2 Poems by Lee Anderson

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

venlafaxine at bedtime

my dreams have gotten
weird. it’s like
i’m remembering them more / but they’re longer
and deeper

like there was a thick pane
between me and my experiences
before,
i couldn’t
reach in / and feel myself
not like / digging into a cleft pomegranate.
the jewels / crunch / between my knuckles
the white mesodermal tissue / sticks
under my fingernails. i can’t
remove it even if i tried.

here,
my peers sit in white pods / on a lake
or maybe / an abandoned shallow
swimming pool
and i hop from pod to pod /
trying to befriend them.
here,
i get into fights / with my family under/ bridges
and i can feel that / crunch

for once.
i wake up
overjoyed.

 

 

i swallow people whole

today, the truth is
the mirror i shattered on
the bathroom floor.
the truth bends like that sometimes when
the timing isn’t right,
the silver buckling before it / snaps.

i pause, pick the / flesh from between
my teeth. one day,
i will know these rivers
as well as my own name /
but today is not that day.
for now, i will /
revel in the
beautiful lack of understanding
that the world has

of me.
one day, i will know my true / strength
but i sweep the / shards up
today
and wait for
tomorrow’s mistakes.
i am ready.


Lee Anderson is a nonbinary MFA student at Northern Arizona University. They enjoy pets with human names, decently-priced gluten free food, and videos of the ocean. They have been published sporadically but with zest. 

 

2 Poems by Stephen Ground

421719205_1842af28d8_o

Slow Kill

flawed, beaded light billowed and twisted
an effigy destined to drown in cold flame

two decade wick dipped in sour toxins
long & deep / enough to sizzle
undercover, then explode

a crippling spike of other worlds
poured in through an open door
flattened by chaotic ticks

utterly random / exactly on time
expectation’s death, unexpected

 

Space Toe

it’s quiet here, where I fought to be.
stable stars anchor my floating, helplessly
in control, an astronautical ballerino
missing the Earth and People after pressing to
erase them from skies by removing the factor of
me like a clicking crawling man-sized bug,
a big toe hopping astral stairs,
an interstellar metatarsal begging
mouthlessly/psychically to be
beamed inside a passing pod to recharge
my sometimes-hole, fill my cup with
alien love, then launch from the airlock
while my hosts are distracted with
bigger things and questions, implements
of labour – calipers prods tubes and cups suckling
air like suffocating catfish, half-baked little
greys sunk in tubes of goo. I float again,
frozen on the other side, xenomorphic,
free, a toe song away from a
welcome to feed, a fill and a doggie
to drag along when I leave.

 

Stephen Ground graduated from York University, then migrated to a remote, fly-in community in Saskatchewan’s far north. He’s since returned south, co-founding Winnipeg-based Pearson House Films, where he acts as writer and producer. His work has been featured in Bending Genres, Back Patio Press, Flash Fiction Magazine, Typishly, and elsewhere.

3 Poems by Kyla Houbolt

The water hole

Bless This Discomfort

No.
I am tired of almost everything.
Letting in what light there is.
Strange dolls lined up against
a mystery. It’s just a stone wall.
We all see how insane it is,
our world, that normal.
Time to sing louder
reset the clocks to no digits
slow cook all plans
dance on the head of a pin
watch yourself spin
widdershins then
sunwise then
both at once.
Banish masks. Breathe free.
After all, home is only
a temporary location
among the great wheeling stars
and the only real question
is who you are.

 

Water Hole

I’ve never seen a lion
but look at them, gathering at the water hole,
how thirsty they are, how they lap
up the brown water with huge raspy tongues.
Can you be satisfied with a picture? Say,
a picture of food? You can nearly smell
the spicy juices, but lions need
a real drink. Chasing down prey,
gnawing bloody joints — it’s thirsty work.
Once the lions are all gone,
we can imagine the water hole,
its loneliness, one lame
antelope drinking,
a breeze carrying dust.
We remember
not to inhale.

 

Mapless

How much of a life
is a long walk in the wrong direction
and who’s to say anyway
wrong or right because always
alongside the edge of any trail
there are all the things: small bits
of glass, occasional flowers, torn nests —
even once in a while a whole
book might be stumbled across
possibly a boring book of
formulas for calculating the girth
of fasteners but it’s equally possible
you’d find a book of your very own ancestors’
secret stories, and say you find
such a book but it is in a language
you do not recognize and it is
musty, besmirched, has missing pages
and say you pass it by
or even carry it to a trash bin
and toss it in and then
your ancestors begin
finding your dreams?
Who’s to say that was a wrong
direction? Maybe they just want
to say thank you, our stories
belong in the trash, we never
should have told them, allowed
them to be written, we will grant you
three wishes now. And then, as always
it’s up to you, how sweetly you’ll
make a mess of your life
this time.

 

Kyla Houbolt’s debut micro chapbook, Dawn’s Fool, is available from IceFloe Press: https://icefloepress.net/kyla-houbolts-dawns-fool-a-microchap/ . Most of her published work can be accessed on her Linktree: https://linktr.ee/luaz_poet and she is on Twitter @luaz_poet.

PABST BOY STUNNA WINNERS

PABST
PABST BOY STUNNA by Lindz McLeod
Dark liquid throttles past
his tongue; sweet carbon roars,
wrapped in black and white silk,
move into fifth gear.
Picking up speed inside a
crushed tin cage. Boy,
you sure do know how to dress-
wide grey tie like a safety ribbon,
topped by bewildered brows
coagulating into joy.

 

Method of Choice by Kyla Houbolt

Worked in a factory in South Baltimore when I was about 22.  Me and my girlfriend on our days off used to walk to the corner bar, sit around drinking Rolling Rocks and eating barbecue potato chips. Baltimore was a beer town. Lots of neighborhood bars opened at 6 am, guys would sit at the bar, have a few to take the edge off the day before their shifts.

Nobody we knew would drink Pabst though. It tasted like sour piss with sugar in it, watered down. Any bar that had Pabst on draft (and surprisingly there were a few) we’d buy a bottle of something instead. But much later I did find one good use for it.

I was living in San Francisco, and one year there was lots of rain after a drought. I was trying to garden. The snails were a terror that year; the sudden abundance of water must have made them overbreed. I watched dozens of them actually race toward the garden when daylight struck. Snails don’t much like tomato plants but that year they would eat anything. 

If you don’t want to use poison, the best way to control snails is to set traps. Beer traps. Pabst was real good for that. Cheap, and nobody wanted to drink it so a six pack could sit around longer than a day. Fill little cups with beer, leave them out for the snails to drown in. Which they did, en masse. Only problem with that method was occasionally forgetting the location of one of the traps. Leave a bunch of dead snails in a beer pool for too long and the odor will almost make you pass out. But it was Pabst, so you never felt like you were wasting good beer by letting all those snails rot in it. And there would always be plenty of the six pack left, to fill more traps with. Because nobody was going to drink that stuff. As for the snails, they died happy. Pabst was just fine with them.

Lindz McLeod is a writer and poet from Edinburgh, Scotland. She enjoys archery and picnicking in the moral grey area.

Kyla Houbolt’s debut micro chapbook, Dawn’s Fool, is available from IceFloe Press: https://icefloepress.net/kyla-houbolts-dawns-fool-a-microchap/ . Most of her published work can be accessed on her Linktree: https://linktr.ee/luaz_poet and she is on Twitter @luaz_poet.

“Trying Out New Author Bios” By KKURRTT

165982516_f56c43107f_o

KKUURRTT went to a college and a university.

KKUURRTT is a writer with few accomplishments worth mentioning.

KKUURRTT has been published here and there, but do you really even care where? Like does it actually matter or is this just the game we’re supposed to play to make it in the literary industry. If I don’t participate in the game am I relieving myself of the tension, or just exacerbating the whole situation? Is this bio in fact a bio? And that, in and of itself, makes things much worse?

KKUURRTT is currently trying out new author bios.

You might be able to find KKUURRTT at next year’s AWP.

Sent from KKUURRTTs iPhone.

KKUURRTT is too humble to write about himself in the third person.

KKUURRTT wrote for his sketch comedy troupe in college and a music blog in his twenties.  Somewhere in between he wrote a feature length movie that was released on DVD and select streaming services. It is now time for him to get a new life. Tick tock.

KKUURRTT was 6’5” and a friend to all birds. He is currently buried in an undisclosed cemetery where he doesn’t do anything but slowly rot. One day, soon, he won’t even exist as a distant memory, but merely a chiseled etching on stone. He can’t wait for that day either.

KKUURRTT can be found on twitter at @wwwkurtcom.

“Allergic To” By KKURRRTT

40780397295_c25e22f3c7_o

allergies and nose drugs don’t work super well together / doing ketamine in my friend’s apartment but they have a cat and I’m also snorting cat hair right up the old ding dong left right take me out back behind the shed and shoot in me in the back of the head / because its like are they even working am i even working? / why are drugs but allergies even and now i’ve got this psychedelic head cold or cloud hanging over my head and I’ve got to blow my nose but it’s all stuffed up and it’s like maybe I shouldn’t have taken drugs in a house where I’m allergic to a cat / normal people don’t get themselves in this situation do they? / but drugs are for taking so what does it matter if the place they are taken isn’t pristine perfect ideal conditions / this is just one life but which we live it / and now my nose is stuffed and my head is weird and this was all part of the plan so what am I even complaining about? / like I signed up for three months of a subscription service for good old stuffhead nose powder and I might as well do it exactly where it’s going to have the worst possible sensation for the passageways that run in and around and behind the skin of my face / blow it all out in a tissue and it feels really good for a second like really good like you didn’t blow all of the drugs out but you did blow all the bad stuff out and you’re clear minded for a fraction of a second and you remember how to do your taxes or at least that they’re due next week and you haven’t done them yet and then it’s all stuffed up again / clogged drain / pulling out a strand of hair so long that by the end it’s completely gray, and not just like a slight gray but a full and healthy not salt and pepper GRAY and eventually it keeps going and comes out as bone-chillingly stark white / snotty child boogies hanging off his face like somebody help him / he’s at the park and oh god doesn’t anybody have a tissue for that boy? / this is what I feel like right now / I’m this boy dripping non stop snot from his nose and it wont stop no matter how many tissues we give him or me / they dont have enough tissues they dont make enough tissues we need to turn factories into tissue making factories because this kids fucking nose is so runny it just wont stop not matter how many tissues we hand him and he blows and it keeps going / should we develop a plug for nostrils because this country is going into an economic depression just making booger paper for this boys nose? / oh please thank you for your service I know we didn’t solve anything but at least we addressed the issue / was it worth it, you ask? on the other end of the short high / yeah sure / snort a little kitten dander with a bit of kitamine and it’s like whatever it takes to get you out of your mind, right? / some people sniff jenkem so it’s like I can take a little bit of pollen in my powders, it’s all part of the process or the problem / Look it was an accident / I didn’t think about it alright? / I’m still gonna do it next time / Keep blowing my nose til morning.

KKUURRTT is glad you read his thing. He can be found on twitter at @wwwkurtcom

 

“That Firecracker Summer” By Mike Lee

49500484651_4d4933bb94_o

That Firecracker Summer

By Mike Lee

“Ouch. Damn. Damn. Damn!” Sarah muttered, knocking her water jug against her thigh, as she walked toward the Farm and Market road that led to the town named for her mama’s family.

The grass blades cut into her bare ankles. Sarah wore half-broken flip-flops; borne from teenage hubris and indefatigable obstinacy. This was of no surprise: she is the one and only from a family where the principal rule was do as much as you can get away with. Getting by and over it while picking up what falls off from trucks, with drug store sunglasses and cheap makeup easy game when the cashier is distracted, the topper moments later getting extra cash at checkout with the magic of using fast talk, slicked with sweetness and distracting sparkling gray eyes expressing words in honeysuckle bullshit artist hailing from dirt road 

“Ma’am, I’m sorry, but I gave you a ten.”

“Are you sure, sweetheart?” The cashier was already self-questioning her actions, her wedding band hand already hesitating over the open drawer.

“Yes ma’am…. It’s five, six, seven, and ten. I think you are a little short. Yes, ma’am, I gave you a ten.”

Sarah lowered her forehead to maximize sincerity. Not using eye shadow was a nice touch: this made Sarah look younger and more acceptable to born-again Christians obsessed about being so good that getting into their heaven was greased on the rails of their gullibility.

Always works—until it doesn’t. In this little town doing the chump change shakedown you can only do once, because you know how the country ladies love to talk.

Sarah reached the hillock and clambered over the wire fence by the two-lane asphalt ribbon cutting toward the town. Summers with grandparents were at once an agony and escape from bullshit. It wasn’t as if she was missing anything. Her life at home was too controlled to do anything beyond early curfews and vetted friends. Daddy, dope paranoid and cop shy saw trouble in everyone.

So it was mornings with flapjacks and bacon on the griddle. Afterward, wanderings across the grassy fields with cedars and mesquite spit by the devil’s angels cut across by gravel tracks and trails, and the two-lane blacktop that began at Dripping Springs, with a junction with the main Hill Country route out of Austin at the town square, before terminating in Bourne. When she was a child, Sarah was on that road late at night huddled under the blanket in the back seat staring at the night sky driving back from picnics and extended family get-togethers.

Sometimes Sarah brought a book to read, and always she carried her teddy. This summer, though the bear was back at home, placed on her bed pillow directly below the poster of Robert Plant. She felt she was too old to bring it to her grandparents this time around.

Her parents were old hippies, and the music on the old Realistic cassette deck reflected that. Dylan, Janis, The Weight by The Band.

Ah, and Pure Prairie League. That song. Amie, whatcha wanna do? It evoked that day when Sarah waited out front of the school waiting for the boy she wanted.

Yes, Sarah standing there waiting for that boy, all the while soaking in the rain of her favorite dream. Yeah, that is what this was like, and remained so.

The heat turned Sarah pink before the sun burned her dark, and she walked along the road on the edge of the shoulder because the hot asphalt—even in late morning—would melt the soles of her flip flops.

She passed the tire yard, and the old stone-built gas station turned into an antique store that no one seemed to stop by to shop. Corrugated tin garages selling farm equipment and aging pickups, no beer joints because this is a dry county, no alcohol available except at the clubs Sarah was too young to be allowed to enter.

But the Baptists and the Seventh Days tolerated cigarettes, so Sarah got her smokes at the convenience store, lighting one as she walked toward the town square.

The paperback bookstore and the café beside it were Sarah’s haunts. The bookstore didn’t open until noon, so Sarah had an hour to sit in the shade outside, smoking cigarettes and thinking of getting a fresh stack of science fiction. Currently she was into Le Guin. 

She drank her coffee, the queen of the concrete bench when Bobby arrived. He pulled up in his black top, cherry red Buick Skylark. While Bobby wasn’t the boy back in Austin, he offered freedom from flapjacks, had weed and did stuff she liked well.

She thought he’ll do as he leaned for a sloppy kiss.

Amie, whatcha wanna do. She thought about the boy she had waited for. But—black top, cherry red.

“Hey baby, the firecracker stand just opened up in Blanco. I want to pick up some Black Cats before they run out,” Bobby said.

“No M-80s, please,” said Sarah. “They scare the fuck out of me.”

“They’re illegal,” he said. “They ain’t gonna have them.”

Sarah did not believe him, but watch can she do. Behind her she heard the bookstore door unlock.

She flipped her cigarette spinning to the pavement.

“C’mon,” Sarah said, nudging Bobby. “There’s a book I want to buy. Then, we can go get the firecrackers.”

“Boom,” Bobby said, spreading her fingers in front of his face and stretched his arms upward toward the sky.

With a shudder, Sarah had a premonition. But she forgot about it until she remembered later, for forever.

Boom.