Cate McGowan is the author of a short story collection, True Places Never Are, winner of the Moon City Short Fiction Award and a novel, These Lowly Objects, forthcoming from Gold Wake Books. Her stories, poems, and essays appear in journals such as Glimmer Train, Crab Orchard Review, Tahoma Literary Review, Phoebe, Shenandoah, Okay Donkey, Atticus Review, and numerous other literary magazines. A Georgia native, creative writing and composition professor, MFA graduate, and current PhD candidate, McGowan serves as an assistant prose poetry and fiction editor at Pithead Chapel.
Joe Nasta is a queer writer and mariner who splits zir time between New York, Seattle, and the Ocean. Joe is one half of the art and poetry collective Eat Yr Manhood and runs a communal studio at the Sun and Moon House in Beacon Hill, Seattle. Zir work has been published in The Rumpus, Yes Poetry, Pidgeonholes and others. Ze co-curates a zine of unconventional art and writing at stonepacificzine.com and serves as prose reader for The Adroit Journal. Find Joe on Instagram and Twitter @roflcoptermcgee and at joenasta.com.
After Francisco Goya’s Saturn Devouring His Son
Joanna C. Valente is a human who lives in Brooklyn, New York. Joanna is the author of Sirs & Madams (Aldrich Press, 2014), The Gods Are Dead (Deadly Chaps Press, 2015) Marys of the Sea (The Operating System, 2017), Xenos (Agape Editions, 2016), Sexting Ghosts (Unknown Press, 2018), No(body) (Madhouse Press, 2019), and #Survivor (The Operating System, 2020). They are the editor of A Shadow Map: Writing By Survivors of Sexual Assault (CCM, 2017), and received a MFA in writing at Sarah Lawrence College. Joanna is also the founder of Yes, Poetry, as well as the senior managing editor for Luna Luna Magazine.
Anna Saikin’s writing can be found in Potomac Review, Per Contra, Abstract Magazine, and Pretty Owl. Her chapbook DEAR CARO was recently published by Desert Willow Press. She received a PhD in English from Rice University, and currently teaches at a private high school in Houston, TX.
The Devil does not use our names for the stars, rather he greets them by the first names they ever knew themselves by. I don’t recognise constellations: I keep a childhood memory of my father, his broad, dry hands putting names up there. A present for me.
We’ve never met, the Devil and I, but if we were to speak and he asked me what I wanted I could look across the upturned earth in the fields outside my window. How it returns to a furrowed and empty October. There’s no such thing as coming back, my mother said, as I was leaving. You just have to enjoy it. I’d tell the Devil that I want a home I don’t have to say goodbye to.
The Devil would chew the end of a grass stalk like country boys do in American movies and he’d say, well, that’s every home you’ll ever have. And I’d say watch me. Watch me try.
Itinterarium Curiosum 1776
“When the druids, Phoenicians, Chaldeans and the Tyrian Hercules are all confusedly worshipping in a Dracontium in an imminent expectation of the Messiah, it is time to stop.”
Stuart Piggot, William Stukeley: an 18th Century Antiquary
For breakfast, William Stukeley eats a hard boiled egg. He’s daydreaming about mistletoe and Greek vases. William Stukeley once walked into a tailors and asked for ceremonial robes in the ſtyle of the ancientſ and does not know he’s wearing a tailor’s old curtains. He invented the druid’s cubit and half of his papers. He went mad in the way of anyone loving something deliciously irrelevant. William used to say the word “druid” with the softness of longing, a hand reaching for the past. Oh, baptize them, Druids of Sermon, Druids of the Christ-not-Born. Oh, Druids of Heaven. Mad and Pagan saints. You know, their temples, like a snake eating its tail in accordance with the moon? Here we are making a country that is our past: mostly imaginary. We’re going out of fashion like a Birrus Britannicus. We’re loving everything mad and Pagan and irreverent.
Kym Deyn is a poet, playwright and fortune teller. They are currently studying for a Creative Writing MA at Newcastle University. Their work has appeared in various magazines and anthologies including The Valley Press Anthology of Prose Poetry, Ink Sweat and Tears, and Neon. They have been shortlisted for several awards including the West Yorkshire Playhouse “Airplays” Competition and the Terry Kelly Poetry Prize. They are one of the winners of the 2020 Outspoken Prize for poetry. You can find them on Twitter @shortestwitch.
Born in Arizona on an Aries new moon, Emilia Hamra now lives in Philadelphia where she founded The Shoutflower, a print journal of delirium and dream. She studied Creative Writing at ASU, and was the recipient of the national Norman Mailer College Poetry Award.
In 1959, an episode of The Twilight Zone titled “Time Enough at Last” aired. It ends with a man, alone in a dead world.
This man, surrounded by knowledge and isolation. A solitary paradise. In the last moments, this man, enveloped by books,
breaks his glasses. An ironic; infamous mishap. This act renders him unable to consume any of the knowledge around him.
Now, in isolation, the antithetical apex approaches us, the viewer. You are surrounded by knowledge. You try to read.
You are handed another pair of glasses you must put on. Glasses and glasses, pair after pair. Days pass. Your face is lenses.
The room you occupy, eventually metal and glass and nose pads snapping and breaking. The metal cuts you as you try to move.
The light has gone. The focus is much too rendered.
The lightbulb has been crushed by duplicating glass.
Luke writes poetry and short stories focused on queerness, feelings and the fantastical creatures found therein. His work is scheduled for release in upcoming publications of Plenitude Magazine and Cathexis Northwest.
Sin Ribbon is a storyteller weaving tales of encouragement and consequence through prose, paintings, and poetry. She is the author of the urban fantasy series, Ten of Destiny, and creator of the award-winning podcast, In Her Burning: A Surreal Diary. Her work has found homes with Ruminate, Barrelhouse, TERSE., Moonchild, Luna Luna, and other magazines. Her debut poetry collection, Dead Star Rituals, releases winter 2021. Find her on Instagram and Twitter via @sinribbon or at https://sinribbon.com
amores-III-xi // perfer et obdura
pry up the patellae // like manhole-covers // check for ratkings&alligators // hiding // in my marrow // fluid // bubbling // after-rain mixed with gasoline // iridescent // flood-warning // these are city-joints // country-small-town-suburban bones // allergic to both dust&grass // autoimmune response // from the // shit // that pours out // of my knees
cat-like recursions // caught in tree // limbs // tangled plastic bags // measuring // both wind speed&dir. // seeking // courage to climb elsewhere
press bruises // into wet // concrete // watch sidewalks // contract&expand&crackle // broken bits of not-stone // mold-made-cracked // genu gestatis // corners cut // with the good leg // stuck // in the storm drain // like fishing line // unlikely // to catch anything // edible
dolor hic tibi proderit olim // ovid
On Degenerative Cartilage or Questions for My Mother
MR Layne is a student of literature and language in Rochester, NY. Their work attempts to use experimental forms to explain their relationship between their self, their trauma, and their disability. Although they have been writing poetry since the fifth grade, they have only now begun to seek publication.
That was the first in five. Away. She washed dishes; I walked near the jetty thousand-fifty miles away on our fifth.
I thought of her. Dan. Like every year.
On foreign shores, three months without friends. Needing somebody to talk to, I plucked a man in a hat tugging a flat-bottomed country boat.
‘Oye, Halloo, sir!’
‘I’m drowning!’ There’s great bravado in anonymity. I just spilled.
‘Life, sir?’ He offered.
‘We take a sleep. Under stardust. Twelve years stretched!’
‘Fifty plus expenses.’ He laid bait. A cheap one.
‘Aye? Think I’m a foolin’ ye?’
I could be indifferent. I chose to get that hook between my teeth.
He let me on his rickety fishing boat.
Rosy Starlings were flying in formation after sunset. The bay opened up and a gap in the surf marked where the river channel ran out to sea. On both its sides, a thick deep green showed the outlines of a virgin forest. Above them rose the grey-green hills, like clouds cast in stone.
We approached the island enveloped in brooding silence, anchored the boat he’d named Castaway, lit a lantern, and walked inland in the eroding light.
Wading through the marshes, negotiating long grass, we reached a clearing.
‘Here it is, sir! Make yourself at home!’
He abandoned me, disappeared into one of the shanties nearby.
A little afar, the condescendingly burning lantern in my hand revealed a merry group around a bonfire. They were strangely warm, welcomed me to a feast. I know not what we ate.
As darkness firmed up, the group prepared for the stardust that they said lasted until everyone was asleep.
‘First celebrations, then long sleep!’
For some unknown reason, I didn’t want to disbelieve.
I watched awed as the sky lit up in due time and stardust rained bountifully. A discernible glass-like air coalesced nearby. The men got up, danced around the fire to a sickening beating of drums.
I felt drowsy: effect of a rush of pure oxygen from the stardust? I still had time to reason.
My heartbeats became slower and slower. I noticed the dancers increasingly unsteady, falling one by one. Imagine a Ferris wheel slowing down, but moving yet, nobody to stop it. Stream of light like a firecracker show gone wrong. Hitting the ground like pounding rain, a thousand drops all at once. Like when Lila and I drove into a ditch. Was it blinding rain, or were we too drunk to notice directions? And too young to be annoyed by clothes caked in mud! That was the time I had just pried her away from Dan. Six months later, we were married!
I watched in trance, not asleep yet, not awake enough to escape. The drummers continued to beat to a crescendo around the men. One of them made an effort, dragged his feet to the women huddled just beyond the circle of light. The woman he gestured to, stood up. She embraced the male not very unlike Dan.
I narrowed my eyes.
Lila who’d be home with our kids? Dan who’d be on the trading floor on Wall Street!
The two of them, barely able to stand, staggered towards a giant Mahogany, whose top was already on fire.
Stardust was falling still and the sky illuminated like on Carnival Night, our trailer parked on the right of the roundabout, our happy family giggling, kids running about with pinwheels in hand. Like the Sunday before I came here.
I could see Lila and Dan, silhouetted against the growing flames, still in tight unison, insistent drumbeats driving me to lunacy.
Something trickled in my skull, something like antipathy. I stumbled, fell a few times. When I came really close and hovered over their clasped forms, they did not even notice. A minute later I made the strike.
Then I slept.
I’ve recollections of being dragged, shuffled about in huge courtrooms, ending up in slithering lines with compartmentalized steel plate in hand waiting for meals.
I woke up today, twelve years on; to change into tee and jeans that feel like dead skin, hug my body like a long-lost friend.
The prison overalls lie in a heap at the corner of my cell.
Mandira Pattnaik writes in India and considers herself lucky to have appeared in The Times of India, Eclectica, Commuterlit, Splonk, Heavy Feather Review, (Mac)ro(mic), Nightingale&Sparrow, Lunate, DoorIsAJar and Spelk, among others. Her work is forthcoming in Ilanot Review and Watershed Review. ‘Adab’, one of her short stories, is currently showcased under Editor’s Picks at Juggernaut Books. She was also included in NFFD NZ and Flash Flood UK 2020.
Find her at @MandiraPattnaik