mental regurgitation – juliet cook

art

1.

I was terrified of leeches when I was a girl. I was walking home from school with a boy who pointed at a hole in the ground and told me that bloodsuckers lived inside holes. When I got home, I asked my mom what a bloodsucker was. She informed me bloodsuckers were mutant worms that stuck themselves to your skin and sucked your blood and could not be pulled out with your fingers. She said the only way to get them out was to burn them.

I was extremely squeamish about blood and hellfire, and so the idea of having a big misshapen worm penetrating my flesh and swallowing my blood seemed like a horror movie scene. I saw myself fainting and falling down into a continually sucked pool of my own blood while burning in hell.

In my late teens, I found out about medicinal leeches.  When they had no idea how to treat hysterical females, they would insert the leeches into women’s vaginas, in an attempt to alleviate their mental disorders by having blood sucked out of their female parts.

Sometimes my memory exaggerates things, but I’m telling you what I remember. The bloodsucking leeches are stuck inside women’s vaginas. They are almost impossible to pull out.  Maybe that’s what it means to be a woman. Maybe you can’t control what’s stuck inside you and it will keep sucking and sucking and sucking the life out of you.

How in the hell would they remove a leech from a woman’s vagina? By sticking a cigarette inside her?  By inserting a gloved set of fingers  to probe and pry? Are there special medicinal instruments for extracting the leeches? Or for secretly inserting one inside of a woman forever?

2.

In my adult life, I still hate the gynecologist. I still worry about what might be inside me. But I’m not as squeamish about blood as I used to be. After all, menstrual blood clots have been blobbing themselves out of my vagina every month for close to 30 years, so I’m pretty used to internal blood baths.

If a leech attached itself to my body now, I think I’d be able to handle it and even take a series of photos, watching it suck enough blood until it fell off me. As a little girl, I had no idea they could ever get enough blood and fall off on their own. As a teenager, I had to investigate everything unusual on my own.

I found out that trying to remove a leech by burning is one of the least effective forms of removal, because not only does that maim or kill the leech, it also has much more potential to injure you. Even if the fire makes the leech fall off, first that injured leech will vomit the sucked blood out of its body and into your body. That bloody vomit will enter your wound.

Then the violent infection of your own wound will work its way into your womb and you will keep growing more and more infected leeches and popping them out of your vagina like a hideous infestation of babies shaped like giant worms or tiny malformed blood sucking penises.

cropped-eye-of-providence


Juliet Cook is a grotesque glitter witch medusa hybrid brimming with black, grey, silver, purple, and dark red explosions. She is drawn to poetry, abstract visual art, and other forms of expression. Her poetry has appeared in a peculiar multitude of literary publications. You can find out more at www.JulietCook.weebly.com.

Photo: Erol Ahmed

acheron – robert boucheron

acheron.jpg

At five o’clock, Arthur Lothbury put on a gray felt fedora, inserted a fresh white handkerchief in the breast pocket of his jacket, and stepped out the front door for his daily stroll.

The town was a cluster of brick and frame dwellings of the 1800s. Located in a hollow, on a railroad line that was no longer active, it had three churches, a dozen shops, a post office, a school repurposed as a senior center, and a white-columned filling station with a porte cochère. At the center, where two main streets crossed, the town hall boasted a mansard roof and a clock tower. The tallest structure in town, with a face on all four sides, the clock tower rose above the trees like a sentinel.

Arthur kept the clock tower in view, though he was unlikely to get lost in the town where he was born. He generally walked for exercise, but this afternoon he dawdled. His gaze wandered left and right. It was early spring, still bleak but mild. Buds swelled on the trees. Cold weather had delayed them. Slanting rays of the sun lit the quiet streets. No one else was about, which was odd for the end of a weekday.

He stopped to examine a flowering shrub that overhung a picket fence, as though eager to escape. The yard was unkempt, in a town that was proud of its gardens. How could such a thing happen? Who lived in this house? He knew many neighbors, but not all. In retirement, he was losing track of changes in the population.

This house must have a tenant, someone who did not care for the place. A deflated ball and a broken toy lay on the weedy lawn. Rolled newspapers littered the porch, dusty and yellowed. Maybe no one lived here.

Arthur moved on. It was an effort to put one foot in front of the other. Yet the day had passed in idleness—light housekeeping, some reading, an hour at his desk paying bills, a letter to a relative. What had he done to be worn out?

A single man with many friends and few responsibilities, he ought to enjoy this stage of life, an endless stretch of leisure. But contentment was elusive. He urged himself to walk faster. Chin up and eyes peeled! At any moment, a friend or stranger was likely to cross his path. He would need to say something cheerful, a word of greeting. But the town was deserted, as if Arthur had missed an order to evacuate. He looked straight ahead and spurred his flank. But his feet dragged.

Coming to an alley, he stopped to peer down its length. He seldom walked in this part of town. He knew it like the back of his hand but not this alley. It bordered the railroad track—that was the trouble. The sun trembled on the horizon. The alley was already in shade. Lined by sheds and fences, it promised things of interest—an old wagon, a gnarled tree, a forgotten bicycle like a sketch of lines and circles.

Arthur strolled down the middle, over gravel and grass. The alley was long—he could not see the end—and growing dark. He tried not to scuff his shoes. He hoped he would not step in a puddle. Not a living creature met his eye, not so much as a sparrow. Then a small shape shifted. A cat crouched a few feet ahead.

Cats lurked all over town. Some allowed him to pet them, some rolled at his feet, and some fled. This one stared coldly. Whoever said that cats were curious? Another step, and the cat disappeared, perhaps through a hole in a fence.

Dusk came on. Was it so late? Arthur looked around and did not see the clock tower. How long had he been walking? He had left his watch at home. Was this a blind alley? To turn around would be an admission of defeat. Despite fatigue, he pressed on.

The alley ended at last in a building with a passage through its ground floor. It was now night. At the far end of the unlit passage was a gate, with open space visible through the bars. Should he enter? What if the gate was locked? He was too tired to retrace his steps. Go forward and hope for the best.

The passage was empty. Beyond the gate was a street. He grasped the gate and pulled. In the hollow space of the vaulted passage, the rusty hinges groaned. Arthur flinched at what sounded like a voice, the drawn-out syllable “woe.” Arthur stepped through the arch, and the gate clicked shut. On impulse, he tried it. Locked.

The street was built up on one side. The other was open to the railroad. Arthur had not been here for years. Shops were closed or boarded up. The pavement was cracked and littered. He wanted to sit, but where? A short distance away stood the old train station, abandoned. A light burned inside, the only light in this gloomy wasteland. He trudged toward it.

A low rumble made itself known. The earth shook. The rumble grew and grew to a roar, until it was unmistakable. A train! Arthur reached the platform as the train arrived. In a stupor of exhaustion, he watched it slow. It looked like an excursion train from the century before, an antique restored to service for a single run. It screeched to a stop, a door opened, and a stair dropped at his feet. Where was the conductor? The side of the coach bore a name: “Acheron.”

Was that the destination? Arthur grasped the metal railing and climbed aboard.

hourglass

Robert Boucheron grew up in Syracuse and Schenectady, New York. He worked as an architect in New York and Charlottesville, Virginia, where he has lived since 1987. His short stories and essays appear in Bellingham Review, Fiction International, London Journal of Fiction, Porridge Magazine, Saturday Evening Post, and other magazines.

Photo: Adam Bixby

fall horoscopes – brice maiurro

scorpio

Scorpio (October 23-November 21)
Scorpio, you will soon receive an email from a Prince in Saudi Arabia who is in danger of losing a very large sum of money, millions of dollars, if he does not find someone willing to share their social security number and bank information so he can securely transfer the funds for safekeeping. You’ve been burned before, Scorpio, but don’t let your distrust of people stop you from opportunities to live your best life.

sagittarius

Sagittarius (November 22-December 21)
Sagittarius, the planets are aligning and now is the time to fall in love. You’ve put a lot of energy into self-care and now it is manifesting as you attract the love of a young suitor. Perhaps a birch tree, or that episode of Seinfeld where Jerry Seinfeld wears the pirate shirt. Either way, you finally have the love you’ve craved for so long, and are ready to have a life-long relationship with a birch tree or an episode of Seinfeld. It’s gonna be really fucking great. I am definitely not lying.

capricorn

Capricorn (December 22-January 19)
Capricorn, with your rising sign in your third house, you are extra susceptible to the fact that Mercury is in retrograde. Freddie Mercury specifically. Freddie Mercury is in retrograde. It’s really bizarre. He’s climbed out of his grave and is walking backwards around town singing “Don’t Stop Me Now” on repeat. It’s probably best to not leave the house for a few weeks until this all shakes out or until Brian May scares Freddie back into his grave with a terrible solo album called “beating a dead horse.” Be careful Capricorn. Freddie Mercury is in retrograde.

aquarius

Aquarius (January 20-February 18)
Aquarius, it’s really dope how immediately after cheating on my best friend you sent me those super funny memes. It was really fucking cool, Aquarius. I was so impressed by the way you said we should still be internet friends with that hilarious video of the bear that snuck into the Stanley Hotel. I hope that you don’t get eaten by the bear that snuck into the Stanley Hotel. That would be terrible if you got eaten by a fucking bear. Wishing you all the best this fall, Aquarius, as you travel down a lonely selfish road in life that ends with the emptiest hole in your heart that you desperately try to fill with Hungry Man salisbury steak dinners that you purchase with coupons you clip out of a copy of the Denver Post you stole from your neighbor because you’re a piece of shit. You’re a piece of shit, Aquarius, and your heart is an empty hole that will never be filled by any amount of Hungryman salisbury steak, or whipped mashed potatoes, or weird apple dessert thing.

pisces symbol

Pisces (February 19-March 20)
Pisces, did you know that Kurt Cobain was a Pisces? Well, he was, and if you don’t know who Kurt Cobain was, he was an American musician who shot himself after struggling with heroin addiction, and America decided to largely blame his lover Courtney Love for this, because this country is so delusional in thinking that women are directly responsible for the well-being of the men that they are with that when a noticeably disturbed artist takes his own life, we crucify their partners for not doing the emotional labor of curing someone of a lifetime struggle with mental health, despite having their own mental health concerns that they struggle with or, I don’t know, despite the fact that they are in fact a separate person. Shout out to Yoko Ono, who isn’t just John Lennon’s crazy widow, but also an incredibly talented artist who has created a lifetime of beautiful amazing art.

aries symbol

Aries (March 21-April 20)
Aries, listen to your dreams, specifically that dream where you set a giant pile of dildos on fire. This is the universe’s way of telling you that every orgasm you’ve had in your life is a lie, and that somewhere out there is the orgasm you truly seek. Your soul orgasm is waiting for you, like a sleeping amethyst tiger burning in the dark depths of the grimmest muckiest jungles of the Amazon and to find it, simply purchase a private plane to the Andes mountains of Peru, boogie board down said mountains into the mouth of the Amazon River where you will be met by a killer whale named Gepetto, who will not guide you to your soul orgasm, but will in fact try to distract you from it by sending you “WYD” texts at 2 AM. Gepetto is a fuckboi. There is no soul orgasm to be had with a fuckboi, but also rules are made to be broken. Keep pushing, Aries. Your soul orgasm awaits you, like a sleeping amethyst tiger burning in the dark depths of the grimmest muckiest jungles of the Amazon.

taurus

Taurus (April 20-May 20)
Taurus, no sign loves the comfort of a bed quite as much as you, so invest in a state-of-the-art Tempurpedic mattress. The Tempurpedic mattress comes with a SmartClimate Dual Cover System, a next-generation cool-to-touch outer layer and super-stretch inner layer for convenience and comfort, a Tempur-APR Comfort Layer, our most pressure relieving material ever, made for deeper, more rejuvenating sleep and of course the original Tempur support layer, advanced adaptability for truly personalized comfort and support. But be careful, Taurus. Comfort is the death of passion.

gemini

Gemini (May 21-June 20)
Gemini, Sunday night you will make yourself a truly lovely dinner of fish tacos with a fresh mango chutney and a side of rice pilaf. Monday morning, having neglected your meal prep once again, you will decide to bring leftover fish tacos to work. While stuck on I-25 on your way to work, you will spend energy convincing yourself that if you microwave your fish at work that it’s not going to stink up the entire office, but you and I both know, Gemini, it is going to stink up the entire office. Has anyone ever microwaved leftover fish, especially from a landlocked state like Colorado, and not completely drowned the entire office building with the lingering scent of tilapia fishdeath for weeks, if not months to come? And really? Tilapia, Gemini? Just spend the extra few bucks on salmon. The office would still smell like shit when you’re done selfishly microwaving it, but at least people won’t know what a classless rube you truly are.

cancer

Cancer (June 21-July 22)
Cancer, you are in very severe danger if you do not make efforts to avoid poetry this fall. Tread softly and carry a big stick. Late one night you may have a strange urge to write a haiku, but do not scratch that itch or you will blink only to find yourself living in a 300 square foot studio apartment called The Kerouac where you spend your only remaining money on Djarum blacks and for fun you wander around late at night to Tom’s Diner where you order a water and flip a quarter to the waiter while saying things like “as the spirit wanes, the form appears, man,” and “death is a Beatles song.” Don’t do it, Cancer. Avoid the poetry. Take up a healthier hobby like crying deeply in public restrooms to songs by The Smiths.

leo

Leo (July 23-August 22)
Leo, there are big financial opportunities and romance in your future. Sick of living in poverty, you will decide to leave your home country to see the new world. Upon boarding a beautiful ship, you will have many adventures including drunken-poor-people-dance-offs and car sex. You will meet a woman from a very different class than you and quickly fall in love, but do not fret, Leo, she loves you for you and your mediocre drawing skills. You will be the king of the world, until the ship begins to sink and she doesn’t even offer to share a door with you to keep you warm in the freezing waters where you die of hypothermia. The good news is in another life you will win an academy award for being a furtrapper who sleeps inside of a dead horse.

virgo

Virgo (August 23-September 22)
Virgo, you really need to let go of telling everyone about that one time you met Drake at the airport. People are at a point that they are sick of hearing about how you met Drake at the airport, and a lot of us suspect that in reality you never met Drake at the airport. Rather than investing in Drake stories, take some time for yourself. As productive as it may feel to post regularly on the Reddit thread for Ronald Reagan conspiracy theories, it is in fact a distraction from you facing your student loan debt and the fact that you’re 37 years old and work part time at Starbucks. Justifying yourself as a revolutionary fighting against late capitalism with your twenty hour a week job for a major coffee chain is not going to get you as far as you had originally intended. Also, Ronald Reagan had absolutely nothing to do with the blue demon horse at DIA.

libra

Libra (September 23-October 22)
Libra, you’ve been suspecting lately that you are actually a ferret trapped inside of a human body. Trust your intuition. What you may perceive as your friend’s roller hockey league is in fact a civil war between the ferret robot pilots and the hamster robot pilots. Ever since they broke the Dwarfland Treaty of 1812, there has been countless soldiers lost to the bloodshed of rodents for dominion over the Englewood Skate Rink. Do not trust anyone. The rink’s strobe lights are being piloted by a chinchilla named Frank who got his bachelor’s in stage design at RMCAD and is now using his education to partner with the hamsters to create psychological warfare.

sbgs cowskull