I Pity The Fool | by Jesse Bradley

The little brother made from Ken doll heads looks at his shirtless form in the mirror, the clusters of fused Ken doll heads that make up his pectoral muscles. He flexes his arms and the eyes that haven’t been blackened by the sun stare in amazement. We never needed her, his left nipple says.

What’s going on in there, the surgeon asks through the bathroom door.

The little brother made from Ken doll heads puts on his shirt. Nothing, he answers, leaving two buttons unbuttoned just in case.

 


 

J. Bradley is the author of the flash fiction collection Neil & Other Stories (Whiskey Tit Books, 2018). He lives at jbradleywrites.com.

Two Poems | by Sneha Subramanian Kanta

Saudade

 

At the train-station in Birmingham, I’m reliving rhetoric for street-music

though I could be seeing other things for psychoanalysis: the woman with

 

the garden colored passport, the hospice house with silhouettes in its frame

of incandescent light-bulb windows, or the bonsai seller rubbing his cold hands,

 

thinking of the thorny shrubs lined in ascending order as a synecdoche for Eden.

 

Night birds on their prowl must be migratory, wild animals with wings, having

abandoned the shelter of nests. Their singing cuts through a thick ribbon of fog.

 

The night scatters blackness as weeds sprout in an untended spot as residuals,

as incantations. With a novel about a shipwrecked city in my hand, I realize

 

the blue stars in a distance give a damn. The night is leaving fingerprints everywhere.

 

 

 

After The Funeral Was Over

 

& the favorite cousin had finished the recital of Dylan Thomas’s

“Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night” they carried Norma’s

coffin into the graveyard with an entrance full of wild flowers & plums.

                                                   Here, I was half-neighbor,

half-friend, punctuated with interludes of silent nodding & sympathetic

smiles in the white space,

                                        in a black dress with orchids in my hands.

But only—today, there is no screaming, joy kicking the viscera, or

putting the orchids in freshwater with sugar in a monochrome vase.

Her great-grandson Google’s “What Happens When You Die” on his

                                       phone & scrolls downwards with the speed

of an eager deer running away from a chasing tiger.

I muster the courage to tell him that Norma & I were garden-goers

& have seen the sun plummet into the stomach of a sea. He nods.

                                      Inside, the house smells of sawdust & incense.

Outside in the garden, a caterpillar slips from the edge of a thin leaf

into another. The afternoon hatches into a greening & spring ushers

cruelly without reverence for the dead— or dying.

                                       The red berries look bruised.

Dying is a serious business. I have to do nothing.

 


 

Sneha Subramanian Kanta is a GREAT scholarship awardee, and has earned a second postgraduate degree in literature from England. Her work is forthcoming in Figroot Press, Dirty Paws poetry, VIATOR project and elsewhere. She has been the general advisor and poetry editor for her university journal, INK (UPP). She is the founding editor of Parentheses Journal, a literary initiative that straddles hybrid genres across coasts and climes. She loves horses and autumn.                                

 

Things You Can Buy For 30 Pieces of Silver Outside Gethsemane | by Ashley Naftule

A cup of wine, to help forget.
A painted mouth, to suck the poison out.
A plate of fish, for nostalgia’s sake.
A knife in your pocket, if you meet old friends.
A fistful of ergot, to go back to the garden again.
A length of rope, to climb to Heaven.
A hole in a potter’s field, should you fall on the way up.

 


 

Ashley Naftule has been published in Noisey, Phoenix New Times, The Hard Times, Rinky Dink Press, and special projects by Four Chambers Press. He can occasionally be seen out in the wild performing as an actor on Phoenix stages. His favorite Marx brother is Karl.
Twitter handle: @Emperor_norton

running red | by Jordan Meechan

1.      This is chaos. Organized in its own right, but chaos all the same. This is the wind slamming doors closed because all the windows are open and the books propping them open aren’t as thick as cinderblocks. This is curly dark hair blocking her from view. She is smiling, wearing chapstick because lipstick makes her seem too put together. Her high heels sound too loud on the hard wood floor. They give the illusion that the house is empty, devoid of conversation and laughter, but not people. She rubs her hands together to warm them up, but doesn’t think to close all the windows. Even inside the house, it is a windstorm.

2.      This is broken. She kneels on the carpet and studies the chip out of the coffee table. She holds the broken piece in her hand, like she cannot believe that after eight years, it broke today, like fate must’ve had something to do with it. She turns away, runs her fingers over her lips, ignores the pink stain that is left there. She is determined not to let it bother her and throws the broken wood over her shoulder. It is salt in that superstition from a million years ago. Maybe this too, will bring her good luck. It lands on the sweater she put through the dryer one too many times to have the illusion of fitting properly. Now the sweater will go to good will and the wood to the garbage, or maybe the fireplace if she remembers.

3.      This is old. Red and worn, but mostly old. It would turn to dust if you touch it, so you look at it, study its spine, nestled between Nabokov’s other books. A word of caution: You can hear it in each of the pages you flip through, quickly, like you don’t want to find out the ending, despite already knowing. You can feel the hair on your arms standing up, because it tickles, the voices tickle! Their lips press against your skin, murmur things in your ear, things you don’t listen to. A word of caution: this book is a trap.

4.      This is lovely. At least, it is supposed to be. The wedding march is playing somewhere upstairs and the telephone is ringing but no one’s going to answer it. The bride picks at her freshly painted fingernails, and then bites them, then bites the hangnail on her thumb until it bleeds. Until it runs down her thumb and someone gives her a tissue to keep it from spilling onto Nana’s chair. She rips the tissue up, letting the pieces fall onto the tile floor. The wedding march plays louder; someone’s idea of a joke. The bride purses her lips and her lipstick stays in place.

 


 

Jordan Meechan is an English major from Rochester, NY. When she’s not writing, she’s likely re-watching The West Wing or re-reading Harry Potter for the hundredth time. Her work has been published through ANGLES literary magazine, and she can be found @j_devereaux_ on Twitter. 

self-portrait of america, as the land of better* | by Janelle Salanga

come to america, immigrants!
we have the best of everything:
fair & equal treatment for all, walls coming soon!
fifty percent off education quality & success!
staggeringly mind-blowing possibilities of developing mental illnesses!
responsible political administrations that listen to citizen input!
unbeatable likelihoods of mass shootings!
insane discounts on human lives!

 

 

 

*just close your eyes

 


 

Janelle Salanga is a small, mildly angry but hugely passionate Filipina-Chinese human who can usually be found gesticulating wildly while wearing stripes & funky socks. Among other things, she is fond of Python (the programming language, though the snake isn’t bad either), ampersands, egg puffs, & Brooklyn 99 (she is sort of a Santiago, if you squint). She is a first-year attending the University of California, Davis & is planning to switch her major to computer science (and double in English); she has a poem published in The Margins (“Filipino time”) and another two forthcoming in Tenth Street Miscellany
 
Twitter: @jvne11y
 

dessicant | by Joyce Chong

Things that are
inexpensive or,
things that are not
pulled out from your flesh. Only
made with ordinary hands,
plain bones. Placid lakes or / livers / or lips.
If I keep telling you
that you know what I meant to say,
could you make out the stifled phantoms
in my throat?

I felt like it was a snake, or
I was a snake—you know, when
splitting flesh from flesh is too thin,
you can’t help but lose the structure, the
cells ruptured in transition, the artifacts lost,
then there’s nothing but our staggered
reflections smeared across the glass.

What is it about the vibrations
in the air, in the wall, that bends
the light? Why the wobbly legs,
such drunk illusions eager to ease
the blood from our papercuts. Why
the ocean, when you can just as easily
drown in a tub?

 


 

Joyce Chong lives in Ontario, Canada. She is a contributing editor for Wildness Magazine’s weekly column, the Wilds. Her micro-chapbooks “Inventory” and “Dream-like Houses” are available from Ghost City Press. You can find her at joycechong.weebly.com or you can follow her on twitter @_joycechong.

Lines that Make Me Want to Become a Cat Lady | by Vanessa Peterson

Howdy. I have muscular calves. No offense—you are
beautiful, look like a treasure, perfect combination
of sexy and cute. I’ve always had an eye on the finer

things in life, obviously had to message you. Let’s drink
beer and eat ice cream (I don’t drink hot beverages —
that’s the devil’s temperature). I wear glasses, have an

accent, nerdy as it can possibly get. Not really good
at talking about myself, but I’m a real person. Not everybody
can take care of a treasure, but I can show you my

excellent massage skills. Would you be interested in
a married guy? Press 0 to be disconnected or enter
your phone number to continue.

———————————————————————————

Lines for “Lines that Make Me Want to Become a Cat Lady” taken from OkCupid dating site:

“no offense you are beautiful” — monks66

“Howdy…I have muscular calves” — jaywoods152

“Let’s drink beer and eat icecream. my tremendous intuitive sense of the female creature informs me that you are troubled.” — Dopestdave1808

“Congratulations! Your application to be Anthony’s future wife has been successfully submitted. Press 0 to be disconnected or enter your phone number to continue.” —Arizzo7

“Like i stated in the beginning you look like a treasure and not everybody know how to take care of treasure as but i can promise you with respect, caring, and loyalty which i want back in return “ — whocanispoil

“Show you my excellent massage skills. It may be a tense year.” — Neworleans10

“Im sure you get this a lot but you look like the perfect combination of sexy and cute”  — yaoming48

“I’ve always had an eye on the finer things in life. So obviously, I had to message you. Hey!” — SP15a

“I’m not really good at talking about myself but I’m a real person and wanted to say hello.” — Stratocat88

“I see you like coffee. I don’t drink coffee. Actually, I don’t drink hot beverages of any kind. That’s the devil’s temperature.” — jdobored

“I am a school nerd sorry. I wear glasses and I have an accent. I am as nerdy as it can possibly get.” — Tem2016asaurus

“would you be interested in a married guy?” — 212doublem

 


 

Vanessa Peterson received her BA in English with a writing concentration from Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania and is currently attending graduate school at Arcadia University. She’s studying to receive her MFA in poetry and is a current poetry editor for Marathon Literary Review. She lives in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Her work has been previously published in Unlost Journal.