Ode on Errant Nail
A Quiet Place (2018, Dir. John Krasinski)






Self-Portrait as Girl in Pink Lingerie
It Follows (2014, Dir. David Robert Mitchell)




Jacqueline Boucher lives, writes, and teaches in Kansas. Her work has been published in Cartridge Lit, The Rising Phoenix Review, BOOTH, Smokelong Quarterly, and other magazines. Her life goals are to write a book-length love letter to Hannibal Lecter and to convince her cats to pay rent. She can be found on twitter @jacqueboucher. 

     Sam wanted to convince his wife he was ready to have a baby, so he patted down a five-pound bag of flour, searching for holes and tears. Satisfied, he wondered if he should give it a name. After all, everyone has a name. That’s how you know they’re a person. Flannery, Fletcher, Floyd, Florence. Florence. A little girl. He could put a pink bow on her.

     He buckled Florence into the passenger seat and lamented his lack of forethought. Maybe he could borrow a car seat. Rob’s son had just outgrown his. Sam could drop by.

     Rob tisked. “I was kidding. A bag of flour is nothing like a baby. It doesn’t eat or shit or piss on your face.”

     Sam crossed his arms and leaned forward. “Are you offering up my godson?”

     “I don’t think you’re ready for that.” He buckled in the car seat, righted himself and placed his hands on his hips. “Come inside. Have a drink. Bring the flour.”

     That first cool sip of beer rolled across his chest. Fresh spring air blew through the open window over the sink. The sound of ripping caught Sam’s ears. The cat hissed violently and bolted from the living room.

     Florence’s head was slashed. There were wet patches from the cat’s tongue, teeth marks. Clumps of her innards spread across the couch. Nausea ripped through him. Rob thumped the couch to scatter the flour. Soon it looked like nothing had happened.

     “I should probably get going,” Sam said. He hoisted Florence onto his hip and headed for the car. She didn’t feel lighter, just harder to keep together. Flour spilled onto his flannel shirt, and he tried to brush it back in but specks floated toward the grass and caught the sunlight in a sprinkling of ash.

     When he got home he left Florence on the dinner table so he could use the bathroom. Carrying her around was straining his muscles just enough that he noticed. He’d have to get a BabyBjörn. That would show Jessica he was serious.

     He washed his hands and returned to the dining room to find Florence missing, no clumps of flour in sight. Sam went into the kitchen and there was Jessica, scooping flour by the cup onto a sifter. His mouth dried out.

     “Thanks so much for getting flour,” she said. Her eyes squinted with happiness. Her hands dusted with Florence. “We were almost out and I wanted to use your blueberries before they went over the edge.”

     A cup of Florence was inside the bowl, a cup lingered on the sifter. Her brains were scrambled and he was supposed to be happy about it. “What are you making?” he croaked.

     She grinned. “Blueberry muffins.”

     Though he was torn between his love of blueberry muffins and the flour child he’d adopted only two hours ago, he didn’t ask Jessica to pause. Now that Florence was eternally divided, she was like any other bag of flour—completely insignificant—and hopelessness crept into him.

     As he watched his wife gleefully split their daughter in two, it occurred to him that her constant equivocations on the subject of children may not have been all about him and his lack of experience. Her excuses piled like ash in front of him. Enough to make Florence unnecessary for muffins.



Chelsea Stickle lives in Annapolis, MD. Her work has previously appeared on The Fem and Jellyfish Review. Find her on Twitter @Chelsea_Stickle.

Ted Cruz Stops at a Target to Buy Clean Socks

while on the campaign trail in Corpus Christi. He knew it was hurricane season—sometimes he thinks it might always be hurricane season in the Gulf—but he didn’t expect there to be such huge puddles this morning after yesterday’s storm And he certainly didn’t expect to be so startled when the Selena statue was definitely looking at him that he would step into a giant puddle, iridescent with oil, requiring this trip to Target. Ted should have packed extra socks. But he didn’t. So now he’s in the express checkout lane across from the in-store Starbucks getting stared down by that creepy green mermaid. Why would you make a mermaid the logo for your coffee company? It doesn’t make sense—not even if he tries to put himself in the mind-space of a hippie. But as he takes his now-paid-for socks—black ones, of course—he smells the aroma of the mermaid’s roast. Ted is suddenly overcome with a desire for a fancy coffee, something he used to drink in college. He peruses the menu from afar. They’ve just put up their signs advertising fall beverages. No, he shouldn’t. Ted wonders if this is what resistance feels like. He wonders if there is any other smell so sweet as that of the pumpkin spice in which he would not partake. When he walks away from the tattooed barista, he realizes it has started to rain again. But he left his umbrella in the car.


Ted Cruz Makes Eye Contact with the UPS Guy Delivering His New Deep Fryer

and now he’s not sure if he has to make small talk. The UPS Guy hands Ted the tablet to sign and Ted tells him he’d hate to be out there delivering all these packages in this crazy heat. The UPS Guy takes the tablet back and Ted starts to sweat. Even though he’s in an air-conditioned house where the temperature is never higher than seventy-two degrees. Ted’s new deep fryer is suddenly heavier. He wonders why he ordered from Sears when he could have gotten the same thing from Amazon. The Amazon delivery guy just leaves things on his doorstep, rings the bell, and leaves. Ted gives a weak smile and closes the door. He wonders if he maybe should have said goodbye. In the kitchen, Ted just leaves the box on the counter. It doesn’t matter if he opens it now. Nobody else is home, and it would be weird, even for Ted, to fry shoestring potatoes alone.


Ted Cruz Flicks His Cigarette Butt Out the Window on the Beltway

and the grass is pretty dry and for a moment Ted realizes that he might have just started an actual fire. It’s nothing as bad as California—and God knows Californians are enough of a drag as it is, with their recycling and their marijuana and all that gay marriage—and he thinks that maybe nobody will notice. Notice that it was his cigarette, anyway. Ted doesn’t even smoke. Usually. He’s just having a Very Bad Day. Someone slipped a flyer into his inter-office mail comparing his handwriting to the Zodiac Killer’s—again, more garbage out of California. And Ted can see how a kid might find this entertaining, but he’s an actual human being, after all. He’s never killed anyone and written to the newspapers about it. He couldn’t come up with these cyphers, you know? It’s just not his thing. Behind him the fire is still burning. He can see the big black smoke in his rearview mirror. He shouldn’t have had that cigarette. He promises that he’s going to throw what’s left in the pack out when he gets home. In his neighbor’s trash can, of course. His wife would absolutely murder him if she found out he was buying Lucky Strikes again.



E. Kristin Anderson is a poet, Starbucks connoisseur, and glitter enthusiast living in Austin, Texas. She is the editor of Come as You Are, an anthology of writing on 90s pop culture (Anomalous Press), and Hysteria: Writing the female body (Sable Books, forthcoming).  Kristin is the author of nine chapbooks of poetry including A Guide for the Practical Abductee (Red Bird Chapbooks), Pray, Pray, Pray: Poems I wrote to Prince in the middle of the night (Porkbelly Press), Fire in the Sky (Grey Book Press), 17 seventeen XVII (Grey Book Press), and Behind, All You’ve Got (Semiperfect Press, forthcoming). Kristin is an assistant poetry editor at The Boiler and an editorial assistant at Sugared Water. Once upon a time she worked nights at The New Yorker. Find her online at EKristinAnderson.com and on twitter at @ek_anderson.

What is more inelegant
                            than anchovies
            on a salad,

lemon pressed
              to lips, teeth
                            laid bare in fear

              or maybe a handful
of olives thrown
                          to a mouth regardless
                          of their stones—

                                       I want
            to gnaw the ancient
roots of my name

             too perfumed
                                        to be real

—why July smells like
            a moment I can’t

—why I taste the sea
            before swimming it,

blood made half
                           of salt, whatever

               dreams green
                             and grounded, still
bitter or submerged,

hoping to drown inside
               a berth of my own

                          I want
             love to dissolve into me

like the bones of a fish

           small enough to take

I’ll fight
              for the tongue I lost,
                           scrape both

hands through dead soil,
                           olive or grape.

What at least
              could live
                          might grow

—each meal
             a ghost enamored
of the sea.



Lindsay D’Andrea is a Boston-based poet and writer. She holds a MFA from Iowa State University. She is a 2018 Best of the Net nominee and a 2018 summer scholarship recipient from the Fine Arts Work Center. Her work has been featured in many publications, print and online, including the Greensboro Review, Noble/Gas Quarterly, pamplemousse, and Longleaf Review. Find her on Twitter/Instagram @Lindszd.


Friday night, six cans
           of the uncanny. That’s
a mind trick, das
           unheimliche. Black

oil-slick of sight, stick
          of sickly liquorice
from the unconscious.
          There are some visions

you never return from.
         Or if returned, come back
as salvage, damaged and
         savage. Visage with jaws,

emblem of heaven. The eye
         cannot hold the halls
of gold. On the ward the word
          went round

that you were back and
           that you’d seen heaven
and hell in the ineffable.
        Student shrinks wringing

their hands, crying out

          their cataracts, shaking
the pills and the scrolls
          from their sleeves. Sinking

to their knees at your feet
          as you’d sleep. Bedside
lectern, discerning disciples
          listening intently

to the lecture of your medicated
          snores. Imbibing
the crystalline religion
          of your technicolour

tremor dreams.




This dissociative
          disorder renders me
voyeur of my own
          memoirs. Watch
the world in trauma

          vision. Plasma
miasma mama. Fibre
psychotropic optics
          make the bodyclock

tick icky. Aftershock
          of hits and licks
gives face and cheeks
          these tics. Stutters
the synaptics, fux

          the syntax, pray
to mantis of an addict’s
          praxis. Violence made
the speech tourettes.

morgue orphan
          mouths taboos.
Tourniquet marionette,
familial ghouls.



Miggy Angel is the author of the poetry collections Grime Kerbstone Psalms published by Celandor Books – and most recently Extreme Violets published by Hi Vis Press. He is the host and organiser of the monthly poetry event Speech Therapy, the facilitator of the Do Or Die Poets (a weekly creative writing workshop for people in addiction recovery) and is the editor and founder of Burning House Press.




Vanessa Maki is a writer (& other things) who is queer & full of black girl magic. She has work in various places such as Entropy, Susan/The Journal, Rising Phoenix Press, Sad Girl Review among others & is forthcoming in Sorority Mansion among others. She is founder/eic of yell/shout/scream & rose quartz journal. Her debut chapbook “press ctrl-alt-delete” is available on Payhip. Follow her twitter & visit her site.

Hey, do you remember Vanessa from Benedict Elementary, with her Instagram full of vegan this and organic that and My amazing children who chose ALL ON THEIR OWN WITHOUT ANY INFLUENCE FROM ME not to be evil and heartless and consume animal products, hashtag-blessed? Well, she showed up in my line this morning, and when she got to the counter she smiled and said, Hi, I hear there’s food? And I smiled back and said, Yes, but nothing vegan, and definitely nothing organic, sorry, and she said, Whatever you’ve got is fine, and I said, Oh, but I know how super important it is for you guys to stay clean, let me just check, maybe there’s a can of organic corn or something. And I went to the back and stood there for a minute, just stood there – Carrie looked at me funny as she passed with a few cans of ravioli – and then I went back out and said, I’m so sorry, Vanessa, but there’s nothing here for you. She said, Really, anything’s fine, we’re hungry. Carrie was piling cans in a box for the McDonald family, weighing to make sure it wasn’t over the ten-pound limit, and I saw Vanessa looking it over, Chef Boyardee and Dinty Moore and Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup, all the labels blaring red with the blood of murdered animals or whatever, and she swallowed and said again, Anything’s fine. I was always so impressed with your commitment, I told her. My kids are hungry, she said, and I said, Oh, I’m sure, but it would be wrong to undermine their decision all on their own not to eat animal products, I respect that so much, especially the way you guys were so generous to share that knowledge with all of us, all the time. I said, I remember when Kyle came home from third grade crying his eyes out because he had chicken tenders for lunch and your Zachary called him a murderer and everyone joined in, for weeks, that was such a great lesson, thank you for that, and she said, How is Kyle? and I said, He’s dead – you were right, meat kills! She stared and I said, Haha, no, he was shot protecting the cache when a transient group raided us, everyone wants food, right? even if all that’s left is this unclean canned crap. And she said, Please. And I leaned closer and said, Tell you what. I saw some dandelions behind the old post office, why don’t you go back there and gather them – hey, get your kids to help, hashtag-foragingisfun! – and you can make the greens into a stew or a stir-fry or maybe a cake, a beautiful vegan cake, and sprinkle the yellow petals on top, how pretty would that be? That’s what I told her. And it’s too bad we lost Instagram along with electricity and the internet because I swear I’d heart the shit out of that fucking cake.



Didi Wood’s stories appear in Smokelong QuarterlyJellyfish ReviewLost BalloonCotton Xenomorph, and other publications. She’s fond of the serial comma, board games, and creepy dolls. Often she is festooned with cats. Find her on Twitter @DidiWood. 

I aimed my breast like a torpedo into her mouth. If the latch went wrong, my nipples bloomed blisters, and she would not drain the breast. I cried each time she had to eat. Most feedings took hours—my arms frozen, afraid to change position, her hungry grunts and snorts like an unforgiving beast that needed me to give and give. I smelled like sour milk. I leaked through the nursing pads, the bra, the extra-large maternity shirt. Her breath smelled like sour milk, and when she spit up—both of us soaked—we could have raised mushrooms, could have clothed ourselves in mildew. We were wet. The fever came in the middle of the night with my breasts engorged, enflamed, the burn of all that milk I still had to let-down. She cried. There was no escape, so I sat down in that pink nursery chair and fed her.

The fever never went away. Night and day, she had to eat, and when not eating, I had to hold her against my left side and pat her butt gently with my right hand. Everything was milk and sweat. The moment I stopped the taps, she’d wail like a siren tattling that I had failed. Her wet cheek grew yeast, so her skin split open along with my nipples and everything was pink—bloody milk—bonding us to each other. There was that breast pump breathing in and out—a ventilator, a prison, and there was her father going off to work, but really to fuck his whore in a hotel room at noon on a Tuesday while I played cow and dairymaid. But I didn’t know that then.



Cat Dixon is the author of Eva and Too Heavy to Carry (Stephen F. Austin University Press, 2016, 2014) and The Book of Levinson and Our End Has Brought the Spring (Finishing Line Press, 2017, 2015). Her poetry and reviews have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies including Sugar House Review, Midwest Quarterly Review, Coe Review, Lime Hawk, Eclectica, and Mid-American Review.

Twitter: @DixonCat

for Elizabeth Murray, our Great American Painter

Who says these are the answers? Blue for sky, for ocean, for elephant. Why not paint with breath? With bone sanded smooth beneath our fingers? Why not sew our bones with mud and root? Smear light across our chest until it joins the flame within our spine. Until it ignites the squish of our guts. Until we have no choice but to propel forward, the soft curl of our hair smoldering behind us.


The modifiers we speak aloud cast shadows long as barns. Good. Bad. Young. Old. If only we could pluck events out of the ether and set them between us on the kitchen table. Let them be. Let them exist as themselves, as I wish for myself. Children after forty: brave, they say. I need no map for where I’m going, and yet people press them into my palms like money. The personal absurdities of the masses hang, like art, against the walls of rooms I enter. I shield my heart from their glowing eyes.


If I need the flu to function between words, within phrases, to see the truth of ocean and sky, how productive could I be? I paint myself a fever seeker. How quickly an obsession can root in the taunt ligaments of our bodies.


Pinched skin wrinkles. Is this anatomical law or the law of pinching? I hide my secrets in my soft folds of skin, a place where words aren’t welcome, where only emotions reside. The shudders of shadows I’ve hidden vibrate the slick flesh of my muscles. This moves me while I try to still. But still –


There are no corners in the human body. We’re all bulging curves and clustered emotions. What happens when our casing cannot contain us any longer? How many spills I’ve cleaned. Who will we allow to see our secretions? Our flood? Our finish? I climb towards my final undoing and close my eyes to the thought of who will mop up my last movement. And still, forward.



Kristin Kozlowski lives and works near Chicago. Some of her work is available online or upcoming at Longleaf ReviewPidgeonholesFlash Frontier, and others. She is currently and always working on a novel. If you tweet: @kriskozlowski.