a hawk cries katsu – john haworth

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I tried to write this poem on a typewriter.
The typewriter must be broken.
A blank page eats my fingertips.
I keep hammering space,
the only key still barely functioning,
until more and more blank pages
stare me in the face,
contemplating
the taste of my tongue.
I would throw it all out the window
if it weren’t for pigeons
bearing psalms of peace and vanity.
Over my shoulder
Robert Bly sits at a council fire
jacking off the ghost
of his younger self
while screaming something
about grief.
He is joined by the ghosts of
Abraham Lincoln and Hamlet’s father,
who chastise him with
banshee like battle hymns
and marching orders.
I can hardly hear them all
above the noise
of falling bombs,
bombs failing to hit the mark,
exploding in the periphery.
Ink splatters the blank
pages and my lips.
It tastes of blood.
Without story,
how can we
speak of god?
The long line of my forebears
steals letters from my head

with red hands
that tattoo sin into my skin.
I have sent many characters in
pursuit of an all-father
only to watch them fall
into the belly of the beast
becoming trapped behind
cage-like typewriter keys
when the sword of Hamlet proves
stronger than my pen.
Lincoln can no longer spell tragedy
with that hole in his skull.
Overhead a circling hawk cries Katsu!
Its sharp talons reflect the sun
as it lets fall another bomb.
Impact. Detonation.
That which is whole explodes into chaos,
chaos becomes equation,
equation becomes form, and as the pieces
of the body fall back to earth
I see the words that have yet to be written:
The council fire is embers.
Robert Bly is still muttering under his breath,
but Lincoln has run out of lines to read
and the ghost of Hamlet’s father
rests avenged.
The pigeons peck them all to pieces and
carry away some blank pages.
In the silence I notice
a pencil behind my ear.
It is short with no eraser,
badly bitten.
I stole the pencil from a young
fisherman by the name of Manolin,
who in search of the Old Man
hauled the pencil in from amid

the wreckage of the Pequod,
where it had come to rest
upon the deck within the claws
of a murdered Albatross.
The pencil has changed many hands.
The typewriter is still broken,
but it no longer matters.
With this pencil I shall carve
words into the blank page before me.
Overhead a hawk cries, Katsu!

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John Haworth is a poet and writer in pursuit of a modern mythology. His work has appeared in Under the Devil’s Thumb, The Boulder Weekly, Spit Poet, and Braided Way. John is a self-educated bibliophile peering under every rock and twig for the answers to questions he can’t remember asking. He lives in Nederland Colorado and is not haunted by waters.

Photo: Ian Battaglia

mental regurgitation – juliet cook

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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.

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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

unnamable – richard anderson

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I slip from troubled dreams
into that half-asleep state
where nostalgia often visits.
A magical time of comfort,
suggestion, even whimsy,
where old realities intertwine
with imaginary tomorrows
and wistful impossibilities
becoming welcomed moments
a felicitous reprieve.
Too soon, always too soon,
the icy fingers of an emerging day
reach inside my reverie
gripping me like an insect
ensnared in the spider’s silk.
With desperate reluctance
I grudgingly submit,
the illusion dissipating
as mist to a warming wind.
Walking to another empty day,
I begin, with weary resolve,
to search a thousand yesterdays
for that dusty relic stashed
behind sparkling neon ornaments
of halcyon days and nights,
imperfect mementos of passersby,
even within the chain-draped sarcophagi
of those things best left untouched.
Maybe there will be something,
a recollection hidden or misplaced,
worthy yet of remembrance,
to make this day matter
enough to let me matter still.
But for every glint of light
there is a shadow clinging,
every joy countered by doubt,
each laugh a fresh tear,
any kindness an atrocity.
My search ends as treasure hunts do,

with frustration, angry distraction
and a deflating sense of futility.
Memories, it appears, only matter
to the rememberer in the end
and remembering anything alone
is so damn lonely.
As vivid dawn absorbs me
into encroaching radiance
the unnamable lust rises again.
I recognize it at once,
felt its dark caress before:
when the rocks far below
beckoned with enticing relief;
in the oncoming headlights
of another night traveler
or when this current chapter began
and I pursued it with such zeal.
But I was naïve and tentative
like a teenaged boy the first time.
I know much more now.
The prospect of a long life
filled with this kind of tomorrow
is much more terrifying to me
than an eternity with the dead,
kindred spirits always near
who lie upon me heavily
like a comfortable old sweater
on a chilly fall afternoon.
My thoughts turn to them.
I want to know what they know,
see what they’ve seen when
their forever moment drew them
into its unsympathetic embrace;
when, like frost under of rising sun,
fear and hatred fell away,
pain and worry ended.
I want to know what I’ll see.
Will they all be waiting?
Everyone I loved, wanted to love?
Will I, at last, be home?
I can’t really know
until I join them.

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Rick Anderson is incarcerated in Sterling Correctional Facility, Sterling Colorado, where he works in the library,. Writing poetry helps Rick endure the hardships of life in prison, and often returns him to his beloved nature.

art as rebellion – howie good

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There are some rules, like to never wear shoes, that you just refuse to obey. You pick up a piece of wood and start to see it become a hand, but also stay a tree. At night you
anonymously paste drawings of giant babies around your neighborhood. The plaza is still named Generalissimo Francisco Franco, even though it’s over 40 years after the fall of the dictatorship. Gary says to you, “You better look at a gun; you don’t know what a gun really looks like.” So for Valentine’s Day he gets you a plastic AK-47. Pharaoh’s army falls back.

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Howie Good is the author of three recent collections, I’m Not a Robot from Tolsun Books, The Titanic Sails at Dawn from Alien Buddha Press, and What It Is and How to Use It from Grey Book Press.

Photo: Ashim D’Silva

where have all the french surrealists gone in denver? – tom christian

razmatazz

They’ve got post-modern
coming out the ears and
they can burp up contemporaries
just like that
but
where have all the French surrealists gone in Denver?
If I threw my shoe into the air
would it turn into a balloon?

They want to contextualize my shoes-
analyze them, analyze me, then compare

them to shoes of the past.
It makes my orangatang want to weep.
Our computers are draining our colors,
no longer can a man simply be
a walrus in a dream –
he must first be shown, first,
the circuits underneath.

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Tom Christian is a queer poet currently living and working in Denver Colorado. At night he can be found wandering the streets, conversing with ghosts. 

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

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

sad stories of the death of kings – howie good

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I ask a friend if she can remember the last time that the stars and moon hatched from a golden egg. She doesn’t answer straightaway, just tucks a stray comma of hair back behind her ear. Because it’s one in the morning, the darkness outside is more like a solid than a liquid or a gas. I’m suddenly really tired of struggling to stay awake. The answer comes later, when I read in the paper that they sliced open a dead whale that had washed ashore and found in its belly plastic cups, plastic bottles, plastic bags, and two flip-flops.


Howie Good is the author of The Titanic Sails at Dawn (Alien Buddha Press, 2019)

Photo: Edu Lauton

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self-portrait as ghost with dementia – nathan elias

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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

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