Instead of Heraldry by Matt Broaddus

When the bell tower chimes,
throw me off the roof.
Crocheted into my wool
cocoon. With all the almonds in Calaf
gathered illegally by peasants in the night.
To make pastries and carve them with little angels’
chainsaws. Breakneck death
strolls beside me, a lightning storm.
The wheat rolls off in gritty balls
like the ancient walls of the town.
Men with guns,
hired to live in the turrets of the villas
and shoot each other,
shoot each other.

 

Matt Broaddus is a Cave Canem fellow and author of a chapbook, Space Station (Letter [R] Press, 2018). His poems have appeared in Fence, Foundry, Sundog Lit, and Black Warrior Review. He lives in Lakewood, Colorado and works at a public library. Sometimes he tweets @mattbroaddus.

In My Dreams, I Own a Laundromat by Elise Triplett

The Mother finds me washing my hands
with lavender detergent in the employees only room.
“The washer ate my dollar,” she explains lifting

the lint crown off my head and the lint veil
from my eyes. I follow her, and root my hands
through its intestines, pinching out each quarter:

“Do you want me to scrape the dirt off those
with my teeth?” She shakes her head, so I place
them in her palms. “Why is there a sea turtle

painted on your window?” I wanted to be constructive.
I say, “I feel unfurnished without it.” The Child watches
me from a metal cart. He’s not supposed to be in there.

“He’s not supposed to be in there.” The Mother hushes
me: “Be constructive.” I want to be. She gets another
washer going. I pick apart the crown, make gloves instead.

 

Elise Triplett is a writer from Dayton, Ohio. They have been published in Black Bough Poetry and interned with Mid-American Review. They can be found on Twitter @TriplettElise and elsewhere, probably.

Jellyfish by Josh Sherman

Sorry I couldn’t stay any longer
Had to remove any sign that I had been there
That a misplaced can might upset you
I didn’t want a misplaced can to upset you

So I collected all the cans that might upset you
and straightened all the chairs and arranged them
to make sure everything was on right angles
I find comfort in 90 degrees and straight lines

Because after a hurricane you clean up
You emerge from a wood-planked place
and you set forth to collect the debris:
a chair wedged in the sand, a refrigerator in a ditch

But watch out for the jellyfish
thrown from the ocean by a cyclone
that traced an arbitrary path
like the one that led to you

 

Josh Sherman is a Toronto-based journalist whose poetry has appeared in Back Patio Press and Neutral Spaces Magazine. His fiction has been published online in Hobart and in print in the Great Lakes Review.

Elusive Shadows by Steve Castro and Daniel Romo

My shadow left me on occasion. At times, he did so to visit his favorite haunting grounds. He once left me to cohabitate with a creature of the night. Why are you always sneaking off? I wondered. I posted an advertisement in the local paper for a new shadow last week. Sadly, my old shadow, the only shadow I ever knew, died of a heroin overdose two weeks ago. Last week, I bought a Pet Rock from Costco. I named her BetterThanAnyShadowCast, a constant (night or day) not dependent on the sun. There’s loyalty placed in an object not needing to copy your every move, an independence embedded in simply sinking to the bottom of a pond. Thursday night, I think I swore I saw my shadow with another man, a burly lumberjack the color and scent of Montana. Friday morning, I ran my hand back and forth across my new pet and remembered how demons and death stalk us all. I’m getting used to the chill across my neck that I believe wants to be adopted. Sunday morning, and still no one has replied to my ad.

 

Steve Castro’s debut poetry collection, Blue Whale Phenomena, was published by Otis Books, 2019 (Otis College of Art and Design, Los Angeles, California). His poetry has been published in Plume; Green Mountains Review; DIAGRAM; Forklift, Ohio; Water~Stone Review; etc. Two prose poems he co-wrote with Daniel Romo are forthcoming in Hotel Amerika. Birthplace: Costa Rica.

Daniel Romo is the author of Apologies in Reverse (FutureCycle Press, 2019), When Kerosene’s Involved (Mojave River Press, 2014), and Romancing Gravity (Silver Birch Press, 2013). He lives, bench presses, and rides his folding bike in Long Beach, CA. More at danielromo@wordpress.com.

Just Visiting by Alana Saltz

I employed a molten owl
to deliver my braids
to mailboxes

all along the street
where you lived.

As you watched, foxes jumped up
onto your shoulders—

delicate and wild,

shining fur waving
from the wind.

There are fragments I remember
like costumes
under clothes.

Tell me there’s more to life
than you
and trees.

The trouble is confusion.
I’m always waiting to stay.

This mouthful of years tastes
too sweet.

We built a fort behind the stream,
held down with sticks and rocks.

I wonder if it’s still there.

Pieces of it,
anyway.

 

Alana Saltz is the Editor-in-Chief of Blanket Sea, an arts and literary magazine showcasing work by chronically ill, mentally ill, and disabled creators. Her poetry has appeared in Occulum, Five:2:One, YesPoetry, LadyLibertyLit, and more. Her debut poetry chapbook, The Uncertainty of Light, was released in February 2020. You can visit her website at alanasaltz.com, and follow her on Twitter and Instagram @alanasaltz.

Self-Portrait as Season 1 of American Idol by Micaela Walley

When Kelly Clarkson won American Idol, she squealed
into a microphone and America felt that shit hard.

I am American, but more TV than reality.
I am more idle than Kelly. A cat hurls
his body over my own as I type and I squeal,
but it’s not the same. If I’m being honest,

there is no space at the judging table
when I’m around. I kick everybody out,
go on with the heavy business of singing
into an empty room.

A montage of every time I’ve loved someone appeared
as Daniel Powter sang you had a bad day, the camera
don’t lie and America changed the channel before I could
give myself any credit.

I am American, but I do not believe
in auditions. If you pause before you say my name,
I know you’re going to say it. I know
I’m never going home. I know home
is a stage with no exit left.

When Kelly Clarkson won American Idol, she sang
into a microphone some people wait a lifetime for a moment
like this and I didn’t believe her. Not for one minute.

 

Micaela Walley is an MFA candidate at the University of Baltimore. Her work can be found in HuffPost, ENTROPY, Gravel, and Oracle Fine Arts Review. She currently lives in Hanover, Maryland with her best friend–Chunky, the cat.

What Jupiter wrote to Ganymede after years of separation by Satya Dash

Beloved, so much around us was remarkable,
I forgot to mention I was in love with you.
While fires rose in me and boulders exploded,
I mistook it for the tenacity of constipation.
My vanity, my bastion of resilience gave away
to white hairs & chalky scars when you left.
Besides, I only call it love to quarantine
the helplessness any ambiguity can cause.
It’s embarrassing to admit I have dreamt
about crashing your wedding, then eloping
with someone else. I know, I know.
It isn’t something I expected of me too.
There were days when news of you breathing
far far away was enough for me not to stop
breathing. At least not from my own
perpetration. I must tell you I’m coming to visit
this fall. For the liquids in my joints prefer
vulnerability only in a climate of moderation.
Even now shy seas of green celestial rot
claw at my shores every night a moon carelessly
disrobes. I have already made a note to hide a moon
in my underwear. Glowing like a ball of deep
goodness, trying to make the animals in me
worthy of you. Don’t you remember: how en route
to the Lord’s asylum, we strutted along, your hand
in mine. How the stars glanced at us, my neon
crotch. And in that moment I knew what
to do―from the light I compelled from their zodiac
lamps, I slanted into a shaft of brilliant pheromone.
But the planets never understood this― I only did such
a thing so that the stars wouldn’t look at you. Did you?

 

Satya Dash’s poems have been published or are forthcoming in Passages North, Cosmonauts Avenue, The Florida Review, Pidgeonholes, Glass Poetry, Prelude, amongst others. Apart from having a degree in electronics from BITS Pilani-Goa, he has been a cricket commentator too. His work has been twice nominated for the Orison Anthology. He spent his early years in Odisha, India and now lives in Bangalore. He tweets @satya43.

When he asks me to try doggie style, I think by Madeleine Corley

of the pigeon in the courtyard last week. How what I first thought was confetti thrown in celebration were feathers ripped from a body. How the seagull cornered her. How he made it seem quick. How the stalking started miles before the meet. How my colleagues call it natural selection. How girls of fourteen are forced brides in North Carolina. How biology states I am of animal that cooks offspring in a womb. How fellow mammals count my eggs and debate them over breakfast. How scrambled still makes a good dinner. How the crane fly was beguiled by my kitchen light. How it flailed in an effort to escape my stale apartment. How it snuck back in through the cracked door and flew directly onto the stovetop. How blue the gas burned. How its wings singed up like paper. How another grave could’ve been the cocoon of a spider. How the spider asphyxiates and curdles the organs of its prey. How sticky and trapping his hand pets my thigh. How there are seemingly endless species. How, of all breeds, Carolina Dogs are his favorite. How this touch binds me and burns me to wingless.

 

Madeleine Corley (she/her) is a poet by internal monologue and loves the color of nostalgia. She currently serves as the Poetry Editor for Barren Magazine. Some of her work has appeared in The Hellebore, Twist In Time Lit, Moonchild Magazine, DARK MARROW, as well as others. You can find her on Twitter @madelinksi, on Instagram @wrotemadeleine, or on her website www.wrotemadeleine.com.

Me, Irene, and the Radio King of Albuquerque by Ian Anderson

In the Kitchen Department at Macys, the sales associate, Debbie, shows me the KitchenAid stand mixers. They’re lined up on a display table in three lines of six—each row a step higher—so that, together, they resemble a chorus line of robots. They come in colors like Empire Red, or Aqua Sky, or Majestic Yellow, or White.

Debbie is excited to tell me about the features and attachments available, but all I see is the price tag. I think someone accidentally added a zero at the end, I tell her.

She pushes on her spongy, yellow hair. What you have to understand, she says, it that a mixer is an investment in a better life. A stand mixer announces that this is a house that gives, that this is a house that loves. You can’t put a price on that. I say: Okay, but you have put a price on it, and I can’t afford that price. I’m an adjunct professor. STEM? she asks. English, I tell her. You poor thing, she says. There is another option, she says. We walk to the back of the store. I think, Debbie says, that this might be better for someone…in your situation.

On the wall, there are three rows of six hats. The hats come in colors like Empire Red, or Aqua Sky, or Majestic Yellow, or White. Below the hats are silver spoons, whisks, hooks, and bowls laying loose in a cardboard box. While not what I had in mind, I have to admit, this option is more in my price range. Did you have a color in mind? Debbie asks. Pistachio, I tell her. Excellent, she says, should I wrap it up, or will you wear it out?

* * * *

I sit cross-legged on the kitchen counter and wait for Irene to come home. A high-walled bowl sits in my lap. In my right hand, I hold a whisk. The pistachio-colored cap fits snuggly on my head. This isn’t where I thought I would be in my mid-thirties. I thought I would, at least, be tenure track by now, but colleges aren’t hiring; and if they are, they aren’t hiring me. Irene’s father, The Radio King of Albuquerque, told me more than once that I could work for him, selling airtime to advertisers. He says I’m smart. You have to be smart to sell someone air. Irene would never let me take the job, though. She says The Radio King of Albuquerque just wants me to make more money because The Radio King of Albuquerque hates that his daughter has to work. But she likes her job. She likes working. She likes that I teach, and that I still read books. She says if I quit teaching she’d probably divorce me. My back is stiff. I feel like a semicolon.

The front door opens. Irene unloads her bag and coat and comes into the kitchen. She’s going to the refrigerator when she sees me sitting on the counter. She approaches and reads the note I taped to my forehead. It reads: Happy Five Years. Thanks for keeping me in the mix.

She smiles. She looks at my wisk. She pulls flour from a cupboard, eggs from the refrigerator. She measures the flour and dumps it in my lap. She cracks eggs. She pours olive oil. She adds salt. She’s making scratch pasta dough.

It is my favorite.

Irene replaces the whisk in my hand with a flat paddle and lowers my hand into the bowl. She tugs my ear, and I start mixing. The first minute is fine, but as the ingredients come together, my arm begins to ache. I keep going. This dough will be perfect. I mix and mix and mix. My forearm starts to cramp. My elbow is on fire. I don’t think I’ve given stand mixers enough credit. Their price starts to make more sense. Irene tugs my ear again, and I gratefully come to a rest. She replaces the paddle in my hand with a hook. Sonofabitch, I think. But when Irene tugs my ear, I start again with automatic loyalty. I mix until my arm is numb, until sweat drips down my neck.

* * * *

While the dough rests in the refrigerator, Irene sets the table for two, lights candles, and puts a record on the turntable. The Ronettes hum softly to life. Irene sways her hips to the music as she walks back into the kitchen. She pours wine. After years of marriage, I thought I knew everything about her, but I never knew this: what she’s like when she’s alone. She possesses a quiet tenderness. A confidence. It’s sexy in a way that I didn’t know could be sexy.

Irene takes the pasta dough out and cuts it into slices like you would a cheese log. She sets up the pasta maker—a gift from the The Radio King of Albuquerque. He would buy her anything she wants with all his air money, but Irene never told The Radio King of Albuquerque about the stand mixer. There are secret desires that only a spouse can know. It is intimacy, and it is good.

Irene rolls the dough out and cuts it into linguini with the pasta maker. She makes a simple tomato sauce and boils the noodles to al dente. She sends a text. She’s asking where I am, but I turned my phone off hours ago so it wouldn’t give me away. I’m smart enough to sell air if she wanted me to.

Irene ladles the sauce over the noodles. She sets the plates on the dining room table. From my place on the counter, I can see her sitting at the table through the doorway. She is beautiful. The pasta smells delicious. She sends another text. She waits. There are things that I can give my wife, and there things that I cannot. Not at the same time anyway. That’s just how it is. Dinner is getting cold. I wish she would just start eating.

 

Ian Anderson is a writer and designer living in Baltimore, MD, with his wife and daughter. He is the founder and Editor-in-Chief at Mason Jar Press, and his work has previously appeared or is forthcoming in Wigleaf, X-R-A-Y Literary Magazine, Five:2:One Magazine, Baltimore Fishbowl, and elsewhere. When not writing, designing, running a press, being a husband or father, he is listening to The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds. He tweets about that and other things from @ianandersonetc.

All giant deer kings hail from Limerick by Meg Mulcahy

Beast and bone tower in dead zoos
without fail, each time a skull that housed a heritage, antlers angel wingspan
fractured lines fermented shifting permeance
presiding over dark and crumbled earth, beetle-shelled glint, rotted rain
melted you away in every stride, chocolate carcass left us hollowed eyes of someone who
saw wars and cherry wine flow bitter from the mouths of flies
bolted down through yellowing joints, strung up in a new world and I,
the furthest from magnificence, can only gaze upwards in imagined genuflect,
and in our visits the displaced may comfort the dead.

 

Meg Mulcahy is a poet and writer based in Dublin, Ireland. She runs on cold brew and hope. Her work has featured in several publications including Kissing Dynamite Poetry, Crêpe & Penn, and Silk + Smoke, winning the Halloween Flash Fiction Competition 2019. You can find her on Twitter always @TheGoldenMej.