July 18, 2019

Startling Flash Fiction by Arya-Francesca Jenkins

Startling Flash Fiction by Arya-Francesca Jenkins

WHATEVER YOU DESIRE         When they are together, her nose turns up automatically at everything he says, her head turning to observe passersby or leaves quavering on a tree, incidentals, he, the point from which she departs to engage in everything. This is how it almost always is.         He has no idea, even while cultivating his fevered impulse to draw her in, make her look into his eyes, respond to the hand holding hers as he inquires what she would like to eat and drink–life’s menu, always at her disposal, proffered by him.          His drone of words tickles their fecundity. Everything so green. He has never seen her more beautiful, wearing the ring he gave her, a diamond perhaps too large. But what is love, if not extravagant?         She demurs at his suggestion for the wine, then lets him choose her appetizer and entrée. This makes him smile. He knows her, and she, in turn, appreciates being able to settle into the cushion of the life he is creating for her with such dexterity…

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July 17, 2019

Shawn Anto: The Tests of Life

Shawn Anto:  The Tests of Life

Moka Pot I used to play these games lungs became a trap for darkness.                                                                                         I used to hold my breath waiting for the moka pot spurting alive.   Suffocate negative lines over a world day by day hoping pot by pot.   These simple and harmless tendencies start off as one motion an egg uncracked, porcelain.   One must suspect harmless become harmful in throat breathe one-two, one-two.   A moka pot bubbling over it is the inside that matters hi-jack cells, vibrating.   Endless dream, endless violent end not so, not-so I promise I hold my breath, welcome it, attachment. Sculpture of Incision       stare red eyes down, under a shattered crown, we collapse     everything around golden & memory particles dispersing like tired eyes of their fear.   a choice of no in…

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July 14, 2019

Ellen Rachlin: Poems of Survival

Ellen Rachlin: Poems of Survival

Strategy     Cannot be hit   …well maybe hit   but not marred   and if marred,   put that thought aside;   just stare at open, fast to strike   surfaces,   then look nowhere   but the eyes.     In spacetime,   there should be   no difference between   what opposing fighters   see and measure,   but here the arc   of a kick holds   mixed coordinates,   so it’s best to move   at all times because   moving is winning,   winning is moving;   punishment is   achieving victory.   Nearby there are always   judges, and rarely, a referee.                                                                                       Continuity     Rage wore itself out   on no-name turf   between opposing hills,   in the end, claiming   Crown and…

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July 10, 2019

John McKernan: A Deeper Look

John McKernan: A Deeper Look

MIDNIGHT PHONE CALLS FROM MY ALIAS  Quit pretending you are still a teenager   That girl at Wal-Mart keeps asking about you  Have you written your obituary yet?   Which of President Kennedy’s sluts did you like best?  I’m not frightened    Are you?   Where have you been hiding?  Making any money selling cheap fireworks?   Why don’t you visit me anymore?  Sure   Go ahead    Enlist in the Marine Corps   Here are some verbs to help you out    Crawl       Slither   Sneak   Snivel   Grovel  Let me tell you something you need to know   You want a crate of chocolate chip cookies?  Buddha walked through the door showing us the new    tattoos   His entire body a geranium covered        in blue and green and black and yellow and red  What would it take to make you speechless?   A maniac’s kitchen knife to cut out your tongue DIAMONDS OF SWEAT  Drop to the dry ground  Tiny explosions of dust  A large serving of memory please  In a chilled wine glass  With slivers of yesterday   I always…

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July 5, 2019

“Wash, Rinse, Dry… Repeat” by Zee Mink

“Wash, Rinse, Dry… Repeat” by Zee Mink

Lie, then smile with penitent lips, as you continue to cheat Wash with repentance. Rinse with remorse, Dry tears of regret Repeat  It is your anemic nature, your compulsive rogue swagger Coffee break room champion, scalawag bragger  My own weakness, craving your wayward arms My insanity, always falling for your charlatan charms  I am the princess of poor personal choices Never listening to the warnings of my inner voices  My logical head knows, my deceiving heart excuses The blatant deception, the revolving heart abuses  I tell myself to walk. NO RUN away and never look back He’ll change, this is the last time he’ll jump the loyalty track  Truth be known, I am the genuine liar, the authentic phony I could have a steak, instead I feast on cheap baloney  My table is set, same old menu, no wisdom served today Eating with a spoon of shame, digesting familiar foul play  Zee writes from…

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July 2, 2019

Keith Kennedy: Feeling the Angst

Keith Kennedy: Feeling the Angst

Too Busy for Suicide    I’m awfully sorry to be awfulIt was the camera – you see it, in the corner  I was afraid that if I didn’t fall in lineThey’d make me wear a rose-colored shirtThey’d make me kill my family  So I said what they wanted to hearI told them of your discretions, making sureNot to elaborate too far, so theyDidn’t find out what horrible things you’ve doneTo my ass, in my mouth, while the others watchedThey are sorry, too, for doing what they had to.   When Pink was Heart   I craved your body like a mindNo matter where the dead birds fellI changed my course to walk behindI stared at skin ’till I grew blind     And     when you      dressed   I           felt the       flames  …

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July 1, 2019

“Broken” by Susi Bocks

“Broken” by Susi Bocks

What a freakish awakening this morning. My guts felt heavy, as if they contained weighted stuff like rebar with concrete. I felt sick but unable to purge because it would hurt more coming back up. “Why risk more injury?” I thought to myself. It was going to be an enormous challenge to make it through this day if this beginning was any indication.  I pulled back the covers unmajestically to expose my left leg draped over the side, deftly anchored in between the mattress and box spring to help me propel upwards. It was not an easy feat. All the while, creepy flashbacks kept jutting into the brain space behind my eyes: struggling, hands, choking, bright lights, and a sense of foreboding as thick as pudding – a feeling of being under the control of another but not knowing who…

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June 29, 2019

Hiding out in Bathrooms by Julia Hwang

Hiding out in Bathrooms by Julia Hwang

I. Shame eating + the sterility of bleach = A well-balanced breakfast? I stuff Kit Kat wrappers in with feminine waste and wipe my hands of chocolate on too tight pants   II. Scream and smash and scream some more and throw the vase’s remains against the door Icy water surges and deafens I recoil into a pool of red  How shocking! That a hand holds this much blood That our pain could clog a drain III. DON’T DO IT Whoops too late I POP and SQUEEZE and SCRATCHwatching tiny pricks of blood bloom across my face I am bumpy, bitter ugliness I refuse to recognize her  I dab away tears with salicylic acid I bury her with clay  IV. I am grown I am a woman yet still, I hide out in bathroomsscarfing down deli meats wiping at my nose, sloppily I am a girl eavesdropping on whispers and giggles avoiding conference calls and confrontation drowning out crying babies, sirens wailing catching a breath always ashamed still alone  Julia Hwang is an emerging poet writing from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her work, which tends to be narrative, women-focused,…

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June 27, 2019

“The Age of Light” – Reprising Our Interview with First-Time (And Very Successful!) Author Whitney Scharer

“The Age of Light” – Reprising Our Interview with  First-Time (And Very Successful!) Author Whitney Scharer

A little over a year ago, we published an interview with Whitney Scharer, whose novel had landed her a million-dollar book deal. Only problem was, we had to wait another year to read her book. At the time, we wrote: “Barista Rachael Allen meets the novelist everyone will be talking about. Whitney Scharer and her fierce protagonist are set to take the literary world by storm! At this time next year, Whitney Scharer’s debut novel, The Age of Light, will stare up at you from your nightstand. The book will not stare at you so much as, potentially, display a woman staring into the distance, anonymously cropped at the neck, with scenic Paris blurred behind her. As much as she hopes for something different, Scharer says wryly, audiences are familiar with this kind of book…

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June 25, 2019

Charles Rammelkamp: History, Politics, and People

Charles Rammelkamp: History, Politics, and People

The Crud   My mother called him “the crud,” my brother’s friend Alan. I’m not sure what she had against him, besides his lack of ambition – she was a schoolteacher, after all – Alan destined to work in one of the steel factories after graduating from high school – at least until the steel factories all closed.   The Crud loved cars. He could tell you the make and model and year of anything with four wheels and an engine, sported decals of hotrods and muscle cars all over his school folders.   He did speak vaguely of “joining the service,” as his older brother had, then having all his teeth pulled, dentures installed in their place, the stubby twisted teeth in his mouth, a source of private anguish.   When my brother mentioned…

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