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A History of Grief, by Tom Darin Liskey

A History of Grief
There were nights I couldn’t sleep After you died. The cancer  That stole our father Took you as well. In Geneva Your ghost came Back to me In a rush of memories The coma. The hospital bed. The brass crucifix on the wall. The cancer growing Your broken body. Grief turned My eyelids Inside out Like celluloid; Flayed my heart open Like a dumb animal. So, I dreamed awake Like ghosts do Walking the narrow Night streets of Carouge Past alleyways Where Arab boys Sold hashish, My feet moving Always forward To a clock Without hands Every muscle Yearning for exhaustion Something to bring rest, But none ever came. I became a stranger to myself Hating the reflection I saw in darkened shop windows— The ghost of a drowned man Floating on black water. An image that only you would understand, My sister.

Tom Darin Liskey spent nearly a decade working as a journalist in Venezuela, Argentina and Brazil. His fiction and non fiction have appeared in the Crime Factory, and Driftwood Press. His photographs have been published in H…

Dennis Mahagin & Susan Tepper

Blow It Out
It comes from that place 
of hunger and thirst
I bow,
you drip honey in my tea
call it love
make ourselves
laugh, high
the room
spinning, ears ringing
colors across a dead ceiling.
I’m relevance relinquished.
You’re pirate without a ship.
Stranger things occur
and are 
occurring, 
I take off my blouse;
sparks pop 
with the buttons 
and darkness scissors 
the room.

Dennis Mahagin is the author of two poetry collections: “Grand Mal” published by Rebel Satori Press, and “Longshot and Ghazal,” from Mojave River Press. He’s also the Poetry Editor for a magazine called FRiGG, and sometimes plays the bass guitar in a rock band (and a blues band!) in Deer Lodge, Montana. 


Susan Tepper is the author of seven published books of fiction and poetry. Her newest title "Monte Carlo Days & Nights" is a linked-story collection set at the French Riviera, and just out from Rain Mountain Press, NYC. 'Live From The Algonquin Hotel' is her author/book interview series, plus Tepper runs the re…

Ryan Quinn Flanagan

Heavy Rotation
I see this fat kid get on the Tilt-a-Whirl at the county fair in a spinning tea cup all by himself and the weight of him sitting down bounces his cup noticeably so that the kids in the other cups all snicker and point. Even the ride operator laughs. I feel bad for the kid. As the ride starts up, the gears grind and everyone looks accusingly at the fat kid.
And soon they are spinning and screaming with arms in the air. I watch the fat kid go around a few times.
Blank-faced as though he doesn’t know he is there.

Ryan Quinn Flanagan is a Canadian-born author residing in Elliot Lake, Ontario, Canada with his wife and many bears that rifle through his garbage.  His work can be found both in print and online in such places as: Evergreen Review, The New York Quarterly, Rusty Truck, Red Fez, Live Nude Poems, and The Oklahoma Review.

Yuan Changming

Snowlining  
At the same height of             Every rocky mountain        Above all seasonal change You are widely cut open
As if to bite a whole patch of       Sky from heaven With rows of rows of Whale-like teeth
Yuan Changming, nine-time Pushcart and one-time Best of Net nominee, published monographs on translation before moving out of China. With a Canadian PhD in English, Yuan currently edits Poetry Pacific with Allen Yuan in Vancouver; credits include Best of Best Canadian Poetry (2008-17), BestNewPoemsOnline, Threepenny Review and 1319 others.

Glen Armstrong

The Bedside Book of Cryptids I was rehearsing what I would say.             I had lined up some cocktail toothpicks.
It was one of those days that makes us             believe in Bigfoot,
            the sky more shadow             than a maker of shadows.
We all need a little downtime.
            To be that which we’ve marked             our trails by.
            To speak like a Viking.             To smolder.
Most smoke and all spoken word             is imaginary, anyhow.
All but a few scraps of Viking bone             are likewise, imagined.
The more I invented what to say,             the darker the sky grew.
            The fewer my options.
The landscape and my desk and the best loved             stories of lovers everywhere
            were laid out before me.             The sharpened sticks love smuggles
            across the border all seemed
            highly unlikely.


Glen Armstrong edits a poetry journal called Cruel Garters and has three recent chapbooks: Set List (Bitchin Kitsch,) In Stone

Ryan Quinn Flanagan

Factory Stacks
driving into Sudbury from the West the scars of man spill over a billowing drug buy sky
rock that has been there for tens of thousands of years blown away in an instant for a new double lane highway
and they bury the slag so you never see it, the grass an unnatural green after a couple of years
so there are jobs and quotas
and things can go on like before
the hitchhiker along the side of the road thumbing his way to house parties where things
go missing.
Ryan Quinn Flanagan is a Canadian-born author residing in Elliot Lake, Ontario, Canada with his wife and many bears that rifle through his garbage.  His work can be found both in print and online in such places as: Evergreen Review, The New York Quarterly, Rusty Truck, In Between Hangovers, Red Fez, and The Oklahoma Review.

Mark Borczon

Hunting Dinosaurs With A Needle In My Arm
I smoke roses to get high And I get drunk on sun tea in the morning I fix my arm tattoos with sharpie markers And I collect artwork depicting bull fights My joints ache as a side effect from Medication for hypertension My muscles ache as a side effect from Back breaking, physical toil I am fifty one years old And I make twenty seven thousand Dollars a year
I don’t believe in heaven I do believe in vodka I did quite well in college But I struggle in life I never, ever confuse One with the other I know that youth is privileged And forgiving I know that middle age Is not
I no longer sleep on my mother’s couch If you do I kindly invite you To go fuck yourself Time and endurance earn the right To judge and so I judge
If life is pass/ fail Then everything leans on Who reads the work The bankers and the preachers Grade the test One way The poets and the dreamers Grade the test Another way
I h…

J.J. Campbell

admire those long legs
whispers in the haze not all these places give a shit about a smoking ban another round of something evil for the classy lady effectively using her cleavage to her advantage grab a chair and admire those long legs and come to terms with that bulge between her legs in the morning there's no time for questions of morality
when the liquor tastes this good

J.J. Campbell (1976 - ?) is currently trapped in suburbia. He's been widely published over the years, mo…

Matthew Borczon

a boy

just broke my 18 yr old daughters heart for the first time she says she’s afraid she will never sleep again and I hear her cry in the next room until sleep finally comes in the end it’s me who is up all night thinking about all the plastic horses and Barbie dolls I fixed over the years all the jewelry I untangled back when you believed my love and patience and glue could fix everything.

(For Hannah)
Matthew Borczon is a poet and navy sailor from Erie, pa. He has published four books of poetry; A Clock of Human Bones through Yellow Chair Review Press, Battle lines through Epic Rights, Ghost Train through Weasel Press and, new this month, Sleepless nights and Ghost soldiers through Grey Boarders press. He publishes widely in the small press. When he is not writing, he's raising four children with his wife of 20 years.

Explosives, by Howie Good

That night anything could have happened. It’s not often that you hear the blast of explosives in a place where children are sleeping. Either a bomb was planted or someone blew himself up. The cops are at the door right now looking for him. People should be concerned over what will disappear next. It’s like you’ve lost your car keys at night in your backyard and you’re searching for them through a toilet paper roll with a flashlight.

*
br> The open eye is very human. I saw swarms of people running away and my first reaction was “gun,” so I ran, too. The important thing was to go into another world. I would be a lot less afraid if I just knew what it was called. The scariest are the ones that stop right behind your heart.

*

Buildings are always crime scenes. The dress code is trench coats and fedoras. I heard him load his gun. And then I saw his gun was black. I’m going to leave flowers at the place where it happened. There was blood everywhere, and a sound like flies buzzing against …

Richard Merrill

Living without gps


Travel up the common femoral artery to the junction of walk and don't walk. Leave latitude for the heart, its sextant lost in the remains of route 66, or plot a solution; I've got my spine I've got my Orange crush.

Broken mirrors vivisect the man, all roads lead to Polaris, scattered bearings.   Find some other track side noodling in the dark, people losing time, lost being lost between the Crux and nebulas.

Steer into the long way home, find where found is hidden in the magnetic resonance, images of small intestine and appendix, the parallax of travel where no one can run to, or from.


Richard Merrill is an unrealized poet. As well as an unrealized farmer, architect, Lego artist, and ultracyclist. It took him a while to accept the term; trucker. Lately he has realized he is very much that. He hopes the reader finds some merit in his work.

Hillary Leftwich

I’m calling you out. You’re a dream but never a reality. You’re everywhere on the streets and in my sheets.
I work all day and catch the Colfax bus home at night. You’re everywhere on the bus; your smells, your faces, your rage.
There is a woman twitching in her seat from withdrawals. I’m too scared to sit next to her.
I see the face of the man who tried to kill me every day in my son’s face.
How can I love this boy with all my heart when he looks like the one person I hate the most?
I can’t wake up. I can’t move. The psychiatrist tells me it’s sleep paralysis but I think it’s you.
I can solve Algebra equations in my dreams but I can’t figure out how to live off $2300 bucks a month with three jobs and a son to raise.
Soon he will lose his Medicaid because of a man who cares more about the size of his hands than the size of his heart.
There’s no equation that solves how I can save my son from the seizures that are going to kill him.
My eyes aren’t brown they’re hazel but who gives a fu…

Matthew Borczon

Souls
(1)
hard to dispute the logic of a 5 year old Eliza wakes up shaking crying she calls my name
she is afraid of dying again this feeling swallows her like a hand inside a pocket.
(2)
As I hug her I stroke her hair and give her the Catholic answers my parents gave me at her age
don’t worry it’s a long long way off and when it does happen I will be waiting with grandpa and all your family
Eliza’s voice breaks “Daddy I’m the youngest so I will have to be alone for so long”
I think she cries her weight in tears.
(3)
I can only hold her feel scared I know alone it has ridden my shoulder daily since the war
I know fear of death I have held a dead child’s body and handed it back to its father
I know fear of life after war fear for men without legs or arms fear of my own life without faith with almost no soul left
fear of crowds and the feeling that no matter how many people are around I am still dying alone by minutes and inches.
(4)
I say nothing just pull her close cry with …

Sheldon Lee Compton

Bakadewin (Hunger)

The Wendigo stood to be seen in its full form, the emaciated body, skin so flecked and brittle it could peel open in a breeze, the ribs a resting canopy across its middle, its legs little more than a jutting tangle of pulsing veins. In its hand was the swirling ball of the earth. Its eyes were sad, a vivid green against the stygian backdrop of the universe. And though its eyes shined sadness, the mouth was a horrible circle of tongue and teeth, the insides slickened wet. Yawning, it stretched its boney jawline to breaking and revealed the depths of its throat throbbing with life, anticipation. It was as if the mouth cried separately to be nourished, like an infant trapped inside the face of a monster. In one blurring gesture, the Wendigo cupped its meal with shredded fingers and gave a long, sepulchral wheeze.
The earth did spray like stardust resplendent light from its mouth and was gone.
Sheldon Lee Compton is the author of three books, most recently the novel Brown…