a shadow falls burgundy
over black, pale skin begging
for burns. i watch you knock
back coronas like water and my
blood thins; i want to be as full
as you. late nights turn to later
mornings and you tell me that us
pretty girls have it the hardest—
that’s why i can’t remember that night.
it’s why i woke up on blue sheets
when mine are beige with blood
on my knees next to a snore
i did not recognize.
i say pain, you say life.
your fingers scoop up a spider
from our kitchen sink and rehome
her on your windowsill, your thin hair
leaving strands for her eight legs
to spin a perfect web, arachnid whispers
of whiskey hangovers pushing
their way through the blackout curtains;
she builds her home around you.
i am not welcome.

 


 

alyssa hanna graduated from Purchase College in May 2016 with a degree in Creative Writing and a minor in History. Her poems have appeared in Reed Magazine, The Mid-American Review, The Naugatuck River Review, Cholla Needles, Crack the Spine, Rust + Moth, and was nominated for a 2017 Pushcart Prize. alyssa is an aquarium technician and intends on pursuing her MFA in Creative Writing. She lives in Westchester with her fish and four lizards. follow her @alyssawaking on twitter

what are you laying down for
like love/ like you yell/ like you screaming
like silence/ charades your body on fire
and no one can guess your words/ like love
like Candyland where there’s no skill to sweetly
barter/ jump & slick/ ride me down/ i buck
& thick headed/ want you to name me first
like possessed, king me/ motherfucker/ king me
i took all your pawns/ your queen was in distress
like what are you laying down/ flip bones on the sidewalk
cash strapped/ ball spinning/ what runs in your veins
bet against/ like straight wild Aces/ my horses
tawny coat of familiars/ flanked, you beat me
till muscles softened/ till what was hard became
pliable/ like love/ what are you doing/ gun
to the back of my head/ & i said i bet my life on you
not knowing how much life could be left
after debting/ buy up property/ pass go/ & collect
collect warm bodies inside me/ collect the feel of your hands
around my throat/ & when you slapped me in the face
i came so hard/ i won/ all the way down/ i lay under
you/ the sky exploded/ like my mind/ in trivial pursuit
stalking you/ i want to own it/ i don’t want to pay rent
be put in jail/ i spelled trouble/ i licked the palm
of the hangman/ so he would turn the vowels
over to me/ i cheated at solitaire/ i was the queen
of spades/ an open hood of connected tiles/ not sorry
i crossed the board/ palmed the marble of your eyes
fit this heart shape with a crack in it/ so carefully
you didn’t flinch/ you didn’t even notice/ i had
plain tricked/ fixed partnerships/ disappeared
like what are you laying down to win me back

 


 

Megan Burns is the publisher at Trembling Pillow Press (tremblingpillowpress.com). She also hosts the Blood Jet Poetry Reading Series in New Orleans and is the co-founder of the New Orleans Poetry Festival (nolapoetry.com). She has been most recently published in Jacket Magazine, Callaloo, New Laurel Review, Dream Pop, and Diagram. Her poetry and prose reviews have been published in Tarpaulin Sky, Gently Read Lit, Big Bridge, and Rain Taxi. She has three books: Memorial + Sight Lines (2008), Sound and Basin (2013) and Commitment (2015) published by Lavender Ink. She has three recent chapbooks: Dollbaby (Horseless Press, 2013), i always wanted to start over (Nous-Zot Press, 2014) and her Twin Peaks chap, Sleepwalk With Me (Horse Less Press, 2016). Her fourth collection, BASIC PROGRAMMING, was published by Lavender Ink in 2018.

twitter: @bloodjetpoetry

 

A Theory of Harmony I

The Surrealists wrote on instinct First version first thought I try to remember what I’ve looked at I try to remember what I already know Soupault closed his eyes Robert Desnos fell asleep I try to imagine myself as if from a train Real life with blur I try to find out what is here and always was Like the shape of your laugh traveling through an empty house But all I can think of is the ocean How I am standing somewhere just out of reach It is always the same time of day The elevated caw of a bird passes me through minutes For some reason the water is coming quickly closer For some reason I can not move

 

 

A Theory of Harmony II

I believe we should look at the world
as if undressed. Not me undressed,
but the world. Then be touched
suddenly and enormously by
what is already here.
I think of sex as a kind of
adventuring and that without
experience I would have no company,
even if everything existed before
you existed. And when I say you, I mean
you, specifically. I don’t trust hindsight,
which is the foolish idea that
that past is knowable. I believe art
should say exactly what it means
and that you should kiss me
if you haven’t already.

 


 

Olivia Mardwig is a writer from NYC. Current or forthcoming work has
appeared in Cosmonauts Avenue, Breadcrumbs Magazine, Flapperhouse,
Practice Catalogue, easy paradise, Vending Machine Press, BKLYN
Beautiful, and Suffragette City.

They cool their skin
along the backs of trees
wait for wind / & what they don’t understand about its force
to pick through their hollow
make dark a thing to lean into
hungry and fierce
knowing
that all of this
is theirs
and that they can’t touch it
not in the way they want to touch it
brainy, hard lipped, to break it on their tongue
as if spirit is
what they’re after
as if you could eat all of that light
and find no dark.

 


 

James Diaz is the author of This Someone I Call Stranger (2018) and founding Editor of the Literary Arts & Music mag Anti-Heroin Chic. His work can be found in Occulum, Bone & Ink Press, Moonchild Magazine and Philosophical Idiot. He lives in upstate New York. @diaz_james

If the reflective sides of two mirrors are pressed together, it is called “ottering,” due to the otter that appears within them.

What drives otters to the water? Hummingbirds.

Otter innards are served to kings and never eaten.

Check your boots for otters in the morning.

A good approximation of an otter can be fabricated with a straightened donut and two raisins.

Otters cannot wear contact lenses and lack the facial structure to support pince-nezes.

Otters are no longer inflatable.

From great heights, otters are undetectable.

Navel gazing is a simple matter for an otter.

Otters are not skinny; they are fine-boned.

Parthenogenic otters are infinitely divisible.

Tube socks are appropriate gifts for a seventh wedding anniversary (the otterversary).

Otters can walk on two legs if properly incentivized.

Otter insurance doesn’t come cheap.

The song “Pocketful of Otter” inspired a dance craze in Prohibition-era Scotland that led to riots and eventual secession.

The otter tax was hated by Colonists.

Otters are not tall enough for snow to form on their peaks.

An Otter Knife is a multipurpose folding pocketknife with exquisitely sharp and tiny flower de-petaling tools. The Officer’s model comes with pontoons.

Otters are thought to dance one leg at a time.

Otters do not even superficially resemble manatees, yet the confusion still exists.

A bas-relief carving of an otter consuming its own tail can be found on the altar of an ancient Micronesian temple of basaltic slabs built by unknown hands. It is thought to symbolize boredom.

The proper thing to do when espying an otter is to cover one’s eyes and point.

It is easy to imagine that otters would enjoy bumper pool more if they were allowed on the felt.

Right angles are unknown in otterdom.

Torque is not measured in otterpower.

Every schoolchild knows otters tie themselves in knots, but few know why.

Americans surround their houses with balloons because they terrify otters.

Good luck making an otter wear a life preserver.

Ben Franklin never suggested the otter as a national symbol, since he knew his fondness for them was taboo.

The word “otter” does not contain all of the letters of the alphabet, yet some still persist in believing this is so.

Otterpanion is a charity that pairs service-otters with terminally-ill children.

The desert kingdom of Abu Dhabi must import all of its otters from overseas.

Gertrude Stein claimed to have three otters, all named Basket. However, no one ever saw them in the same room at the same time.

The placement of the otter spoon consternates many etiquette students.

Which leg would an otter wear a watch on? It is not known.

It is best to leave your summer cabin unlocked so that wintering otters won’t have to break in.

The U.S. Government asserts that otterlogging is not abusive, yet the Geneva Convention forbids it.

Otters can sit perfectly still for several minutes at a time.

Well-informed people disagree on whether an otter’s head is its top or its front.

There has never been an otter depicted on U.S. currency.

If an otter wore a person’s sweater, it would only need one arm.

Cardboard tubes are excellent for otter storage.

How many otters do you know personally? It is likely you can count them on one hand.

Robert Benchley plagiarized his entire novel Jaws, merely changing the original otter to a shark.

An otter could climb a mountain if it so chose.

Otters may have an extra, hidden set of nostrils that have thus far eluded human observation.

Otters are made of flesh and bone, just like you.

Otters cannot be set to “vibrate mode.”

“Ye Otterre hath clambered unto mye culottes”: The first known citation of an otter in English literature. (Memoires of ye Aggreifed Ascot: A. Shayffaer, 1572)

During the Roman holiday of Otternalia, slaves wore otter costumes and lapped at the behinds of plutocrats, who had bathed in fish oil.

Ruins of the Otter Colossus have been carbon-dated to eight thousand years BCEO (Before the Common Era of Otters).

Ottermania destroyed the economy of several European countries in the 1600s.

Otter Fancying is a popular Boy Scout merit badge.

The governor of Ontario believed himself to be followed by invisible otters. Thus his constant applications of ottercide.

The Otter Range of interior Athabasca is really just a series of hummocks.

Never, never pet an otter backwards.

Banging pots and pans and baying like a pack of beagles will rid most buildings of otter infestations.

Otter merkins never really caught on, despite the Duke of Brewster’s fondness for them.

Ottertites are formed from fossilized otters which slept hanging from their tails. Ottermites are their petrified droppings.

Many of the otters in the long-running American TV series, The Soilers, were actually portrayed by minks and weasels.

Otter teeth bring their bearers both good and bad luck, depending on the circumstances of their extraction.

There is a black market for otter oosiks.

Few people continue to believe that “No more otters, for mercy’s sake!” were Grover Cleveland’s last words.

Hundreds of thousands of otter bones were found buried at Stonehenge.

In the film Casablanca, Humphrey Bogart improvised the line, “Circle the otters, again, Sam.”

The first subway tunnels in America, in Boston, Massachusetts, were only wide enough for three otters to walk abreast.

Otterism is a culturally-specific disease in Tierra del Fuego.

Whaling captains kept private stocks of otters penned in their quarters. This was the cause of many mutinies.

OtterBits are made from artificially-flavored texturized vegetable protein and contain an exorbitant amount of MSG.

For centuries, explorers sought the Otter Passage.

Sea otters and river otters can interbreed all they want, but they should know better.

Otterizing is not the same as Martenizing.

“I wish I were an Otter Mayer Weiner” is an example of the subjunctive mood.

There is no longer a commodities trade in otter bellies. Not since they learned to cooperate.

An otter polisher is something like a brown-noser, only oilier.

There is a vortex of otters in the fifteenth circle of Dante’s Inferno.

An Otterwich is not at all like a Manwich.

Bringing an otter indoors on the sabbath is considered taboo in many Christian sects.

An eight-otter hat will not actually hold eight otters. Five at the most.

A kind word to an otter is never wasted.

 


 

Corwin Ericson is the author of the novel Swell (Dark Coast, 2011) and Checked Out OK (Factory Hollow, 2013), a book-length found poem in the form of police reports. His work has been published in Harper’s Magazine, The Collagist, Conduit, Hobart, jubilat, and elsewhere. 

yy says: I can feel the geographies of my body being extracted. yy says: there is a difference between a body with organs and a body without organs. yy says: that I do not want to exude these types of characteristics. yy says: I do not want rivers to form inside of my bones and my teeth to weather into fangs. yy says: that I have a dream about my body. It climbs over the horizon and disappears. yy says: my body never comes back and my brain becomes celestial. yy says: the essence of my soul lifts itself into the sunset and creates a new architecture. yy says: that all love is disingenuous. yy says: a body without organs must contain something else, that it cannot be an empty cavity. yy says: empty cavities often contain labyrinths. Like in the Theseid. yy says:  Labyrinths aren’t real. They are the mythopoeia of the rhizome. yy says: Empty cavities are damp and often the birthplace of new ecologies. yy says: I would like to contain a universe inside of myself. yy says: but these geographies are being extracted from my body. yy says: what does that mean? It means that the grooves of my intestines are being smoothed into circular tunnels. yy says: I does not know why I was named yy. Or who named me yy. Or what yy is supposed to mean. yy says: that I do not remember what it felt like to be an organism, before I evolved into an ecosystem. yy says: that memories are stored in a structure that I no longer contain. yy says: organisms are made out of language. All language is made corporeal when it drips out of the mouths of humanoid creatures. yy says: I met a two-head being named Manoman. The heads tried to eat one another. Like titans. Like praying mantises. They were lovers trying to swallow the contents of their affection. yy says: manoman said, “I can’t bear the weight of your death.” yy says: manoman said, “What you love you must take.” yy says: Manxman said, “Planets are the largest category of assemblage. They are the three-dimensional collage which shapes the existence of its existents.” yy says: I want to be an assemblage. yy says: I do not want to live in stasis. I want to change. Permeate. Mutate. Die. And return. yy says: I want to be a living text. An organismal text. Even if it means reducing myself into something I’m not. yy says: I’m not sure how. yy says: I do not know what I will contain when I die. yy says: But I do know what I crave. yy says: self, existence, bread, milk, clothes, the taste of copper, open wounds, fertility, emptied cocks, columns of fire, muscles encased in fat, cum, airborne fungal spores, growth, change, the assemblage, the collage, to be loved by celestial bodies, to love celestial bodies, praxis, divinity, movement within enclosed spaces, geometry as it shifts from rigid to fluid, pools of architecture, the shell of gravity. yy says: he does not he, but he will do for now.

 

yy says: my body is a temple to the erotic. It is the curation of all of the objects that I am made up of. A body without organs is not empty. It contains multitudes like Walt Whitman’s fat tongue. “You constructed a labyrinthine narrative to negotiate where you came from” (M Kitchell). An alley of pine trees nourishes my blood. Needles protrude from my veins. The contents of my thingness is unknown to me. One day, I wake up and I exist. I do not know when it happened. But the fatigue of this realization is near unbearable. I can only move when I heave myself forward. The miracle is unexpected, and manoman sees it happen and says, “Christ, will you look at that.” And they’re right to be so shocked. The mechanical performance of my joints and muscles is impractical. But I am not swallowed by the void. Not yet. I am Earthly and fragile. The soft spots of my skin are easily punctured. I do not know what I contain because it is always changing. The predictions of what I might be are subverted by the mutations that respond to their pronouncement. Words drip out of my mouth because they are too heavy for my jaw to hold onto.

 

yy says: an assemblage is a human body after it loses the ability to identify itself. This narrative is a labyrinth. It’s labyrinthine. Like the Theseid. I am the walls and floors and ceilings. The sacrificial woman and the house of asterion. Asterion themself.

 

yy says: there is a lodge and a minotaur and a two-headed figure watching me undress. They can see all of the small and delicate pieces that make up my assemblage. I do not look like a collage. I look like a human being.

 

yy says: the lodge is an ugly pale yellow. It’s wilting and jaundiced.

 

yy says: there is no need to act hostile. manoman said, “all of the moments that led up to this one are meaningless.” manoman said, “not to get caught up in the details of one’s imprisonment.” manoman said, “there’s no difference between dying and dreaming.” manoman said, “to love what you become.” manoman said, “he cannot bend his neck enough to wrap his lips around his other head.” and it hurts me to watch them try.

 

yy says: the structure of a sentence is dependent on the sturdiness of its speaker and that a projection is only as clear as the lens of the projector is clean.

 

yy says: manoman have short stubby necks. Someone made them so that they would never be able to fulfill their desires.

 

yy says: the lodge is only accessible in my dreams. I’ve never gone inside of it. But I’ve walked around the perimeter in order to enter the house of asterion and feel the pleasant aura of the nearby sea.

 

yy says: the lodge is yellowing rapidly. I can’t go inside because it might collapse and kill me. It’s not good to die in your dreams.

 

yy says: I might change again if I die in my dreams. I know I won’t be dead when I wake up, but it might give birth to an idea that I don’t want to be the home of.

 

yy says: mutations happen after you die in your dreams. Narratives appear post-mortem. Poetry is the naked body before it’s stopped changing. This is a place for chameleons.

 

yy says: It feels like I’ve been in the lodge before, or as if some variation of me has. But the other variations of me are not me. They are different beings occupying the same body at different moments in time. Every variation of me is a new entity inhabiting this mobile assemblage.

 

yy says: this is what I’ve seen. This is what made me.

 

codes written in essays     /     colors arranged into hieroglyphics     /     necklaces of teeth     /     books written by the french intelligentsia     /     occult rituals in the lobby of the jaundiced lodge     /     carnivores eating carcasses on the side of the road     /     hallways splitting like river deltas     /     someone with a movie camera     /     celluloid hanging from shower rods     /     images of my face     /     euphoria and the sublime     / inexperience     /     nervous hands     /     the killing of a sacred deer by agamemnon’s soldiers     /     missing ceiling tiles     /     the blueprints to my labyrinthine narrative     / house of asterion     /     things that my mother and father said to me     /     a pastiche of their exact words     /     the desire to remain here     /     my family’s holy mountain in the distance     /     portraits of the stranger who’s been following me     /     stealing photographs of my visage     /     the removal of my old visage, and its replacement by my new one     /     the meshes of the afternoon     /     a conversation between Maya Deren and someone that I don’t recognize     /     the jaundiced lodge as it caves in     /     the weakness of soft and sickly weight     /     resurfacing from underneath the meniscus of a wide lake     /     crawling onto shore and heaving over the banks     /     seeing someone who I thought was attractive     /     a temple to organs     /     the sacking of the temple to organs     /     wanting to die     /     remaining

 

 

yyy

 

yyy

 

     yyy

 

                       yyy

 

yyy

 

yyy

 

yyy

 

      yyy

yyy

 

yyy says: that I feel like I’m wearing a man suit.

 

yyy says: every tragedy changes my biology. Every action has turned me into a different kind of being. I am not the same human or cavity or ecosystem that I used to be. I’m something unfamiliar to even myself.

 

yyy

 

yyy

 

      yyy

 

                                   yyy

 

yyy

 

  yyy

 

yyy

 

            yyy

 

yyy

 

yyy  

 


 

Mike Corrao is a young writer working out of Minneapolis. His work has been featured in publications such as Entropy, Cleaver, Fanzine, and the Portland Review. His first novel, Man, Oh Man will be coming out in fall of 2018 from Orson’s Publishing. You can learn more about Mike and his work at www.mikecorrao.com

rusted red bars supporting
gleaming metal that burns in
side of thighs, blistering green
in hindsight; this is not what

i think of when i’m
asked about my childhood:
a low-hung branch that,
before my twelfth year,

shaded the slide,
grazed my muddy palm red,
thrilled soreness in limbs
as i pulsed down, moss-rimmed mouth gaping;
a sun-lit mesh of crooked teeth and feral eyes

maybe the bough sensed the impending blood
and, groping towards the rust,
smacked my paling forehead.
a soiled memory producing

a reminder of another loss:
the happy peeling of my calfs into
ripe lemon crusts,
hammering pinch marks on my rawboned arm,
the blood seeping, sap-like, from

a cain’s mark on this used, reverent head
betrayal from what sustained
this pathetic childhood blurred with
moving, spindly legs slick with mexican sweat.

repertoire of memories; a bucket
brimmed with dirt and plants’ lustful saliva.
warped mirage of the pretty brews i used to concoct
— i can’t ignore the hint of trauma in the oxidized mold
just like i can’t remember the spanish word for slide.

 


 

Luisana Cortez is a Mexican-American, seventeen-year-old girl that plans to study English at the University of Texas at Austin. Her works have been previously published in The Harpoon Review and Ghost City Review and can also be found at gothicwriting.tumblr.com. She tweets @corteeezzz.