ignis faatus | by Joy Overbrook

          share this plate with me dear // it holds

          just enough for the two of us. the kitchen’s run out of meals you see // and this

          is the last of it.


          wait, you take // the first bite

  i think you need it more than i.


         the cook // she has a way with corn pudding you can

          taste the toil of her // motherly hands empty after her only son

          stopped visiting for the soups.


          months, or was it years?

he lay // strung out on rolling heaps of


          apathetic garbage and disappeared like a ghost // but that was

          ages ago, and you can still hear him on the days she // works.

          the thought’s enough to destroy my appetite.

i’d better get back to my kitchen.




Joy Overbrook is a writer of poetry and prose, with a particular interest in the brief yet poignant. Her work is published or forthcoming in Train Flash Fiction, Flumes Journal, Story and Grit, and right here in Occulum, among others. For more information, please visit her on Twitter @joy_overbrook





In (response to/preparation for) the recent shooting(s) | by Zackary Lavoie

If He is upstairs His footsteps are quiet. Like a flank of lamb
On a hot stone, I am searing. The hair on the back of my neck

Stands and is singed by direct impingement and heat seethes down
My Picatinny vertebrae. As I lay upon scorched earth, the nerves, originating

From the base of my hips, become threaded and harden. Here, looking up
From the base of this tree, the highest branches form an iron crosshair

Pushed hard against the sky’s temple. I wonder if you take the pressure
Created by all the hands pressed together in prayer and put it against

A trigger if it would fire. I wonder if the sound of it going off would echo
Against the nave of the church or of the person. I’m starting

To think.

The air here has started to pull me the way an oar pulls
The water around it in vortexual thrusts.


Awareness and disgust have become the same and I am sick.
We are sick.




Zackary Lavoie graduated from the University of Maine at Farmington and currently sits as the Director’s Chair Fellow at Alice James Books. He has poems forthcoming in Empty Mirror Magazine and Dirty Paws Poetry Review. His chapbook “UPHEAVALS” is forthcoming. He can be found on Twitter and Instagram @zclavoie




Three Poems | by Terese Pierre

Any Persistent Creator

Speak of loud objects,
words filled with fluid that
slosh about the bladder
of a pregnant brain.

Dare to not put something back
where you found it, desperate to
make some kind of change,
some kind of vain art.

Unsatisfied, surrounded by treasure,
pick apart the skin, expecting to
discover an ugly truth, a rot you can
write about. You need money.

Nothing of value lies between strangers’ legs
or in the foam of ale, but sweat on, kick rocks over,
be ready to show people your pages, ones written
in the fading light of your inspiration

A small nod, or a raised eyebrow, is all you need
to grasp onto like someone is killing you—
a ride up to the penthouse,
or down to executive parking.

Your name in print, or in lights,
you have no preference.




I’d closed my eyes

during the lessons so I
never got to ask why it is
we are sucked down
the instant we pack our things
and try to leave

why it keeps its objects orbiting
in an ellipse of immobility and
whatever evidence is relevant at the time.

It is my universe’s most
uncorinthian love.

It’s an invisible
pull from the outside,
yet its effects are seen clearly

in the swarm
of police cars on a shut-down bridge
where men in neon jackets search for
a bobbing head in the water.



Death of the First World

A sun fans out
and straps in
soft red bath sustained by
the cycle of an unseen deity,

            even seen
through magical equipment:
A universe
occupied by all
and none.

Limit is reached upon
a timely collapse, a
draining of familiar waters
when pulled into the
most diverse of afterlives,
your gift:
             a name,
                          and gender.




Terese Mason Pierre is a Canadian student pursuing a graduate degree in Philosophy. She has previously published poetry, short fiction and an electronic novel. She aims to become a medical doctor. Pierre lives in Toronto with her family and cat, Benjamin. Visit her website: www.teresemason.webs.com, or follow her on Instagram and Twitter: @teresempierre.

Unrequited Craving for Miraculous Body | by M. Main

your mouth tells me your young blonde son’s water-fear
how he slipped out from your slit-open stomach
and your plan to stand in
Salem beneath the solar eclipse
all in a loose shirt the color I imagine your nipples must be.

while you speak my body
steps outside my body
and leans over your man,
right knee pressed between those two
too-narrow, widespread thighs, breasts at
his face that stares straight ahead through thick-lensed spectacles at
your-self conversing with my-self in
an imperfect 3 (almost 4) bodied szygy.

I (w)ring my wrist in those long loose curls pull
his heal-pierced ear to my hot-breath whisper and
I ask him for permission to you
may I have your pregnant wife?
may I taste your pregnant wife?
may I take between my teeth those
soft parts of her inside-sigh?

this was soothsayed three-saint-patricks-days ago with some other Her (before I knew you) in a desire atomized in several slices of a single moment, just pieces of one second, really, but like so bright light beneath pressed-closed eyes — it happened after I rested my head in that deep beautiful curve of her lower back and gripped her hips in requested pressure while she moaned against a wall. It happened in front of a hospital bed under bright lights and her man watching maybe from somewhere in the unfocused edges of my memory– because she was leaned into my face hands making sweated prints on a metal tray so close her breath was my breath, light liner-smudged eyes greened in unanticipated pain, small breasts swollen in black bra cups, hair wilded from early-on writhing against the headrest of a Jeep Wrangler and I knew I wanted to be the one kneeling at her bare toe-painted feet hand up the mystery of her long black skirt predicting the moment her body would split open wide at the twat.




M. Main lives at the edge of Seattle in a brightly-painted house. She trades in paraphrase and synthesis – medical data, research, and the results of interviews molded into semi-accessible content about baby-embedded wombs, impressionable bodies of youth, and the utility of breasts. Her writing is often informed by the hours she spends gently interrogating friends and strangers about their untold interior lives, self-denied desires, and other quiet things people don’t tend to say aloud. 

in which adulthood is a mouthful of blood | by Clara Paiva

she told me i looked exactly three years younger
the day i turned eighteen,
but she was never good at math.

she – who was a woman first –
told me growing up is all about
learning to sync your pussy
with the rest of your body
& then noted how
i hadn’t got my blood
on my birthday.

i know she meant it kindly,

& still i did not spit that night
just to prove her wrong.




Clara Paiva is a writer and musician from São Paulo, Brazil.

driving on 676 | by Allison Casey

and the clouds are a rustle of satin

or    they’re cream that’s been over-whipped
There are no peaks
you’re gonna have to start over

No    sorry the clouds they’re more the folds of her skirt
that white dress she wore
Halloween Marilyn Monroe
that glow-white hair I helped bleach
to halo in Eastern Pennsylvania autumn
breaking from frats and crowds original wood-flooring carpeted
with booze

that rickety porch was backway ballroom in war-boom new york where she and I could both raise our hems and hem our hair and pull on pearls and pass a cigarette in brick alley. tilt our heads together so her bottle blonde highlighted my fawn brown. lips brushed, her bottle red printed my softshell pink.

But    maybe too the clouds could be
the way she would wrinkle cigarettes
That’s right they’re definitely the wrinkle of the cigarette
she pinched them funny and I watched the way she watched the cigarette’s flare
passed it to me with patchy kisses left on the filter
from Marilyn-red lips and then looked up
Perfectly-peaked clouds because in that Pennsylvania valley at the end of October
it snowed

that snow was curtains in glossed-up hotel top floor where she and I could both raise our glasses, wrists blending and effervescence invading lungs, bubbling up giggles in the negligée corners. bend heads to shoulders, angle elbows to frazzle updos, undo makeup. Fingertips brush, stockings falling on bare legs.

Maybe the clouds are the quiet of going out every week
not healing anxiety
coursing through bones
not making her love me
    but at least
It was quiet

No    sorry the clouds are her smile
like home, hanging over my head
just like the clouds over the 676 offramp to this city
people claim is broken
has built its picked bones to home for me




Allison Casey (@agentallie_) is a current MFA candidate in the Rutgers University — Camden creative writing program. Her main concerns include cats, caffeine, and communing with The Void as a sentient being.

i’ll burn that bridge when i get to it | by Charlie Skodras

you took the worms right out of my mouth and
closed your fist around them: a sentencing.
the air feels like writing with your left hand
you heap dirt on my tongue until i’m
choking around your fingers
my limbs are heavy from sleep, covered in soot
blood and mud cake inside your chest: an offering
alive and warm and pulsing under my touch
i open my eyes against the sun i open a new can of worms
i dig into soil until i can’t feel my arms
years later i’m still scraping you out from under my fingernails.




Charlie Skodras is definitely not thirteen lizards in a trench coat. She lives in Brighton with her gecko Tesla and she has skin. It’s human skin. Really. Find her at @binarycodings on twitter.