3 Poems by Joshua Sherman

Swimming With Dog Sharks

There is an Asian man on the subway
He likes swimming with dog sharks
I know this because I just overheard him
He said this to his friend:

“I like swimming with dog sharks,” he said
“It’s nice,” he said

I have never been swimming with dog sharks
It is a regret I didn’t realize I had
I don’t even know what a dog shark looks like
I picture a German shepherd underwater
It is gliding towards me
with fangs exposed
The dog shark has tiny fins
and they are wagging frantically
like so many tails

I should have asked the Asian man
what dog sharks look like
if only so I could picture them better
and relay the details to you

If I was ever in the water with you and saw one
I could say, “Look, there’s a dog shark”
My knowledge of dog sharks would totally impress
(I hope nobody asks any follow-up questions about dog sharks)

I guess I’ll just search “dog sharks” on the Internet
but it’s not the same

I often eavesdrop—it’s something I can’t help
but I’d never overheard anyone
talking about dog sharks before
So I really should have asked that Asian man on the subway

I should have asked him about dog sharks
I think I would have learned something

Michael Crichton

I want to write the Jurassic Park
of Great American Novels
But I’m worried that might actually just be
Jurassic Park

Library 

I call the help lines on subway ads

Look for answers in phone books

I have an encyclopaedic knowledge of failure,

and I’m a glossary of defeat

What’s a synonym for all of this?

My life seems beyond definition

—only because nobody has come up 

with terminology so bizarre,

vernacular so flawed

I read Web MD entries to satisfy my neurosis

There are sick plot twists in books 

about the Bermuda Triangle

that I read as a kid


Josh Sherman does run the @iamdave_hello Twitter account.

3 Poems by Stephen Ground

Long Afternoon

light blowing through
slatted bamboo | across
faded carpet spotted with
reds | mustards | strands
of pale pup fluff and
shreds of shattered
leaves | washing tides
rolling and ebbing like
the years of
psychedelic trees
inconsistent in design
and direction
independent of the moon

Leftover Beer

the
last
warm sip
the next
morning
is even
sweeter
than
golden
nectar of
dreamed
up gods
luring me
again
inside a
predestined
quicksand
Wednesday
by hungry
overlapped
voids
unwilling to
be shuttered
unfed

Don’t Forget Breakfast

my nostrils flare & flap like dry
gills suckling air unsettled with
churning richness of butter-
drenched popped corn sagging,
stubborn, in its own congealment –
salty, lip-puckering & liquified
sunshine crème. or maybe it’s
the peeled & boiled eggs I left in
a foggy bowl next to the sulfur-
dank sink, steam twisting, oblique,
for the hills. I squeeze them
between finger and thumb like
plump cysts to be certain they’re
ready and, pleased enough, I
lock them away, droplets dangling,
tucked roughly on a too-tight
shelf that squeezes them like
shackles on a beauty awaiting an
unavoidable fate as the next scheduled
snack for a giant, drooling ape.


Stephen Ground recently packed his life in his truck and drove to the centre of the continent, where he makes movies and writes poems about the weirdness in the air.

2 Liver Mush Poems by Graham Irvin

I WANT A LIVER MUSH WEBSITE 

i want a liver mush website 

www dot liver mush dot com 

i don’t need to build it myself 

anyone can build www dot liver mush dot com

i just want to read liver mush dot com every morning 

after i read pitchfork and a blog about jeans

i want liver mush dot com to replace twitter dot com

the headlines will read “liver mush dot com is the most popular website ever”

“liver mush dot com in works to purchase facebook dot com” 

liver mush dot com tastes like selling your soul to make a friend and i’m here

for it 

once liver mush dot com exists there will be subcultures on liver mush dot com

ingroups and elites and innovators making liver mush dot com their own

weird liver mush 

alt lit liver mush 

podcasts hosted by liver mush personalities

a new yorker article getting it embarrassingly wrong 

quote liver mushes on liver mush 

re liver mushes 

sub liver mushes 

“the creator of liver mush dot come deserves the guillotine”

everything runs its course

“the creator of liver mush dot com is hiding at a mountain retreat meditating 

on the vaguest bullshit you can imagine”

the creator of liver mush dot com abandons all thought of liver mush 

we have to deal with it now

good luck 

CHRIST’S BODY BROKEN FOR YOU

a slice of liver mush crumbles

under the spatula’s pressure

as i try and flip it


Graham Irvin lives in Philadelphia, PA. His column, SOUTH x SOUTH JERSEY, is at BULL: Men’s Fiction. He has other writing at The Nervous Breakdown, Maudlin Press, and the Neutral Spaces Blog. His twitter account is @grahamjirvin.

“The Unraveling” by Maggie Petrella

The unraveling began when the barstools I bought on craigslist were too short for the counter. I laughed at the thread rustling out of the side of me. That was a sign, but I didn’t know. I just tucked the string back into the seam and the stools under the ledge, and went about my day.

The loose thread rippled my fabric gently, quietly. I felt the cloth twisting in my ribs as I held my breath in the middle of the night, wide eyes staring into blackness, trying not to move. The whiskey tugged at the strand mildly at first, but pulled harder and harder every night. In time, molten liquor burnt reckless holes in the swatches.

I wove apologetic patches. “Sorry” makes everyone feel better, even if it wasn’t my fault. I would hem delicate sheer shrouds with heavy yarn, thick and sweet. I could tell that something was off, but it held me together for a time.

The last stitch unwound itself on the day I moved out. My new apartment is an unwrinkled bolt of whatever I want it to be – wool, lace, twill, joy. I hang silence like bunting on the walls, to brighten up the place. I took the barstools with me.


Maggie Petrella (she/her) is a poet based in Buffalo, New York, but currently probably lost somewhere in the continental US. Her poetry has appeared in Detritus Online, dreams walking, and The Daily Drunk Mag. She tweets @maggie_425.

2 Poems by Kim Kishbaugh

I like my life but it’s unexpected
After Erich’s tweet

college degree, $100,000 in debt, slinging coffeehouse lattes at privileged mommies and daddies whose kids want cake pops and won’t be quiet till they get them

scan the job ads looking for a way to put four years of rhetoric and econ and history classes to use but there’s 1400 other college grads and laid-off middle managers competing for every one 

I want to do good in the world, make change, care for my parents when they grow old – but right now that looks more like someone else’s future or maybe no one’s

look around it’s the same for everyone, nothing special about me, a whole generation getting skilled at punching cash registers and clearing drinks from tables, thank you ma’am just happy for the work

my best buds have had bad jobs, no jobs, gone back to school hoping it’ll be different the second time around, most of us still living with our parents, sleeping in the same beds we had before puberty

friday nights I’m cleaning locker rooms at the high school picking up the left-behind jock strap of some kid whose future I can predict cuz I’m living it now

don’t get me wrong – I like my life 
but it’s unexpected

RIP Munchkin

Spoon-feed a sick hamster
from a jar of baby food
and you, too, will form a bond

Days later, when she dies on the table
during surgery you never imagined paying for,
you, too, will cry

Then you’ll stifle your sobs and sniffles,
collect your child from school,
and prepare to break the news

Later, you’ll gather your family around the dining table
still mourning, and draw together, 
pictures of hamster memories

One will become the memorial card
your child hands to friends
to harness his grief and theirs


Kim Kishbaugh is a former journalist whose poetry and other stuff has been published in some places, including here on the Back Patio. She wanders through the world looking for magic and sometimes finds it. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram: @kkish.

2 Poems by Based Mtn

Blade Runner 2069
Our sleek, candy and blue lit, forged-cast titanium pizzas are mind meltingly mouthable and come with your choice of sides, like fried spanners, everything the wired doll needs. Necromancy in case of malfunction is not advised.


Aqua Vitae
Emotionally numb, I walk, down, down, down, into the ocean. The vampire squid are in bloom. I can’t extract soluble oxygen. Don’t wait up for me. 


based mtn is a poet manque from Sydney, Australia

“Do Aliens Paint Their U.F.O.’s?” by Logan Roberts

When I was in high school, my friends and I were vandals.
We talked about burning down a house, 
spray painted penises on dumpsters,
and on more than one occasion,
a crowbar would scream into a mailbox.

One time, we filled a milk jug with old paint
we found in the basement.

We put it out in the middle of a busy road
really early in the morning.

We hid in the bushes for like,
20 minutes.

Just as we were losing hope, something happened.

It was straight out of a science fiction film—

a tractor beam started dragging the jug into the sky
towards some hazy blue lights hidden in the clouds.

I still wonder today, why?

Why do aliens need paint?

I thought they liked butts and corn.


Logan Roberts is an artist and poet from Ohio. He tweets @hello_im_logan.

“1984” by Jason Love

In 1984 we watched music videos of 
Van Halen on MTV.  
1984 was the year of  
Michael Jackson, Ronald Reagan, Farrah Fawcett,  
and Andre the Giant.  

Eddie Van Halen died today.  
Like the King of Pop, Reagan, Farrah, and Andre,  
Eddie no longer walks the earth.  
He was 65 years old  
and a rock & roll giant.  

1984 was only 36 years ago   
(which is essentially a lifetime).  


Jason Love still lives in New Jersey. 

‘Birdshit’ by Laurie Welch

Birdshit

There is a canary
trapped in the mind.

But can anyone tell
if he’s alive yet?

Well, are you
having any ideas

about what dying isn’t
wanted for?

Birdshit

Isn’t what you thought was
how can I fake my own death
when I am probably already dead?

(I found a great canary
and he was so great
in the faked-up backdrop with me…)

Maybe a fake death is more painful.
You have to keep waking up
to plan for it

Eulogy for A Great Canary

He couldn’t replace himself
in a language famous for

making up mistakes. So he kept
all of his receipts on the nightstand

wondering oh how yellow
they get, and wrinkled.

You can’t return anything
to what it was

no matter how fake it was
trying to make it count.

Birdshit

I’m thinking the sky is
one coat on a hanger.

In a closet?
Don’t know.

What about these sequins
in our fists like it meant

we would probably have
ten billion mirages for an exit?


Laurie Welch earned an MFA in Poetry from the University of Nebraska. Her poems have appeared in LA Review, Forklift, Ohio, and others. She lives and teaches in Omaha.Attachments area

3 Poems by Giacomo Pope

I Was in a Band Too, Back in the Day

Men who lift
their gut
up over
a belt strap
while looking
in your eyes

earnestly
telling you
their jeans size
hasn’t changed
for 15 years.

I renewed my gym
membership recently.

I’m really excited
to get back into it.

Peacock

Spring reminds me of the snap
As my nail cut a daffodil from the ground.
I would place the stem behind my ear.
It was a terrible way to make friends.

Chainsaw Poem 14

No, I’m sorry.
You see, I tore off
the starter chain.

I wouldn’t be able
to turn it back on.

Giacomo Pope is the author of Chainsaw Poems & Other Poems (Ghost City Press) and the founder of Neutral Spaces. If you ask, he will do your maths homework for you.