Issue Ten

Of Bedheaded Boys and Lavender Shampoo

Shampoo. The word is vaguely obscene. Sham + poo :these hardly sound like substances that, combined, could render one clean. Sonically, shampoo does not present as a hygienic herbal solution bottled in a shower stall. Instead, its syllables tell of a darker substance...

Baked Alaska and If the Shoe Fits

Baked Alaska Febrile as baked Alaska, I’ve grown over-heated from tilling the magnetic fields. Of course, I don’t expect the dead to remember me. I don’t tan, I grey.  Look, you can listen to all the confetti music you want, but to the illicit organ trade, it’s all...

When There’s Nothing Left to Burn

When I am thirty-two, I fall in love with a man who thinks I am his. Our house is made of wood—the walls, the stairs, the Christmas tree. Everything is on fire; pine-scented, staggering orange flames. We escape unscathed from our bedroom where a candle caught the...

Nativity Scene and The Forecast

THE FORECAST In a sudden downpour, he won’t make room for me under his umbrella— leans away when I put my arm around him, asks what do I think I am doing, whose fault is it for not having paid attention to the forecast at breakfast when I was still toweling off his...

Go in Abstraction by Sevens with Adverbs

You are meant to get lost hereamong words in a countryof words—diaphanous words holding a plea against somewretched, hard reality,against precision’s pinned-down rage minutely dissectingone more hapless pain, againstedgy acid ironies lying uneasily onopen satin-lined...

The House

It is times like this—at night when I should be sleeping—that I miss England the most. The window in my third-floor bedroom that was always half-open, even on those freezing February nights. If the window was closed, I felt trapped—like I was in some sadistic snow...

Punahou Blues

My rusted love shudders with the red scales of high school regret revisiting the wahine who kindled my blood. Holly strolls past the library in rubber slippers and green skirt striped white. Her eyes burn desire in French class. She wants me. My boy failures link up,...

Ripe

The girl with the flaxen hair sits over there in her chair beneath the red/yellow/blue-striped umbrella.  Thinking thoughts that are dirty, kinky.  Thinking thoughts that would make them blush if she dared to say them aloud.  Like, squeeze my...

Skin

I’ve recently begun to think of my skin, the largest of organs, as a container filled up with all kinds of interesting stuff. Malleable, simultaneously strong and fragile—a proper tear in a vulnerable place and the breath goes out of my body, escapes my container, in...

Casting

Rhea’s hunkered down, cradled by roots of ancient pines that reach riverwards. She’s crawled through dense bracken with the saucepan full of ashes, away from prying eyes to the water’s edge.  Held safe, feeling the thrum of the earth alive around her, she takes a...

Unity

You told me a story about a What or a Who, saying you’d prefer to say neither; you’d prefer not to choose, though I wondered if the nothing in your last line is the empty set, a simple...

Esperance

Our town of Esperance keeps its Watchers out all night. Dad says I’ll get used to it, but I’m here to tell you that I won’t. Ever. Cecily Patchett is the Watcher’s oracle; she sits on her front stoop 24/7 and stares at the sky, her eyes cataract-cloudy and her mouth...

Wrongdoings

She told me I was like a wound to her, that she wished someone could stitch me up. "You make me feel private and afraid." I hardly knew her. What had I done? Had she me confused with someone else? I thought back over all my wrongdoings (especially that thing with...

The Unsubtle Beating of Wings

Amelia was a sensation, dropping perilously from the sky, a shiver of raindrops glossing her hair. She stood solidly next to the men as they're voices trembled with regret, wondering how she faced their fears of the unknown....

A Single Crease

The whole of her right eye is watering and Farrah wipes it brisk with a tissue.  Tears stream down the inner corner of her nose, the outer cup of her cheekbone, meeting under her chin.  It’s been this way for awhile now and Farrah knows it means more than...

The Birds in the Trees

There was a bird that pecked with its beak at the wood of the trees, in the trunks, which made holes in the trees where bugs lived, it seemed, though these bugs, the boys could not see them. The bird ate at the bugs that it pecked up and out of the wood, of the...

water out of wine glasses

Home is a waterfall of lip glosses and a keychain with too many keys, half-eaten chocolate bars, and small scraps of paper with notes on them that I can no longer read—the handwriting is faded to scratches. Salt, Tabasco, and cans of Diet Coke that look like the...

Schnauzers and Shawarma

Palm I My mother said I don’t stand a ghost of a chance. It’s the same thing she used to tell me when she was alive, walking around all gussied up with an ultra-miniature schnauzer hanging from a gold chain leash around her neck, the long white gloves covering her...

Countering Semantic Poison

“… nothing in the world … has as much power as a word.” Emily Dickinson Once upon turbid waters, the Cuyahoga River caught fire in Cleveland, Ohio, and moms—mine and many others—believed Lake Erie into which the river oozed during the 1950s was a source of polio....

The Land at Night

I contemplate the land at night and relive my ancestors’ doubts, their morals and discrepancies,  how they built unnecessary fires  and slaughtered to be warm and satisfied. Three crickets sing on the hood of my father’s Chevrolet; three purple finches nest...

Self-Portrait, Shrugging

My father tried to kill himself three times, once with an electric socket. The lights throughout the house went “pop!” I would shrug when people asked me what happened. Another time he tried to hang himself with his belt, and it was just luck that the ceiling hook...

Tinder Profile

YO! i’m a demi-brosexual cucc looking for a sugar daddy with a conscience cause my actual dad stopped Venmoing me rent. Got a pet anaconda (not sex pun). It’s egregiously overweight. Basically a circle. Think an imagistic depiction of self-abuse. Vet didn’t give her...

Liner Notes to Benjamin; Lice & Feathers

Liner Notes to Benjamin Most nights our mother makes a gesture while she sleeps: one hand balled in a fist, while the other slaps the headboard & she chokes.  * Too many times she's strolled a snowy dark with eyes rolled back in her head. Balanced a bridge...

The Hunters

“I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering: What is it going to be like that cottage of darkness?” – Mary Oliver From her screened-in porch, Gladys admired the forest, a flute of Cabernet relaxed between her fingers. She’d gone to Grand Harbour...

Time-Stamped

( X )  Morning.  Dark malt washing over the room.  Seeping through seams like sticky smoke.  Advancing over the sill.  Across the floor and mattress.  Threatening to pin her here again. ( X )  A second later.  Her eyes redact,...

Dear Montana

Dear Montana, It’s over.  I should have written this letter years ago, but things happen, and I’ve held on to that memory of your summer nights even as we’ve done nothing but grow apart.  Life gets hectic, right?  Oil changes, recycling, job interviews,...

Whale Song

Did I tell you I found a whale fetus wrapped in seaweed? Did I tell you the sockets were empty? It was on a Sunday. The storm split a redwood in two and blocked the road to Planned Parenthood. Can you hear the orca sing? The cries of the dying. She carried her dead...

A pilgrimage can be one-way

Packing list - 62 pairs of underwear (no chance to do laundry) -2 bras (might as well enjoy the zero-gravity) -Cotton trousers, t-shirts, shorts - One treadmill (zero-gravity great for elevation, not good for muscle-tone) -One pair of shoes for the treadmill...

Cross-country

An hour into our cross-country car ride, I realize I hate Harry. I look at his sockless feet in the brown leather loafers. A smug look that stretches all the way up to his face. ### Near Philly, I tell Harry I need to pee. You always need to pee, he says. And that’s...

The Vegetables of the Harvest

We bring in the harvest during the day. They are tomatoes, they are carrots; they are corn and peas and zucchini. At night, we hear them congregating in the kitchen below our bedroom, whispering to one another in hushed tones. Go down stairs, dear. Look at them. I go...

Unremarkable

Reaction to Ludlow's disappearance was muted. Whenever anyone noticed him at all, they resented the space he occupied in slow-moving queues or elevators and trains. Ludlow was an extra minute, a passenger's moist breath too close to one's own neck, reduced shoulder...

Beast File No. 124

I’ve been thinking about loss lately. What usually comes to mind is my grandmother, who passed away one Christmas Eve almost thirty years ago. Whenever I think about her and her passing I feel happy. I never had the displeasure of seeing her on her deathbed, so my...

Dancing Ladies

Moving     conveyor belt trapped onward tight and secure     sure      so we hoped          roped    into a misty tunnel     my...

Of Bedheaded Boys and Lavender Shampoo

Shampoo. The word is vaguely obscene. Sham + poo :these hardly sound like substances that, combined, could render one clean. Sonically, shampoo does not present as a hygienic herbal solution bottled in a shower stall. Instead, its syllables tell of a darker substance...

Baked Alaska and If the Shoe Fits

Baked Alaska Febrile as baked Alaska, I’ve grown over-heated from tilling the magnetic fields. Of course, I don’t expect the dead to remember me. I don’t tan, I grey.  Look, you can listen to all the confetti music you want, but to the illicit organ trade, it’s all...

When There’s Nothing Left to Burn

When I am thirty-two, I fall in love with a man who thinks I am his. Our house is made of wood—the walls, the stairs, the Christmas tree. Everything is on fire; pine-scented, staggering orange flames. We escape unscathed from our bedroom where a candle caught the...

Nativity Scene and The Forecast

THE FORECAST In a sudden downpour, he won’t make room for me under his umbrella— leans away when I put my arm around him, asks what do I think I am doing, whose fault is it for not having paid attention to the forecast at breakfast when I was still toweling off his...

Go in Abstraction by Sevens with Adverbs

You are meant to get lost hereamong words in a countryof words—diaphanous words holding a plea against somewretched, hard reality,against precision’s pinned-down rage minutely dissectingone more hapless pain, againstedgy acid ironies lying uneasily onopen satin-lined...

The House

It is times like this—at night when I should be sleeping—that I miss England the most. The window in my third-floor bedroom that was always half-open, even on those freezing February nights. If the window was closed, I felt trapped—like I was in some sadistic snow...

Punahou Blues

My rusted love shudders with the red scales of high school regret revisiting the wahine who kindled my blood. Holly strolls past the library in rubber slippers and green skirt striped white. Her eyes burn desire in French class. She wants me. My boy failures link up,...

Ripe

The girl with the flaxen hair sits over there in her chair beneath the red/yellow/blue-striped umbrella.  Thinking thoughts that are dirty, kinky.  Thinking thoughts that would make them blush if she dared to say them aloud.  Like, squeeze my...

Skin

I’ve recently begun to think of my skin, the largest of organs, as a container filled up with all kinds of interesting stuff. Malleable, simultaneously strong and fragile—a proper tear in a vulnerable place and the breath goes out of my body, escapes my container, in...

Casting

Rhea’s hunkered down, cradled by roots of ancient pines that reach riverwards. She’s crawled through dense bracken with the saucepan full of ashes, away from prying eyes to the water’s edge.  Held safe, feeling the thrum of the earth alive around her, she takes a...

Unity

You told me a story about a What or a Who, saying you’d prefer to say neither; you’d prefer not to choose, though I wondered if the nothing in your last line is the empty set, a simple...

Esperance

Our town of Esperance keeps its Watchers out all night. Dad says I’ll get used to it, but I’m here to tell you that I won’t. Ever. Cecily Patchett is the Watcher’s oracle; she sits on her front stoop 24/7 and stares at the sky, her eyes cataract-cloudy and her mouth...

Wrongdoings

She told me I was like a wound to her, that she wished someone could stitch me up. "You make me feel private and afraid." I hardly knew her. What had I done? Had she me confused with someone else? I thought back over all my wrongdoings (especially that thing with...

The Unsubtle Beating of Wings

Amelia was a sensation, dropping perilously from the sky, a shiver of raindrops glossing her hair. She stood solidly next to the men as they're voices trembled with regret, wondering how she faced their fears of the unknown....

A Single Crease

The whole of her right eye is watering and Farrah wipes it brisk with a tissue.  Tears stream down the inner corner of her nose, the outer cup of her cheekbone, meeting under her chin.  It’s been this way for awhile now and Farrah knows it means more than...

The Birds in the Trees

There was a bird that pecked with its beak at the wood of the trees, in the trunks, which made holes in the trees where bugs lived, it seemed, though these bugs, the boys could not see them. The bird ate at the bugs that it pecked up and out of the wood, of the...

water out of wine glasses

Home is a waterfall of lip glosses and a keychain with too many keys, half-eaten chocolate bars, and small scraps of paper with notes on them that I can no longer read—the handwriting is faded to scratches. Salt, Tabasco, and cans of Diet Coke that look like the...

Schnauzers and Shawarma

Palm I My mother said I don’t stand a ghost of a chance. It’s the same thing she used to tell me when she was alive, walking around all gussied up with an ultra-miniature schnauzer hanging from a gold chain leash around her neck, the long white gloves covering her...

Countering Semantic Poison

“… nothing in the world … has as much power as a word.” Emily Dickinson Once upon turbid waters, the Cuyahoga River caught fire in Cleveland, Ohio, and moms—mine and many others—believed Lake Erie into which the river oozed during the 1950s was a source of polio....

The Land at Night

I contemplate the land at night and relive my ancestors’ doubts, their morals and discrepancies,  how they built unnecessary fires  and slaughtered to be warm and satisfied. Three crickets sing on the hood of my father’s Chevrolet; three purple finches nest...

Self-Portrait, Shrugging

My father tried to kill himself three times, once with an electric socket. The lights throughout the house went “pop!” I would shrug when people asked me what happened. Another time he tried to hang himself with his belt, and it was just luck that the ceiling hook...

Tinder Profile

YO! i’m a demi-brosexual cucc looking for a sugar daddy with a conscience cause my actual dad stopped Venmoing me rent. Got a pet anaconda (not sex pun). It’s egregiously overweight. Basically a circle. Think an imagistic depiction of self-abuse. Vet didn’t give her...

Liner Notes to Benjamin; Lice & Feathers

Liner Notes to Benjamin Most nights our mother makes a gesture while she sleeps: one hand balled in a fist, while the other slaps the headboard & she chokes.  * Too many times she's strolled a snowy dark with eyes rolled back in her head. Balanced a bridge...

The Hunters

“I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering: What is it going to be like that cottage of darkness?” – Mary Oliver From her screened-in porch, Gladys admired the forest, a flute of Cabernet relaxed between her fingers. She’d gone to Grand Harbour...

Time-Stamped

( X )  Morning.  Dark malt washing over the room.  Seeping through seams like sticky smoke.  Advancing over the sill.  Across the floor and mattress.  Threatening to pin her here again. ( X )  A second later.  Her eyes redact,...

Dear Montana

Dear Montana, It’s over.  I should have written this letter years ago, but things happen, and I’ve held on to that memory of your summer nights even as we’ve done nothing but grow apart.  Life gets hectic, right?  Oil changes, recycling, job interviews,...

Whale Song

Did I tell you I found a whale fetus wrapped in seaweed? Did I tell you the sockets were empty? It was on a Sunday. The storm split a redwood in two and blocked the road to Planned Parenthood. Can you hear the orca sing? The cries of the dying. She carried her dead...

A pilgrimage can be one-way

Packing list - 62 pairs of underwear (no chance to do laundry) -2 bras (might as well enjoy the zero-gravity) -Cotton trousers, t-shirts, shorts - One treadmill (zero-gravity great for elevation, not good for muscle-tone) -One pair of shoes for the treadmill...

Cross-country

An hour into our cross-country car ride, I realize I hate Harry. I look at his sockless feet in the brown leather loafers. A smug look that stretches all the way up to his face. ### Near Philly, I tell Harry I need to pee. You always need to pee, he says. And that’s...

The Vegetables of the Harvest

We bring in the harvest during the day. They are tomatoes, they are carrots; they are corn and peas and zucchini. At night, we hear them congregating in the kitchen below our bedroom, whispering to one another in hushed tones. Go down stairs, dear. Look at them. I go...

Unremarkable

Reaction to Ludlow's disappearance was muted. Whenever anyone noticed him at all, they resented the space he occupied in slow-moving queues or elevators and trains. Ludlow was an extra minute, a passenger's moist breath too close to one's own neck, reduced shoulder...

Beast File No. 124

I’ve been thinking about loss lately. What usually comes to mind is my grandmother, who passed away one Christmas Eve almost thirty years ago. Whenever I think about her and her passing I feel happy. I never had the displeasure of seeing her on her deathbed, so my...

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