature and the paranormal. The work explores the natural and organic process of death, evoking empathy for decay. She believes life is beautiful when left to fate, leaving art to chance assists the viewer to witness beauty hidden within imperfections. Her process appreciates nature’s process and discovers the earth’s imperfect beauty. The ethereal mood of her work reaches the extreme and address the taboo.

two poems – grace mitchell

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views from the passenger seat

I have never felt more safe
than the time you drove me home,
and then you drove me home,
and then you drove me home—
always you are driving me home
in an infinite loop
(in one version we stop to investigate
the metal chest left on the side of the highway,
but a new version of the story begins before
we get to see what’s inside—
In another version you pull over
and leave me there on the side of the highway—
another version of you picks me up;
all is forgiven, and this is how the story restarts;
another version of you becomes the ghost
you have sometimes made yourself to be)
as I frantically rewrite our shared history,
as I grab your cigarettes from the glove box,
and try to ignore the gun.
In every version of this story
I am trying to ignore the gun,

which is to say You are tracing the outline of a State we both lived in on my heart, which is to say I am drunk enough to ask you to hold me and I mean really hold me please none of that “Christian side hug” bullshit, which is to say I am drunk enough that you are driving me home.

There is still not a version of this story
in which I don’t want you
driving me home.

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WWJDD

I know you are not one for Jesus
so I pose the question instead:
what would John Darnielle do
if he knew you were a rapist?
If you shook hands with your hero
said, “I love the Mountain Goats,
and also I keep going when women
tell me no,”
said, “I love your work,
especially the way associating with it
makes women think I am safe.”
How the hell do you separate the work
from the behavior of fans?
And how the hell do I keep listening
to the Mountain Goats
when you’re the one who got me into them?


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Grace Mitchell is a poet residing in Denver, CO, although she has called many places home. She has edited for both Negative Capability Press and the Oracle Fine Arts Review. When not writing, she can be found riding her bike, working the clerk desk at the local library, and hanging out with nuns.

Top Photo: Etienne Pauthenet

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

appendix – pablo damián

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Appendix

We forgot to turn off the gas in the kitchen again,

and I’m not sure if what I saw was a ghost

or a spiritual residue of our old cleaning lady.

Back then, my days were like stretch marks on the skin of time,

I spent most afternoons thinking about a litany

for dust and glass and light,

or about how water is the opposite of blackmail

but ultimately failing at a single original thought.

From behind the drapes, the hollow voice spoke up:

“All microwaves have some kind of terrible hex on them”

I just nodded.

It’s uncourteous to speak with your mouth full.

SBGS December


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Pablo Damián is a poet and translator currently living in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Art: Brendon Thompson

old soul’s motel – claire heywood

SBGS December


955C840F-303D-420C-9F5E-DEDDC79DBC5D (1)Claire Heywood is a longtime creative writer and short-time songwriter who got her start playing sets to small listening audiences in Denver’s literary/arts community. After her debut release “The Wind, It Howls” garnered attention from local critics this March, Claire stepped more fully into the Denver music scene with a set at Underground Music Showcase 303 Magazine called “one of the best of the weekend.”
To learn more and listen, visit www.claireheywood.com.

three poems – jessica rigney

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All These Open Fields

He sits legs under

a curl of the known

up against

the unknown.

She is wandering

away again

as she speaks

as she finds

the strand

which allows itself

to tangle between

his toes. And he is

bouncing his foot

to her story because

he imagines her

in the story

as she tells it

tries to come

to terms. What

terms he does not

know. And she can tell

it makes him

uncomfortable—

all these open fields

where she is running

but still. She flexes

her wings as though

they had been folded

too long in the cold.

But now that the heat

is upon them both his leg

moves rapidly and her

shoulder blades hold

the beat and she is still

speaking and he refuses

to speak. And the unknown

sits up between them and

relaxes itself as a lazy cat

would across a table

in the heat of the sun

middle of winter when

there is no chance

of kicking him off

simply to set down

a fresh cup of coffee

put your feet up and

enjoy a goddamn

cigarette.

SBGS December

Fall Through

If you were to let your eyes fall

upon black panes of a night window—

to stay—resting there where air swells

soundless. You would be lost.

.

And so she turns from the window

makes her face open to me now—

Says—I no longer hope for this ache

to end.

I turned my body to him

without expectation. Spoke as though

I’d come from the woods—

A single afternoon.

Long between the banks of a river

whose name I’ve never known.

He rose to greet me without rush—no never

a rush in the world for his breath at my neck.

Solid hands each side of my face. She says.

She tells me about the day she lay her body

across his lap and let herself be held close.

Close-pulled-in by a mouth by arms a body

to bring her into herself.

She looks up to my eyes resting openly

upon her mouth mouthing the words—

I have no idea how to have mercy for my own life.

.

How the fathomless black

remains flat against the glass

is of no consequence

save for our wonder of it.

I gave myself—inexplicably to him.

That winter and all those to follow never mind the risk.

Though I would not set fire to the home I’d built

no matter the torments. Would you? She asks.

Her sweetly softened eyes widen as the deer’s.

Head lifted ears cocked in observance.

A gentle shift of hooves in the undergrowth.

The decades have made her careful—

clever—so very beautiful.

If you were handed your life

loosed of its bridle suddenly

and without remorse?

.

How long before you could.

Name it.

SBGS December

Green Leaves Dropped

Out the window from a small
Room where we are all breathing

Willows sway but do not want
More than a willingness to sway.

In the space of a gathered wish we are
All wishing not to suffer. Yet if we knew

What it would mean to move through
We would. We would ask for a firefly’s

Last light. We would ask the growing world
To make its chance for meaning. We would ask

For agony. We would ask for endurance.
You walk the street of your childhood

And say the trees have not greened
As they should. And those that did dropped

Their leaves ‘neath an early frost and did not
Have a chance. And is this what we have now

To look forward to? Is this what is meant
You ask, by changing weather?

There is a world we do not know yet.
There is a world without and we have not

Yet known it. There is a world with everything
And that too we have not known.


Rigney_Jessica Author Pic
Jessica Rigney is a poet, artist, and filmmaker. She is twice a a quarter-finalist for the Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry (2016 & 18.) Find her letterpress broadsides at Wolverine Farm Publishing. Consume more of her work at Salomé and Cider Press Review. She is poetjess on Instagram.

break your head open and leave it shattered on the flood – ghost #2011

Warrior

you gonna hafta drown
build that house high
build that house high on the mountain
build that house on stilts high on the mountain
raise it up far as you can architect
reach for the stars and praise hallelujah
fill that house with helium
keep it up keep it up keep it up

you still gonna shit your soul
down that porcelain bowl
down that bowl into the septic tank
into the septic tank with the crack in it
the crack that drains all your refuse
all your void
all you excrement
into your very own back yard
keep it up keep it up keep it up

you gonna hafta shit yourself
break your head eat your shit for brains
clog the anatomy of a toilet
break your head open on the toilet
flushflushflushflush you are flush
with overflow, the john is flooding
break your head open and leave it
shattered on the flood
keep it up keep it up keep it up

build your house so high no one can see
havarti on wonder bread and falling out teeth
caviar on saltines served with instant coffee
glugglugglug your vodkaprayerwinespritzer
glug the exhaust pipe of your 6 ton 6 door V-10 F150
you’re good to go, John Wayne, breathe deep, General Lee
drive that truck to the roof of your house
and sit so high, sit so high God sits next to you
keep it up keep it up keep it up

you gonna hafta drown
because a flood is coming
you told me all about it in your little black book
cumslut dumbfuck shit your brains into your hands
you’re leaking deep into the mountain and it’s crack
crack cracking underneath you, your stilts will fall
your truck runs empty after you ate all the oil
that mountain gonna fall
that mountain gonna shake
you gonna fall
the flood will rise to meet you
you can’t hide
it’s prophesized
I learned that from you
keep it up keep it up keep it up

Jesus says the meek will inherit the earth
and mountain man

that’s the opposite of you
keep it up

SBGS December


art: “warrior” by shannon elizabeth