Three Coal Poems by Ben Niespodziany

The Logger’s Daughter 

The logger longed for a daughter and when his daughter arrived he was crushed by a truck, stuck between tree and spleen. The daughter remembers nothing of her logger father but her hands do not dance around a saw.

When the War Formed

When the war formed in our corner of the room we moved to another corner of the room. We’re safe here, we said to each other, eyeing the corner with the war. When the war found us in our new corner we stepped out of the window and took to the roof. We could hear the war below us, fighting and writhing, such muffled exhaust. We’re safe here, we said to each other, our dying phones ringing with pleas.

Coal 

It was a long line to the coal mine so we left early and arrived late. The animals inside of the mine were praying or they were dead. We will try again and again.


Benjamin Niespodziany is a Pushcart Prize nominee and Best Microfiction nominee. He has been featured in the Wigleaf Top 50 and has had work appear in Hobart, Maudlin House, X-R-A-Y, Screaming into a Horse’s Mouth, and various others. He works nights in a library in Chicago.

I’M DONE DELLILO by Marston Hefner

IF DELILLO HAD A HORSE THAT WAS INTELLIGENT AND THE HORSE HAD THUMBS AND WROTE BESIDE DELILO> IF DELOILO TOAGHT THE HORSE HOW TO WRITE ID BE THE HORSE

IM DELILLOS HORSE. WATCH ME WRITE.

IF DELILLO HAD A HORSE INSIDE A VACUUM WITH NO AIR OR MATTER ID WRITE IN THE VACUUM. THROUGH THE VACUUM DELILLO CARED ABOUT MY IMPROVEMENT. I AM HIS HORSE. I AM DON’S PRIDE AND JOY. 

Continue reading “I’M DONE DELLILO by Marston Hefner”

“Venom Stained Band-Aid” by Nate Hoil

When you roughed up the snake charmer
you forgot about the snake
and got bit. 
Don’t worry I will bring a hammer. 
When I get there I will bring the hammer down. 
For now keep one eye on the snake and
one eye on your swelling venom filled blood vessels. 
Today started with such up-tempo preparation 
drinking coffee standing up
thinking you could walk into anywhere 
and talk them into hiring you full time, 
thinking you were headed towards an X marked 
treasure chest. 
Soon after, the day revealed its
inability to send positive plotlines your way. 
I even heard 911 left a voicemail message 
word for word imitating 
a voicemail message you left them 
proving you are a cotton candy brain. 
You’ve probably got soft fluffy bunnies 
in your picture book. 
I get bundled up indoors and go outdoors.
One week into January 
I am disintegrated and reconstructed 
into a bag of frozen vegetables.
I cartwheel over moving traffic headed your way. 
When I get there you are dead and
the snake is gone.
The charmer sees the snake in his dreams.

“it’s the christmas of killing yourself” by Eli Sahm

& i’m the michael jordan of shooting 
james bond in the stomach a dozen times
you can’t even handle a pork hammer sandwich
we didn’t come to america for the christmas 
brisket that drips off the bone like spoiled ice cream
because i’m the winnie-the-pooh of eating pussy
you’re the annie oakley of watching me eat pussy
you’re the harriet tubman of doing heroin 

Continue reading ““it’s the christmas of killing yourself” by Eli Sahm”

“It Is Another Friday Night And We Are All Avoiding Another Party We Don’t Want To Go To Full Of People We Don’t Want To See By Crowding Onto Our Shitty Couch And Playing Smash” by Timmy Sutton

Mostly we are waiting
For whatever crumb
From the table of grief
Has lodged itself into tonight’s parade
Of mashing buttons and gnashing teeth
To name itself then disappear

I get the sticky controller
That Mac spilled a Natty on in August
And am stuck jumping the whole game
But still beat Chris
Who’s almost a year behind in practice
And refuses to choose any character but random

Continue reading ““It Is Another Friday Night And We Are All Avoiding Another Party We Don’t Want To Go To Full Of People We Don’t Want To See By Crowding Onto Our Shitty Couch And Playing Smash” by Timmy Sutton”

Two Poems by Wallace Barker

You Can Count on Me

the drunken mess of my little brother
dragging him home in the night away
from the party he had become militantly
comical screaming in the faces
of other party guests and laughing
in a strangely glottal way i had never
really heard from him before
his breath humid with beer
and wet cigarette butts
his torn military jacket faded

Continue reading “Two Poems by Wallace Barker”

3 Poems by Josh Sherman

(cover art by Julienne Bay)

Batteries 

My Tupperware™ container of used batteries 
is a constant source of anxiety 
I’ve been putting batteries in it 
because they aren’t supposed to go in the garbage,
but the container is almost full now

I think they can be dropped off at City Hall
or a school—some sort of institution,
an institution where they have the solutions 
to these kinds of problems
Unfortunately, I haven’t been to any institutions lately
I serve no institutional purpose;
I have no institutional knowledge

When the time comes, 
I’ll probably just dump the batteries in the garbage
Or maybe I’ll recycle them
Yeah
Putting batteries in the blue recycling bin 
almost seems eco-conscious
But if batteries don’t belong in either the garbage can 
or the recycling bin, 
is one choice better than the other? 
Is one decision less destructive?
There is something to be learned here of intent 

I guess I could try the composter— 
try composting the batteries for a million years
Maybe Green Peace would laud my dedication; 
an NGO committed to keeping batteries out of landfills 
would be founded in my name

Let’s be real, though
When I inevitably throw the batteries in the trash, 
They will meet their landfill fate
They will marinate in the soil; 
their acid will mix with Earth

But until then, I’ll feel good 
just having them right here 
in the Tupperware™ container on my table
It’s like I’m saving the world a little

Dendrology

Have you heard about the great bristlecone pine?
It’s the oldest living thing
It can grow to be, like, 5,000 years old
That’s what it felt like when I met her
Like something 5,000 years old
was suddenly alive

I said, “Describe his apartment for me”

I was a detective of depressing facts
You were a criminal of nothing
You told me you’d hooked up with him,
and I thought you were joking

I said, “Describe his apartment for me.”
And you said, “He has these shitty leather couches.”
That’s when I knew
you were telling the truth


“The Biggest Douchebag In The World” by Jon Berger

I was at this hipster bar in Detroit

I have this special power
random people give me free food

This lady I was sitting next to at the bar ordered chili cheese fries
She did not seem like someone who ordered chili cheese fries.
She looked to be around 40 and took care of herself
perfect white teeth
She asked me if I wanted some of the fries

I said yes and she asked the bartender for another fork.
She asked if it was weird sharing her food with me

My friend and I laughed and said it happens all the time.

The fries between us. I poked them with a fork and took a bite.
Got drunker
talked

in walks the biggest douche bag in the world
Alone, wearing designer clothes and a big diamond watch

The biggest douchebag in the world sat up at the bar next to my friend.
ordered wine, asked a bunch of questions about the year of the bottle and shit

he worked his way into our conversation
And once that happened the conversation was only about the biggest douche bag in the world

He told us he went to Africa and started his own mining company
He wanted to impress us
The mine collapsed and 50 workers died
He had to flee Africa and lost a bunch of money
He was upset about lost money
He really wanted us to know how upset he was

We all just nodded along
But I couldn’t anymore
I said, “man, yer like the biggest douchebag in the world.”

My friend slapped his hand on the bar counter and tossed his head back laughing
The lady giving me food giggled
The bartender bent over, covered her mouth, her hair drooping over her face, she twirled around and quickly walked away

“What did you say?” said the biggest douchebag in the world.
I repeated with a dead stare, “I said you are the biggest douchebag in the world.”

His face got red.

not impressive

“what … you can’t say that to me.”

I took a big drink of my beer then said, “yup, sure can. Just did.”

I ate more fries
I closed my eyes

The fries hit good with spices. The cheese so gooey and warm
The beer so cold
Tasting like exotic berries

I knew I would never drink this beer again
I did not know what kind of beer it was.
I don’t know anything
And
never will

My brain swam in the warm electric pool of an afterglow acid tab
Smiling mermaids as brain cells
Don’t bother me

“You can’t talk to me like that. You need to show some respect.”
Oh
I’d forgotten about the biggest douchebag in the world.
I opened my eyes
Turned to him
“Bro, nobody cares about your problems. Get the fuck away from us.”

It got quiet.

The biggest douchebag in the world left without finishing his wine

The chili cheese fries were gone now

The lady next to me put her hand on my shoulder
I felt the tips of her nails softly pressing into my skin.
she asked if I wanted to try the mac & cheese next
I did


No call, no show.