Issue Twenty-Six

A Life Defined

bal·​ance (n.) 1. your displaced tooth smiles at you from across the piss-stained floor. 2. its useless black roots probe empty spaces. 3. a stranger rolls you over and drives his palms into your chest. 4. his words crackle like power lines. 5. fucking breathe. 6....

Static

The bedroom smells like furniture polish so                     I must’ve tossed the rags in with the sheets again. Light from the bedside table burns my fingertips....

Little Turns

Franklin’s mom gets called into the office, Saturday-afternoon emergency, and we dress up in her clothes and walk around her bedroom, do our little turns in front of the full-length mirror inside her closet door, laugh at each other. I slide into a pair of pantyhose...

Love Is An Umbrella Term

The lightning moves in next door. Now I am in love with the lightning’s wife. The lightning’s wife is forever poolside. The lightning and his son build a muscle car in the garage. Nothing is impossible for a willing heart. You have never seen thunder bathe in the...

Nuclear Cupcake

            The cupcake survived.             It had outlived its cellophane.             It was...

<3 Your Biggest Stan

I am obsessed with _ _ is obsessed with _(not me) I read everything by _ my journal is full of poems to and about _ a letter I wrote but don’t send reads:I always feel you are closer to me than you areand alsoit is almost like we are friends is it a higher form of...

Unbinding

My mother was a First Edition Pelican original. At nineteen she found herself shelved in Liverpool Central Library. Her cool cover and enigmatic blurb attracted unlikely readers who took her out on short-term loan. My father was a student, a dilettante, who borrowed...

Look Back

And Orpheus, leading his lovefrom the cold caves of death,might understand the way my grandmothercut credit card confettiso no one could steal her identity. How can I explain the place where she lived? The ice cream shop is cash-only,dandelions in the sidewalks,the...

Roquefort Cheese

She placed the Roquefort cheese onto a cracker and slid it between her lips. It was a strong blue cheese, the kind your uncle might describe as smelly while filling up his plate. She liked smelly things. Even, sometimes, the smell of her own farts, amazed that the...

Mojave Rattler; ‘Til he’s had his fill

Mojave Rattler You remind me ofan animated mousesinging to the moon he charm-coiled inour onset. i doubt even a rattlebonedmojave rattler would strike such heartsore soft. at first i believedthe blurry vision weakened breathingwas stemming from july nevada heat. but...

I Saw It Coming

Until that electrified instant, that explosive moment with us standing there with our goofy grins in front of all those people who came to tell us goodbye, I would never have condoned punching a woman in the nose. But, since it was a teenage girl who delivered the...

Night

At night, I become my mother’s breath, swirling into the air, never to be seen again. That, or I come up short sealing the deal with every man or woman I’ve ever thought about sealing the deal with. That, or I put on my wife’s heels and practice walking down the...

The Fastest Punch in the Animal Kingdom

I’m at a work conference, which is just one or two meetings a day and the rest of the time to do fuck all. For me, this means drinking my per diem. I’m two cocktails in when I see a mantis shrimp on the bar, pushing a glass of wine toward me.  He stops about six...

My Body As

My Body as Dublin, OH You hate the deer that gather quietly in fields before they run into the street, so I try to hate them too. And I try to care about the grass growing greener, but all I can bring myself to notice is the roots of the pine trees lining our bike...

notions of wealth

The light from the sun is obstructed at whatever angle we sit or stand. I’ve laid flat on my stomach to catch a glimpse of some form here below. A cracked door sliver. To avoid being swallowed by the inside, we make a point to get out of the apartment and take daily...

Green Card Girl

I To come to you—I navigated bitter winds crossed oceans blind told the old world: I rescind. To be with you—I renounced my name faced down suited men left the birthing hips, never to return again. To sink into you—I sat in the waiting room...

At the memorial, I think of monarchs

Years ago, a friend and I walked along the beach in the shadow of the bluffs jutting up from Lake Michigan. The air was bustling with the first hints of fall. Mist rose from the still-warm water and the whole stretch of shore was shrouded in a fog as far as I could...

Ardorglyphs of the West

I made up the word to see if I could get a horny dork like Megan to laugh in science class. But she didn’t. Instead she wrote back, “what the shit is an ardorglyph?” Mr. Reese was talking about aspens at the front of the room. He changed the slide from the...

Planning for the Procedure

Ensure you have somebody to take you home. Anesthesia and pain medication make it unsafe for you to get home on your own. The Serbian brothers at Luka’s place offer me mushrooms. Invite me to watch them fuck the groupie pressed between them. I giggle when Luka says...

Is it too late?

I'm afraid I wasted all my young years alone and now I’ll have all my old years alone I refused to love, until I loved the unobtainable, the years went by and you forgot, I ache every day and ask for it to stop, old sweats at two am, wide awake at four, sometimes I...

Sidewalk Eulogy

Two weeks ago, a rat turned up dead on the sidewalk. Well, actually, it couldn’t have been two weeks ago because I only moved down here on the twenty-third, so I guess it was more like one week ago. One week ago? Wait, you know what, that does make sense because I saw...

Backpack Alaska (abridged ed.)

Intro:             Above the valley floor, Mt. Doonerak’s rotting glacier calves, shrugs wet slabs away—not exactly what the Backpack Alaska! brochure advertised.  Below the treeline, black spruce and willow...

Notes on Cycles

on the train, streaks of sky, green, beyond this roaring, I’m an adult with hungry gums, today I stole a peach-pink bra, there is no milk to soothe, both our bellies swelled, a night or so ago, a dusty blue-grey couch, I am only looking for somewhere soft to rest my...

wordafterwordafterwordafterword

1 I’m on my way in as her mother’s on her way out as in out of this world as in lying on a hospital bed with her leg to be removed as in a carton of cigarettes a day as in never broccoli as in no friends as in a special universe in which to be alone as in no one to...

Destination

I am in a parking lot & Dad appears. I gather quickly this is a dream because I don’t own an Odyssey anymore & Dad passed nine years ago. I ask him if he is driving and he tells me to take the wheel. Question this more than his not having gray hair, or a...

Chiltepin

When Uncle gives you the hottest pepper from his collection of potted chilis, he doesn’t see a pepper. He sees the tiny crimson circle of the faraway Japanese flag during the Battle of Iwo Jima when he was 19. When you accept the pepper from Uncle, you don’t see a...

List of all the Things We Got Right

You were never shy with your smile—blazing white, upright vanilla snow cones.I was a ghost on the days you looked through me, but my heart would still halt mid-clang like a dinner bell had given up, a mother aware that her kids had long run off.Unlocked windows, an...

I do, I do, I do

A checkpoint rises out of the blackness. You stop. You wait. ‘Where are you going?’ the officer asks. ‘To see my husband,’ you lie, gripping the wheel. ‘It’s our anniversary.’  ‘Just checking you’re alive,’ the officer chuckles.  A torch flashes through the...

If A took everything

she left a shell for me to sleep in. i did a baby’s crawl inside. i loved the future in which nothing was taken. once, we belonged to the earth and our return will be long-awaited. my body aches. i am reminded the ways i’ve stretched thin. i anthropomorphize the...

Melon Call Ya

Get out of bed. Ouch. Get back in bed. Tell yourself you’ll start reading again today. Allow your eyes to become tired after six paragraphs; remember who used to read them out loud to you. Feel the sting of newfound silence. Force your mind elsewhere, to the empty...

No one will hear this, I say, to make it true

Under his covers, my youngest turns.  Says he can't sleep. His face looks like mine. You'd have a hard time telling who's who, save his blond hair. He likes to watch me write in cursive, so I take a sheet of paper and write I love you.  I was his age when my...

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