Issue No. 1, Summer 2012

New York Weekend
Jess Mullen

I knew I should be sleeping, but guessed I had the whole four hours to New York to do that. Anyway I was too in awe of the greatness of MegaBus. I had snagged the front seat of the top deck. It was like flying, but with my feet up.

I wondered if there was anything more beautiful than early morning in the city. The day was clear and crisp, and the sun hit the buildings at just the right angle, showcasing the architectural collage of the city of Boston.

As I was waiting for the bus the sun warmed me, lighting my breath, giving it shape. I peered sleepily through lit-up bangs at the rooftop gardens, and thought about how far I had come. Not in most aspects of my life, my friends would remind me too often, but in my bus travel to and from New York City.

10.3 12:44AM
As I walked down Avenue C to E 14th, the sky overhead was cloudy and bright, teasing me for being so tired on a New York evening with long lost friends. Its soft glow made the tenements look dark against the rosy firmament. A steam seemed to rise from the warm, wet pavement, turning the streets to Avalon in the shadow of the power plant. In its grey and industrial way, in the way of empty city nights, the night was breathtaking. And beckoning.

I sighed and fumbled for Joe’s keys.

As I lay in bed, waiting for sleep to claim me at last, I listened to the same people I had heard in the afternoon, only now they had company. Opera man no longer sang, but entertained with wine. A little shindig across the hall was punctuated by raucous laughter. Together, these voices mingled into one clear sound. “Why are you in bed,” it asked. I turned over in response, sleeping within minutes.

10.3 3:52 AM
“Why do you give in,” it asked, and maybe that is what it had been asking before.

“I’m tired,” I said. “I’m not from here. It’s late.”

“Weak,” said New York. And I thought I could hear ice clinking in a glass. And I got the message, as Joe’s coffee maker turned on at its usual time. I got up and creaked over my busted black converse and tied the laces around my ankles a few times. I was getting too old for this.

10.3. 4:15 AM
I had left a note for Joe and closed the old door to his apartment with a shush and tripped down the stairs to the street. It was already hot, and there were already people about, and I was disappointed to find that my audience with the city was over, kicking some broken glass out of my way as I half stomped to Cooper Union.

“I don’t give in,” I told nobody, “that’s not what I do.” I kicked nothing.

I checked my phone and found a few texts from my closer friends that I hadn’t found time to see the day before. “Lame,” one said. “Brunch tomorrow,” another said, “Be there.” I felt guilty, but I had no intention of seeing them. And I walked.

I walked to Union Square and remembered the day someone was selling a wagon full of puppies, taking a picture of the fuzzy little yellow labs wriggling out of the Radio Flyer, and feeling my life was set as long as that image remained in my mind. That was the day of the farmer’s market rhubarb jam and kissing privately in public. The anonymity of being in a strange city was exhilarating that spring, the spring before everyone I cared about moved there, trading inscrutability for being a part of the big, bustling, creative whole. My friends hadn’t seen me the same way since.

Perhaps, I thought, as I hauled my way higher up the city streets, 27th, 28th, I shouldn’t have left art school. But I remembered why I did, remembered the feeling of being broke, missing out on live music and new movies. I had my job now, and all the new shoes I could ask for, but all it ever got me was a sometimes sadness and a growing distance from the people I loved and envied.


Jess Mullen is a writer from Boston. A perpetual student at the Harvard Extension School, she draws much of her inspiration from oral tradition and travels abroad. Visit her website at jesswriteseveryday.wordpress.com.

Issue No. 1, Summer 2012

Feast
Louis Bourgeois

There was an old man who lived beyond the village past the last line of pine trees near an oak and sycamore bog. He’d show up at the village every now and then to trade bones and feathers for provisions like toothpaste, salt, and canned food. There was a time when no one really knew where he lived. His name was Mr. John, and all anyone ever said about him was that Mr. John was the old man who lived beyond the Pine Tree Tundra.

One day, when I was fourteen years old or so, I was hunting fox squirrel and stumbled across Mr. John’s hut. It was built with grooved wooden planks and covered over on its top and sides with sloppily nailed Visqueen. He had all the accoutrements of a bum; dozens of empty bottles lines up outside his hut, a circle of broken bricks where he built his fires, a banged up paint can for a pot. When I walked up to him he didn’t look surprised at all to see me and said, Hey, Luke, kill anything yet?

He was boiling something in the paint can. Blue feathers were scattered everywhere and two long curving feathers were stuck behind both of his ears. Mr. John looked behind him like someone might be listening and whispered, I finally got that blasted thief John-John! I said, Who’s John-John? He responded, John-John was that Great Blue Heron that’s been eating up what little fish is left swimming around in the bog. I survive mostly by eating whatever shad and carp I can catch with my hands. John-John just about starved me to death because he was a greater fisherman than I, but I’ve been watching his moves for some time now and finally just a little while ago he made the wrong move and he walked right up to my pot here and started to eat away at my fish stew. Well! That was the last straw and I lurched out of my hut here and tackled John-John to the very ground. Then I put both my hands around his neck and that was the end of John-John. Now, I’m not saying he went out easily, no sir, he put up a hell of a fight and he damned near plucked my eyeballs out, but I was stronger and smarter than he. I cut his stomach open with this here piece of broken Pepsi bottle and I swear to my own personal God that a pound of carp and shad tumbled out of his purple guts—John-John smelled more like a fish than a bird and I don’t think anyone would disagree that I was in the right for killing John-John. A man’s gotta eat regardless what the law might say about me killing this long neck troublemaker of a shorebird. Survival before the law I always say.

Ah! A man boiling the meat of a Great Blue Heron—Mr. John never did die, he just disappeared.


Louis Bourgeois is the Executive Director of VOX PRESS. He lives, writes, and edits in Oxford, Mississippi.

Issue No. 1, Summer 2012

Frog
Mamie Potter

When I first meet her—my golden-haired beauty—I stumble back a few steps from the brilliance of the light shining all around her. She looks at me kind of strange, laughs a nervous little laugh, and says maybe she’ll see me around campus. I can’t say a word, can’t see anything but that damn light throwing itself all over the bricks of the quad and the trees.

For days I follow her everywhere, taking pictures with my cell phone, watching her in class, writing her name on the pages of my textbooks and on the dorm walls, buying her things which I hide in my room until the day when I will surprise her with my love. Golden rings for her fingers and silver slippers for her feet, gold and silver to reflect my light back to hers.

I begin to notice that there are others who are attracted to her light. Those that would fatten her up with their admiration and compliments and gobble up her beauty and keep it for themselves. They are unworthy of her, of her light, and I double my vigilance and quest for her love.

Oh she starts to act like I’m bothering her, asking me to stop writing things about her, stop staring at her, stop following her around the campus. But it doesn’t matter because I am her Prince and our Light cannot be hidden under a bush oh no.

One night I go to her room I must be with her light and I knock at the door of the sweet place she sleeps and dresses and studies and laughs with her friends. When there is no answer, I knock again, harder this time, and the door opens slightly and there I am in her room and the light from the computer shines like the Light around her and the heat is radiating like from an oven and I take my phone and start filming the light from the computer and the light from the windows and the night light because they are all tiny remnants of her Light that she leaves like clues for me when she isn’t around.

Suddenly she is in the room and she is screaming “Get out get out get out of my fucking room!” and I stand there unable to see her because it is so bright and it is so loud and I’m confused about the words that are flying out of the Light at the doorway. I run blindly by her and briefly our Lights are close and then joined and hot hot hot and the heat spills into the hallway and out the windows and through the cracks in the wood on the floors and people come running to the Light and the heat and they are so jealous of it and want to bask in it and become a part of the brilliance that is us.

I run out of the building and I am on fire fire is billowing out from me heating me up and I see a flashing blue light but who cares their light is insignificant compared to ours. I answer their questions with questions and fill their forms out with her name and my name and even the paper shines now with both our names on it the frog and the princess who will transform him with one kiss from her rose red lips. I laugh, laugh at their silly authority and when they put me in the cell I laugh again and stare at the pitiful light in the ceiling that shines all night on the metal and the toilet and the white white cot the pitiful light that cowers at the top of the room because it has seen my Light and is ashamed.

My father comes to get me out of the cage and when we get to the dorm he says we are leaving I must pack my things that I need help and I cry and shout and beg that he cannot take me from my purpose my purpose we are only for each other we are two against the world of darkness shining our Lights out over sin and sorrow and sadness and wherever we go there will be pathways of Light which we must walk side by side.

As we leave I am calm because I have a plan and as I walk I leave small match-size pieces of my Light on the sidewalk and on the grass and in the parking lot between the cars and when we drive down the road I am tossing small Lights out the window so that she can hungrily follow them shining her Light in front of her, searching for me fulfilling the prophecy that we must be together. I am not afraid I am not afraid at all I am buoyed by the thought of her following the Light crumbs to her destiny.


Mamie Potter is a writer and photographer who lives in Raleigh, NC. Her work has appeared in the 2009 and 2011 Solstice Anthologies, Our State Magazine, and Impact Magazine.

Issue No. 1, Summer 2012


Untitled #2 (2012)
Melyssa Anishnabie

RED RIDING HOOD, RECLAIMED
Ken Poyner

It was a lie, but this could work if everyone sticks to the script.

So I put on my red cape and set out for grandmother’s house: which is no place as idyllic as the vacation cottage referenced in all the books. No. More of a run down carriage house, spared when the ramshackle carriage barn was razed as a public hazard: a spindle of antiques cluttering the advance of the wilderness. Grandmother had set up a small living space in the back and we were always bringing her supplies, the necessaries of life. These things she could never afford herself, having raised a family and spent her youth pushing out the next shoe-struck generation; and if it weren’t for our regular delivery service, the old lady long ago would have expired simply of yellow-eyed want.

So she was amenable when the wolf and I made our proposal: why wouldn’t she, just two afternoons a week, take a long walk: go see the woodsman, busy herself with a little social conversation, or simply count the clouds that look like grandfather’s infidelities?

Given her situation, what was she going to say?

And so the wolf and I had our two wondrous afternoons each week. His fur was the ground-water wet landscape of my emergence; I was the humbling prey that held him away from his pack. Our union was the grand gnashing of gears and pinions that only a contentious mix of species can call out of simple flesh. Grandmother’s spindly bed could barely contain us. It rocked and it heaved and it prepared to give way: it stammered and stuttered and skidded on its stick legs around the room, as seemingly alive as if it had its own wants and its own surrendered barrenness. The early half of each evening after our visits, grandmother would be shoring up the bed’s battered frame, sorting feather from straw, restacking her preciously gifted personal goods on the numb and rattled shelves. Fur shed in wolf-passion, in shine tasting new woman passion, would bedevil her sheets and nothing would get the surpassingly erotic hair out.

I was drawn into the passion of fur: into the matte and bristle, the crystalline smell of its precision. The moment when compassion and cooperation turn into the single fearing purpose, the tunnel vision of personal passion: that moment I fell in love with. The blinding animal need without geometry or object. Without prelude or outcome. These for the wolf were hallowed dance steps and I was enraptured by the performance.

But there is outcome. The human half of this pair must push back the allure of the feral and look instead self-consciously into a workday future. Wolves have no future. They dance and kill and love in the present day and tomorrow is another bucket of needs and wants that hasn’t yet been dreamt of.

In the practical time of women, these arrangements never last. No matter how deep in the woods, someone discovers the outlawed ecstasy; or the natural course of events conspires to break the back of a short-lived workable solution. Sometimes the unharnessed passion runs its full wicked course and the animal turbulence calms into plans for a mortgage, savings for college, the thought of a retirement to the shore. A woman begins to imagine the life she will have when the life she is having – of unmeasured actions and irregular wants and random satisfaction – loses its energy and she pristinely wonders how much love there is in sitting quietly over what is left of the morning’s orange juice.

As the body cools, the omnipresence of needs becomes the tickling hint of plans. The present looks over the fence at the future.

So I am trudging suspiciously now along the path I used to fly with pleasures of rage along in days past, at the speed of bestial love and pure minded lust. Under my red cape in better times I brightly surged this way bone naked, electric at the idea of union; yet today I am dressed in deceptive layers, my thoughts as mathematical as the single purpose machine my body has become. Self-centered and demanding, my ample belly pries at the cloth and I can barely keep one foot in front of the other, my condition more comfortable with a waddle than with any other gait: one leg out to the side and the other flung inelegantly around. Gravity does not love a woman in my situation, and I feel its hands against me like a drunk fondling another drunk at the church social.

By now the wolf will have eaten the last unappetizing ribbon of my tough, leathery grandmother. I can imagine how impressed she would be that I could go back on our deal, develop all on my own a more profitable long term perspective, and scheme to use my wolf lover as my ready and unthinking tool. She would be proud at the end of her life to be worth silencing. My wolf will have dressed himself poorly enough in her nightclothes, looking nothing like a grandmother, fooling not even himself. The need for an exit of grandmother he can understand; but the nightclothes he thinks is just one more slip of a pregnant woman’s roaming mind, a craving like milk thistle or dandelion root. He will pull on the thin, cheap sleeping garments as best he can and try like a man in quicksand to look the interested lover. What wolves and people do not know ensures their world stays a place of simple decisions.

The woodsman is the core to my disentanglement. His actions need to be as precise and convincing as those of a clockmaker, as true as God flinging down His alabaster retribution: His unjacketed spare lightning bolts, well timed if poorly aimed. Only in the shadow of single purpose does this woodsman know that it is his part to kill the wolf, to restore my overly complicated life to its former little girl’s equation. Only he knows he is my dolorous note of revenge and salvation.

The wolf will be gone, along with his songs of completion and his eyes of a lust left lingering across species; and grandmother, with her needs thumbing the moral, will be an ironic bloat in the wolf’s self-important belly. I am sick of being the expedient. I am sick of being the example that proves a tale that makes no sense.

For the woodsman’s part, I have promised him his pick of my pups.


Ken Poyner has been publishing for 40 years, most recently in Menacing Hedge, Devilfish, Silver Blade, Garbanzo, Poet Lore, Subliminal Interiors, and the ubiquitous elsewhere. He lives in southeastern Virginia with his world class power lifter wife and their myriad rescue cats.

Melyssa Anishnabie is a self-taught artist and amateur photographer with a slight fetish for gauze, bones and rusty things. She calls Toronto home, where she lives with 4 cats, 2 dogs and the occassional wayward pigeon. Don’t worry, she won’t catch bird flu.

Her favorite activities are sleeping, canoeing, exploring abandoned places with her camera, playing World of Warcraft (horde ftw) and of course creating in both digital and traditional mediums.

She supports her pets and her art by working as a photo editor and by pretending to be really cool people on tv.

Issue No. 1, Summer 2012

Giant Eats, Has Existential Crisis
Timothy Moore

Giant Eats

I SO HUNGRY! LIKE DYING I SO HUNGRY AND THEN I SEE HUMAN MILKING COW. I GOBBLE MILK FROM BUCKET. MILK GROSS. THEN I EAT COW. COW SCREAM LIKE, “maaaahhh.” THEN I BITE HUMAN. THEY SCREAM LIKE, “ahhhhhh,” HE SAY, “don’t eat me” AND I SAY, “YES I MUST EAT YOU” AND THEN I EAT HIM! I BITE HIS HEAD AND THEN HIS SHOULDER AND HIS CHEST AND HIS STOMACH AND THEN I JUST SWALLOW THE REST! THEN I FALL SLEEP ON HOUSE. HOUSE MADE OF STRAW AND WOOD. HOUSE HURT BACK BUT STILL, I SLEEP.

Giant Eats Again

I SO HUNGRY! BUT FIRST I POOP ON GROUND! I SMELL BAD I THINK BUT NO ONE TELL ME. I WIPE BUTT WITH TREE AND BUTT HURT (ALWAYS IT HURT). I FIND SCHOOL AND CHILDREN OUTSIDE PLAY. CHILDREN SCREAM! I SAY, “I DO NOT EAT YOU CHILDREN!” BECAUSE I DON’T EAT CHILDREN BECAUSE I GOOD BUT STILL THEY RUN AND MAKE ME SAD. AND THEN EVERYTHING GO RED SO I STOMP HANDS ON GROUND AND THEY FALL AND I KICK SCHOOL AND THEN I GRAB FIVE CHILDREN AT A TIME AND I CAN’T CONTROL ME I THROW THEM IN MOUTH AND I DO EAT THEM, THEY JUST KID BUT I SWALLOW THEM WHOLE! THEY SCREAM DOWN MY THROAT! IT ECHO AND TICKLE UNTIL THEY STOP AND THERE IS QUIET. THEN SCHOOL TEACHER SAY, “how could you eat them?” AND I SAY, “THEY MEAN AND TASTE LIKE SUGAR LIKE CANDY” AND SHE SAY, “you are monster” AND I SAY, “YOU ARE DESSERT” AND THEN I EAT HER FEET AND SHE SCREAM AND I EAT HER LEG AND VAGINA AND STOMACH AND SHE TASTE LIKE SAD SALTY CRY AND I BURP HER FOR HOUR UNTIL I FIND RIVERBED AND I SLEEP ON RIVERBED.

Giant Has Existential Crisis

WHEN I WAKE I NOT THAT HUNGRY BUT SAD FOR EATING CHILDREN. I NAKED SO I COLD TOO. SCHOOL TEACHER RIGHT. NO ONE LOVE ME. I ALONE ALWAYS. WHY I EXIST? NO GIANT EXCEPT ME. I DON’T REMEMBER EVEN FAMILY. LIKE I BORN FROM SKY OR FROM GROUND. OR FROM POOP. I CRY. I FIND FAMILY OF DUCK IN RIVERBED. WHEN I SAD I EAT TO SATE PAIN. I EAT ALL DUCKS BARELY REGISTER AS FOOD SO SMALL QUACK QUACK. THEN I PEE AND MAKE RIVER YELLOW GREEN AND ACID. I SCRATCH SKIN AND EAT SKIN FLAKE. I EAT ME SO I KNOW ME AND SO I KNOW I TASTE TOO. I TASTE LIKE SAND AND ROT. I WISH SOMEONE EAT ME BESIDES ME. DARK SO I FIND VALLEY AND I SLEEP AND WANT SLEEP FOREVER.

Giant Rages Against His Continued Existence

SILVER KNIGHT WAKES ME. HE HAS SWORD AND HELMET AND FLAG. HE SCREAM, “you eat children, you bad” AND I SAY, “YOU RIGHT! SLAY ME!” AND HE TRY TO SLAY ME HE CUT LEG AND POKE AT TESTICLES. TICKLES. HE STAB MY TOE AND I FEEL TICKLE. I DON’T WANT TICKLE I WANT HURT SO I SCREAM, “WILL YOU SLAY OR NOT SLAY!” AND HE SAY, “i try” BUT HE NOT TRY ENOUGH AND I SWIPE TO PUSH HIM AWAY AND HIT HIM TOO HARD AND HE FALL AND HE DEAD. I TRY TO EAT HIM BUT HE TASTE LIKE METAL GROSS SO I DO NOT EAT HIM. I DO NOT EAT.

Giant Has Seething Breakdown

I FIND VILLAGE. VILLAGE BIG WITH MANY HOUSE AND FARM AND SHOP AND CHURCH AND COBBLESTONE. TINY HUMAN SCREAM. I EAT HUMAN. I EAT SO MANY HUMAN. I WAIT FOR HUMAN TO REVENGE AGAINST ME BUT ALL THEY DO IS CRY. I ASK, “WHY DO YOU NOT REVENGE AGAINST ME?” AND THEY DON’T ANSWER THEY CRY SO I SAY, “I WILL EAT UNTIL I AM REVENGED AGAINST.” SO I EAT OLD LADY. SHE TASTE LIKE SMOKE. I EAT DOG THAT TASTE LIKE CAT. I EAT CHILDREN SO EASY TO EAT CHILDREN NOTHING MATTER NOW. I EAT PRIEST. PRIEST TASTE SOUR LIKE LEMON TREE. I EAT NUN. I EAT ANOTHER NUN. NUN SCREAM AND SAY PRAYER AND I EAT NUN. I EAT ALL FARMER. FAMER TASTE LIKE PLAIN. I EAT ALL COW AND ALL HORSE. I GO TIRED BUT STILL NO REVENGE. I TEAR HOUSE ROOF. I SET FIRE TO HOUSE. I SMASH CHURCH. I POOP ON CHURCH. I SLEEP ON MY POOP AND FIRE. DAY IS DONE. DARK SO I DREAM.

After Meal, Giant Dreams

I DREAM OF GIANT BIGGER THAN ME, BIG AS MOON WHEN ROUND AND RED. GIANT SAY, “I EAT YOU” AND HE EAT ME STARTING WITH STOMACH. WHEN HE OPEN MY STOMACH ALL PEOPLE FALL OUT, ALL CHILDREN LIVE AND ESCAPE AND I CRY I SO HAPPY! EVEN DUCK ESCAPE AND I DIE BUT SMILE AND HE EAT ME AND NOW THAT GIANT IS THE MOON AND THE MOON HAS MOUTH BIGGER THAN WORLD.

After Giant Dreams, An Idea

WE BORN TO BE EATEN, RIGHT? BUT IF NO ONE BIG ENOUGH TO EAT YOU THEN WHY YOU EVEN BORN?

Giant Waiting

I CRY OUT TO SKY. SCREAM TRAVEL FAR. I EAT BIRD IN SKY BY JUMPING. I BURN FOREST AROUND VILLAGE. I BURN THE BURNING VILLAGE. I PICK TEETH WITH BONE. I GATHER SKULLS AND MAKE SICK GRAVEYARD OF VILLAGE. I SMEAR BURNT HOUSE AND BURNT SHOP WITH POOP AND I PEE IN FLAME. I MASTURBATE EVERYWHERE AND SEED FALL ON DEAD GRASS LIKE STICKY HAIL. I SAY THAT I AM KING OF HATE. I VOMIT HUMAN GUT AND SMEAR HUMAN GUT ON CHURCH AND SAY, “THIS IS NEW RELIGION. WORSHIP GOD OF RUIN.”  I SLEEP FOR MONTH.

Then

TODAY I WAKE FROM SLEEP AND YOU ARE THERE ON NOSE. YOU SMALL AND HOLD KNIFE TO MY EYE. YOU LOOK LIKE YOU FROM VILLAGE. LAST BOY SURVIVE. YOU HESITATE AND LET ME TELL STORY. BUT NOW YOU KNOW I AM DESERVE DIE. WHY YOU HESITATE? YOU SO SMALL. BUT YOU MUST. PLEASE. KILL ME. TRY. YOU WILL BE BIG AS EARTH. TRY. EAT ME AND YOU WILL NO LONGER BE HUNGRY. TRY. TRY OR I KILL YOU AND DIGEST YOU AND POOP YOU LATER. CHOICE IS YOURS SO WHAT YOU DO NOW?


Timothy Moore is an editor at Ghost Ocean Magazine. He has work upcoming or published in Red Lightbulbs, Nap, Thieves Jargon, and the Chicago Reader. He also blogs feverishly at readmyblogplease.com.

Issue No. 1, Summer 2012

Damsel in Distress
Matthew Brennan

Knowing she hadn’t slept well during the night, he woke her gently, tiptoeing into the room and sitting on the bed, kissing her shoulder, forehead, cheek. He doubted she remembered being woken the first time, when he got up, though they’d exchanged smiles, kisses, good-mornings. She’d gone straight to sleep again. It was a couple hours since then, late enough that he knew she would be irked to have slept the day away, would have trouble sleeping tonight again if she stayed in bed much longer.

He’d had his coffee, but was only now starting to put breakfast together for himself, thought to wake her while washing the strawberries they’d bought yesterday. He prepared her coffee, then, with it heating in the microwave, cut the first strawberry in half and ate one, realizing that this burst of sweet ripeness would rouse her more effectively than the coffee.

He’d carried both in with him, setting the coffee on the bedside table before sitting beside her and kissing her awake. Somewhere unremembered in his past, he’d formed an expectation of grumpy wakers, and always woke her with an internal reluctance. But she’d never reacted that way, always smiled up at him as if he was the best thing she could see upon waking, as she does now. Smelling the coffee, her eyes go to the mug, but he holds up the strawberry half.

“They’re good,” he says.

Sitting up against the wall, she smiles again. “My hero.”


Matthew Brennan is a writer and freelance editor based in the Pacific Northwest. Having earned his MFA in fiction from Arizona State University, he remains on the editorial staff of the Hayden’s Ferry Review, and he is an assistant fiction editor with Speech Bubble Magazine. He is received several awards and fellowships for his short fiction, which has appeared in several dozen journals, including Fiddleblack, Pure Slush, The Eunoia Review, Recess Magazine, and thick jam, and is forthcoming from Cigale Literary Magazine.

Issue No. 1, Summer 2012


Untitled #4 (2012)
Melyssa Anishnabie

Old Growth
Athena Dixon

For I am numerous and souled,
I will not be a forest for you.

pine needle cacophony underfoot
or
moss carpet to soften your steps
nor
tangled brush beneath your heel.

I am not yours to raze.

I will be a murmuration of starlings
against the sky, an affront of black

wings beating small rhythms, a crescendo,

a final dive and pivot upwards.

I will be this crest of dark sheltered
under your canopy. A fury of energy

with no place to dissipate until I harden

a cruel, twisted thing of love. But know, I will

not be a forest for you. There will be no comfort

in my boughs,

among my breasts,

betwixt my sex

or in the concentric circles I’ve cultivated for protection.

nor will you ever reach that small green sprout inside me again.

This place where I am still
succulent and spring is only sooted at the edges.


Athena Dixon is Founder of Linden Avenue Literary Magazine, Poetry Editor of The Reprint, a Managing Editor for Z-Composition, and Co-Founder of Specter Literary Magazine. Her creative non-fiction can be found at For Harriet and her poetry has appeared in publications such as Tawdry Bawdry, Emerge Literary Journal, and Blackberry: A Magazine.

She writes, edits, and resides in NE Ohio.

Melyssa Anishnabie is a self-taught artist and amateur photographer with a slight fetish for gauze, bones and rusty things. She calls Toronto home, where she lives with 4 cats, 2 dogs and the occassional wayward pigeon. Don’t worry, she won’t catch bird flu.

Her favorite activities are sleeping, canoeing, exploring abandoned places with her camera, playing World of Warcraft (horde ftw) and of course creating in both digital and traditional mediums.

She supports her pets and her art by working as a photo editor and by pretending to be really cool people on tv.

Issue No. 1, Summer 2012

At Luxor
Amber Decker

“The people you love become ghosts inside of you and like this you keep them alive.”
-Robert Montgomery

Night pours its ink–
the color of Anubis sorting hearts,
the black blades of feathers–
on the slatted roofs of the city.

In the golden light of our room
my hair, shower-wet and fragrant, messies itself
in your fingers, curls across the fine bones
of your wrist like hieroglyphs.

In your hands
I yield
like heavy-hearted stone,
tablets of strange cursive alphabets,

the throbbing bones of dead languages
you press into me, sink down deep into
the soft red pillows of organs

until I shatter
like a canopic jar.

Outside

in the naked dark,
jackals roam the desert
crying out to one another
across the moon-pale throat of the river

like lovers,
like the ghosts of lovers.


Amber Decker is the author of two volumes of poetry, Sweet Relish and Lost Girls. Her work has been featured internationally in venues both in print and online. In her spare time, she can either be found at the gym or parked in front of her Playstation. Amber spends her days disguising herself as a diligent student of English literature; she lives in West Virginia with a spoiled dog and an evil cat.

Issue No. 1, Summer 2012

The Library Elf

I had nowhere to hide
except inside the shadows
of the library’s stairwells.

The paperbacks left
helter-skelter by children
offered something—forests

of hooded dwarfs, witches
with magical stones, or elves
who lived behind other stairs.

I read everything. I learned
to descend into books
no one would take home.

Some said I was a made up story
to scare kids and teach them
to return books to their shelves.

Others said I was invisible
and would snatch children
who climbed too far to the top.

* * *

House Elves

We don’t go there anymore. No one remains
who will take the county highways,

turn at the exit without a sign—
a blank, green face, without numbers—

and pass through the small towns,
each with a Casey’s General Store

and one church or another, piercing the sky.
Year-round fairy lights beat a rhythm

clearly visible a mile or so away,
but the street is little more than gravel,

impossible to travel in the winter.
The small barn still stands and the house

with that staircase of white carpet.
The tread worn and stained with old blood.


Laura Madeline Wiseman has a doctorate from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where she teaches English. She is the author of five chapbooks, including Branding Girls (Finishing Line Press, 2011). Her forthcoming chapbook is She who Loves Her Father from Dancing Girl Press in 2012. Her poetry has appeared in Margie, Feminist Studies, Poet Lore, Cream City Review, Pebble Lake Review, The Sow’s Ear Poetry Review, and elsewhere. Her prose has appeared in Arts & Letters, Spittoon, Blackbird, American Short Fiction, 13th Moon, and elsewhere. Her reviews have appeared in Prairie Schooner, Valparaiso Poetry Review, 42Opus, and elsewhere. www.lauramadelinewiseman.com