APRIL 2009

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Debrenee Adkisson

Holly Day

Carol Lynn Grellas

Alicia Hoffman

Jenna Humphrey

Justin Hyde

Niaz Khadem

Vivian Lopez

Saalim Mills

Jonathan Austin Peacock

M. P. Powers

Edwin Rivera

Brian Rosenberger

Levi Wagenmaker

Jonathan Wegner




THE BODY BROKEN
By Debrenee Adkisson, Jan 22, 2009

Relic, it slumps in a bench near the bus stop
Clad in knee socks, neatly pin-striped.
Coat hanger bones keep the shape.

Through a second-story window I watch,
Feel my own beneath the skin, brittle as sea stars,
Hollowed and vacant, missing marrow.
I snap like beans, like corn from the stalk—
Things once growing now dying,
Now dead.

Here I gaze on all things mobile—
People’s quick paces, swinging arms,
Strong legs bearing up bodies.

Mine is prostrate, carefully arranged,
Bone china, porcelain replacing bursts of blood.
The wall crashes down on me, breakable
Doll awaiting playtime,
Waiting to be taken from the
Glass case.

I dream of fever circuses, me in the middle ring,
Bright and bending, arcing like a rainbow
Over crowds, springing from the ground in health,
In sparks, in tongues of flame.
Limbs move smoothly, fluid. I am milky now,
Lady of the Satin Joints, of the sliding ribbon tendons.

Windows wake me always, break
The fever with the chill of autumn just outside.
Under lit lamps the well retreat.

Debrenee Adkisson is an MA student and teaching assistant specializing in modern and contemporary literature at Kansas State University.

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Wednesday Morning Sweats
By Holly Day, Jan 22, 2009

I pretend I’m blind so they won’t bother me, but I have been alive just long enough
To read men even with my eyes closed, hands out, fingers reading the Braille of sweat
On skin. If Joey wants to talk to me about how I killed his brother,
That’s just fine. Joey can come in and sit beside me, here, on the prison cot. I would love
To share with him about how the world looks when everything you see is tinted red,
How even flowers looks suspicious when you’ve just killed a man.
I pretend I’m deaf so they won’t talk to me, but I have been alive just long enough
To feel someone coming at me through the soles of my feet, to know exactly
When to strike at invisible things. If Joey wants to talk to me about how I killed his brother,
That’s just fine. Joey can come in and lay down beside me, here, beneath
The stiff white sheets of the prison cot, and I’ll tell him
About how the world sounds when your ears are full of blood
And how even songbirds sound suspicious
When you’ve just killed a man.

Holly Day lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with her two children, husband, and cat. Her newest nonfiction books are Music Theory for Dummies, Music Composition for Dummies, and Walking Twin Cities. Her poetry and fiction have most recently appeared in Pearl, Tar Wolf Review, and Jones Ave.

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Just Desserts
By Carol Lynn Grellas, Feb 20, 2009

I’m leaving you today,
because you have no suggestion box.
Because a bride is the only one told to wear white
to her own wedding
and you never believed that anyway.
You don’t dance between my legs anymore
the way a lover’s meant to do.
Love means having to say you’re sorry
the way your mother used to hold your father’s face—
both hands cupping his unshaved chin
delicate as an Easter tulip.
The way she’d bend her forehead to his.
They’d connect like The Creation of Adam
as if some supernatural force intervened.
I’m leaving you today
because the bills are overdue and I can’t balance
the checkbook when my mind is confused,
when the clamor of a rainstick brings
on a storm and there’s no shelter here.
No solarium with windows that draws in the heat
to grow an Easter tulip, because I’m broken
from the last time I stood naked by a long mirror—
how you’re never there, ogling in the shadows
When I see you now, it’s just a photograph
in black and white, the edges serrated
like jagged teeth, your untamed mouth,
a sarcastic beast, searching for a victim;
your endorphin high.
I’m leaving you now because
this is your comeuppance
and one day when you're very old
rocking in a chair, alone in a blank room
I’ll come back for a last visit
to say I always loved you
and you won’t even know.

Carol Lynn Grellas is the author of two chapbooks: Litany of Finger Prayers, forthcoming from Pudding House Press and Object of Desire newly released from Finishing Line Press. She is a two-time Pushcart nominee and widely published in magazines and online journals, including most recently, The Hiss Quarterly, Flutter, The Oak Bend Review and an electronic chapbook, Desired Things from Gold Wake Press. She lives with her husband, five children and a blind dog named Ginger.

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Medicine Dream
By Alicia Hoffman, Jan 25, 2009

I wake to wind warming insatiable limbs
on the clapboard siding. Outside this room,
the world drapes itself with white cold, ice
branches. At dusk, the crows congregate
on the bare trees, black and noisy leaves.
I half wake to the alarm, set on a fuzzy a.m. broadcast,
a chorus of priests chanting the Hail Mary
in radiostatic. I dream their station, smoky
in the sacred half light of morning, microphone
grazing moistened lips, ripe with religion
and Ava Marias. I dream juice brimming
from a bedside cup, the tumbler holy and host,
I dream transubstantiation, I dream cure.

Alicia Hoffman currently lives, teaches and writes in Rochester, NY. Recently, her poems have appeared in Redactions: Poetry and Poetics, Red Wheelbarrow, The Centrifugal Eye, Poetry MidWest, Houston Literary Review, elimae and others. Last year, she was nominated for a Pushcart Prize and a Best of the Net Award.

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the sinking
By Jenna Humphrey, Feb 27, 2009

you kept sinking until the inertia of your fake truths had stopped
and that means your dreams are clay discs bursting
you have boiled away the ambitious work person
the goddess bitch person
and the person who likes literature
you take showers, you take pills
you sold out. now you are bankrupt
and you want me to bring you
a piece of my body
but there are cowboy boots,
jesus candles, a heater,
christmas lights and a blank
wall so it doesn’t matter
that you won’t be rid of the waste
until you erase every word
in your computer that was wrong
and it’s scary to explain,
impossible to explain
you saw canyons in puddles last night;
tonight, you have only the sinking
and no one to sink into.

Jenna Humphrey lives in the Mission District of San Francisco. She sleeps alone with the window open because the wind from the alley is okay. Her poems and fictions are like sea turtles that mostly get picked by predators. Some survive. You can read her work in MungBeing Magazine, Cosmopsis Quarterly, 5_trope, Eyeshot, SoMa Literary Review and Haight-Asbury Literary Review. She has covered music for Tiny Mix Tapes, Daytrotter, PopMatters, SF Weekly and New York to London. She has also written for such magazines as VegNews, Curve, Pure and Tea Party. Jenna peddles hard in identity confusion.

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it’s like you don’t care about anything
By Justin Hyde, Jan 23, 2009

i could
blow my head off with a shotgun
right here in front of you
or bake you a cake
or suck you off
and it’d all be the same to you
it’s like you don’t care about anything
she’s standing there
in my underwear
uncorked jug of port wine in her left hand
not angry
just drunk poking my insides
i gently tell her
she has the wrong song
how i care about everything
i care so much
i took the time to find out
there’s nothing to be done
about any of it
nothing to be done?
you’re so fatalistic she says
i tell her i’m inviolable like an orchid
in-vi-o-lable?
christ
i think you use those big words
because you’re afraid to let people in
i think your knees
are a national treasure i say
reaching out
running the back of my hand over her skin
her name’s tiffany
she works as a waitress at the lone-star steakhouse
reads ayn rand
experiencing a crisis of her christian faith
i’m falling for you
slowly like a feather
she says
sliding perpendicular
into my lap.

Justin Hyde lives in Iowa where he works as a correctional officer.

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gumbo and king cakes
By Niaz Khadem, Jan 31, 2009

Brown roux over white rice.
Slave ships haunt her kitchen.
Mother worries about us.
She tries to explain
We used to jump broom sticks.

I told her not to worry.
We’re not like those other kids
who woke up the next morning
to find they had become king cakes—
a baby hidden somewhere inside.

Niaz Khadem teaches Spanish in Paducah, Kentucky. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Toasted Cheese, Autumn Sky Poetry, and Word Riot.

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To Speak of Ghosts
By Vivian Lopez, Feb 27, 2009

For Nicole and Carol

There is a haunting in the fields, tonight
the tall grasses bend and hold their breath,

as the papers talk of death, whisper tragedy
of a Tempe parking lot, sing a song of loss.

What will become of us, now two less?

The earth rumbles below my heels, shakes
time out of hiding to dance naked and bare

across my chest and belly, uncovering
the ash that once was heart, it sits sadly,

incessantly asking how to exist in a world
bruised and disfigured by a war waged

by one. They buried you both on a Wednesday,
side by side, hours apart, and I silently wept;

February has never been colder. I prayed for you
Cupid to fill my heart on that haunted afternoon,

this is after all your month, work your magic
my cherub friend, and make this easier, more

simple. Give me an equation that I could use
to make sense of disaster dear boy, to be able

to speak of girls, gone too soon.



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Coal Eyed Country Men
By Saalim Mills, Jan 15, 2009

we’re liquor faced,
bottled down coarse
slit your throat you swallow us,
turn your stomach

we own these roads
you look close
you’ll see our blood
mixed in with the dirt

packed down—
nature’s cement—
skin glistening round the edges like decoration
this is my country

tears are in the trees here
that’s not rain
God’s not sad
he’s smiling

at the dogs that bought the house
but, we’re not animals, boy
we’re human like Moses
scratched and gasping

‘top the mountain
colors beneath our feet like gold calves
God, we’re tired
the swamp wasn’t no place for a man from hounds

racing to daylight...
like souls to heaven
jumping over thorns
just to land on ‘gators

we’re trying to hold it better, Lord
sugar coat it
but we’re liquor faced
bottled down coarse

slit your throat you swallow us
we built a castle
of bones
tall as a pyramid

visible as air
sturdy as mama lou
it covers our hearts
so, your words can’t cut anymore

and we’re trying to glaze it
for our children
but we’re liquor faced
bottled down coarse

slit your throat you swallow us (again)

turn your stomach

Born in Philadelphia, PA, and raised in the small town of Chesilhurst, NJ, Saalim A.M. Mills is one of eleven children. He graduated school in ‘99 and spent subsequent years in the U.S. Army, including a deep stint in South Korea. He’s currently studying to become a professor of creative writing in Louisville, KY.

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Transfer Cases
By Jonathan Austin Peacock, Feb 01, 2009

I heard lines of dead marching
to rat a tat tat—

one hundred thirty-six strong.
I heard a child cry to her strawberry

ice cream. Melted globules
stained the pavement at noon.

I searched for synonyms. Drums
were cannon fire in the summer air.

Jonathan Austin Peacock is a displaced Floridian in the MFA program at Oregon State University, studying creative writing, poetry.

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Night Shift
By M. P. Powers, Feb 07, 2009

she’s not very sane, her eyes are little
glowing embryos of jumbled
consciousness, the lashes brittle fly’s
wings curling from a frail nerve center...

a fluffy pink boa is flung around her
neck, her dress a long smear of purple
malaise, hugging the trigonometry
of her hips... she unloosens
her lace, reveals the battered silk
ear on which her age-old pale soul
clings... and grins, her big rhubarb
mouth stinking of whisky sours dribbles

out an ashen kiss, as she claws your
flesh... a timeclock
tocks just above the headboard, and the
ancient fairytale reinvents itself again

M. P. Powers is a transplanted Chicagoan living in Miami, but he plans on moving to Europe (or somewhere else on Earth) as soon as he can work up the $$. He has poems, essays and/or fiction published or forthcoming in The New York Quarterly, Slipstream, Main Street Rag, Ghoti, The Blotter, Underground Voices, Oak Bend Review and many others.

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CASHING THE FOODSTAMPS OF LOVE
By Edwin Rivera, Feb 02, 2009

Light-eyed junkie
spacewalks on synthetic heels,
neglecting the prink, moving
timewise, cause time be white
stuff or brown stuff, vein or
nostril, naw mistah, these ain’t
tracks, these ain’t bumps, yeah
i’ll tease out your worm, meet
me on Quantum street.
Ten dollars cash-and-carry
she says but don’t come in
my mouth but you can come
on my face but just watch the
hair mistah cause I got a french
cut brand new. Groans hurt her
skull. Silent sky with its gash of stars.
Life be cheap mistah, she says, but
you come good.

Edwin Rivera was born in Bayonne, New Jersey. He has published fiction in the journal Families and in The Global City Review. Formerly employed as a laborer and dockman for a major port company, he currently resides in New York City.

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Weekend Trivia
By Brian Rosenberger, Feb 07, 2009

From the turtle position
She tells me

“Did you know in the 1940s
women were regularly prescribed Premarin
to fix their moods? Premarin was derived
from pregnant horse urine”

Yuck

Doing my best Johnny Carson, I reply
“I did not know that”

Cro-mag that I am
I lump menopause in the same category as
Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, and
Honest politicians

She continues reading in silence
and I ponder
unwashed dishes
unwalked dogs
unlaundered laundry
unsucked cock
and return to my own reading
It says 80 proof
I drink deep from the
well of knowledge

Brian Rosenberger was last seen in the company of Sushi, a featured dancer at Innsmouth’s infamous Thrills and Gills Gentleman’s Club. Upcoming credits include Shock Totem, Niteblade, Yellow Mama, Dead Bait, Fear and Trembling, Star*Line, Sonar 4, The Book of Tentacles, and Champagne Shivers. Updates concerning his current whereabouts can be found at http://home.earthlink.net/~brosenberger.

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words
By Levi Wagenmaker, Jan 31, 2009

weighing words
taking readings
the scales of semantics
the jumble of letters and syllables
do not add up
grammar won’t hold the balance
I is a word you is a word
am I a word and are you
word order does throw its weight
or does at least carry weight
wait
what about a random rave
howled into a gale
obstruent! pultaceous! fistula!
demesne! wyvern! systyle! syzygy!
oh to get carried away
taken by storm
by a touch by a kiss
by a word...

Levi Wagenmaker (1944 - ) is a retired journalist, living in the Netherlands for most of the year, and in France for some of it, with three bitches, two of whom are dogs. Enamoured life-long with language (and languages), for reasons immaterial to the act he writes poetry in English only, even if he could most likely manage it in a few other tongues. His poems have been published online more than in print, and Google will tell the curious what, where, and when.

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Show Me Your Anywhere
By Jonathan Wegner, Feb 08, 2009

Explanations like sports cars get hot going anywhere
and click with hot oil when they’re not going anywhere.

Ah, old sport, I wouldn’t be caught dead
on a yacht rowing anywhere.

But cut arms in the dressing room
stop the thought growing anywhere.

Even amid antiquities! You find
corporate mottoing anywhere...

Up & down her paperwhite thighs
Not a spot showing anywhere.

Put down that Finnegan’s Wake!
I hate polyglot crowing anywhere!

We torched the library because
We couldn’t have the tot knowing anywhere.

Did you ever think
You’d see his plot flowing anywhere?

Though fluorescent as a grocery, heaven
never gets caught glowing anywhere.

Jonathan Wegner is a writer living in Omaha, Neb., and book review editor for MAKE Magazine, a Chicago literary journal.

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