“VERSUS” by Alessandra Occhiolini

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There are only a few stories
There’s man against man
Man versus animal, animal versus man
(the order is different, it means different things)
Man versus woman, woman versus man,
Woman versus a lot of men (familiar), a lot of men versus a woman (too familiar)
Patriarchy versus matriarchy (think Zeus’ takeover of Olympus)
The matriarchy strikes back (unfamiliar, please write)
Man versus concept, concept versus man,
Reagan versus the AIDS crisis (a fiction in which disaster does not exist, too common)
Kangaroos versus the court, the court versus the kangaroos
The Russian government versus the uncertified bones of Anastasia and Alexei
The bodies at the door versus the coercive government (where will we bury them)
Man versus body, brains in bodies, brains that won’t die (we loved this in the ‘50s)
Mummies versus the tomb raiders (I only want to see it ordered this way)
Mall goths versus the elephant seals down at the beach
A genderqueer orgy versus the RA down the hall
Dionysus arrives in Thrace, battles city
King Kong and Godzilla versus the skyscrapers, King Kong versus Godzilla
Monster animal man body matriarchy versus those thunderclouds over there
The body in the corner of the classroom versus survival
That’s the thing, there’s only a few stories, If you’re not a mummy, an orgy, a kangaroo, how to tell yours? 

 

Alessandra Occhiolini is a writer and academic at UW-Madison who needs to learn to be more pretentious and stop talking about Godzilla. Her work has been published in Palo Alto Weekly, The Claremont Review, and The Swarthmore Review. 

“ANOTHER WAY TO STAY CALM” by Sean Thor Conroe

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Another way to stay calm is to focus on the miracle of your shelter.
Of your amenities.
Your refrigeration.
Septic.
To turn away from things like the length of the day, the stamina required to endure its sheer duration.
How there’s no one you want to go see.
Nowhere to walk.
How seeing no one, walking nowhere, seems somehow like Not Partaking.
Not Engaging.
To instead Settle In.
Windowside.
Porch-posted.
On your roof.
The wildest luxury: private outdoor space.
And if no private: public will do.
Public made private by your sphere perimeter.
By the focus field of the thing you doin.
The breath boundary of your book.
Out here nah’m sayin dwelling.
You gon’ be alright.

Sean Thor Conroe lives in Harlem.

3 Poems by Mike Andrelczyk

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sitcom

always imagine
a laugh track
behind every situation in your life

 

Halloween Costume Idea

The uncaring eye of a hungry shark
A negative of an eye
like blood swirling down a shower drain
an eye like a void
like I’m taking your fucking candy
and vanishing your life
doomed to nothingness
not even infinity ya fuck
just death
your kid will love this costume

 

Mike Andrelczyk lives in Strasburg, PA. He is the author of the chapbook “The Iguana Green City & Other Poems” (Ghost City Press, 2018). Find more work at neutral spaces.co/mikeandrelczyk.

twitter: @MikeAndrelczyk

 

3 Poems by Mike Andrelczyk

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motion sensors 

I like the lights that light up
Just a step ahead of me
Like they are
Following me from the future
And reminding me I am
Alive
And I am
Parked here in the cool lime green
Of Level 3 West

 

Jim Atkins

the sun comes through the automatic doors
like a dead star and stops
to watch a news report
on the opioid crisis
while Jim Atkins sings
you took the twinkle out of my eyes
and I am less and less
integrated with anything
even though that is everything

 

snakes can’t chase you on deserts made of silk

three vultures waiting in the teeth of a plow
two suns fast-forwarding up and down
one bar of soap dissolving into bubbles in the stream

tall grass whispering a story about a pie-eyed drunk
in the hallway of an apartment building he doesn’t live in
apologizing about all the dirt

and the pale corpse on the moon
and the tarantula crossing the linoleum floor
and the lurid gem in your cereal milk

sorry, I know, this should have been funnier
or at least came to a point

but one morning still in bed
you said that thing about the snakes
and that was good
remember that?

 

Mike Andrelczyk lives in Strasburg, PA. He is the author of the chapbook “The Iguana Green City & Other Poems” (Ghost City Press, 2018). Find more work at neutral spaces.co/mikeandrelczyk.

twitter: @MikeAndrelczyk

“This Certain Angle of Light” by Tyler Dempsey

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You stood
an
angle of light.

Four hundred feet
I choked uncontrollably
fear I’d missed
the personality

Fault or fracture
draws
us longing

To be a ray of light

Once seen
multiplies
a shape recognized.

Tyler Dempsey won the 2nd Annual Tulsa Voice/Nimrod International Journal Flash Fiction Competition. Other flash received honorable mention in Glimmer Train and New Millennium Writings competitions, and appeared in SOFT CARTEL, X-Ray Literary Magazine, and Gone Lawn, amongst others. He’s constantly learning to be Tyler Dempsey, with slight variations. Find him @tylercdempsey or http://tylerdempseywriting.com.

“sanctuary of my childhood church” by Cortney Collins

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a red velvet curtain hangs
in front of the chancel,
girded by a pale cross.

dad tells me this is
where the Ark of the Covenant
lives.

i imagine the bow
of a great vessel
behind this crimson threshold,
ready to be freed,
to slice that veil in half
and topple the white cross,
the way a cargo ship
cuts a delta
through floating ice
in Nordic waters.

i see that ship charge
out into the pews,
pushing aside bibles &
offering plates &
candlesticks
as it careens
toward the stained glass
window of Jesus
with a banner that says
suffer the little children
and shatters it into
a million fragments
of colored light.

all that’s left are
bits of flame and
shards of glass
as we watch the stern
of the ship
sail out of the church and
off into the Sandhills.

stupefied churchgoers
let hymnals drop
from their limp hands,
perplexity on their faces
as their children chase
the maiden voyager
out onto the plains,
laughing,
satin ribbons on Easter dresses
trailing in the Nebraska wind
like telltales on a mainsail.

 


Cortney Collins’ poetry has been published by South Broadway Ghost Society, 24hr Neon Mag, Amethyst Review, Devil’s Party Press, and others. She enjoys co-facilitating weekly poetry workshops for women in the corrections system in conjunction with SpeakOut! at Colorado State University. Cortney lives on the Eastern Plains of Colorado with her feline companion, Pablo. 

2 poems by Nathaniel Duggan

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Escape from the Intergalactic Lunar Prison

Four suns hang in an alien sky.
Suddenly it’s Thursday.
My heart feels transplanted,
feels like four hearts humping
away on a desert floor, and as if
I hadn’t surrendered enough this week
I go to the bar. Obviously my nemesis
there thwarts me at karaoke, seals me
forever in the intergalactic lunar prison.
So I learn to meditate, to long
for myself so completely I vanish.
This whole town weighs less
than a bird’s heartbeat anyway:
no one will care what the snow plows
carve on the wrong side of the moon.

 

°•°

 

Shark Week

Either I’ve run out of things to conquer
or they’ve run away from me.
Perhaps I am not fit for murky water.
I am a cruel governor craving
tropical getaways, solutions clear
as a boiled ocean. Most of all I want
to box the shark with hammers for brains
to death in a seafloor cage.
Nowadays everything I police scatters
to plankton, outnumbering the stars.
Nowadays I fight the skin cells
I lose each night, tiny aboriginals
shoving me out of bed, shadows
making puppets of my weighty gestures.

 


Nathaniel Duggan used to sell mattresses, now he is unemployed. He lives in Maine.

Twitter: @asdkfjasdlfjd