Uncle Lazarus has a magic trick by Cheyenne McIntosh

he’s come to live with us now that he can’t go home
after he tried to set fire to Mary and Martha in the middle of the night,
weeping about how his old man touched him, back in the Old Country

now there’s a restraining order and a court date, so Uncle sleeps
at the foot of my bed, spilling his drink in my bedsheets
and telling stories from day-trips to the family lake

he wakes me up early this morning, with a treasure to show me:
I follow him through the house, hearing Bathsheba’s breath through the walls
as she sleeps, knowing the rules of being alone with Uncle

there’s an overturned glass waiting for us on the bathroom counter:
inside a cluster fly, the kind that slips in through our windows for winter
before dying, leaving behind a honey smell and their eggs within our walls

these are easy flies for trapping – they float lazily from room to room,
easier to catch and kill with their speed and size – and Uncle has drowning plans,
carefully lifting the glass to insert a straw filled with water, his dirty finger

a stopper until the placement is right and he rains down his prey, the fly
struggling at first before giving up – its tiny insect lungs filling with water,
its delicate wings wet and heavy and immobile – and this is the first living thing

I have ever watched die. Uncle watches my face, his dirty finger tracing the
tears on my lips before he pulls a salt shaker out of his pajama pocket,
the one he uses at night for his tequila game, licking his hand before shooting back

he buries the fly in the salt and tells me the story about that time
he tried to teach my mother to swim in the lake and she almost drowned
because he was drinking and all little girls know how to swim in the Old Country

it’s easy to drown, he explains as the salt dries up the water,
the cluster fly now awake again and climbing out of its salt-grave

 

Cheyenne McIntosh is an undergraduate at Franklin College, where she writes about gender-queer studies in science fiction. She’s the Leading Poetry Editor of Brave Voices Magazine and an editorial intern for Juxtaprose Magazine and Sundress Publications. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in carte blanche, Likely Red Press, Digital Americana Magazine, Small Po[r]tions, and elsewhere. In 2018, she was named as one of Indiana’s Best Emerging Poets and received her first Pushcart Prize nomination. You can find her @crm_writes.

Bleed and Breathe the Air by E. Kristin Anderson

I:

This Could Take All Night

From the sea floor I wait for everyone. Say goodbye
to the generator, my blue wire, just circles through skin.
I’m not high, not drinking down the spoils to save me,
numb and cold in my murdering dress, I line up alone.

Unwind me in a dream burn—these dreams laced
and lost in you again, the clean night our last sail
and I swear—an aurora will die and tether us
so I learn the ordinary—the blood is wearing well.

I’m frayed around the ends, tied to the next home
and I’m red, red, now—taking pleasure in breaking
down. That day my stitches were someone to know;
still my motored heart is firing on and on and on.

I promise to find glitter, to face angels, to want—
you started it, this breakout, this dizzy revolution.

 

II:

In the Lost and Found

You started it—this breakout. This dizzy revolution
can’t change back. Truth hollow, I live in the sky tonight
satisfied with the burn, wasting time, my insides numb
into a bullet, this blast a cure for the lights, a riot cry.

I greet the sun when it arrives, the glitter we climb
and here—a hello collides, a tangled demand found
where I quit metamorphosis. I believe in sick. I wind
around wires. Tonight I’m leaving. The stacked dead

are much too proud for my dreams, a wonderful mess.
Aging is complication; I’ve found no pleasure in home.
Yesterday is left underground, these stars spin a noose
calling unanswered, calling unanswered, the divide down.

Here aurora is a bruise, a life, an ordinary embrace—
hello is how I get somewhere in my blood dress.

 

III:

Trade Your Outside In

Hello is how I get somewhere in my blood dress—
clean and cold, I’m killing beautiful for the sun.
And here I quit the bastards and sink a wire noose,
calling underground for dizzy truth: you’re a friend.

Mirror, mirror, I cry to the rafters, to bright hell
and my skin is free to take all night on revolution.
Swear you’ll never tell: tonight I like my life tangled—
one of these days I’ll be more than a mannequin.

If we fired down this divide, left embracing the dead,
I’d haunt it, demand heart. I’m not nursing patience
and their wearing burn is hollow, stacked and faded.
Next year life runs out; we sleep and dream in stitches.

I could stay sick, the hole we fill with breaking night;
from the sea floor I wait for everyone: Say goodbye.

 

This is a found poem. Source material: Foo Fighters. There Is Nothing Left To Lose, Roswell/RCA, 1999.

 

E. Kristin Anderson is a poet, Starbucks connoisseur, and glitter enthusiast living in Austin, Texas. She is the editor of Come as You Are, an anthology of writing on 90’s pop culture (Anomalous Press), and Hysteria: Writing the female body (Sable Books, forthcoming). Kristin is the author of nine chapbooks of poetry including A Guide for the Practical Abductee (Red Bird Chapbooks), Pray, Pray, Pray: Poems I wrote to Prince in the middle of the night (Porkbelly Press), Fire in the Sky (Grey Book Press), 17 seventeen XVII (Grey Book Press), and Behind, All You’ve Got (Semiperfect Press, forthcoming). Kristin is an assistant poetry editor at The Boiler and an editorial assistant at Sugared Water. Once upon a time she worked nights at The New Yorker. Find her online at http://www.EKristinAnderson.com and on twitter @ek_anderson.

Aurora Borealis by Erik Fuhrer

Swallow whole planets of double helixes and calculate the time it takes
to destroy an organ without quite draining all the blood from the body
Precision is key to this process so that breath is still a color we can admire
swirling in the aftermatter like the aurora borealis in a sky I will never see

If it gets to the time when the body is only a shudder
close the windows
shut the aurora borealis out
It was never here anyway
It was just an echo of light
bouncing off the body of a bluebird
who is the color of breath when it is newborn

Send the double helixes to the lab
Test for light    birdshit         an answer to the reason that the body can’t stop
becoming aurora borealis

I pray to god but it is only aurora borealis
Aurora borealis is the heart when it becomes an organ rather than a pump
Aurora borealis is your face when you see the aurora borealis
Aurora borealis is double helixes spinning genetic code

 

Erik Fuhrer is the author of Not Human Enough for the Census, forthcoming from Vegetarian Alcoholic Press. His work has been published in Cleaver, BlazeVox, Softblow, and various other venues.

Call Me Judy Tonight by Kathryn Hummel

Here I am playing
Judy Garland
circa sometime
in the circus
making love to
a nail-cracked pill
as booze burns
from cut crystal.
Satin eiderdown
absorbs the spillage:
rage directed
at everyone outside
for not noticing
my beguiling tint
for not recognizing
how brilliant
my hard-won
qualities.

 

Dr. Kathryn Hummel is a writer and researcher whose diverse creative and scholarly works have been published/presented/translated/anthologized/recognized in various parts of the world. Currently, within Australia, she edits non-fiction and travel writing for Verity La. Kathryn’s 5th volume of poetry is forthcoming with Singapore’s Math Paper Press and her 6th and 7th with London’s Protex(s)t Books.

How to Love a Monster with Average-Sized Hands by Jules Archer

If I could marry a myth it would be monstrous, but not monstrous like frightening. Monstrous as in a monstrous love where I’d be prouder than a Phoenix in plumage, and hotter than a poker. I’d swing on Cthulhu’s feelers. Take a water-slide ride down the tail of Godzilla. I’d let a Wendigo eat my heart and put a ring on it and drive me out to our small town’s overlook where he’d insist I’d wear protection and let me finish the rest of my wine. Loch Ness monster, more like Loch Bless monster, because every night you come to me in bed is another day I fall in love. Instead of calling the cops, my father would shake hands with Cyclops, and call him the son he never had, because if your face were a little more lion and a little less wolf we’d have a magically monstrous love on our hands, but instead I am stuck with you, you, and you are no creepy cryptid but a mere under-the-bed boogeyman that sends me screaming only that’s what I get for having married a monster with average-sized hands and not looking out the front door before answering it.

 

Jules Archer writes flash fiction in Arizona. A Pushcart-nominated writer, her work has appeared in SmokeLong Quarterly, >kill author, Pank, The Butter, Maudlin House, and elsewhere. She likes to smell old books, drink red wine, and read true crime tales. Her chapbook ALL THE GHOSTS WE’VE ALWAYS HAD is out from Thirty West Publishing.

Thunderbird by Wanda Deglane

the smallest ocean lives between / my lungs
and kidneys / the tiniest door holds back
the grief living inside my heart / give me
a word for / the uneasy unfamiliarity of finally
being okay / but only if it stings / on its way out /
show me the moment the trauma finally killed me /
spat me out purple-skinned and suffocating / but
newborn / my body is crawling with insects / my
reality is crashing / into blood-red suns / lollipops
from banks flying out of car windows / and smashed
pineapple on scorching sidewalk / with my name
written all over it / we’re sitting on thunderbird’s
wing / drunk on dew drops / i ask you why
this healing / only makes me feel sicker / you say
the moon’s made of paper / and we’re all just
lit matches / getting closer and closer.

 

Wanda Deglane is a Capricorn from Arizona. She is the daughter of Peruvian immigrants and attends Arizona State University. Her poetry has been published or is forthcoming from Rust + Moth, Glass Poetry, L’Ephemere Review, and Yes Poetry, among other lovely places. Wanda is the author of Rainlily (2018), Lady Saturn (Rhythm & Bones, 2019), Venus in Bloom (Porkbelly Press, 2019), and Bittersweet (Vegetarian Alcoholic Press, 2019).

Diagnosis by M. Stone

He gave you a small bakery box
but didn’t reveal its contents,

didn’t warn you to handle
the grenade inside with paralyzing care.
Now I take it from your aching fingers
and shake the cardboard square—

never did have the patience
for a pendulum descending—

but the grenade rolls around in the dark,
pin securely in place. It holds its breath,
waiting for me to blink.

 

M. Stone is a bookworm, birdwatcher, and stargazer living in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Her poems have appeared in San Pedro River Review, UCity Review, and numerous other journals. She is the author of the micro-chapbook Evolving God (Ghost City Press) and the chapbook Lore. Find her on Twitter @writermstone and at http://www.writermstone.wordpress.com.

i think i need a shock collar by Kat Giordano

a shock collar that jolts me out of my idiocy every time I wonder if you still think I’m your soulmate

a shock collar that jolts me a second time, but more painfully, whenever i start to think how hot it would be if you used a shock collar on me in bed

a shock collar that causes a giant neon sign that says WORRY WON’T KEEP YOU SAFE to slowly lower itself from the ceiling and blind me

a shock collar that keeps me from calling you whenever I’m afraid

a shock collar that can determine whether it makes sense for me to be afraid and then only shocks me in the moments where it doesn’t

a shock collar containing a giant mechanical hand that stamps YOU CANNOT WORRY YOURSELF INTO BEING LOVED backwards on my forehead in red ink and holds a mirror up to my face and makes me read it and then the red ink gives me a full-body rash

a shock collar that comes with rash ointment

a shock collar that tells me the truth

a shock collar that was designed to tell me the truth and only validates my feelings and when I call tech support they assure me my device isn’t defective

a shock collar that replays conversations between us in which you tell me you love me

a shock collar that loves me

a shock collar that tells me I deserve to hurt but the only batteries to the remote are at your house

 

Kat Giordano is a poet (1%) and massive millennial crybaby (99%) who lives in New Jersey. She co-edits Philosophical Idiot and works for a law firm somehow. She is also the author of many highly embarrassing social media meltdowns. Her poems have appeared in Occulum, Ghost City Review, Awkward Mermaid, The Cincinnati Review, CLASH Magazine, and others. Her debut full-length poetry collection, The Poet Confronts Bukowski’s Ghost, is available now.