October Teeth

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.

venial

to R.M.


Deprogramming


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

knee poem

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. 

‘Halloo!’

‘Oye, Halloo, sir!’

‘I’m drowning!’ There’s great bravado in anonymity. I just spilled.

‘Life, sir?’ He offered.

I nodded.

‘We take a sleep. Under stardust. Twelve years stretched!’

‘Yes?’

‘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? 

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

Beyond the dividing wall, the mother with the arched eyebrows and frayed nerves herds her kids to bed. At the same time my mother lays a towel over the claw foot bathtub to wash my long, tangled hair. I hear the kids next door fighting over the Viewmaster, the one they can never really use, because they stick their thick fingers through the fragile film of the wheel. My mother digs her fingers into my scalp and I cry, silently, repression a skill. I pretend I am a house with twinkling lights strung across my rafters, party favors in pastel iridescents on tables with bows where my imaginary friends will join me. The Prell slides into my eyes and I can’t tell if I am crying or just stung. It is not the washing as much as it is the rinsing, the deficits and subtractions of everything. The Italian Presbyterian minister who soaked in this same tub a generation before my parents claimed it, may have been plotting how to lure his people from their papal tendencies. Coal was an option. Give with one hand, take away with another. Allow gratitude to be the dominant emotion. My mother’s fingers catch in the snarled strands of my hair, though my scalp throbs with cleanliness. I hear the kids crying through the wall, an extension of my family by sheer virtue of proximity. I can’t let them go. I could poke a hold through the thin wall and meet them eye-to-eye, but it would take them years to understand my needs; how there would always be critical corners I would find it forever impossible to navigate.


Michelle Reale is the author of Season of Subtraction (Bordighera Press,, 2019) and In the Blink of a Mottled Eye (Kelsay Books, 2020) among others. She is the Founding and Managing Editor of OVUNQUE SIAMO: New Italian-American Writing. She has been twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

Milk goes bad on a weekly loop. We begin
to envision digital atomic narratives
with festive chyron as decorative additions

to seasonal mindfuck. Research shows
we’re medicating. A condition that’s amorphous
as cotton candy that never disappears

What we relearn during it: how to knead
something other than our time. An intimacy
with want. How to abandon wish

and sew it to a cumulonimbus
the way children exhaust the adhesive
on an entire book of stickers.

We hear the birds now as if for the first time,
but this is a new thing to learn, the illusion
of life – you’ve put the birdsong underwater.

As if we’re losing baby teeth over and over.
As if the bullet with butterfly wings
means a slowing of violence, oh no.

It just relocates when it needs to,
from the school to the home, from the streets
to the body, from the church to the prayers.

—–

(this poem uses a song title that belongs to Smashing Pumpkins)


Samantha Duncan is the author of four poetry chapbooks, including Playing One on TV (Hyacinth Girl Press, 2018) and The Birth Creatures (Agape Editions, 2016), and her work has recently appeared in BOAAT, SWWIM, Kissing Dynamite, Meridian, and The Pinch. She is an Assistant Editor for Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review and lives in Houston.

Inside and out, but preferably kept away from others. This is more socially acceptable than the alternative. Short brutish bristles extending well past the edge of the nostril, nearly long enough to utilize in the brushing of one’s teeth. Save that $2.99 every six months.

Surgical process to remove the cheekbones so that one may fold their face in half and clean (at least the bottom row) with what the lord hath giveth. Bit of trouble reaching those back molars but it’s all about a really good dental plan nowadays anyways. Once a month by a professional instead of twice a day by oneself truly comes to about the same standpoint. There is a counterpoint, but enough dentists agree that they don’t bother with it anymore. 6/10 at least.

Tried those trimmers mow-the-lawn upside down, but broke upon impact, whirring blades caught on the thick ropes hanging like stalactites, crystal encrusted but instead of precious gems it’s dried mucus and hardened into something it’s better not messing around with. Give or take the snot but this is the ride of a lifetime and they’re not about to let go because of wishes made to goblins.

Grant passage for finger pick. Navigating through the brush as only Jungle explorers are fully qualified for. Find some solid gold and bring it to one of those 1-800-CASH-4-GOLD spots where they’ll offer nothing in return for the find of a century. Return to whence it came.

Only one solitary hair and pull on it to find out what hurts so good. Is this kink? Think about wearing a mask with only the nose exposed, picking one by one until nothing remains. Ask partner after partner but none will comply, so at best it becomes a sort of masturbatory sadomasochism.

Nothing left to do but to admit defeat, bridge the gap between nose and moustache as if there never was a distinction to begin with.


KKUURRTT is glad you read his thing.

http://www.twitter.com/wwwkurtcom
http://www.neutralspaces.co/KKUURRTT

The Mall in My Hometown is Underwater Now


Sun in an Empty Room
after Edward Hopper


Rachel Sandle (they/them/theirs) is an MFA-dropout-turned-crisis-counselor whose writing has appeared in Bad Pony Magazine, What Are Birds?, Indicia Lit, and others. Rachel lives in Lawrence, KS, where they write, draw, and photograph vanity license plates. You can find them on Twitter @floating_orb.