Monthly Archives: August 2015

A Fable by Janna Vought

Once upon a time:

Depression came, arrived from nowhere, eager for new adventure, hung clothes from her suitcase in my closet, prepared for an extended stay. She claimed the jetted tub, took long baths sipping from a glass of merlot, surrounded by lavender candles. I entertained her for awhile, fed her ripe blackberries, honeyed oats with vanilla almond milk, toast leaking butter and peach jam, organic eggs with sunny faces, moist thick wedges of devil’s food cake—my self respect. She promised to stay only a little while. Two years later, she remained. I protested, demanded she leave. Crocodile tears welled in her eyes, her bottom lip quivered. I relented. Her name is on the mailbox now. She answers my phone, refuses to take a message, controls the TV remote, determines what we eat for dinner. She sits beside me on the sofa, sleeps next to me in bed, snoring softly, stares at my neighbors from the curtained window in the bedroom (self-induced paranoia), follows me when I’m running, huffing and puffing, fuchsia hot pants ablaze in the midmorning sun. She crawls inside my mouth, gagging me. She’s here to stay. I suppose I’m to blame. I opened the door, let her in.
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Janna Vought is a poet, nonfiction, and fiction writer with more than 50 pieces published in various magazines and literary journals and four books of poetry. She graduated from American Public University with a bachelor’s degree in English and from Lindenwood University with an MFA in creative writing. She is an Association of Writing Professionals Intro Journals Project in Poetry nominee for 2013.

Janna is married and the mother of two daughters, the eldest who suffers from chronic mental and developmental illnesses.

http://www.shriekingmuse.com

Mr. Lipson by Patricia Carragon

Mr. Lipson,
you were a stone thrower,
paint tosser,
slasher,
arsonist.
You weren’t Matisse,
Van Gogh,
Rembrandt,
Da Vinci,
or any great artist.
You were a cantankerous “old fart,”
a painter of “happy trees”
against mediocre landscapes.

You defaced two pieces of my artwork
in Aunt Celia’s and Uncle Henry’s
Stuyvesant Town living room,
as my parents sat
without intervening.

The pen-and-ink boat
capsized under faultfinding—
my lack of perspective,
my lack of experience.
Even the lighthouse couldn’t be saved.

Your words deliberately smashed
the DayGlo pink bottle,
rotting the cheery flowers and fruit,
in and around the ceramic bowl—
too two-dimensional and amateurish.
Even the bowl cracked under pressure.

Not one word of encouragement
for an artist struggling
with pimples and self-worth—
an artist simultaneously
disappearing from her craft.

The pictures were intended for Aunt Celia—
she left space for them
to hang on the family art wall.
But instead,
they went into her closet.

A few years later,
Aunt Celia handed them back to me—
She said that they wouldn’t fit in
with her collection,
but I saw that she made room for others.

I didn’t argue—
instead,
I became a stone thrower,
paint tosser,
slasher,
arsonist.
I could never be Matisse,
Van Gogh,
Rembrandt,
Da Vinci,
or any great artist.
Nor could I become
a cantankerous “old bag,”
a painter of “happy trees”
against mediocre landscapes.
Remnants of the pen-and-ink boat and lighthouse,
and the DayGlo still life
were unceremoniously,
donated to the museum of garbage.

Years later,
I became a writer and poet.
But I’m not Dickenson,
Kerouac,
Bashō,
Woolf,
or any great writer or poet.
Just someone who writes
without paint or ink,
wondering . . . what would have happened
if Mr. Lipson read my work?
_____________________________________
Patricia Carragon‘s publication credits include Allbook Books, BigCityLit, Bear Creek Haiku, Boog City, CLWN WR, Clockwise Cat, Danse Macabre, Home Planet News, Inertia, Lips, Levure littéraire, Long Island Quarterly, Mad Hatters’ Review, The Toronto Quarterly, Word Salad, and others. Her most recent book is Urban Haiku and More (Fierce Grace Press, 2010). Her Cupcake Chronicles is forthcoming from Poets Wear Prada, Winter 2015. She hosts the Brooklyn-based Brownstone Poets (now in its tenth year) and is the editor-in-chief of its annual anthology.

For more information, please check out her websites: http://brownstonepoets.blogspot.com.

My Sister Is… by Paulina Ulrich

There was never a definitive, exact, or precise moment of time where my sister stopped and plateaued. Or maybe there was but I hadn’t been there to see it settle in her eyes, the moment that things sort of…froze, stopped, screeched to a halt somewhere on the mind-road she’d been driving on. An innocent deer in the headlights of unknown. She’d been transforming her whole life though, despite the lapse she faced. She was like one of those furry little caterpillars that metamorphosed into a cockatiel instead of another one of those clichéd butterflies. Damn those butterflies. Seems like everyone today was one. What a boring existence.
Anna could see things I couldn’t, which was why I thought she maybe had magical eyes that could explain how my things went missing growing up. Somehow she managed to know where to hide all of the things she stole from my room: a beaded friendship bracelet, my CD collection of N*SYNC when my ten year old self realized what celebrity crushes were, embarrassing pictures of my middle school phase (which she then took to school to show her friends my red speckled face and braced teeth), and on occasion she’d swipe a stuffed animal from its nap on my bed to stock her collection. My sister the cockatiel. My sister the klepto. That’s what she was. Everything unknown to me, she knew. Anna was always transforming and most days, not even I knew what she’d become.
I’d like to know how she viewed the world. Maybe the world twisted and turned like the way a kaleidoscope made beautiful shards of color fill her realm, like the colors that stained the feathers of birds. The way that the hues of life had branded her. Above all, I hoped she saw the world considerably less cynical than I saw it. Majority of people I’d encounter would automatically be filed into ‘A Total Scuzball’ category and I have Sofia Petrillo to thank for such a wonderful categorization. Anna though, never revealed much on how she felt about the world. Maybe it was too much to think about. I knew most days I couldn’t handle the fuckery that was planet earth. Maybe she was a flower today, though that sounds just as dumb as the butterfly gimmick, so instead she was a sprout. This tiny little being surrounded by a vast, sometimes overpowering world and yet there was that little sprout that only saw the details of the dirt, the blades of green grass, and pollen seeds wafting through the air. Details were her thing or more accurately, detailed memories. She’d notice the way the flowers bloomed with color, especially orange. Then she’d asked me: “Hey, remember that time at that place with the orange flowers?” I’d stare back blank as a board, trying to file through my brain’s RAM memory to know what the hell she was talking about. “You know, that place. With all your favorite flowers.” Tulips? I’d ask because there was no other flower I was more partial to. “Ya, and you especially liked the purple ones. Purple is your favorite color. I like orange the best. What other colors do you like?” Ah there it was, my brain finally found the memory of that time and place with the orange flowers.
Anna always had a bigger collection of stuffed animals than I did. Even when I grew up I kept all of mine in a box, too weak to get rid of any of them that had a special meaning for me. She still had the ones from childhood that she slept with every night, its plush body limp, its fur worn, but it still smiled at her even after nineteen years of cuddling. She still loved and adored every animal she got. Sometimes I wish I had that love for stuffed animals the way she did. I wish I had never grown up and despite the difficulties she faces, I hope she never has to grow up either.
___________________________
Author, book nerd, & crazy cat lady, Paulina Ulrich is the author of the young adult paranormal Flightless Bird series and the award nominated Fighting Fate series. When she’s not reading, writing, or doing author-y stuff, she’s out buying way too many cute shoes. http://www.paulinaulrich.com

Air Mail by Anne Britting Oleson

Weeks pass, after I leave my letter
with the postmaster who coos over your address,
until finally I make a wish and open the mailbox
to find your reply: pages upon pages
of a flightly mind impressed upon heavy paper,
handwriting squared off in the way
I’ve always associated with British schooling,
yet with words laughing at themselves
as they pirouette about each other,
down the center, sideways along the margins,
across and back down the other edge—
he’s so lovely, we’re moving to Crete,
we’re getting married so buy a hat.
Your stories sing and dance like actresses
from your favorite musicals, and I fall in love
all over again, for when I touch the page,
I touch the hand that wrote it.
________________________________
Anne Britting Oleson has been published widely on four continents. She earned her MFA at the Stonecoast program of USM. She has published two chapbooks, The Church of St. Materiana (2007) and The Beauty of It (2010). A third chapbook, Planes and Trains and Automobiles, is forthcoming from Portent Press (UK), and a novel, The Book of the Mandolin Player, is forthcoming from B Ink Publishing–both in 2015.

Crescent Tenderness by Janne Karlsson

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Janne Karlsson is an artist from Sweden, widely published around the world. His books are available at Amazon and Epic Rites Press. Janne´s website is here: www.svenskapache.se

Lack of Redemption by Emma Moser

There’s only black, she whispered
So I peeked behind the cover and fell
On her godforsaken shore
Nothing to hold me up
Nothing to hold
Who knew that holes
Could obstruct so much
Inside a walking doll-carcass

What happened to the lights? I asked
I chewed them, she said
Ground them to make burnt-forest seeds
So I carved between her tombstones
With my tongue
Digging, digging
To find something not dead there

I uncovered nothing
But the rotted shell
Of something once lava
Now cold, cold stone

Taste the flower, she said
So I kissed her
And choked with the soot
_____________________________
Emma Moser is an MFA candidate for fiction at Southern Connecticut State University. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming at several venues, including Prairie Margins, Cheat River Review, and Thoreau’s Rooster. As creator of the blog Antiquarian Desiderium (antiquedwriter.blogspot.com), she is also a contributor at Writers Get Together.

God Left That Part Out by John Berry

The devil was grass-fed
free-range
line-dried— clean
and Saturday night fresh
when he took my old man.

He got duded up special
for this one.
Smartly pressed, combed just so,
crisp new red suit
and cowboy boots,
fancy flame stitched
the color of nothing at all.

He had a broad yellow-tooth grin
and smelled sweet of Old Spice and old lies.
He almost skipped down the lane
with the screaming winds of March
dragging behind like a cape,
to cover his tracks.

He sure was happy
to see the old man—
Put his arm loose and casual
around his shoulders,
told him they were gonna be chums,
gonna be pals.

The old man looked back at me,
perplexed—

said God didn’t say
it would go down like this.
____________________________
John Berry’s work has been published in Vox Poetica and Disorder, a Red Dashboard publication. A self-taught woodworker, carpentry contractor and promoter of all things poetry, he writes and works from his Winchester Virginia home with his beloved wife Brenda and their two yorkies, Molly and Lily.

Particular Curves by Natalie Morales

Eventually, our future plans become memories.

Our bed sinks spokes into the carpet

and there’s dust where there wasn’t.

Our beginnings become photo albums

and suddenly we’re in the middle

not knowing when the end comes in.

It’ll creep up, sure, one day. That’s

when we’ll open our eyes

turn around and look at a worn path,

remarking about particular curves…

 

the torrid sun and cold wind slapping our faces red

as we embrace the asperous redwood bark,

the Irish coffees and wine-drunk girl with a penis,

finally understanding Lady Gaga’s second album,

the curves of our bodies’ embracing topography,

LSD architecture and a sleep-paralysis hangover,

Bukowski’s dry spell in Jefferson Square Park,

heavenly Sunday strippers switching genders and almost succeeding;

in an amalgamation of moments, the paths of our lives turn together,

as we weave our way through the world’s profanation.
_________________________________________________

natalie
Natalie Morales first began writing poetry when gifted a Scooby-Doo journal at the age of nine. Now, words are her world, and her short stories and poems have been published in almost dozens of online and print magazines such as Cornell University’s Rainy Day Literary Magazine, Pomona Valley Review, Cadence Collective, and Chiron Review, among many others. She currently attends an English master’s program at Cal Poly Pomona, works as a copyeditor, and continues to compile her first chapbook.

Womb Of The World by Azia DuPont

I met God and her shoes were fabulous.
She said something about the
devil being a sexist, and the heaviness of
unrequited love. She told me
her womb could carry every universe
that ever was. That she had
hoped this small universe
would be enough, that she had never intended for us
to feel all this pain.
The wrinkles under her eyes assured me
she spoke genuinely, as concern and
heartbreak nestled between each wrinkle,
each syllable of I had wanted so much more for you.
We talked about creation, and she said, And on the 8th day God created misogyny,
then all the light left God’s eyes.
She rested her soft brown hands
alongside her soft brown face
and paused there like that for a long, long time. Her
eyes closed as tears silently slid
down her cheeks. She had not
wanted all this death, all this doubt.
She had never wanted Woman,
the womb of the world to be
under foot. She said I
sent a son to show
men what they had become,
what they would do to their own but
still their hearts would not change. She said
they would kill a million
innocents if it meant even a small
victory, if it meant they could have
all the beasts in their hands.
That they would allow all the babies to be bloodied,
orphaned and all the hearts shattered
for the slightest bit of power.
And he’s won.
She mumbles something about the devil’s playground
that those who believe in her
don’t know her at all.
_________________________
azia
Azia DuPont, a Minnesota native, currently resides in Southern California. She co-founded the small press Dirty Chai in 2012. Her writing has recently appeared or is forthcoming in Crab Fat Literary Magazine, Maudlin House, Calliope Magazine, Dead Flowers: A Rag | Bohemian Pupil Press, Squawkback and elsewhere. You can find her online at http://www.aziadupont.com or via Twitter @aziadupont