"Every other summer our house would get hit by a tornado" by Joshua Bohnsack

Every other summer our house would get hit by a tornado
That would dip into the valley of my parents’ backyard.
The first time my sister was paranoid because she lived through one
But I shrugged it off until the closed windows swoll and the plate flew out of the closed
     microwave.
& it opened us up to what can go wrong in our world as the dog was sucked up from the deck
     and I watched it through my basement window and told my little brothers, Don’t look out
     there.
Their swing set was wrapped back to a tree and the trampoline floated down the
Mississippi
& it might still be there
I don’t know.

& they kept hitting.

& I went to Ireland
& didn’t hear from my family
But saw the pictures.
My mom wrote me
She had a bad feeling
& moved my records from her den the day before
The basketball hoop would have splintered the vinyl
Where it landed through the window
& I would have never came back.
-
Joshua Bohnsack is an MFA student at Northwestern University, a reader for TriQuarterly, and the managing editor for Curbside Splendor Publishing. He is the author of Shift Drink (Spork Press, forthcoming 2018) and Burnt Sienna (Throwback Books 2017). His work has appeared in The Rumpus, Hobart, Queen Mob’s Teahouse, and others. He ran an ice cream shop in rural Illinois until he moved to Chicago. @joshuabohnsack

3 Poems by Darren C. Demaree

[the firepower is what you expect it to be]

i told my children the firepower is what you expect it to be and we use that firepower simply all of the time because it’s simple to use it’s simple to press buttons and blow those blue eyelids off of all of our enemies who of course have their own buttons and their own firepower that has been simplified for the witnesses who love to see a countdown they can understand hell even if there’s two keys for one death that doesn’t quite seem complicated enough and what about for a million lives regardless i taught myself and i will teach both of you exactly how to make your eyelids look blue from a distance

 

[we don’t need a reason]

i told my son we don’t need a reason to look away

 

[the poison is occasional]

     after Brenda Shaughnessy

i told my daughter the poison is occasional the bad stuff is every day but the poison is occasional the bad stuff is every day but if you’re lucky all the poison will do is change your tolerance for poison which will eventually kill you but for a while you will appear to be superhuman you will appear to the ultimate refraction of the reflection of the battle of never getting any better and that sort of narrative will flip pages like lifetimes

-

Darren C. Demaree’s poems have appeared, or are scheduled to appear in numerous magazines/journals, including Diode, Meridian, New Letters, Diagram, and the Colorado Review. He is the author of six poetry collections, most recently Many Full Hands Applauding Inelegantly (2016, 8th House Publishing). My seventh collection Two Towns Over was selected as the winner of the Louise Bogan Award by Trio House Press, and is scheduled to be released in March of 2018. He is the Managing Editor of the Best of the Net Anthology and Ovenbird Poetry. He currently lives and writes in Columbus, Ohio with his wife and children. 

 

"The Stanford Prison Experiment, Laptop, Split over an Evening" and "Jaws, Laptop, Split Over a Meal and Some Carpentry" by Justin William Evans

The Stanford Prison Experiment, Laptop, Split over an Evening

Why not bother to understand
no one wants to be happy

and you are meat
that was afraid to rot

that's singing to itself
the same song until the song is walking
until the song hatches from its melody’s weight
and becomes marches

then the fruit of looking
or rashes
or red bulls in ochre
fading from the walls of your skull

you sink into sleep
the lake skin banks repeat
and the posture dignifies
or embarrasses
or invents dignity

let's not claim independence from anything
there's no tunnel between us
only telephones and microwaves

fill me with dry leaves
or pull me to your side by my teeth
the taste of your clay fingers
your boggy ankle somewhere else
your belly singing
like a whale
in a sea of blood

Jaws, Laptop, Split Over a Meal and Some Carpentry

My kids were on that beach too
and I’d put them out there again
I’d drown them with my own hands
if it meant I could stay their father forever

death isn’t permanent
death aint like some personal insult
give me death or give me liberty
but just for a little while
give me a deep long death

and come to me in two pieces
you and the radio mother
you and the undersea misfit
you and the missing parts

and I’ll speak softly and show no fear
drink and love
with firmness only
but with love

all black eyed monsters
are full of steaming milk
all scars and nightmares turn beautiful
that live long enough
inside one finds license plates
rubber hoses
tin cans
but no children’s limbs

so on to the radio mother’s dream
three lovers held in the palm of a wooden god
in painful yearning for the undersea misfit
the hidden giant come to paint the water red

smart fish
once he’s free we can all go home
to the sand
where we never sing
and the birds eat the turtles in their shells
-
Justin William Evans is a poet and playwright from Charlotte, NC. He has been working with and producing exclusively original theatre since 2011. Currently he is a member of the Charlotte theatre ensemble, XOXO. Past writing credits include A Tonguey Kiss for Samuel Davidson (Anam Cara Theatre Co.), Satan v. Laundry (ACTC), I Wont Hurt You (XOXO), and The 30th Annual Bernstein Family Christmas Spectacular (The Magnetic Theatre). He is former co-editor of Vanilla Sex Magazine. His poetry has been published by Five2One, Metabolism (as Valentina Tereskova), and The Peal. He frequently performs with Asheville's Poetry Cabaret, and is the creator and editor of the sound collage podcast Mystery Meat. He organizes and hosts the America's Pastime reading series, a reading of un-original poetry and fiction.

Fortune Cookie (May 9, 2017) by James Croal Jackson

You have good reason
to be self-confident.

After all, this is what
the fortune cookie said.

After a dinner portion
of greasy lo mein
from New Peking.

After CNN reports
the president’s firing
of the FBI director.

This is a gross abuse of power,
and there is a gross amount
of noodles inside me.

Despite that,
I have good reason
to be self-confident,

I suppose.

I am reasonably certain
I still have a job.

I am reasonably certain
I am not under investigation.

There was no backdoors
deal struck with the restaurant
to ensure this would be

my particular
fortune.

All I did was order
the noodles via telephone.

Then I drove to the
restaurant to pick it up,
face-to-face.

I used my credit card
to pay for it, but
I will pay the bill.

In the plastic bag
they handed me,
there was a brown bag.

In the brown bag,
there was a white box
with my food in it

as well as chopsticks,
napkins, a fork, and
the fortune cookie.

That’s it.

All I’m saying is
if you don’t believe
me, investigate.

Anyone who says
differently
is reasonably suspicious.

-

James Croal Jackson is the author of The Frayed Edge of Memory (Writing Knights Press, 2017). His poetry has appeared in FLAPPERHOUSE, Yes Poetry, Serving House Journal, and elsewhere. He edits The Mantle, a poetry journal. Find him in Columbus, Ohio or at jimjakk.com.

"Prayer Peaches" by Matthew DeMarco

     after Plath

All day walking in Austin, then peaches,
ice-dewed in a silver bucket.

Their flesh was sealed but soaked—
dense-haired, close-mouthed Ziploc,

unpierced. They sat piled across the street
beside a flushed and beaming persistent woman

who waved one wandlike arc of hand
toward the six of us, insistent.

Purple magic marker on the ramshackle
cardstock sign: FREE PEACHES! FREE PRAYERS!

There are peaches when it is hot
in Austin, preciously secured in private,

cold buckets, secret sweetness behind their seals
across the street. The woman wanted

to pray for us, I wanted a peach, and Erik
wanted to bow his dry sober shut mouth

in humble silence while her hand acquired
the whispered drying saltwater of his skin.

They were already bathed. So easy to slide sharp
flat tooth into fruit, render askew

ropes of slippery tissue from the waxy rind
of peel. So easy, with a blessing and sticky lips,

as sand salamander streaks congealed down my wrist,
to pitch a pernicious pit into the gutter of the bridge.

Pray the nectar that remained in ribbony veins
on the stubborn hard stone would secrete a scent

to provoke, at least, one in the millions
of the city’s nightly bats.
-
Matthew DeMarco is a writer, editor, and educator living in the Albany Park neighborhood of Chicago. He is a recipient of the Eileen Lannan Poetry Prize, for which his work has appeared on Poets.org. His poems can also be found in Opossum and Columbia Poetry Review. Drop him a line at matthewpauldemarco@gmail.com.

"Any old Lavardis Nadler in a phone booth" by Benjamin McPherson Ficklin

Here in a phone booth we have Lavardis Nadler. He picks up the plastic receiver. But, really, this could be Sadie Baum-Swensen or Danez Fenty or Cynthia Aldritch or Patty Mendéz, et cetera, et cetera[1]. There’s no dial tone, but this person, they/her/him, decides it might help to spin a few random numbers in the rotary dial (2, 8, 5). They avoid looking out the glass door at the hotdog restaurant, not that this phone booth is across the street from a hotdog restaurant or anything. It, this red phone booth, is actually within the unassuming hotdog joint that one enters by walking down a short flight of stairs. They, our nervous person, hears the soon-to-be hotdog eaters drunkenly chit-chat while they shuffle in line, the squirting of ketchup and mustard, the dings and buzzes of the pinball machines outside the glass door of this phone booth, but Sadie (or Lucas or whomever this person is) doesn’t hear anything from the receiver. Nothing within the phonebooth happens. Except for maybe the lotioned or wedding-ringed or even finger-missing hands of our person becoming sweatier. There’s a glob of relish on the tiled floor. They move their tennis shoes or stilettos away from it. They look out the glass door. Nobody seems to be paying special attention to our lonely person in a phonebooth. Deborah, still pinching the receiver to her head, plucks her cellphone from her purse. He tries to turn it on. Nothing. Any hope of a kiss or a goodnight hug seems as dead as the device. It had been a hard day or month or year or decade. They need something to go right. Travis slips the phone into his back pocket. But they knew this would happen, as that’s what always happens when your cellphone dies and you’ve not had the opportunity to charge it. Alberto knocks twice on the opaque wooden wall to his left. Maybe it kinda sounds hollow. Nothing happens. Now she can smell the relish, and he worries they might smell like relish if this wall ever swings inward and gives them access to their internet date. And Cedar/Doug/Kaya/Sharleesa thinks of what simple and understandable explanation it will be: Sorry, my phone died when I was reading about this huge wildfire happening on the West Coast and there’s all these crazy pictures of (Seattle, Portland, Vancouver, Boise, et cetera) where you can’t even see half the buildings. Not even the fucking sky[2]. But really Van/Terance/Satomi/Damian/TJ/Kenna had been looking at those photos, the photos of the wildfire, when they were waiting for the subway, and then, after boarding, while they were rattling with the other hand gripping a metal pole, they were surprised to find their phone, which they were very (almost painfully) aware was at 3% battery, again staring up at them with headlines and photos of other disasters: the 8.1 earthquake off the coast of Mexico (the first one, not the one that happens a month later), the Lesser Antilles devastated by Hurricane Irma, the Houstonian recovery efforts (Hurricane Harvey), the flooded Floridian streets. But here, crammed into the phone booth, the only image Jessa/Toni/Menen/Abraham/Pihu/Jack remembers is of one of one of the islands: palm trees, brick walls, shacks, high-rise hotels laid flat as if the hand of some god[3] swept backward against the land, pushing the isle’s humanity into the sea. But this person (who again finds their dead cellphone in their hand) can’t remember what island that was, and they don’t want to seem hysterical if their/her/his date is actually sipping a cocktail on the other side of this (potentially false) wall. She, Jen or Jenny or Jennifer, dials 7. Nothing. They dail 6. Nothing. The last text Hassan’s “match” sent through the dating app was something like, Text me once you’re in the phone booth and I’ll let you in. And then there was a winky face. The only information Monica remembers regarding the location was hotdog restaurant and East Village, and he’s already looked inside four other places that sell hotdogs before finding this one, and what are the chances there’s multiple hotdog restaurants with phone booths within their walls. Actually, she thinks, within this metropolis (chaos) the possibilities seem pretty good (infinite). Somebody knocks on the glass wall. Our person, this sweaty ambiguous person[4] in the phone booth, looks out at the stranger[5] and shrugs before even noticing who it is.
-
[1] Not to say it could be anybody. But we could say it’s any New Yorker, or any American visiting New York, or any person visiting or living in America from another country, which I guess means anybody capable of physically being in this place (the place this story occurs in), which is anybody.

[2]Though, note, the exact articulation, the parlance of this preconceived explanation would vary drastically depending on a combination of idiosyncrasies and cultural conditioning. I mean somebody from London might substitute “bloody” for “fucking”, or imagine it all in a Southern or Jamaican accent, or Ni el puto cielo, en serio, or 私は何も見ることができなかった。クソみたいな空でさえも。

[3]And by “the hand of some god” I really mean the power of any god, or any omnipotent force that inspires awe with such intensity that personal nihility is felt when considering one’s self relative to this force’s power. And spirituality, this force makes one feel spiritual. See: Allah, Thor, Satan, Haile Selassie, Science, Nature, et cetera.

[4] Perhaps a sort of you. Like a person like you but native to Florida. Like you’re a Cuban American. Or maybe you’re Mexican and you were brought here by your parents; maybe you thought you were safe and going to aspire to romance unbothered; maybe you were introduced into a reality you never asked for but never resented too much—the hand you were dealt sorta thing.

[5] Perhaps another sort of you. And don’t you just hope you’ll be kind, patient, maybe with a bit of useful knowledge (like you should dial 1), but mostly just patient and kind.
-
Benjamin McPherson Ficklin was born in Portland, Oregon, and now spends his life travelling. Outside of his writing, he works as a gongfu tea-master, lumberjack, commercial salmon fisherman, abstract photographer and ulu farmer. His work has been published in Lomography, Autre, Oregon Voice Magazine, and all three anthologies by The Stonecutters Union.

"Triphylia on Easter Sunday" by Dionissios Kollias

All of Athens empties out onto one roadway
while the others wait on the seventh hill of Rome.

Eight hours away from childhood,
a firework,
an electronic dance remix I’ve heard during the winter,
and four village bells ringing in the valley.

Children snap from behind dumpsters in the dark
as we shed our damp winter wools,
sip sweet wine,
promising to be pure,
promising to keep a secret for another year.

How I wish to decorate the tomb with white roses and jasmine,
to feel the tears through black fabric,
soak my skin with my doubt
and cross myself by memory
as gold liturgical fans pass me.

Letting go of my grandmother’s hand,
it feels good to hold onto something else tonight,
a daffodil and a vodka soda,
a cigarette between my nightclub fingers,
the accoutrements of youth.

Walking through the crowd,
on top of peanut shells and tradition,
of an unwelcomed feeling,
of being told that he is waiting to be himself,

I too, am that person waiting,
with my own yellowed and decaying palm frond spread before me.
-
Dionissios Kollias lives and writes in Brooklyn.

"...and we won't give it a name-" by Dana Jerman

after Alan Watts

It begins how it begins-

your voice a broken gong.

A shuttle in the rotations of laughter.

An unhurried bliss- not even as cocksure
as the notion that poetry can't change
your life unless you read it.

Alone goes the magnificent candor
of that which is fathomed and not
fathomed.

Roads lost to the restless
evening and you- horseless
and no night class-
head too filled with your own spine.
A leaping rope.
A woven hookshot.
Each vertebrae a stanza too lonely. Too true.

Loose, see.
Sky, diamonds, city lights
to rearrange all your tonight faces.

Noir say noir.
Broken gong, say heart.
Blight's beauty song.

Rock and rhyme in the modern wilderness.

Vice and rage- a nowhere kind of freedom.
Strategy troubled by its own unwritten erotic.

Begin here.
-
A native of Western Pennsylvania, musician and writer Dana Jerman has been published multiple times in print in the US and abroad. By way of an artist statement, Dana likes to use writing as a way of re-appropriating memories to create an alternate history or a loose space for magic featuring primarily a configuration of the varied voices of spectators. Mostly though, she writes about love. Her chapbooks include "Sins in Good Taste" featuring poetry and drawing from Back To Print Publishing. And the self-published “Briefly, The Heart.” You can see more of her literature and photography on her blog, updated monthly: BLASTFORTUNE.com.

"Resent it all you want, but it's yours" by Larry Thacker

A chattering, live thing in the bottom of a yellow pill bottle that is Kentucky.

The rumored wolf tracks along the hemlock ridges leading to the limestone cliffs, filled with pools of rain and tasting of Kentucky.

Dig everything out of the old burn pit on the property. Save the old green and blue glass. The dress buttons. The unidentifiable twisted tin. The dog jaw bone. The doll arm. This is what’s left of the dreams of their Kentucky.

You can drive through the mountain’s long and deep belly into another state but something about you still smells of Kentucky. 

If it’s in regard to being in the top five of bad lists or the bottom five of good lists, then feel free to speak of your lovely Kentucky.

That rattling you hear after hitting all the potholes on the coal road when you try to go back home isn’t your muffler loosening up, it's a gravel kicking around the emptied skull of Kentucky.

It’s not just animal hoarders, some of that stench is just all the meth cooking up in Kentucky.

A church on every corner. A corner for every church. A snake for every Saturday night of the year in Kentucky.

Once the heels started flapping he peeled off the shoes a lot of people didn’t think he even had and slung them up into the pretty kudzu on the side the road while out roaming the backroads of Kentucky.
-
Larry D. Thacker’s poetry can be found in or is forthcoming in over fifty journals and magazines including The Still JournalThe Southern Poetry Anthology: Tennessee, Mojave River Review, Broad River Review, Harpoon Review, Rappahannock Review, Silver Birch Press, Delaware Poetry Review, AvantAppal(Achia), Sick Lit Magazine, Black Napkin Press, and Appalachian Heritage. His stories can be found in past issues of The Still JournalFried Chicken and Coffee, Dime Show Review and The Emancipator. He is the author of Mountain Mysteries: The Mystic Traditions of Appalachia, the poetry chapbooks Voice Hunting and Memory Train, and the forthcoming full collection, Drifting in Awe. He is presently taking his poetry/fiction MFA at West Virginia Wesleyan College. www.larrydthacker.com

"civil engineering"/"Peine forte et dure"/"Begotten" by Blake Pipes

civil engineering

i move gravel around in my mouth
somehow under the impression
the flavor will lend order
between death knells

around me
cranes swing forth skyscrapers
          just as predicted
by the street corner
preacher

          nobody wants to have fistfights
                     anymore

so stay asleep as long as you can

the tallest men just sling papers
and forge ink replicas wrought to
choke our animals

this sunday
i shepherd the hammer through
the television set, fatigued finally
by god’s slippery slurs,
and in my hand, glass glints
like so much fish flesh

          i have wanted atonement
          ever since i was a little
          girl

my lithium-ion blood
staggers like coal clumps
into the furnace

and i thin, i thin

Peine forte et dure

The water in the fishbowl gets lower
and lower. I think about draining it,
but never do. The fish floats around
the bottom, still dead. This week, I took up
boxing in hopes of being hit in the head.
So far, no luck. Yesterday, I heard

a man clad in sandwich boards
screaming on the street for a new law
that would force every major leader
to demonstrate signs of the stigmata.

Wading through the crowds listening to
him had me late to boxing. American life
is starting to feel like one big reboot
of the witch trials where participation is
mandatory and advertising more streamlined.

News stations call for witch blood,
demand retribution from the
covens marching in the light of day.

Do you want to be the witch
or do you want to be the accuser?

I sleep in the grass tonight, wake up
come morning. No one notices the deviation
from the script. I check the mail and walk inside.
There is leftover soup in the fridge,
but I think it’s gone bad. Out the window,
the neighbors have a fire going,
preparation for another trial.

I empty the fishbowl and
put on my boots.

Begotten
     For Sleep Paralysis

I wish you would stop choking me
while I sleep, stop lingering at my
back. This morning, I found broken glass
in the bathtub and I laughed
because with a crooked eye, it looked like
those ballet dancers
with their rubbed red shoes
and fine appetite.
Remember that one we saw last summer

whose pirouettes drooped like the death
of a spinning top? This month, she washed up
dead, no spinning top. Since then,
I have disabled every decoder ring in America.
Here is a portrait of myself
when I was younger. The story of my survival bleeds
out of both nostrils—you may have heard
that I

can’t see the future anymore. Days like now
I’m skittish. I try to position my body
so nothing is touching it;
the best I can do is stand straight,
a willing sacrifice of toes.

Yesterday, I painted the walls with a substance
that will not accept light,

each swath dressed beneath a fattier swath.
I watched the swaths propagate
and pin thick layers across my artifice,
my body of hollow columns.
Tonight, the carpet digs quietly against my face
and the dead dogs come out like switchblades.

No number of windows can protect me from the sky.

They just keep howling.
-
Blake Pipes is a recent graduate of Belmont University with his sights set on screenwriting. He has been published in Drunk Monkeys and was the recipient of the 2015 Sandra Hutchins Humanities Symposium Award for Poetry. He likes Nine Inch Nails more than you do and is currently attempting to read Blake Butler's full bibliography.

"Gender Studies" by Jeanette Le Quick

the body betrays them, seeking its justification
from external sources. the one you have is not
the one you want. I could not imagine you
without your mustache, your oil-slick hair rich
against your forehead, you like John Travolta, 
greased lightning. I did not listen to the words
you actually said, your feet tap-dancing what
I could not hear. the body is a limber thing, 
flexing its parts, its legs, arms, head, fingers,
don't we have much in common. what parts
are not you, I asked. the ones that matter. you
look at my nose when you say it, but your eyes
drift down to my chest like magnetic filings. my
breasts are hot potatoes, little spuds with eyes
of their own. mental gymnastics isn’t enough.

I want you to have your own
field of potatoes. 

I am ashamed of the fumbling conversations
we did not have. my skin is a luxury I forgot
to thank today, yours may resent you tomorrow.
did I not know you; did I fail you, how many ways--
the fraud we both lived under in those years hangs
between us, limp, damp. We are the same under
these overcoats, your heart, do I know you now.
-
Jeanette Le Quick lives in San Francisco. Her work has been published in Ghost City Review, Rat's Ass Review, The Curious Element, The Bright Line, Penumbra, The Tax Lawyer, District Lines, and the American Banker. She has earned residencies from OBRAS Portugal, Elsewhere Studios, Art Farm, and Sundress Academy for the Arts. She holds a Jurisdoctorate from Georgetown University Law Center and a Bachelor of Arts from University of California, Berkeley. She regularly contributes theater reviews to DC Metro Theater Arts.

Excerpts from "Nashville Notebook" by David Bersell

David Bersell's "Nashville Notebook" is out June 2nd. The chapbook alternates between flash essays and journal entries, exploring the loneliness and ecstasy of a young writer. Here are some of the journal entries.
_

I am 28 and live in Nashville, Tennessee, where I help run a restaurant. An independent press just agreed to publish my first book.  

It's the day after Halloween. I'm writing in a yellow notebook made from a vintage picture book. "Christmas, 1959 Mike from Grandmother." The woman in Prague who is not my girlfriend sent me the notebook for my birthday. 

I’m writing about falling apart, writing for the first time in years. Because it's the only way I know how to save myself. 
_

Our wounds are also magic.
_

"Dad, is that you?" says the train jumper, looking me in the eye, trying to get a rise out of me. 

"Dad." 

He blocks the sidewalk. 

"Dad, you left me at the liquor store in '96." 

"Son," I hear myself say, "I'm sorry."                    
_

I finally understand why adults love fireworks; fireworks look like flowers.                        
_

I’m thinking about my mother
teaching kids who just don’t get it
or don’t want to or are high
or hungry. I have been all four
at once, whispering
please come back.
_

Filmmaker and artist Mike Mills couldn’t stop drawing fireworks after his father died. 

“I read that fireworks were first used in China in the 12th century to scare away negative spirits. I envied a world that not only recognized spirits but scared the negative ones away with small man made explosions.” 
_

All the stars in the sky are not dead.
_
David Bersell is the author of the essay collections The Way I've Seen Her Ever Since (Lettered Streets Press) and Nashville Notebook (Ursus Americanus Press). David studied writing at the University of New Hampshire, University of Maine Farmington, the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies, and the Tin House Summer Workshop, which he attended as a nonfiction scholar. He lives in Brooklyn. 

"Sun Spots" and "My White Truck" by Hamzah Jhaveri

Sun Spots

Allah painted sunspots on your face.
That’s because we pray during sunset.
He loves you the most, you know?
Your scar doesn't show. Nobody will notice.
You're Allah’s special one. He gives the
hard battles to the best followers.
Don’t cry about that. A lot of people
like boys. Maybe you don’t go out enough.
You should work out more. Don’t be
so weak. Stop crying all the time.
Your sun spots will fade. Allah should
be your best friend. She’s cute,
date her. You should work out more.
Your sun spots are gone. Wear sunblock
so they’ll go away. I made you a sandwich.
Did you eat your lunch? He can’t
see your scar. Why did you even
point it out? Your sun spots are gone.
Allah gave up on you.

My White Truck

I drive a white truck so
I can look at people
and say with my eyes
yeah, I drive I white truck.

I can tell them I walk funny?
that’s odd because I
drive a white truck.

They always think he can’t be.
no way. look at how he
puckers his lips. but wait he’s
getting in a white truck.

I am the guy people
say is overcompensating.
But hey I’m just cashing in an
overdue paycheck.

Masculinity’s orgasmic.
I feed off of synthetic
testosterone.

yeah you all, you staring?
fuck you. I drive a white
truck. Toyota Tundra.

and then I turn on
“Betty Davis Eyes”
by Kim Carnes and
drive the fuck away.
-
Hamzah Jhaveri is a young, confused, Muslim poet living in Orlando, Florida. He has had works published in Leopardskin & Limes and By Any Other Name. When not writing poetry, Hamzah is running his organization Islamic Artists of Orlando, which aims at recasting the image of Islam through the showcasing of local art. (islamicartistsorlando.com)

"Street Tar Home" by Emily Hunerwadel

I woke up as a crystal vase
sliding from the roof of the car—
exploding on the pavement, screaming like bells.

So, you labeling my eyes as delicate,
what do you think about as my nose kisses concrete?

What about upturned bedskirts and soldered joints,
creases and newly driven nails?

What if we keep saying the words,
and they become the moon?
What if they burn blue
like the pot-holes in your mind?
-

Emily Hunerwadel is an MFA candidate at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She is southern-bred and yet somehow doesn't have an accent or an affinity to hot, humid weather. She has a Bachelor of Science in Audio Engineering and is probably somewhere fixing some electronic device. She was a finalist for Columbia Journal’s 2016 Winter Contest judged Mary Ruefle. Her chapbook manuscript, Professional Crybaby, was a finalist for Split Lip Press’s Turnbuckle Chapbook Prize.  Her work has been published in the Vassar Review, Elke: A Little Journal, The Sun Star Review, and Bizarro Pulp Press. 

"Penn Township Revelation" by Brooke Nicole Plummer

We are still young, vertebrae like Silly Putty & it will all be used up.
Pupils like tumbleweed on a stimulant. Delirium with a body length.

The livestock are surveying morning light. It is a sign of continuum.
They graze like paper cut-outs from the juvenile section. We talk like

sugar cookie dough by the spoonful, eggshells indiscreetly folded in.
I heighten myself into calculated disembodiment. Dreamily underwater.


I want to be somebody’s muddy diamond.
-
Brooke Nicole Plummer is a rural-focused poet from South Bend, Indiana. Her work has appeared in Analecta, New Views on Gender, Horror Sleaze Trash, and the upcoming Wordplay anthology. She is the cofounder and coordinator of the artistic collective called Speak Michiana.

"Resuscitive" by Zan de Parry

In that shit-dark hamlet
She picked me up by my backstory
And got into it, arms malfigured by angle
Black lines of squirted rubber on the wall
Hit by the flash

That was her invective against my wont
She won
Voice pregnant as anything with an uglier version of itself

it passed, noncompetitively

as so this contest
of personal loss
-
Zan de Parry has appeared or is forthcoming in Unsaid, poppyfinder.horse, Honk If You Love Weirdos, Gramma, Word Riot, and his 2014 chapbook VIBRAPHONE by Brest Press.

"An early memory" by Steve Castro

“I remember the day I was born.”
Ray Bradbury (b. 1920-2012)

The first time I ever saw a cloud at eye level, I was ten
like the back of Pelé’s Brazil soccer jersey. I left my small
third-world-country to go visit Mickey Mouse in Florida. 
Halfway through our flight, I drank a Coca-Cola. I think it was a Coke
because we were flying on an airline owned by Howard Hughes. 
Had it been a Latin American airline, I’d probably be sitting next to a chicken,
drinking a papaya milkshake, when suddenly, one of the engines would have stopped working.

Once we arrived in Orlando, I took a picture with Donald, Mickey and Pluto. 
Those three creatures were so Nice (like the way you spell that French city)
that when I returned home, I stopped eating duck. I also stopped
feeding mice to my two cats, and I never kicked a dog ever again. 
-
Steve Castro is the co-editor of Public Pool and the assistant poetry editor at decomP. His poetry has been recently published in Green Mountains Review, The American Journal of Poetry and in two anthologies by Wings Press (San Antonio) and Tia Chucha Press (Los Angeles). He was recently interviewed by the Poetry Society of America, Midwestern Gothic and the Chicago Review of Books (forthcoming). 

"post-conviction" and "Because Googling Your Mental Illness Is Highly Discouraged" by Doni Shepard

post-conviction

 every day

            i will ask myself
            if i was the first
            little girl you fixed
            to swallow whole

Because Googling Your Mental Illness Is Highly Discouraged

Okay. Not okay. You are not okay. Fix yourself, okay? You must be okay. You will be okay.
            You are a diagnosis. You are a name.
Render yourself useless. You are but a fragment.
Discover the taste of words. Impulsive. Abandonment. How are your symptoms today?
            Why couldn’t you have been anything else?
Emotionally unstable. You are emotionally unstable.
Render yourself useless. You are but a fragment.
Lie to those who don't understand. Lie to those you care for. Apologize for space you take up.
            Never, never apologize.
Infatuation as fishhook limbs. The way their names fit in your mouth. As food, as fuck, as
            ignition. As strangers. As paranoia. As disease. Beat your disease. Be your disease.
Never question the beast who heavies your lungs.
            Never ask “What does it mean to be emotionally unstable?”
                        You will always dynamite the things you love the most.
                                                Call yourself by name.
                                                            Love yourself by name.
Emotionally unstable. You are emotionally unstable.
-
Doni Shepard is a poet, mother, and lifetime learner currently residing in Phoenix. She spends her days managing content for a popular startup, mommying an extraordinary three-year-old, and serving as Lunch Ticket’s Poetry Editor. Upon nightfall you can generally find her in an insomniac haze binge-watching Shameless with a fluffy orange feline named Doobie. Her work has been featured by Dirty Chai, and can be found in the love anthology Spectrum 3: LoveLoveLove. She is currently an MFA candidate at Antioch University Los Angeles, concentrating in poetry. 

"I Know How to Buy Draino Like I Know To Always Carry Tissues" by Alain Ginsberg

Mom cries in the car / makes a flood out of a leaking faucet / clogs the faucet
with my hair /
my mom buys draino a lot

mom seeps down the throat of herself
trying to work / correctly / looking for the manual
to turn off all of these damaged pipes

when I came out to mom it was in the car
and the rain seeped in through a hole in the window or
the momentum of a turn whipped / one of her tears
across my face so it would make me cry too / or, clog my mouth
with hair, fill my drainthroat with paper mache,
make my mother buy draino again

and there has always been something viscous filming the back
of my throat / watching the pipes dry up / watching the grime
strip itself down the whole of me / sit passenger seat confessional
and look for salvation / to run like water

I live in cars full of tears or / the heat of a chassis feels
like the heart beat of my family or /
I cry the most in the car / when I’m asleep / when the motion
takes me and drains my bones of water.

I clog the faucets of my homes with hair
and buy draino and sleep in the warmest places
to pretend that I am still worthy of being held.
-
Alain Ginsberg is an agender writer and performer from Baltimore City whose work focuses on narratives of gender, sexuality, and mental health and the ways in which trauma informs, or skews them. Their work has been featured or is forthcoming on Shabby Doll House, Rogue Agent, decomP, and elsewhere. Outside of writing they tour the country performing in concerts, slams, living rooms, and caverns. They are a taurus. 
facebook.com/ginsbergbutnotginsberg
twitter.com/anotherginsberg
anotherginsberg.bandcamp.com

"on leaving behind children"/"things a ghost can do, but you didn't know"/"the ghost of my vagina" by jacklyn janeksela

on leaving behind children

i watch as she tries to scrub
away the handprint of her grandson
window stained, fingerprints of a boy
she once hugged between mouthfuls of cherry tomatoes

i watch as she drips tears
handkerchief smelling of a boyhood journey
she will never witness

i watch as the handprint vapors
smudged with each pass of her elbow
reappear just as we blink our eyes, crystal

he’s here, she whispers
the cat’s hair stands on end

things a ghost can do, but you didn’t know

hike a mountain, swallow pebbles, sleep
eat dust, sneeze, tie a knot, untangle hair, send a text message
waltz, brew tea, count, cry, cradle

undress, sew a curtain, plant seeds, pee
write a poem, rewire the internet, take a shower, erase a poem

carry a box that’s too heavy
plaster a hole that’s too big

breastfeed a baby, gender not important
wear glasses, masturbate, feel

grow fingernails, drink blood, walk on water
unravel time, use chopsticks, use a knife
hum, sing, curse, whistle, gargle

spit