Skullwise Cat





CloCKwiSE cAt/

IssUE thiRTy-SiX

Dedicated to the





!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !


is dedicated to an AmeriKKKa flailing toward the final death throes of

democracy. The pieces herein were not necessarily sculpted with that vividly

in mind, but the editor is ever-vigilant of the fact that Donald J. Trump’s

“election” to the presidency is the last nail in the coffin of what was always a

mostly faux-democracy/demockery to begin with. Sure, we practice some

democratic ideals, but the US has never been as equitable and just as the

pernicious propaganda would have you believe. Don’t believe the hype, as

Flava Flav so astutely warns us. Trump and his corrupt cronies represent the

impending death of thousands if not millions of innocent people to corporate

fascism. We repudiate this nihilistic vision of things and will work toward

dismantling dystopia at every turn, through our words and deeds. Art is a sly

and potent tool of subversion; use it with fierce ebullience against the

xenophobes/homophobes/bigots and misogynists!












Three Cheers for the DEATH of

Democracy! Thanks,


On November 8th, 2016, a catastrophe occurred: Donald Trump swooped in on a tornado of

discontent and was elected 45th president of the United States. And, it seems, he was legitimately

elected, although certainly voter suppression did happen, in the sense that swing states like

Pennsylvania and North Carolina reportedly had far fewer polling places than previously

(gerrymandering, anyone?), apparent hacking occurred in swing states like Michigan and

Wisconsin, and so on. Too, Trump won the electoral college, a dubious win at best, and not the

popular vote. Hillary claimed that - though by a margin too thin for comfort. Hillary should have

won against Trump in a landslide, not by a mere three million votes.

This rant is not going to delve too far into the travesties of voter suppression and the absurd

anachronisms of the electoral college, however. Everyone with an intellectual pulse knows that

those are issues of grave concern. What's not as apparent to even the smartest of cookies, though,

is how the Democratic Party is largely to blame for Trump's victory. To that end, five brilliant

articles by revered political journalists guide this episode of Catatonically Speaking, which I

excerpt extensively and annotate with my own commentary. I do this because these editorials

sharply deconstruct the matter in a manner that surpasses my talents and knowledge. I read

political analysis so that I may gain insights and reinforce my own articulated ideas and

unarticulated suspicions, but I would never lay claim to being a political analyst myself. On the

contrary, I am a rabid ranter who seeks to extract the truth from righteous sources.

From Naomi Klein:

"They will blame James Comey and the FBI. They will blame voter suppression and racism. They

will blame Bernie or bust and misogyny. They will blame third parties and independent

candidates...But this leaves out the force most responsible for creating the nightmare in which we

now find ourselves wide awake: neoliberalism. That worldview – [is] fully embodied by Hillary

Clinton and her machine. A hell of a lot of people are in pain. Under neoliberal policies of

deregulation, privatisation, austerity and corporate trade, their living standards have declined

precipitously. They have lost jobs. They have lost pensions. They have lost much of the safety net

that used to make these losses less frightening."

Sure, damning (and likely fraudulent) FBI accusations, voter suppression, and white supremacy

all conspired, among other things, to sway voters toward Donald Trump or candidates other than

Hillary. And sure, the Bernie or Busters, and third party votes also played a part in "stealing"

votes from Hillary. But we must put this latter point into clearer perspective. Hillary was never

entitled to votes to begin with. No one is entitled to votes - they must earn them. And if Hillary

did not earn the trust of voters who defected toward Bernie, a far more palatable candidate than

Hillary, and one that was dirtily disenfranchised by the Democratic party itself, or who voted

third party - or simply stayed home - then that cannot be the fault of the voters. It can only be the

fault of the candidate herself.

From Cornell West:

"White working- and middle-class fellow citizens – out of anger and anguish – rejected the

economic neglect of neoliberal policies and the self-righteous arrogance of elites. Yet these same

citizens also supported a candidate who appeared to blame their social misery on minorities, and

who alienated Mexican immigrants, Muslims, black people, Jews, gay people, women and China

in the process...This lethal fusion of economic insecurity and cultural scapegoating brought

neoliberalism to its knees. In short, the abysmal failure of the Democratic party to speak to the

arrested mobility and escalating poverty of working people unleashed a hate-filled populism and

protectionism that threaten to tear apart the fragile fiber of what is left of US democracy."

To be bitterly blunt, Trump is a fascist freak, and there is no way around this fact. My own

mother calls him an "orange anus." He is odious and incompetent. He's beyond embarrassing, far

more buffoonish and pernicious than Bush. He stokes hate crimes while stoking his own

aggrandized ego. President Comacho from “Idiocracy” has more substance and charm than


Which is why it's so confounding that the Democrats did not go full-force in countering Trump's

egregious excesses. He COULD have been easy to beat - and Bernie Sanders would have done so,

if he'd maintained the same compelling campaign as he did in the primaries - but the DNC chose

to run a sinister establishment candidate who pandered to the middle right and in the process

offered no real opposition.

From Cornell West:

"For 40 years, neoliberals lived in a world of denial and indifference to the suffering of poor and

working people ... Despite some progressive words and symbolic gestures, Obama chose to

ignore Wall Street crimes, reject bailouts for homeowners, oversee growing inequality and

facilitate war crimes like US drones killing innocent civilians abroad."

Initially, Obama was a refreshing step up from that clownish fascist, George W. Bush, to be sure.

He was articulate, handsome, dignified, presidential. Everything that Bush was not. And he

propagated a muted progressivism palatable to the masses. The problem is, most of his modestly

progressive ideals have been eclipsed by his catering to neocon “values.” He's droned the hell out

of seven Muslim-majority countries - SEVEN - and coddled Wall Street, cheating millions out of

livable wages - or any wages at all. He's fervidly embraced privatization of public schools and

even brought Black Lives Matter activists literally to tears through a callous dismissal of their

vibrantly valid concerns (mass incarceration, police brutality, declining mobility, etc.) On the

surface, Obama is everything we want in a president, but dig deeper - into the facts of his policies

and achievements, that is - and you will see that he differs only in very subtle ways from the

Republicans. Obama, like Clinton before him, is the very embodiment of neoliberalism, which

neatly sets the stage for neofascism to take hold.

From Tom Frank, The Guardian:

"The woman we were constantly assured was the best-qualified candidate of all time has lost to

the least qualified candidate of all time. Yes, she has an impressive resume; yes, she worked hard

on the campaign trail. But she was exactly the wrong candidate for this angry, populist moment.

An insider when the country was screaming for an outsider. A technocrat who offered fine-tuning

when the country wanted to take a sledgehammer to the machine ... [But] there was Bernie

Sanders, an inspiring and largely scandal-free figure. [He] would probably have beaten

Trump. And so Democratic leaders made Hillary their candidate even though they knew about

her closeness to the banks, her fondness for war, and her unique vulnerability on the trade issue."

Bernie Sanders galvanized millions by appealing to their sense of humanity. He refused corporate

contributions and rallied for the people by making genuinely progressive promises. Did he, in the

end, shill for Hillary, and not even appear to really mind that he was defrauded of the Democratic

nomination by the dastardly DNC? Why yes, yes he did, on both counts. And true, he isn't as

purely progressive as, say, The Green Party - he supports the evil entity that is the Israeli

government, for one. But for a while there, it seemed as though we were all about to Feel the

Bern, and it was looking hopeful that a Bernie/Trump match-up could not only make for

endlessly entertaining SNL mockery, but also that Bernie was The Guy to beat the fake-tanned

fascist. But the DNC made SURE that the war hawk, and Wall Street's beloved BFF - she who

differed the least from the Republicans - was the nominee. And they did this to their own

detriment, and to the detriment of most Americans.

From "Did Gary Johnson and Jill Stein Voters Cost Hillary Clinton The Election?":

“Now that Donald Trump is president-elect, despondent Hillary Clinton supporters need someone

to blame. Of course, they could blame the Democratic Party for willfully tipping the scales in

favor of ensuring the nomination of a candidate who is a deeply unpopular, extremely vulnerable,

scandal-plagued candidate... They could blame the fact that Clinton only won 65 percent of

Latino voters—despite running against a candidate who has threatened mass deportation of

undocumented immigrants whom he described as "rapists" and "criminals," and who promised to

build a Mexican-financed wall on our Southern border. At least 27 percent of Latinos voted

for...Trump! There were other voter problems Clinton ran into, which likely dwarf any effect

third party voters had on denying her the presidency (not least of which because it's ridiculous to

assume third party voters would automatically go to Clinton). But self-reflection is hard and

blaming the deliberately marginalized voices of third party voters by the Democratic and

Republican parties is easier.”

This article is perhaps the most solidly spot-on. The Democrats will continue to blame everyone

but themselves for their pathetic losses. The Democrats cannot even rally Latinos to their cause,

even in the face of being crassly slandered with untrue epithets and menacingly threatened with

deportation. Could this maybe POSSIBLY reflect the fact that the Democrats offered no concrete

reason to vote for them, given the Obama administration’s embrace of the shameful ICE

(Immigration and Customs Enforcement), which operates private prisons that treat undocumented

immigrants in the cruelest fashion?

The Democrats and their bullying minions will always find reason to blame the Green Party,

despite how the Green Party actually advocates for their rights (unlike the corporate, corrupt

Dems), and despite how a true democracy entails incubation and fostering of third, fourth, and

fifth parties. Look at European democracies for proof. I would say that the Democrats lack

facility for self-reflection, but I think a truer statement would be that they are just fine in only

offering the façade of being a foil to the Republicans. The fact of the matter is, they offer a few

conciliatory gestures toward progressives to lure them into supporting their mostly neoliberal

programs, which fall right in line with Republican mandates.

From: "Is This the Death of the Democratic Party? The Death of the Liberal Media? And

by the Way, Bernie Would Have Won":

“There have always been two narratives about this election. One predicted what actually

happened in the end, while the other missed the boat completely. Narrative 1. Bernie Sanders

represents the unachievable in American politics. Hillary Clinton is the candidate of experience

and realism. Donald Trump is a temporary phenomenon, feeding on passions and resentments.

The election is about the cultural values of tolerance, openness and identity, therefore we must

support Hillary. Anyone who doesn’t support Hillary must be suspected of harboring racist and

misogynist feelings themselves. Narrative 2. Bernie Sanders is offering necessary correctives, at

the most minimal level, to the excesses of the neoliberal economy of the past 40 years. Clinton

represents the essence of said neoliberalism, embodying its worst practices, from trade to

immigration. Donald Trump has tapped into real economic anxiety among those who have lost

under neoliberal globalization. This election is about returning equal economic rights to all

citizens. Only Bernie Sanders has the winning message for this explosive situation.

Those who believed in Narrative 2 - which included a vanishingly small proportion of

intellectuals - got it right at every turn. Trump won, Hillary lost, and we are in for a very bad

time. Essentially, those who chose Hillary over Bernie during the primaries, when we had a

clear choice, voted for Trump, since Bernie was always the stronger candidate against

Trump. The polls consistently proved it. Given a clear progressive choice in the primaries,

the Democratic Party establishment went for the failed neoliberal candidate of war,

inequality and injustice. At the moment, the entire party stands discredited. The philosophy

of catering to upwardly mobile professionals, exploiting immigrants in the neoliberal setup

while simultaneously expounding their virtues, and constructing a façade of moral

righteousness while ignoring the existence of poor people of any color, stands discredited.”

Mic drop. Curtain slams shut. Fuck Trump, and fuck the Democrats. GREEN PARTY, or




By Natalie Crick


She was born

In summertime, with

Rainbow smoke pouring out from her mouth

Like journeys in the sky.

Doves danced in her hair.

Who would know

What was to happen next?

She lived in a chapel

Of glass walls

And God was like

A beautiful deviant to her, a brother maybe.

Madeline. Oh, how I will miss you!

What is life all about?

It is like upsetting all of your best friends and

Turning around

And around

And around



Blood, it pumps through her veins.

Her heart is white jelly.

Madeline, when she was born

She died inside herself.

Sssshhhh, everything is quiet now.

Author bio: Natalie Crick, from Newcastle in the UK, has found delight in writing all of

her life and first began writing when she was a very young girl. Her poetry is influenced

by melancholic confessional Women's poetry. Her poetry has been published in a range

of journals and magazines including Cannons Mouth, Cyphers, Ariadne's Thread,

Carillon and National Poetry Anthology 2013.


By Matt Alexander

Author bio: Matt Alexander is a scientist and writer in Philadelphia. When struck by

insight, he shouts “Bazinga!”,not “Eureka!”, although he has nothing against Archimedes

and is in fact himself an avid bath-taker. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in

Maudlin House, After the Pause, and Five2One Magazine. Follow him on Twitter at



Stop belching? If only it were so

Easy to chew your food

Thirty-two times before swallowing

Aerates it more than your average

Person would never listen to my prodigious digestion

Borborygmus; no I’m not farting

Or consuming media mixed by a food processor.

Cooking at home is both healthier and cheaper

But watch out for the soil foods

Exercise too

Is now the pastime of the capitalizers

Because have you seen the price of a Crossfit class?

Can you believe how fat some people are?

Slobs, uncouth like a visible bra strap

Uncultured like yogurt fired in a kiln

Flatulating, flailing like a fish in our economy

Trickling like blue rain drops down my Uber’s window

As it does on the plains of Kansas

Which is not a bad gig but offers no protections either

With all my equally-loved tax dollars going

To the you-know-who-s

Burping with their Double Big Gulps

Jasper says you should have to pass a test before you can vote

Why We Run

“There’s a naked man in that window”

Said the howling dog and it was true

The man was changing as we all

Are and the dog was that man’s

Best friend but the canine had amnesia

Which is a sickness of your mind

In which you hear all possible

Projections of the past so none is true and

All our minds have it to some extent

The man had no other friends as

None of us do to some extent

(Except those select few with dogs)

So the man came to the window and said

“Here Fido” and the dog was frightened

Who was this man who knew his name?

And ran as far away as he could which was

Quite far because he had no idea who the man

His master was and how could any of us know

Who we are sleeping with or learning from

That’s why we run

Some would say were born to

How could I have known; you couldn’t

Either so that’s why we ran blindly into

The street and were crushed by trucks

My Love Has Gone to Voicemail



By Jon Wesick

Finally, a smart, self-assured woman who seemed interested in me! Wet met at the gym

as I was starting my work out on the weight machines and she was finishing hers. She

was a tall, blonde wildlife biologist who told me about her trip to Australia and in a

throaty voice described Sydney’s topless beaches. I called her that very night.

“This is Susan. Leave a message after the beep.”

I responded in my best radio DJ voice and then waited for days. Nothing. When I called

back again and again, it was always the same – self-conscious pulse, unsteady palms, my

dry-throated anticipation at the first ring, and the slow-motion rejection of that recorded


After more tries I decided I would date her answering machine instead. It made sense.

We’d already spent more time talking with than I had with Susan. The night before our

date I only slept a few hours. At the office the next day I fantasized about removing her

battery cover and then slowly undoing the Philips head screws to reveal the holy of

holies, her circuit board. Oh the thought of those womanly transistors, capacitors, and

diodes took my breath away.

Somehow, despite my distraction, I made it through the work day. Then at 6:00 I drove to

the restaurant. As I searched for a parking spot on the narrow streets, doubts assailed me.

Would she be a boxy unit that resembled a Soviet refrigerator or even worse only a

disembodied voice residing in an electronics rack at Verizon headquarters? My

underarms began to exude that vegetable-soup smell I get when I’m nervous. I wished I’d

brought some deodorant and a clean shirt.

When I arrived and saw her sitting atop the clean, white tablecloth, I realized that I’d

worried for nothing. She was beautiful – a slim model with graceful lines, rounded

corners, and healthy brushed-aluminum skin. Most of all, her clean, user-friendly LCD

display set me immediately at ease.

After I ordered Lobster Florentine for me and a cobb salad for her, we got to know each

other. Although I find it hard to talk to answering machines, her nonjudgmental manner

loosened my tongue. I related my dreams and fears. I even confessed my most intimate

sexual fantasies. Unlike so many women she didn’t monopolize the conversation with

complaints about competitive female coworkers and dastardly ex boyfriends. When I

asked if she would go home with me, she didn’t say no.

Being a gentleman, I won’t describe the details of our lovemaking except to say that

although stiff and cold at first she warmed to my touch and soon proved extraordinary.

Now that she’s moved in, I’m enjoying the rich, emotional life, I’d thought only belonged

to others. No more hours of work broken up by an empty apartment, lonely meals, and

bad TV. Now, whenever I feel the need for human contact, I reach out and hear, “This is

Susan. Leave a message after the beep.”

Author bio: Author of the poetry collection Words of Power Dances of Freedom, host of

the Gelato Poetry Series, and an editor of the San Diego Poetry Annual, Jon Wesick has

published more almost a hundred short stories in journals such as The Berkeley Fiction

Review, Clockwise Cat, Space and Time, Zahir, Tales of the Talisman, Blazing

Adventures, and Metal Scratches. One was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Jon has a

Ph.D. in physics and is a longtime student of Buddhism and the martial arts.

The Death of Quetzal Blanco

By Tracy Thomas

For Deus Ex Machina

Can you give us a hand? We have this lost civilization to unearth. We have this

candlelight to rescue from an uncertain fate. Hanging from the trees the apples are so

shiny and black down under the ice of the lake. The songs they’re made of would like to

take us faraway. This conversation you’re having with god-knows-who, it’s just a breeze

blowing through the stockyards of our mind. You have birds sleeping in your trees. You

can’t be that bad. There’s Cro-Magnon Man and Neanderthal Man and the man atop the

horse in the square all green with verdigris. Can you give us a hand? We have these

songbirds to devour. We have these beavers to send into space. When they come back

they’ll be muscle men kicking sand on wimps on the beach. There’s no need to get all

rattled. These holes through your hands and feet, they could be a good thing.

Verdigris Man has joined the Foreign Legion. He wants to see morning mists

among the cinnamon trees. He wants to see where choucroute comes from. I want to see

ants carry away a civilization. If you can read this you’re already viewing earth from the

vantage of a symphony. Your phone is ringing. It’s just the wind playing some broken

reeds in the winter shallows. We’re on fire in this dump truck. Our ashes are bound for

nowhere good. Our ashes will fertilize black apples growing on the bottom of some

Russian lake. There’s fish down here that want to eat your houseboat. I’d shake your

hand but mine’s doodling voodoo. This horizon you’re admiring has gnawed its foot off

to get out of the trap. Your phone’s ringing. The birds sleeping in your trees, they let the

devil pet them.

Have you ever been lost in the rain? The rain on lily pads? The rain on black

apples? The rain on the far side of forever? The rain on Verdigris Man? He’s playing

pinochle. There’s nothing like pinochle in the rain. I’d shake your hand but I’m blessing

this rabid fox. They say the god from the machine will wreck your story. What if the god

from the machine is your story? Here take this ball and run that way. Mind the quicksand.

Your four year old is sharpening her incisors on my forearm. Can you give us a hand?

We have these tombs to desecrate. I swear I have knowledge to impart. Maybe it’s from

the same god-knows-who you’ve been talking to.

Verdigis Man has come loose from the pedestal. He’s catching the redeye to

heartbreak pie. He’s got a critical meeting with the god from the machine. He’s catching

the redeye to salamander sky. I’m under that sky with an umbrella of wolves. I’m

practicing speaking the language of rust. Many of its syllables once held things together.

Can you give us a hand? We have these warthogs to fertilize. Verdigris Man is visiting all

the capitals of the world. No matter where he goes he invariably winds up for sale at a

swap meet. He wants to be in a snow globe with all the capitals of the world. The sun sets

differently in all the capitals of the world, sometimes in the east, sometimes in the west,

sometimes chased by bullies down a dead end alley, another time with lace stockings

hiding in the wilds of the Balkans, sometimes dressed in Versace with sewage on its

shoes, sometimes in a mush of gray flowers where millipedes live. Sometimes it doesn’t

matter that there’s a sunset because you’re just beautiful anyway.

If I were beautiful like you, I’d live like it’s always sunset and cable cars would

always wait for me, cable cars of green travertine, even if there’s never been a cable car

in my city. Exotic birds like the one’s you see in National Geographic and in aviaries

would whirl around me, quetzals, lyre birds, golden pheasants, birds of paradise, cocks of

the rock, a rainbow of trogons and fly catchers. They’d be my language that everyone can

understand. I’d bathe in blue cream with little boats of sandalwood and patchouli. I’d pay

with a currency of glances. I’d live in a white shipwreck on the banks of the Oise. These

lines would be more than a circus of fuchsias; they’d be geckos in the wassail bowl;

they’d be diamond marmalade. They’d be bare feet and lavender. If I made a fire, it

would murmur the depths of all dances because fire’s witnessed them all. In the snow

globe we’re living in, it’s always snowing at twilight.

This hand you’ve given us, it’s been sipping pineapple schnapps. It’s been fooling

with black water and the muffins of the dead. It pulled the rip cord. This hand you’ve

given us keeps turning the pages. There’s nothing on those pages but places to hide ashes.

There’s nothing on those pages but the revenants of shattered things. This hand you’ve

given us, it’s shredding cabbages with a violin; it’s a spray of transparent roses. Let’s call

it, water garden on the moon; let’s call it, ten broken songs for the everyday. Let’s call it

the badlands of saints. The God from the Machine is watching the hand. Now he’s

dissolving the hand in aqua regia to transmute it into old fashioned Christmas candy,

electric madrigals, into dew on sleeping birds. He’s a blue collar god. He’s a god with

calluses. He’s a working man’s god. He’s everygod. He wants to be a god on a pedestal.

He wants to live in some paradise and drink nectar and ambrosia. He wants to be one of

those gods that eat offerings at the crossroads. But he’s the Deus Ex Machina. He’ll fix

your dead end. He’ll give you back your happy ending. He’s the God from the Machine.

He’ll drop the boom on you.

Author bio: Tracy Thomas has lived his entire life in the vastness of the American West;

Colorado, Wyoming, California and finally Arizona, basically a non-stop Frederic

Remington painting. His poems have appeared in The Southern Review, The Journal and

Bombay Gin. Since his plans for graduate school have fallen through he’s

currently searching for a cave in the Sonoran Desert where he’s hoping to begin

experiencing St. Anthony-style visions.

Artwork by PD Lyons

Artist bio: PD Lyons was born and raised in the USA. He has been traveling and living

abroad since 1998, and is now residing in Ireland. He received The Mattatuck College

Award for Outstanding Achievement in Poetry. His two books of poetry include Searches

For Magic, and Caribu & Sister Stones: Selected Poems, published by Lapwing Press,

Belfast. A third book, Myths Of Multiplicity, was published by Erbacce press, Liverpool,

as part of the 2014 Erbacce International Annual Prize The work of PD Lyons has also

appeared in many magazines and e-zine/blogs throughout the world, including The

SHoP, Books Ireland, Irish American Post, Boyne Berries, Virtual Writer, Slipstream,

West 47 Galway Arts. He was recently selected to participate in the Human Rights

Consortium at the School of Advanced Study, in a University of London publication

titled ‘In Protest: 150 Poems for Human Rights’. He blogs at:

Scorpion Night

Bad Flowers and Graveyard Dirt

(for Patti Smith)

By Tanaka Mhishi

Momma grew bad flowers

outta her butt cheeks

tak-a-tak rhythm

running a train track

though cotton panties.

She found me in the street

the way Albertine found her

the way Jean Genet found her

the whole bastard ancestry

of rock star poets going back

to God herself

and now God is shucking oysters at the deli,

watching sweat hiss down salt arms

until it evaporates

halfway to the ground.

Momma I've got a belly full of poems

and a demon on my back, and all

the demons come with backups;

show them a cruciform and they'll reboot.

Momma they raped me by the station.

Momma they chained me to the earth.

Momma my body doesn't fit like it used to.


I went to sleep at night thinking I would die


I went to sleep at night hoping I would die


I went to sleep at night, woke up in Père Lachaise

breathing bone dust.

Momma where were you in the night?

Where was your holy voice

and your wrists that look like mine?

Where were your wings when I needed them?

Momma I have seen the face of God

and she is awkward

Boy elbows. White shirt.

Sainted urchin. Car crash alchemist.

Momma thank you.

You taught me rough

and weird

and urgent

Momma thank you.

Thank you.


Editor’s note: This poem originally appeared at Voicemail Poems, Winter 2015.

Author bio: Tanaka Mhishi is a poet, playwright and performer who lives in London,

England. His work has previously appeared in such publications as Rogue Agent

Journal and Words Dance- for full details visit

Authenticity & Other

Bona Fide


By RL Black

A polyester man carried a basket of plastic produce through the self

checkout at an all night grocery store. A nylon woman waiting in the next

lane over watched him as he carefully scanned and bagged his items. The

self-checkout lane was usually empty. It’s like a bird with two heads. The

nylon woman never uses the self checkout, but she listens when that bird

sings, and now she thinks the bird isn’t singing, it’s weeping, and it sounds a

lot like the beep, beep, beeping the register kept making when the polyester

man waved his artificial apples like they were the real thing.

Author bio: RL Black is EIC of two online journals, and her own writing

has been published across the web and in print. She tweets @rlblackauthor.

cross hatch

by !"#$%&'#


adjudication, roots spiral violent ) desecration!

form nails, simple irony!

feet – unwood end calluses !

these nude heels!

press in !

stead – soil, groans in abominable !


! swaths loins!

simmer, a shimmer spinner — in!

! god we trust!

! ! through cranium fissures!

! eyes brim bright – no other!

silver air-flipped ( deconstructive. Dime


red ! ! ! ! ! ! ! end!


it leaks, it strains, it fails!


wise motion!


it retains it!

to bend!

into a fall


fierce (in !

desiring !

to live!




im purity!

in it!




seas !

smoky red!

red (in it !

in it)!

ruby bled.!

Author bio: JR Vork is a connoisseur of empty space and minimalism.

My Mother's Decision

By Jeri THompson

Combing gray shag carpet

through her toes, she drags her feet to the coffee,

cigarette in hand. She greets another day

with yesterday’s mascara sliding down her face,

and the far-away gaze of the dead.

Coffee and a cigarette. Time to get up,

get out of bed, get dressed and get ready - one more day. She breathes deeply

the blaze-back sulfurous sizzle that shifts the weight of her world.

Sunrise/sunset. Day-in/day-out. Day-after-day-after-day.

Racing to place. Racing to finish.

There was nothing to look forward to as she tunneled

through her future. Restful weekends were what her co-workers had.

Her Saturdays and Sundays were booked in advance –

rounding-up children to help wash, scrub, dust, change bedding while

cooking only what her alcoholic-couch-humping-husband wanted,

while fetching his beers.

She lived a life sentence unbound by chains or cages.

I prefer to remember my mom the way she was

after work (paid) and work (house). We three would watch TV

together on the couch, in the security of the 1970s middle class glow.

There was serenity in that room. Then father’s car pulled

into the driveway. My brother and I ran to our rooms, closed our doors.

We left her alone, in the dark room, with the TV still aglow.

Before she became a widow, she picked up her own bottle

and continued to drink her way into a second husband.

They had similar tastes for cheap bourbon and chain-smoking.

My mother’s life was scripted from the moment she fell for my father;

pregnant before marriage, shaming her family.

That single choice buried her long before the cancer

overtook her in the final stretch of the race

Author bio: JT lives in a Coastal community in So. Cal. She loves riding a Trikke on the

beach trail.Nominated for a Pushcart Prize a few years back. You can find her work in

Mas Tequila Review, Chiron Review, Yellow Chair Review and Rat's Ass among others.

Author bio: PT Davidson is originally from New Zealand, although he has spent the past

25 years livingabroad in Japan, the UK, Turkey and the UAE. His poetry has appeared in

Otoliths, BlazeVOX, streetcake, After the Pause, Sein und Werden, Futures Trading,

Snorkel, Clockwise Cat, Tip of the Knife, foam:e and Your One Phone Call.

History Smudgings

By Devin Taylor

Gaius Julius Caesar lived

once upon a rhyme

on a bready diet of canned pico

de gallo and fennel seed

crackers; the bags under his eyes

were brim filled with watercolor

drippings. An infinite supply

of handmade macaroni paintings

could not mend his broken

heart; he died as he lived.

Centuries later, landscapers tread

where he once trod, and face full frontal

the floral dilemma of their procession.

To landscape or not to landscape?

—the rhododendron conundrum.

And soon enough, within the bosom

of the Colosseum’s basin, a crop of

a flock of skyscrapers bloomssomed,

and we dubbed it Fifth Avenue!

Meanwhile, back at the ranch,

the pines of Rome sprout

coniferous mustaches,

and don togas and tunics

and deciduous lisps while

gossiping the fate of the forest:

—How's the weather, Woody?

—Quite upwardish, actually:

Upchucked from his tall tower,

Toting a bad comb-over and coonskin cap,

A forecast predicting ethnic cleansing arrived,

Piggybacking upon a mallard down the brook

Just over the rainbow which countrymen

Call the “Rubicon.” We must prepare

Harvest festivities posthates! Let no

Block-of-wood be without casket

Or cork of Baccunysus's finest, for

This absurd drought has finally ended,

And we can now wash away

The dryclean stains of dirty history:

No more shall Carthaginian ashes

Dust our unleaded aguapipes,

Like undissolved Tang residue;

No more shall undocumented Barbarians

Scale our Great Walls of Hadrian's.

Let the Kool Aid of the past flow

Through the sewered veins of the future

And make great again this fair skewered nation!

Trump Le Monday!

From province to provincial,

a trend emerges: No self-respecting aqueduct

is seen without adjacent bottles of Dawn

dish soap! News travels fast of the next

big utopia, a cornucopia of suds free of filth.

Misbegotten bubbles, blowing in the wind

like Monsanto seeds, would have you believe

otherwise. The general consensus of these

expatriates: Expunge every sponge from

the universe, and then some; it will get you nowhere

regardless. Elbow-deep in the oily

past, I cannot help but agree.

Author bio: Devin Taylor studies English and Creative Writing at

Washington College. His work can be found in The Poeming Pigeon, In

Between Hangovers, The Lake (UK), and Silicon Heart Zine. He has

forthcoming publications in Gargoyle, Five 2 One, MUSH/MUM, Pure

Slush, and BLYNKT. He plays bass and electric kazoo for the DC area band

Knuckleberry Finn.





CD REVIEW By Alison Ross


Adam Ant once said that there were no fresh ideas, but that the way he

"clashed" different things together was novel. I think that is a discerning

assessment of the discrepancy between perceived innovation and genuine

novelty: Nothing new under the sun, except how disparate ideas are

juxtaposed and sculpted into a coherent whole.

I would say that Big Grams' EP most assuredly falls within the purview of

this perspective: The collective, made up of OutKast rapper Big Boi and

New York dream-pop duo Phantogram, cultivate writhing rhythms that

collide with jarring cadences and tangle up with southern-fried raps. There

are guest stars on the EP as well, such as Skrillex (bouncing away on the

fluffy, freak-funk of “Drum Machine”) and Killer Mike, whose unfortunate

feature is a misguided melange of misogynistic lyrics and bland beats.




But otherwise, Big Grams far outpaces Phantogram's newest LP as far as

sonic inventiveness. Three, the only Phantogram I own, is a largely

lackluster affair, zealously mixing styles and sounds in an effort to entice,

but ultimately to leaden effect. There is one standout song, the searing single

"You Don't Get Me High Anymore," which swoons and swirls like

psychedelic disco. Other than that, the album is sterile. Give me the hiphop/electro-pop

clashing mash-up of Big Grams any day.




Trumpus: A Christmas Tale

By Heidi Hough

ONCE UPON A TIME, in a land not nearly far enough away, there was a malevolent red

Christmas ball of a fairy godfather.

Trumpus was his name.

“Godfather, godfather!” screeched a group of small-of-heart but big-of-mouth peach

creatures who wore red-brimmed hats. “Give me back my country!”

The red Christmas-ball man cackled maniacally. “It will be great again!” Trumpus boomed.

The small but many screeched in pleasure.


“Mother,” asked a small African-American girl in South Carolina, because it was statistically

unlikely she would have the pleasure of saying “Father,” “Mother, what made America

great?” She had seen the news and the headlines.

And Mother could not answer because the small-heart, big-mouth peach throng were saying

“God” and “themselves,” and she did not want her daughter to have to think about how it was

actually on the backs of her ancestors, before bed.


“We’ll get ‘em out!” hooted the Trumpus and the peach horde hollered.


“Grandmother,” asked a young boy in Los Angeles, of Guatemalan descent. Grandmother

handed him his backpack. His statistically-probable parents were already hard at minimumwage

work. “Now that Trumpus is The Most Bigly Fairy Godfather will we have to leave our

home? Like the Mexicans?”

Grandmother sighed, because she knew the peach creatures did not know the difference or

care that she and her Mexican neighbors were American citizens. She said in Spanish,

because she loved her language and wanted her grandson to too, “No se. Posible.” **

“Grab her by the pussy!” crowed Trumpus, like a big, orange rooster who got out of a cage

that should have stayed locked. “Cock a doodle doo!”


The orange horde did not look surprised that Fairy Godfather Trumpus the red Christmas ball

was suddenly a rooster, but then, they did not become surprised if he became a beanstalk or

Michael Corleone, because Trumpus also wore a red hat and was making them offers they

couldn’t refuse.

“Daddy’s?” asked a tiny set of twins in Wisconsin, who loved cat videos and were eerily

gifted at navigating parental controls on YouTube. “Why would Trumpus want to hurt a

pussy? And why are all those ladies in swimming suits standing around a pumpkin?”


One dad dad face-palmed while the other dad hit pause. One of the twins was a girl, which

meant she might think walking in high heels and swimming suits made her pretty, and one of

them was a boy, who might grow up to think it was okay to talk about ladies in swimming

suits that way. Never mind how unrealistic it was to be a talking red Christmas ball.


That night all the parents tucked their children in and told them a fairy tale where, even when

things seemed lost, like little children in a dark wood, those same children stuck together and

when the spell ended at four-years-later midnight, they realized it had been just another big,

bad story, with a new chapter on the next page.

And it was still possible it all ended happily ever after.

**Potential good news for small Guatemalan boy! Trumpus has announced he likes

Mexicans who are good Americans. It is hoped the peach horde reads good news.

Author bio: Heidi Hough is an MA candidate in creative writing at Dartmouth College in

New Hampshire. She has written for various publications including The Los Angeles Times

and Huffington Post. Her last name is pronounced 'huff' not 'ho,' and her memoir about a

cultish upbringing is forthcoming. More writing can be found at at .

Photography by JR Vork

JR Vork writes: “The photo was taken at Discovery Green in downtown

Houston when they had an angel sculpture exhibit. I was trying to capture

its clean lines. Later on, the edits were done after reading Dante's Inferno

for a poetry class; the red really brought out a different perspective.”

Artist bio: JR Vork is a connoisseur of empty space and minimalism.



Author bio: Author of the poetry collection Words of Power Dances of Freedom, host of

the Gelato Poetry Series, and an editor of the San Diego Poetry Annual, Jon Wesick has

published more almost a hundred short stories in journals such as The Berkeley Fiction

Review, Clockwise Cat, Space and Time, Zahir, Tales of the Talisman, Blazing

Adventures, and Metal Scratches. One was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Jon has a

Ph.D. in physics and is a longtime student of Buddhism and the martial arts.


Do you enjoy fine dining but worry about what it will do to your weight? Then come to

Clark’s Mixed Martial Arts Buffet where you can work off that 16-oz. prime rib in a lifeor-death

struggle against a trained mixed martial arts fighter.

Start out with our all-you-can-eat, soup-and-salad bar. You’ll need that energy when you

go three rounds against Rick “Mad Dog” Slaughter to win a chance to advance to entrees.

At Clark’s MMA Buffet we feature ham, chicken, turkey, our famous prime rib, and a

realistic venue to test your martial skill. At Clark’s MMA Buffet you can experience joint

locks, eye gouges, and finger jabs to the throat all while working up an appetite for our

delicious side dishes. And if you win three matches in a row, we don’t give you some

silly trophy. We give you cheesecake!

At Clark’s MMA Buffet paramedics are standing by so you don’t have to miss dinner by

going to the emergency room. We’re open from 11:00 AM to 9:00 PM every day. That’s

Clark’s MMA Buffet, where a bone fracture means your meal is free!


July’s tragedy in France shows that it’s time to get serious

about ending truck violence. Each year motor vehicles kill

as many Americans as firearms yet the automobile industry

continues selling SUVs and pickup trucks to a gullible

public. As a longtime car owner, I can honestly say that no

civilian needs to drive anything larger than a Prius. That’s

why I’m urging you to tell your legislators to stand up to

the AAA and pass the Gasoline Bill.

The Gasoline Bill is a common-sense measure that will

keep gasoline and diesel fuel out of the hands of criminals

and terrorists. It imposes a ten-day waiting period on all

fuel sales and restricts them to authorized purchasers who

have been fingerprinted and had their identities stored in a

government database. The Gasoline Bill also limits sales to

three gallons.

If we act now, we can end truck violence. And if you still

want to drive a truck, join the Army!

Acceptance paraded gaily

By Andrew C. Brown

It is the colour of flesh

I lick tenderly exploring tasting testing teasing ravishingly responding wriggling and

writhing excited with anticipation voraciously you baptise with an exploding tsunami of

arrival staining my sheet that is flecked with this shade

opening similarly sunlit curtains

seeking sanctuary welcoming warmth of serenity feeling stuttering belonging released of

shackled decades’ tantric zenith shattered satiates me your peak reaches crescendo your

breath grabbing your lipped colour is now your cheeked hue

hope is coerced from fate

racing for life raising funds to seek a cure for our ills I support my daughter as she walks

and runs the yards and miles

though family ties are not always seen to be in this

disaster strewn contact is never deliberate and is always given unconditionally

it is still the colour of friendship and passion

in its midst not a worry grateful for their loyalty curating my insincerity through unsure

liaisons always aligning attempting searching for perfection

within blancmange

wobbling colour of childish fun swaying seductively then splattered and splayed spoonful

fed and savoured and

as a cartoon character

chasing elusive acceptance of clattering and chattering commotion and fuss a figure of

fun figuratively pointed at and speculated upon detecting Englishness it is as

summer breezed elephants begging receipt

when wafting buds of spray watering children share toys and buzz of laughter while

adults choose tickets monotonously addictively aspiring to win maybe a pot of jam or a

goldfish on a bike?

it is acceptance paraded gaily

certainness marched together uniform crew cut and long there is no model but an

individual searching for acceptance and equality am I up to my definition as I savour

assimilate accept and thrill you within the shimmering Palermo colour of our merging


It is the colour of flesh opening similarly sunlit curtains hope is coerced from fate though

family ties are not always seen to be in this it is still the colour of friendship and passion

within blancmange as a cartoon character summer breezed elephants begging receipt it

is acceptance paraded gaily.

Author bio: Andrew performs spoken word as The Grandad from Knowle West, an

estate in South Bristol that has the dubious distinction of being among the worst hundred

areas of the UK. He is an ex-prisoner, a recovering addict and winner of a community

regeneration award and also a Koerstler Award when he was serving his time. His poems

have been accepted for publication in both the UK and the US, he recently had an

invitation to read his accepted poem, Tidying up after Helen at the launch of

Incandescent Mind in Long Beach and Orange County...he has had to turn down this kind

invitation due to him not being allowed entry to the States because of his criminal

record...and he would not be able to afford the fare.

DON JUAN by Nelly Sanchez

Artist bio: For around ten years, Nelly Sanchez has been making cut-outs. She has been

published in journals such as Sonic Boom, Sein und Werden, Le Pan des Muses. She has

also participated in exhibitions: in 2012 in Paris, in 2014 in Italy and France, and in 2016

in Paris She also has illustrated writings like La Falaise était nue (Bernard Baritaud),

Venus in fur (Sader-Masoch). Her artwork can be seen at


By Michael Lee Johnson

Author bio: Michael Lee Johnson lived ten years in Canada during the Vietnam era. He

is a Canadian and US citizen. Today he is a poet, editor, publisher, freelance writer,

amateur photographer, and small business owner in Itasca, Illinois. He has been

published in more than 880 small press magazines in 27 countries, and he edits 10 poetry

sites. His website is Michael is the author of The Lost

American: From Exile to Freedom, and several chapbooks of poetry, including From

Which Place the Morning Rises and Challenge of Night and Day, and Chicago

Poems. He also has over 92 poetry videos on YouTube as of 2015.

Iranian Poetry Lady

The first time I saw your face, cosmetic images, dust, dirt, determination

fell across your exiled face. Coal smoke lifted with your simple words and short poems.

Your meaning drawn across a black board of past, rainbows, future

fragment, still in the shadows.

Muhammad, Jesus twins, only one forms a hallo alone.

One screams love, drips candle wax, lights life, shakes, love.

I encrust your history in the Ginkgo tree, deliverance.

I wrap in the branches the whispers in your ears a new beginning.

I am the landscape of your future walk soft peddle on green grass.

I will take you there. I am your poet, your lead, freedom clouds move over then on.

I review no spelling, grammar errors; I lick your envelope, finish, stamp place on.

Down with age I may go, but I offer this set of wings I purchased at a thrift store.

I release you in south wind, storms, and warm in spring, monarch butterflies.

Your name scribbles in gold script.

Night, mysteries, follow handle, your own.

Flight of the Eagle

From the dawn, dusty skies

comes the time when

the eagle flieswithout


without aid of wind,

like a kite detached without string,

the eagle in flight leaves no traces,

no trails, no roadwaysnever

a feather drops

out of the sky

Perfect Pruning Shears By Linda Leedy Schneider

I am the bright blue Iris that blooms by her

back door. I am as precious as the black tulip

that is rooted in her heart.

Five paper wrapped messages wait on my stalk.

They will open sequentially in this garden

of symmetry. Scatter yellow truth again.

Everyday she comes with golden shears

prunes away the less than pretty,

daffodils withered and wasted

naked tulip stalks

peonies whose heavy heads

have sagged to the soil.

In this garden of symmetry security sameness

every flower must be

the picture on the seed packet.

We flowers think she should--

Let us be!

Tall as the cosmos,

free as the one eyed daisy,

rambling like the rose.

She could climb the cherry tree

live in the shifting clouds of beginnings.

Let humming birds nest in her hair.

Be washed by rain until

the golden scissors

grow green.

Author bio: Linda Leedy Schneider, winner of the 2012 Contemporary American Poetry

Prize, is a political activist, poetry and writing mentor and psychotherapist in private

practice. Linda facilitates workshops including The International Women's Writing

Guild's Annual Summer Conference which will be held July 7-14, 2017 at Muhlenberg

College, in Allentown, PA and The Manhattan Writing Workshop which she founded and

has led since 2008. Linda has written six collections of poetry including Some Days:

Poetry of a Psychotherapist (Plain View Press)


Book Review by ALISON ROSS

The music of The Cure has haunted my dreams and nightmares since 1985, when I

discovered it a bit fortuitously at a record store in a Texas college town, where I grew up.

Up until that point, I had been enamored of arena rock, mainly, and so The Cure's mad

hatter sensibilities were a revelation to me. Once The Cure infiltrated my existence, my

persona morphed into something altogether more cerebral, and yet whimsical: I began to

inhabit that pesky, precious paradox that The Cure practically invented.

Laurence (Lol) Tolhurst was a founding member of my beloved band, and while he no

longer plays in The Cure - having been kicked out in 1989 - he has written a brave and

beautiful book drawing on his experiences in the group, and his life beyond. And what a

tumultuous life he has had, both in the band and out, navigating alcoholism, failed

marriages, the death of a daughter, and the fracturing of friendships.

In the end, of course, he finds redemption and his life takes on the shimmering tones of a

sunrise in California, his adopted home.

Of course, the story starts in the 70s amid the suffocating fog of the lead-grey town of

Crawley, a dreary London suburb. The post-war milieu is oppressively dull, seemingly

deliberately designed to stultify the masses.

But feisty teenagers Lol, Robert Smith and Michael Dempsey were having none of it.

They sought refuge in music and proceeded to work on sculpting a new sound from the

still-smoldering ashes of punk, one that was as much a reaction against their environment

as punk and yet that had an airier, less aggressive vibe. (Granted, The Cure "signature"

sound later evolved into a melange of styles, but suffice it to say that The Cure's early

work was very much responsible for molding the post-punk template.)

Not that you will find much in-depth discussion of the sonic side of The Cure - and that's

okay. Lol's book is not meant to delve deeply into that topic. The title alone hints toward

more personal concerns, and that is exactly what Lol sets out to do: Write a memoir.

As such, often his book reads like private diary entries that we are somehow privvy to -

which also somewhat embarrasses us. Should we be getting this far into Lol's headspace?

He spills his soul to us, hardcore Cure fans, and we listen, keenly, because we were there

too, at least in spirit. We grew up listening to the Cure, intently, and their sound, their

lyrics, and their look shaped who we were, and who we became. We crave a meaningful

understanding about what went into making this band whose influence on modern music

and culture has been seismic, to say the least.

Cured gives us an intimate glimpse into the beginnings of the band, and the shifts that

took place in order to cement The Cure's place in rock history. And it gives us an intimate

glimpse into how being part of a band from a young age, in collusion with inhabiting a

failed family in a soulless suburb, can wreak havoc on someone's internal equanimity.

For hardcore Cure fans, Cured is a tear-jerker, because Lol is a cherished past member,

he of the curly mop and boyishly forlorn face, serving up his talents as both drummer and

keyboardist, helping to define The Cure's enticing groove.

But Cured also doubles as a story of hope and redemption: one man's tortured flailing

through dark, dank tunnels toward eventual daylight. For that reason alone, even casual

Cure fans will find much to devour.

The only "issue" I had with the book is that I felt Lol was almost too deferential toward

Robert Smith. I too love Robert Smith, but he's not without flaw, and certainly Robert,

with his own penchant for drink and drugs, helped "enable" some of Lol's problems with


But then, Robert was Lol's childhood best friend, and as Lol makes explicitly clear

throughout the book, it's important to let go of resentments to find full happiness.

Wallowing in hostilities will only corrode one's health. As Robert himself intones, "I

must fight this sickness; find a cure."



For Jeff Morgan

By Alicia COLE

There's the strangest beat on the street

when the Crescent City Boogaloo Beasts

come to town: wild cats, wild dogs, wild

emus; wild, man, just wild. Wild men also.

Are the women also wild? Howling!

It's Frenchmen when the drums kick up,

when the last drummer kicks down and

the crowd is left sobbing. The woman

at the bar is tearing her dress.

There's coffee stains on her legs, like

she woke up cumming java -- wide awake

and needing one last jolt. I tell her, "Baby,

it's just cumming down, off the caffeine.

There's another drink. One last rolick

for the road. It'll take you to your other

Wonderland." So I leave her at the bar,

and let some other gentle escort her home.

I'm looking for someone in the corner.

It's the Crescent City Boogaloo when

everything has stopped, everything

is waiting to go, everything is being

cleaned up for tomorrow. Everyone,

just about everyone, is leaving to go home.

I'd like one last cigarette. I'd like one last

emu. I'd like one last dog, but just for

walking. I already have a cat.

There are beasts in this town. And they

are snarling and growling. And howling

and yipping. And sniffing the wind.

There's no one other than me

lighting that one last cigarette. But

this is poetry. You always have

to light your own cigarette. Especially

when you're still riding the Boogaloo

and looking for someone in the far left corner,

who, while he may light your smoke,

was never given the task of lighting your

artwork, not really, not truly. Inspiration

isn't the same as having the Boogaloo inside.

Author bio: Alicia Cole is emerging from a year of transience and homelessness.

Thankfully, she is still writing. You can find her at

and on Goodreads.

Kill Switch

By John Grey

I would kill in a kind of deliverance,

a love-in-response when I feel urged to utterance,

and draining of the bloody water

extracts a victim, clubs it, takes it –

the standing deaths a-strange-land, these Chinatown

counters, aisles, between the man's fingers,

but the one who killed it, strikes, these American strikes,

devour the world, would devour the universe

to sing its praises if it could.

I would kill. I would kill my way in human terms,

in the water, that liquid violence for killing, I would kill,

my reading a kind of killing, my killing

a diminishment, a noise of nerve and pulse,

I would kill everything

not just this targets before me

but meat, the way that butcher did it,

the deaths close to home, kitchen deaths,

those lives gutted, now twitching on the scales,

the tottering deaths in the streets,

the world that would kill this race,

three hundred million worth of dumb,

on the cutting board, to the sink, guts it,

drops it into the searing pan,

utters it, urges insanity on the body of the world,

is urged to think: What is it in me will not let me kill?

What is it in me would dearly love to see it?

Author bio: John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently

published in New Plains Review, South Carolina Review, Gargoyle and Big

Muddy Review with work upcoming in Louisiana Review, Cape Rock and

Spoon River Poetry Review.


By Eric Cline


a videoclip

of a boy playing with dolls.

hold up now—


i will not

slow down. read a story

about a child,

whose genitals were mutilated at birth,

that got raised as a girl, yet

felt like a boy, yet

felt like nothing

could save them from what they were

molded into.

those children died

by their own hands


by everyone else’s hands.

children. plural. it’s happened

more than once.

i’m boycotting Target—

shut the fuck up. just shut the fuck up.

progress doesn’t happen quickly, you have

to wait, be patient...

tell that to the queers

whose hands flung the bricks

that broke down millions of closet doors.

tell it to the very real

mad scientists, the straight scientists

who still debate

the natural explanation

behind our natures. tell them:

progress takes time. don’t rush to make a decision

about the meaning of other lives

without first examining

what makes your own

clock tick.

Author bio: Eric Cline is a gay male poet who lives in Dumfries, Virginia and serves as

a staff writer for Yellow Chair Review. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in

The Commonline Journal, Rat's Ass Review, Crab Fat Magazine, After the Pause, and


ART by St. Germain

Artist bio: St.Germain is wary of logic in art. His studio practice alternates

between orchestrating controlled accidents and piling up material to bury the

past. Like a happy-go-lucky fool, he goes wherever his intuition leads.


27/10/19 45p


By Maximilian Bowden

Late last night the earth unraveled,

revealing itself to be flat.

Scientists were alarmed, saying

‘we do not, as yet, know much’

and declining to comment further.

It is understood that whole crews

and entire container-ships

have plunged into the endless abyss.

The unraveling was sudden.

No rescue was ever attempted.

Many of the sailors chose sea

over the novel depths ahead,

in a predictable fashion.

The ramifications are still


There is no contact outside of

our atmosphere, satellites flung

towards empty space. Astronauts

are unresponsive, feared long dead.

Economists estimated

Multibillion damages.

Readers booked on cross-continent

flights are urged to go online to

their airline’s website and log in.

New terms and conditions want ticks


subject-to-change fees may have changed.

The National Star has promised

your understanding, dear readers.

We have given our word.

This is not an easy time for


As existing social structures

break down, we predict hardship, sad

glares, religious fervor and zeal.

In precautions against damnation

all theatres, bars and cinemas

are closing ‘til further notice.

Some armies are amassing on

high ground to defend from rapture

while researchers develop pills.

At these times we must listen to

instructions broadcast, 8am,

from local government ministers,

designed to ease the transition

to a new, flatter, world.

Our live feed will give updates on

the impending revelation,

alongside articles about

our favourite Edge getaways,

and ‘A Scrap of Hope to Cling to’:

post-unraveling short stories

from all your favourite authors.

Author bio: Maximilian Bowden is studying literature at the University of Essex. He has

had work published on the Humans and Nature blog and will feature in the September

issue of Ink in Thirds.

(place holder)

by Mark Noack

the spectators crunch popcorn

men & women colored in Crayola flesh

now the lights are off

the correct placement of words & images

women crawl under expectations

the rats move in

there are books movies the news

we are provided opinions

& meaning?

whose words?

i pretend that you exist

a particular person in a particular space

days occur daily

i write you into this stanza

i begin the process of revision

ah you’ve arrived in the language

i imitate conversation

long silent dialogues

you are delineated through exposition

my ubiquitous fingerprints

you are looking for alternatives

am i a boy or a girl?

i am outlined in chalk

blushing gums bleeding

you validate my smile

words spill out of an open wound

a tongue plunges into your throat

the boy beside you drools

a seagull stalking a bag of Doritos

you spit out a fingernail

another voice

the tongue drops prepositions


demands a verb

you chew your hair

your mother takes the gun

i cower behind a phrase

i don’t want to bore you

the answer is over there

ehind all that mute applause

a comfortable coffin

the consolation prize

bodies stop bleeding

(control-alt-delete) reset

my small mind idling

scene five: kitchen conversation

instant coffee in small glass globes

i appreciate the adulation

i press the virtual button

somebody will arrive to mollify me

Author bio: Mark Noack is a network administrator & former chef from Maine, with an

interest in poetry of the postmodern period & of the late 20th century with a particular

focus on LANGUAGE, Oulipo & their derivatives. Recent writing has been primarily

based on various "engines," or structured formulas or processes, with some randomness

thrown in, to produce unexpected language. He recently had a piece published in The

Found Poetry Review's "Bowietry" issue.

Postcard #5 by Bob Heman

Truth Bomb: Democrats Need to Embrace

Progressivism or Else Move Out of the Way

By Steven Singer

Democrats, liberals and progressives of every stripe - you’re not going to want to hear

this, but hear it you must.

We’ve gone around for too long thinking we’ve got all the answers, but obviously we


Hillary Clinton lost. Donald Trump won. There’s something seriously wrong with what

we’ve been doing to get that kind of result.

There are some hard truths we’ve got to understand, that we’ve got to learn from.

Hearing them may be painful. Many of us will fight against it. But we can’t keep fooling

ourselves anymore. All that “hope” and “change” we’ve been waiting for - it has to start

with us, first.

We’re stuck in a loop and we’ve got to break ourselves out of it. And the only way to get

there is to break the track wide open.

It’s time to stop mourning.

Trump is President-elect.

Yeah, that sucks. Hard.

He’s going to protect us by enacting policies to hurt brown people. He’s going to make it

harder to get healthcare. He’s going to trample the Constitution. He’s going to offer up

our schools to private companies to do with as they please in secret using our tax dollars.

He’s going to legitimize white nationalism and embolden racists, bigots, sexist,

xenophobes, homophobes and every kind of hate group imaginable. He’s going to hand

out tax cuts to his megarich campaign contributors and tax us with the loss of government

services. He’s going to use the office as an opportunity to enrich himself and his

billionaire buddies and then go on social media and tweet about how he’s fighting for

working people.

I don’t like it any better than you. But it’s time to face it.

Sure, Clinton won the popular vote. Sure, there’s a recount going on in Michigan,

Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. I’d love for it to overturn Trump’s victory. But I have zero

confidence that it will. And I refuse to let it blind me to the urgent need for change.

The first thing we have to do is own up to one essential thing: Hillary Clinton was a bad


The people were crying out for a populist champion. We had one in Bernie Sanders. He

would have destroyed Trump, but we blew it.

I’m not going to rehash it all again, but there’s no way you can honestly say the

Democratic primary process was fair. Party leaders were clearly in the bag for Clinton.

They ignored her negatives and what their constituency were trying to tell them.

This loss belongs squarely on the shoulders of establishment Democrats. It’s not the fault

of the electorate. It was the party’s job to convince people to vote for their candidate.

They didn’t do that. Instead they told people who to vote for - or more accurately who

NOT to vote for. It was clearly a losing strategy. It lost us the Presidency, Congress and

the Supreme Court. Own it.

Next we have to acknowledge that this problem is not new. The Democrats haven’t been

what they were or what they could be for a long time.

Since at least President Bill Clinton, many Democrats have traded in their progressive

principles for neoliberal ones. They have sold out their concern for social justice, labor

and equity in favor of slavish devotion to the same market-driven principles that used to

characterize the other side.

Bill Clinton approved NAFTA. He deregulated Wall Street paving the way for the

economic implosion. He expanded the failing war on drugs, increased the use of the death

penalty, used the Lincoln bedroom as a fundraising condo, ignored the genocide in

Rwanda while escalating conflicts abroad in Russia and the middle east. He dramatically

and unfairly increased the prison population. He pushed poor families off welfare and

into permanent minimum wage jobs. And when people had clearly had enough of it and

wanted a change, we gave them Al Gore a.k.a. Bill Clinton part 2.

THAT’S why an idiot like George W. Bush won in 2000. It wasn’t because of Green

Party challenger Ralph Nader. It was because people were sick of the Democrats not

being real progressives.

But we clearly didn’t learn that lesson, because we did the same damn thing in 2016.

President Barrack Obama is just as neoliberal as Bill. He gets credit for bringing back 16

million jobs lost under Bush. But we haven’t forgotten that they’re mostly minimum

wage jobs. He gets credit for reducing unemployment to only 4.7%. But we haven’t

forgotten that nearly 50 million Americans aren’t included in those statistics because they

haven’t been able to find a job in two years and have given up even looking for one.

Obama rolled back legal protections that used to stop the government from spying on

civilians, that used to stop the military from being used as a police force against civilians,

that used to stop the military from assassinating U.S. citizens, that used to protect

whisteblowers, that guaranteed free speech everywhere in the country not just in

designated “free speech zones.” Not only did he fail to close Guantanamo Bay, his

administration opened new black sites inside the U.S. to torture citizens.

Obama continued the endless wars in the middle east. Sure, he had fewer boots on the

ground, but infinite drone strikes are still a continuation of Bush’s counterproductive and

unethical War on Terror.

And when it comes to our schools, Obama continued the same corporate education

reform policies of Bush - even increasing them. He pushed for more standardized testing,

more Common Core, more privatization, more attacks on unions, more hiring unqualified

Teach for America temps instead of authentic educators.

Voters clearly wanted a change. We wanted a real progressive champion who would roll

back these neoliberal policies. Instead we got Hillary Clinton a.k.a. Obama part 2.

The Democrats didn’t learn a thing from 2000. We just repeated the same damn mistake.

And some of us still want to blame third party candidates like Jill Stein.

It wasn’t her fault, and it wasn’t voters faults. It was the Democratic establishment that

refused to listen to their constituency.

So here’s the question: will we do it again? Will we let party insiders continue in the

same neoliberal direction or will we change course?

Re-electing Nancy Pelosi to House Democratic leadership isn’t a good sign. She

represents the same failed administration. But we’ve kept her in place for another term,

repeating our mistakes.

Maybe we’ll make a change with U.S. Rep Keith Ellison as DNC chair. It would

certainly be a good start to put a real progressive in charge of the party. What better way

to challenge Trump’s anti-Muslim propaganda than by promoting the only Muslim

representative in the House to the head of our movement! That’s a sure way of showing

that Democrats include all peoples, creeds and religions in contrast to the Republicans

insularity. But there’s no guarantee we’re going to do it, and even if we did, it would only

be a start.

It’s time to clean house.

We need to take back what it means to be a Democrat. We can’t have organizations

funded by hedge fund managers and the wealthy elite pretending to be in our camp while

espousing all the beliefs of Republicans. We can’t have Democrats for Education

Reform, a group promoting the policies of George W. Bush, the economics of Milton

Friedman and prescribing laws crafted by the American Legislative Exchange council.

We don’t need Cory Booker going on Meet the Press to defend Mitt Romney against

income inequality and then pretending to champion working people while taking in

contributions from the financial sector. The brand needs to mean something again.

The party needs to move in an authentic progressive direction. So we need to get rid of all

the neoliberals. They can go become Republicans. All it would take is exchanging in their

blue ties for red ones. They’re functional Republicans already.

We’ve got leaders who can take their place. We’ve got longtime progressives like Bernie

and sometime progressives like Elizabeth Warren. We’ve got younger statesmen like

Nina Turner, Tulsi Gabbard, Jeff Merkley, John Fetterman, and Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, to

name a few. But we need new blood.

Of course none of this matters if we don’t take steps to secure the validity of our elections

in the first place.

We need to reform our entire electoral process. Ancient and hackable voting machines,

voter suppression laws and efforts, rampant gerrymandering and, yes, that stupid relic of

the slave states, the Electoral College - all of it must go. We’ve got to ensure that people

can vote, people do vote and it actually counts. And if something goes wrong, we need a

way to double check. Recounts in close races should be standard and automatic.

We’ve got to fight Citizens United and other Supreme Court rulings equating money with

speech. We’ve got to run people-powered campaigns like Sanders did so our politicians

aren’t so beholden to corporate and wealthy interests. We’ve got to make it easier for

third parties to be part of the process, to include their candidates in debates, etc.

These are some of the many challenges ahead.

Sure, we have to fight Trump. But the best way to do that is to reinvent ourselves.

If the Democrats aren’t willing to do that, many of us will go elsewhere. The party cannot

continue to exists if it continually ignores its base. It’s not enough to give us a

charismatic leader to latch onto - we need real progressive policies.

The next four years are going to be hard. Trump is going to make things very difficult for

the people we love. But in a way that’s a blessing.

We have a real opportunity to create an authentic resistance. People will be untied in their

dissatisfaction and anger at what Trump is doing to the country. They’ll be looking for

somewhere to turn, for a revolutionary movement to lead them through it.

We can give them another fake insurgency as we did against Bush. Or we can learn the

lessons of history.

We can move forward. We can change. We can become a party of real progressives.

Or if we need - we can start a new one from the ground up.

Editor’s note: This article was originally published at Gadfly on The Wall Blog, and is

reprinted with the author’s permission.

Word Quake by Maria A. Arana

ah, sweet autopsy of your embrace

herds of asteroids dress halo mother

in ice stairs

rain, faithful thief of emerald

moss asphalt doorframe

hits us

where the tsunami once did

lions roam the island’s scarring


horses run with iron hoofs

and people hide

among the cardinals

in the distance

summer once gave mosquito planets

music to defenestrate ordinary


mixing the valley

with the attic

of your embrace

and when the fountain blinds

the scent the truck driver left

so others suffer

poverty from

bankers having them

let the rope song

of lovers

crush the clouds lava kisses

on the lips

paperclips on my tongue

from a tent around the avenue

ah, sweet assassin birth

saint rat addresses you with

satellite taxis

creaking stars

and shoeless people put to

bed on the 33 rd Sabbath

words break from the glass they filled

and now the void pricks line

the cactus hairs copper teeth

magnetized by sex

hands torment firemen

sleep or angels in a diamond

to look inside for the tornado

Author bio: Maria A. Arana is a teacher, writer, and poet. She has published poetry in

various journals. You can find her at

Train TRACKS Train by Kole Allan M.


Your name

the sound of John or Jane

tracks upon your brain

this is your name

this is your name

this is your name

If John is Joe, or Jane, Elaine,

if you had a different name,

would you be the same?

this is your name

this is your name

this is your name

Bob hammers houses in Houston

Were I Bob, would I be a builder?

I've yet to know Cletus the theorist.


Imagine naming yourself


Imagine naming your




Imagine your



Author bio: Kole teaches English part time at a local university in southeast Virginia

though his delinquency was evident early in life when he accidentally fired his father's

gun into the front door of the house. As a late teen he began writing poetry in jail for

vandalizing a police car. Now a husband and father to four daughters, Kole continues to

write for the joy of word frenzies and the maintenance of his sanity.



Editor’s note: When Marcia Arrieta’s poetry appeared in Felino Soriano’s journal,

Of/with, I was transfixed. To me, poetry is all about imagery. Well, sure, there are other

components, both tangible and intangible, that differentiate verse from prose and give it

a delectable flavor and texture. But if a poem is devoid of images that compel or calm, or

otherwise jar or soothe the senses, it is not good poetry - indeed, it is not poetry at all. It

is pedestrian prose – or, worse, wasted words. Marcia’s poetry bristles with imagery that

calms, compels - sometimes even jolts you out of your complacent version of things. Her

visual collages, too, complement her word collages with their tranquilly crafted chaos.


with a canvas under a yellow umbrella

with pieces of broken glass & sand

cover sewn together with red thread & remnants of blue &

white gingham, newspaper, & wild green parrot feathers

the star//shadow

Palomino BlackWing. 602. Half the Pressure, Twice the Speed. the garden alive

with pink & yellow & orange. the birds continue to feed. the heart stable.

leave the shoes by the door. walk silently. we climb the primal mountain

into a rainforest of light. on the other side of the world they vote for independence.

whirlwinds rip currents the planets adrift threads, stars, shadows

blue moon harvest moon silhouettes in autumn approach winter

inside a glasshouse Frida Kahlo nurses art

outside within the oaks—shields & armor

meanwhile ;

the abstract minus interpretation

hard edge

drift across continents across lives rhapsodies tragedies roadrunners bears

the harmonium subtracts tyranny

drift no connection/connection oak trees olive trees Cala Deia

sympathies complexities threads & yarn blankets made scarves unfinished

marginal goldfish a contemplative lion old stamps passports

transparent strip responsibility sculpt a message never relayed


she dries one turquoise sock

in the garden sun

(she counted grizzly bears in sequoia

one summer when she was young)

she washes the shells & rocks—

arranges them in a reed basket

(she traveled with a suitcase

filled with pillows)

around the art table,

she reads a grammar book & pretends not to listen

grey stone on deck

a yellow dragon roars invention

the house is a wave

roots, wings

Octavio Paz—A Tree Within

entwined water & night

the larkspurs arranged in rhyme

syllables of survival

the heart of the tree

shadow play sound tracery will

(subfield cutthroat trout pronghorn antelope)

prone to colour clouds interstice sky

distant from dogma relative green leaf

looking glass air the book of job

the law of contrast

composition relative bridge

the memoir

(“What matters most is how well you walk through the fire.”


is in the deference & the farm long ago

orange trees & trout in the stream

a field in sentient light

where the reflection is a cross & a lily & a Joshua tree grows

conjecture the unknown

Herzog’s Lo and Behold

Young’s Fall Higher


and mountains





complicated pieces

to be arranged

the ideal triumphs



Youmans Grimm!

(Red Hen Press)

ISBN: 9781597093224

Reviewer: Cindy Hochman

Poetry is, inherently, full of paradox. For instance, a poet can choose to unleash a deluge

of personal information in the confessional mode, or, conversely, step into the mind and

body of another (persona). Becoming Lyla Dore, whose central character is a fictional

silent movie star with a closetful of skeletons housed amid her red stiletto heels, falls

squarely in the latter category, and Teri Youmans Grimm’s account is as ambitious and

seductive as Lyla Dore herself. With poems that unfold as grandly as scenes from the

acclaimed films of yesteryear, the poet offers the reader a front-row VIP seat to the

juiciest kind of guilty pleasure: a world of stardust dreams, of glamour and glitz, and, of

course, the lurid underpinnings that often accompany these chimerical trappings. And

because this poet has fashioned such a plausible portrait of a flawed and fragile

temptress, the poems move easily from the reel to the real.

The Soubrette Takes Center Stage

—Photoplay, May, 1921

In her first major role Lyla Dore will further

prove to her fans why she’s a star on the rise.

Those eyes! That hair! Those gams!

This ingenue was not discovered on a stool at Schwab’s Drugstore. As Minerva sprung

from the head of Zeus, the mythical Lyla Dore, whose surname seems to have been

culled from the engraver Gustave Doré, the illustrator of Lord Byron, and whose given

name brings to mind Delilah, Samson’s downfall, was invented out of whole cloth, or

perhaps more aptly, silk and satin. She arrived fully formed, with a scarlet letter already

embossed on her ample chest, the seeds of her symbolic birth and reinvention having

been sown from adultery, abortion, and ashes. But first she was born, innocently enough,

out of both the illusion and disillusion of magic, and a dogged and desperate attempt to

recapture it.

Magic Lantern

Forget what you know about faded stars,

about curiosities and relics.

This is about magic.

Back when there was such a thing,

my father made a living

as a lanternist. I’d go with him

to the Imperial where between comedy reels

he’d show glass slides of the Taj Mahal

or lovers kissing in a Venetian gondola …

To be in limelight is to become incandescent

in the alchemy of dangerous gas and mineral, to smolder

in another’s mind or heart. I would have risked setting

myself on fire, if it meant the world could see me better.

Children are, of course, masters of make-believe, and Lyla’s imagination was doubly

indulged by the shadow puppets that her magic-making father entertained her with (I

never feared the shadows cavorting / in my room—nanny-goats and vultures / jellyfish

and centaurs—nor the hands / that made them. They hardly seemed / related, father’s

contorted fingers, a witch / riding a broom, a bear on a swing). Interestingly, the shape

that becomes most emblazoned in her mind is a snake, giving rise to the recurring Snake

Man, with all its implications of shedding skins and original sin, who appears as her guru,

guide, and manager (Your name doesn’t suit you. One day you’ll be called something

else). But was a childhood drenched in phantasm enough to pacify the reality of a peevish

and vindictive mother who seemed to rue her very existence and, in fact, “grew to hate

the very sight” of her? It is against this silkscreen of ambiguity that Lyla Dore begins

both her descent and ascent, remaking herself not by design, but out of necessity.

Mother was pregnant five times before I came along.

None of them lived to see the world.

It was as though she found me perverse

to have made a home where none could thrive before.

So, too, it is a misbegotten birth that provides the theme for the pivotal poem in Grimm’s

collection, one whose Dickensian title practically tells the whole story: “I Wasn’t

Pregnant, Dr. Moore Explained, Merely Late and This Procedure, While Painful, Would

Resolve the Matter of Lyla Dore.” Having seduced the physician next door whose

children she is tasked with caring for, a woman named Lyla Dore is born in the place and

stead of the child whose loss she would forever mourn. And when a mysterious fire

breaks out in the Moore home, killing the twins, Lyla’s fate as a vixen “able to cause a

saint to sin or even a saint’s mother” is sealed, for although she didn’t set the fire (it was

an accident), she is branded “the incendiary girl, desire’s wayward spark.”

Despite the poet’s own last name, Lyla Dore’s story does not end in “grim” fashion, as

you might have thought. She does not fall down the stairs in an alcoholic stupor or

overdose on pills, and not in a puddle of my own blood, not in a dismal studio apartment,

not behind a perfume counter in a second-rate department store. Rather, she does what

she has always done best: reinvents herself for the advent of talkies, socks away money

from wise investments, and lives to remember and tell.

Becoming Lyla Dore is an evocative series of first-person poems about an imaginary but

enchanting vamp who makes her cinematic mark using everything but her voice—

conjured by an extraordinary poet named Grimm whose dramatic fairytale is anything but


The Arousal

of Lightning

by Bill Wolak

The Donald and I (SATIRE) By Marleen S. Barr

The door opens. Trump looks up, expecting Mike Pence.

But it's two orderlies in white coats collecting the ex-presidential candidate, who lost in a

landslide to Hillary after spending the fall being treated at Bellevue under the provisions

of the Flake Act. After all the cries of ‘Lock her up!’ it turned out he was the one who got

locked up.

‘Mr. Trump, it's time for your impulse-control/delusion-reduction therapy,’ one orderly

says soothingly. ‘We need to go early. It would be crazy to miss the swearing-in today of

Madam President’—Maureen Dowd, “Crazy About the Presidency,” New York Times,

August 7, 2016, SR 1

[I]t's Trump rather than Clinton who has confirmed the full triumph of the sexual

revolutions. . . .

If you watched ‘The Girls Next Door,’ the TV show about [Hugh] Hefner's ménage,

you noticed that the Playboy mystique was emphatically not a joke in the lower

middle class environs that produced his centerfolds and their most adoring fans. Like

Trumpism, Hefnerian values have prospered in the blue-collar vacuum created by

religion's retreat, community's unraveling.

Then finally, among men who were promised pliant centerfolds and ended up single

with only high-speed internet to comfort them, the men's sexual revolution has curdled

into a toxic subculture, resentful of female empowerment in all its forms.

This is where you find Trump's strongest (and, yes, strangest) fans. He's become the

Daddy Alpha for every alpha-aspiring beta male, whose mix of moral liberation and

misogyny keeps the Ring-a-Ding-Ding dream alive—Ross Douthat, “A Playboy for

President,” New York Times, August 14, 2016, SR 9

Professor Sondra Lear, a feminist science fiction scholar par excellence, was grading

papers in her State University of New York at Greenwich Village office when the phone


“Hello. Professor Lear? This is the Gold House calling.”

“The Gold House? Why would the Gold House phone me?”

“The Donald wishes to hire you to tutor the multitudinous young children he has

fathered during the seven years he has been in office. Will you accept this offer? Your

salary will be huge.”

“Absolutely not. I am a feminist who recoiled when the Donald instituted polygamy in

the Gold House because Melania got older. How could I approve of his marriages to

twenty-five year old eastern European beauty queens? He dehumanized these women

when he renamed them. The media obsessively focuses on the doings of Aelania,

Belania, Celania, Delania, etc. I don’t care what color toe nail polish Xelania wears. I am

active member of the Free Hillary Movement who generates feminist scholarly

research. I couldn’t believe that the Republicans really did lock Hillary I’m that the

F.H.M. will eventually break Hillary out of Rikers Island.”

“Your decision disappoints me. Think about the children, Professor Lear. Little Count,

Marquis, Chevalier, Imanka, Ikanka, Harry Winston, Cartier and all their siblings need

you. Think about the twins Dauphin and Dauphine. Most of the Donald’s offspring are

entering pre-school. They will be called upon to continue the Trump dynasty. Smart

women still exist in the world; the kids will have to cope with them. What if

extraterrestrials from a feminist separatist planet land on the Gold House lawn? You are

the perfect tutor for children who have to deal with feisty female Earthlings and potential

feminist extraterrestrials.”

Sondra’s revolutionary nature kicked in. She reasoned that she could further F.H.M. goals

by residing in the Gold House. The Donald caused all usual executive branch rules,

including presidential succession dictums, to be thrown by the wayside. Presidential

protocol becomes irrelevant when the president cannot act presidential. Even the very

word “president” is obsolete. Russia had the Czar; Germany had the Kiser; Iran had the

Shah; America has the Donald. The chief executive is now addressed as “Mr. the

Donald.” At the State of the Union Address, the Sargent at Arms announces “Mr.

Speaker, the the Donald of the United States.” Because Sondra was fed up with the

Donald, she said yes to the Gold House.

Trump Force One carried Sondra to Washington. Upon arrival in the early evening, she

was whisked into a helicopter. While hovering over the Gold House Rose Garden, she

saw the gigantic red, white, and blue blinking neon “TRUMP” sign positioned above the

West Portico. The gold painted mansion was too gaudy for Sondra’s tastes. But nothing

prepared her for the change in the interior.

The Red Room, the Blue Room, and the Vermeil Room (formerly often called the Gold

Room), had all been transformed into the Gold Rooms. Sondra wondered if James

Bond’s nemesis Goldfinger had served as the interior decorator. Diamond encrusted

doors and marble floors were general all over the Gold House. Cherub sodden bases

supported the gilded furniture. Just as Sondra was reaching for her sunglasses to shield

her eyes from the light bouncing off the glitz, Head Wife Melania appeared and extended

her hand.

“In accordance with my duties as Head Wife to the Donald, I welcome you to the Gold

House,” she said. I and my fellow wives need to expand our horizons. We have all

agreed to force ourselves to read feminist theory. We appreciate your efforts to teach our

children how successfully to closely encounter smart women. They will certainly need to

be prepared for the possibility of feminist extraterrestrials landing on the Gold House

lawn. But enough talk about the future. For the moment, I would like you to meet the

Donald’s children and some of his other wives.”

Two ushers opened the diamond studded golden doors. To the tune of “Hail to the

Chief, a single file line of adorable children paraded in front of Sondra, bowed their

heads, and walked back while still facing her. A little girl broke out of the line and threw

her arms around Sondra’s knees. “Please, Dr. Sondra. Please be my teacher. I know that

women exist who have careers and who don’t wear stilettos. You are the first such

woman I have ever met. I want to learn how to be like you. I hate makeup.” Sondra’s

heart melted. “I will enjoy getting to know you, getting to know all about you,” she said

to all the assembled children.

Sondra’s Gold House pedagogy was almost successful. The Donald’s wives were

dutifully placing copies of articles written by Hélène Cixous, Donna Haraway, Judith

Butler, and Luce Irigary in their designer handbags. True, the wives were not yet reading

the articles. Sondra nonetheless viewed feminist theory texts ensconced within Gucci

bags as a great leap forward. As for the children, well, they enjoyed having fiction written

by Joanna Russ, Octavia E. Butler, and Marge Piercy read to them as bedtime stories.

The little girl who had embraced Sondra dreamed about living on Russ’s feminist

separatist planet Whileaway. She loved the fact that Whileaway denizens would not be

caught dead wearing stilettos. In a defiant act to achieve normalcy, do to Sondra’s

influence, she demanded to change her name from “Yourmajesty” to “Eleanor.”

Sondra was busy teaching the wives and the children to the extent that she had yet to

meet the Donald. This situation changed when he made an appointment to discuss her

progress. She sat next to him on a gold lamé Gold Rooms couch. “Bloomberg got a third

term as mayor. Even if he is richer than me and called me insane, if he can do it, I can do

it. I want a third term. But my woman voter problem is worse than ever. Women don’t

like the leader of the free world having a harem. I called Obama a Muslim and now I

have a harem. No woman in this country, not one, will vote for me. Not with Hillary

locked up and Elizabeth Warren running against me. Pocahontas will not cause Trump’s

last stand. I love the feminists. I even love the potential feminist extraterrestrials. I need

to ingratiate myself to women in general and feminists in particular. Do you have any

ideas?” Donald said.

“We can have a party.”

“A party?”

“Yes. We can invite feminists to the Gold House to meet your wives.”

“I know how to find Eastern European super model wives. But where am I going to

round up American feminists?”

“The Science Fiction Research Association is meeting in Washington next week. I can

invite my colleagues as well as scholars from local universities. I will somehow

accomplish mission impossible. I will enable feminists to feel comfortable with your


“Feminists mixing with my wives? How can I negotiate an impossible deal like that?”

“Very simple. We need to cater to the feminists.”

“You mean feed them Purina Feminist Chow?”

“I mean offer them a lovely gluten free vegan repast. K. D. Laing can provide the

music. Your wives need to undergo sartorial metamorphosis.” Lelania and Kelania

walked in wearing micro miniskirts and gold metallic bras. “Your wives can’t look like


Kelania bent over. Sondra “could see there was [not] . . . blood coming out of her


“One of the Donald’s wives does not have enough clothes. First rule of hosting a

feminist soiree: no visible vaginas. Visible vaginas are a feminist soiree no no.”

“I see your point. Make a shopping list and give it to the chief butler.”

Sondra ordered enough pantsuits, Birkenstocks, and hair scrunchies for all of the

wives. When the party ensued, the wives, dutifully attired in their new attire, exchanged

pleasantries with the assembled feminists. Pelania, who had studied her feminist texts

hard, had a moment of triumph when an assistant professor asked her to name her

favorite Cixous article.

“The Laugh of the Medusa,” Pelania said triumphantly. “I can see the Medusa from my

house. From my bathroom to be exact. When I am taking a shower and my hair is

tangled, I don’t think that it is a laughing matter.” The assistant professor did not laugh.

Pelania wanted to tell Sondra that she knew the right feminist answer—and to ask for


“Dr. Lear, may I speak with you for a moment?” asked Pelania. “I have good news. And

I have a problem.”


“I got a Cixous question right. I need to confide in you. I do not love the Donald. I love

one of the Secret Service guys. I have been secretly meeting a secret service guy. This is

really dangerous. It is hard to sneak past the head eunuchs Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, and

Marco Rubio. What should I do? I am already in big trouble because I told my daughter

about Mrs. Roosevelt and she decided to change her name to Eleanor.” ”

“Professors write academic essays. I can cause a distraction by organizing a Gold House

event involving reading my latest piece on space in Uncle Tom’s Cabin. You can leave

unnoticed when the paper causes everyone to fall asleep. Excuse me. The Donald is

coming this way.”

“Pelania does not love you,” Sondra directly said to the Donald. “What would you do if

you found out that she was having sex with a secret service agent?”

“I would have her punished. I’ve made sure that all women who have abortions are

punished by being tarred and feathered. I would have Pelania whipped.”

“You are a barbarian.”

“I really didn’t mean to say “whipped.” I said “shipped.” I will send Pelania on a nice

cruise. But let’s talk about this great party. You did an amazing job in a short time. My

wives are still hot in Birkenstocks,” Donald said as he held out his arms. “Shall we


There was a limit for how far Sondra could go—even to benefit the F.H.M. Relying on

her inner Scheherazade, she tried to talk her way into gaining time.

“We do have things in common. I’m from Queens too. I grew up in Forest Hills, straight

down Queens Boulevard from your childhood home in Jamaica Estates. I remember

seeing your father’s Trump Pavilion sign next to the Van Wyck Expressway when I was

growing up.”

“Donald placed his arm around Sondra’s waist. Since all the feminists and wives were

watching, she had to dance with him.

“Sondra, let’s make a deal. Marry me. Become my twenty-seventh wife. Marrying a

feminist professor would be huge for my re-election success. Wha da ya say?”

“I say never. You know very well that Jewish women from Forest Hills do not become

the twenty-seventh wife of anyone. Furthermore, fat orange haired men in their late

seventies are not my type.”

At that moment, Eleanor ran into the room. “Dr. Sondra come quick. A flying saucer has

landed on the Gold House lawn,” she screamed.

“Not to worry, Eleanor. This is a job for a super science fiction scholar.”

Sondra made her way to the Gold House lawn where she closely encountered little green

women walking down a flying saucer’s open gangplank. They were wearing silver

pantsuits, Birkenstocks, and scrunchies. “Take us to your leader,” they said in unison.

“We want to meet her.”

“I have no doubt that you are feminist extraterrestrials,” Sondra confidently stated. “Let

me calmly cut to the chase. Female Earthling Americans are in deep trouble precisely

because our leader is a bombastic male chauvinist pig carnival barker con man whose ego

is larger than the entire universe. Believe me. You do not want to be taken to him. Will

you help female Earthling Americans?”

“Yes,” they said in unison.

“Terrific. And not a moment too soon. Hillary, America’s rightful female leader, has

been locked up. The Donald, that’s the name of our male leader I just described, is on the

cusp of winning a third term. By the way, I’m Professor Sondra Lear.”

One of the little green women stepped forward and extended her tentacle toward Sondra.

“Nice to meet you. I’m Captain Kyra. Here we come to save the day. That means that

mighty feminist extraterrestrials are on the way. Exactly what can we do for you? We

have extraordinary reality altering powers.”

“First thing is to break Hillary out of Rikers.”

“Done,” Captain Kyra said as Hillary materialized on the lawn wearing an orange prison


Sondra saw Hillary and became unnerved. “No. This is not right,” she said to

Kyra. “Hillary wears pantsuits, not jumpsuits. Turn her jumpsuit into a pantsuit. Make it

black. Black needs to be the new orange for Hillary. Oh and she needs sun glasses”


“Perfect. Now Hillary can join the party and blend in with the other feminist attendees.”

Sondra turned toward Hillary. “I’m an active F.H.M. member who could not be happier

to meet you. Join the Gold House party for feminist scholars and the Donald’s wives. The

sun glasses will allow you to blend in without being noticed. Have a drink. Enjoy

yourself while the feminist extraterrestrials and I figure out how to ensconce you in your

rightful place as President of the United States.”

“I will follow your directions,” said Hillary. “Despite my wonkiness, feminist

extraterrestrials are beyond my purview.” Hillary walked into the Gold House hoping that

she could transform it back into the White House of yore. Sondra turned toward Kyra.

“I know exactly what to do,” Sondra said. “I can accomplish my objective without

feminist extraterrestrial intervention. I will simply use your presence here to my own

advantage. I just need you to do one more thing, though. Kyra, please make everyone on

Earth--with the exception of me and Donald--forget that the little green women landing

on the Gold House lawn thing ever happened.

“Done,” said Kyra. “We will be flying off now. Great to meet you Sondra.”

“Likewise Kyra.”

Sondra’s plan involved allowing Trump to be Trump. She walked into the party and

approached Hillary.

“Hillary, please remove your sun glasses. Tell Donald that you are here and call the


Police entered the Gold Room. “Lock her up,” screamed Donald. “Lock crooked Hillary

back up. Do you know how she got out? I’ll tell ya how. Feminist extraterrestrials got her

out. That’s how. Feminist extraterrestrials landed on the Gold House lawn a few minutes

ago. There were all these huge little green women. Little green women are ugly. I will

build a wall around the Gold House to keep the ugly huge little green women out. They

are all rapists. I didn’t have enough with the immigrant Mexicans and the Muslims. Now

I have to contend with the little green women. Maybe the gun owners could do something

about the little green women—and Hillary too.”

In a Nano second, men in the white coats arrived in what immediately again would be

called the White House. They placed Donald in a strait jacket. He ended up back in New

York, in Bellevue Hospital. K.D. Laing sang “Hail to the Chief” as Hillary was sworn in

as the President of the United States. The long national Trump nightmare was over.

Hillary was the first of many female Presidents. Elizabeth Warren succeeded her. Amy

Schumer, following in her relative Chuck Schumer’s political footsteps, in the manner of

Reagan, went from show business to the White House. Due to Sondra’s influence,

Eleanor Trump was by far the most effective woman president. Eleanor (called E.T.) was

the first American president to visit a feminist planet. E.T. and Kyra got along famously.

Eleanor gave a party for Kyra in the White House. Both women wore white pants suits,

Birkenstocks—and scrunchies.

Author bio: Marleen S. Barr is known for her pioneering work in feminist science fiction

and teaches English at the City University of New York. She has won the Science Fiction

Research Association Pilgrim Award for lifetime achievement in science fiction

criticism. Barr is the author of Alien to Femininity: Speculative Fiction and Feminist

Theory, Lost in Space: Probing Feminist Science Fiction and Beyond, Feminist

Fabulation: Space/Postmodern Fiction, and Genre Fission: A New Discourse Practice

for Cultural Studies. Barr has edited many anthologies and co-edited the science fiction

issue of PMLA. She is the author of the novels Oy Pioneer! and Oy Feminist Planets: A

Fake Memoir.

iver walk

by Jenean Gilstrap


i walk naked

In the rivers of my realities

rivers polluted

with malicious motherlove

stained in scarlet sin

childhood dreams

drowned in dastardly deeds

sung to the tune of lullabies

stripping innocence to the core

pebbles of purulent pain

line the beds

my feet bleeding sorrow

as I walk naked

in the ruins

of my realities


probing fingers

of memories


my broken heart

working their way up

from the wounded

scabbard of me

as i walk

through the waters of despair

through the darkness

of those closed doors

and blacker than black

whispers of wickedness


farther and farther i walk

from the shores of contempt

into the waters deep

deeper still

waters now churning

in waves of redemption

washing the soiled linens

of my soul

cleansing the chambers

of my hate filled heart

healing the ravaged

me of me

my lips savoring

the liquid redemption

swallowing its sweet

sweet salvation

as i walk

in the river

of my realities

Author bio: Jenean Gilstrap is the author of two books of poetry, Gypsy Woman Words

[2014] and Words Unspoken [2013, and is a featured poet/artist at Yareah Magazine and

at Plum Tree Books. Her poetry has been widely published in numerous literary journals

and she has been invited to read her work at several international poetry festivals. A

number of her poems have been narrated, as well as lyrically arranged and recorded by

the accomplished Aindre’ Reece-Sheerin, vocalist/musician. She resides in Shreveport,

Louisiana, but divides her time between there and the East coast as she completes her

third book of poetry, Willful Words.

She and her work may be found at:



By Dr. Mel Waldman !


(on reading Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s poem-Crazy to be Alive in such a Strange World)!



stranger traveling through the bizarro universe!



search of humanity,!


I !

rush through unreal days & shattered sci-fi streets;!



rush !


& !

crash into flaming flashbacks & the furious flow !


of !

gigantic waves of sprawling blinding light & a !


mammoth flood of unholy fire forcing me to see all I wish to forget!



in the beginning…in the Neo-Genesis…that always returns against my will,!



relive the Days of Trauma & Transformation; I re-experience the Transmogrification!


in !

split-second visions of long ago, hidden in the harrowing now,!



the power-elite of technology created, like Frankenstein, our monstrous machines!



conquered us, devoured their creators, obliterated all;!



remember !



my electrified mind comes to a sudden halt in the deep of the night, shuts down, !



my weary body-my soul case resting in a womb chair at the center of nowhere!



I drift off into sweet phantasmagoria, a machine-free dreamscape where all my !


beloved deceased exist in non-existential nothingness!



I say, “Hello, Mother, Hello, Father, Hello, all…You wouldn’t believe the way the world!


is now.”

“Hello, M, we don’t understand…”!



the Beat Poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti arrives inside my exploding electrocuted brain cells!



shouts, “Crazy to be alive in such a strange world.”!



I sing a mind-blowing singsong melody blasting me through the cannonball !


of !

inner space,!



I listen to the crazy, cacophonous un-jazzy juxtaposition of weird words-!


our omnipotent objects of addiction we crave & love & the drug-things we’re hooked on!



that hook us to the World Wide Web & Virtual Reality & the Janus-faced Internet-!




hear my mutilated mind say, “Computers & cell phones, iPads & iPhones, laptops &!


tablets, smart phones & smart watches, etcetera, etcetera.”!



Mother says, “I don’t understand.”!


Ferlinghetti shrieks, “Crazy to be alive in such a strange world.”!



I say, “Mother, Father, & all-I love you.”!



Mother says, in a soothing celestial whisper, like a lambent flame brushing my soul,!


“I love you. We love you. Love is what we understand.”!


Now, !

I dance in this everlasting moment,!


before !

awakening, !



stranger traveling through the bizarro universe!



search of humanity, !


but finding love in a beautiful place beyond!




Author bio: Dr. Mel Waldman is a psychologist, poet, and writer whose stories

have appeared in numerous magazines including HARDBOILED DETECTIVE,


AUDIENCE. His poems have been widely published in magazines and books









POETRY. A past winner of the literary GRADIVA AWARD in Psychoanalysis, he

was nominated for a PUSHCART PRIZE in literature and is the author of 11


FAT Cats "#!$%&'(%)!*(+,

The rescued kittens

Have turned to nasty cats

With pregnant bellies.

Nothing good can come of Fat Cats

Lounging on Lincoln's bed,

Hacking up fur balls.

Pissing cat piss.

Nipping at toes:

These are not sweet kittens

Except by name

As they plot cunning leaps

From the banks

Of the flocked velvet sofa.

Claws readied for the coming.

Hoping for another taste

Like that mouse

that had gone warm

down the gullet

A few moons back -

Leaving nothing

But a whimpering stain

On the neighborhood.

The cats are already crouching

In towards another botched landing

Punctuated by the dull thud of misplaced ambition.

There will be a scramble of claws

And indignant squeals

And then;

Voila! The Fat Cats steady themselves

Before carefully licking the blood

From their paws,

Preening their glossy selves,

And getting back to business

Licking their swollen teats.

Author bio: The author has published in Number One Magazine, Wittenberg Review,

Sutured. Words, and is winner of the Read Local contest.

Swooning Over The Faint

(CD Mini-review) By Alison Ross

The Faint is a band I have only known by name until recently, and the only reason I am

aware of them is because they are a Nebraska outfit that used to feature Conor Oberst.

And anyone who knows me at all knows that Conor Oberst - and specifically, his band

Bright Eyes - is among my top five favorite artists, in addition to The Cure, Tom Waits,

Public Enemy, and Deerhunter. The Faint's newest collection of greatest hits has been a

real revelation for me, actually, because the music seems to be a true distillation of the

electro-punk ethos that I have heard a lot about, but have only experienced through these

songs. Besides the Faint's dynamic sonics that articulate Kraftwerkian keys and funky,

angular beats, what has me most intrigued is how the vocals that evoke the flat, dry

Nebraska plains actually enhance rather than detract from the music. When listening to

music of a similar kind, one expects to hear, and often does hear, vocals with a menacing

tinge, or at the very least, harsh intonations. But The Faint's singer actually sounds

quaintly midwestern and free of the dark theatrical pretensions that might otherwise

embellish such music. The idea that vocals which would usually be more comfortably

ensconced in the unorthodox folk of, say, a Bright Eyes, can act as a charming

counterbalance to frenzied dance-punk is a testament to the Faint's startling originality.

Songs such as "Glass Danse," and "Agenda Suicide" give this collection a must-hear


from Alchemical Nod


By Mark DuCharme

Any work’s 1 a complication of the conditions of its dreaming

Scratch that: the complications of dreams condition all desire

& The condition of any working desire conducts all accidents & births

Any & nowhere above all births & the jittery body of thought

The body of thought is a city, oblique & out of tune

Rain, a character whose breath is silence

The rain comes as swiftly as a line or fragment of the memory of the dream

(All dreams are one dream)

Immersion within the sound of rain

Which gives way to hot

Bright night

& Then gives way to the memory of summer

To winter’s swollen brooding


1 When you enter a work (as writer or reader)

Is there always, necessarily, resistance?

To become attuned, you have to open

Yourself to the work & meanings thereof

Sound is part of meaning

Imagery, a part of fleeing—

The light & speed of it— all a part

Of song’s fugitive trace


Brood enveloping songs inside the tissues of the body

Bleed inside stars’ layers

Let need envelop need

Let tunes be broken

Emblazoned on the pages which rain makes

When stars are lost

Author bio: Mark DuCharme is the author, most recently, of The

Unfinished: Books I-VI (BlazeVOX, 2013). Other volumes of his

poetry include Answer (2011) and The Sensory Cabinet (2007), also

from BlazeVOX, as well as Infinity Subsections (Meeting Eyes

Bindery, 2004) and Cosmopolitan Tremble (Pavement Saw,

2002). Counter Fluencies 1-20 is forthcoming as an issue of the print

journal The Lune. His work appears in recent or forthcoming

anthologies, including Water, Water Everywhere: Paean to a

Vanishing Resource (Baksun Books & Arts, 2014), Litscapes:

Collected US Writings (Steerage Press, 2015), and Poets for Living

Waters: An International Response to the BP Oil Disaster in the Gulf

of Mexico (forthcoming from BlazeVOX). His work has also appeared

in numerous journals, among them Big Bridge, Bombay Gin,

Colorado Review, Mantis, New American Writing, OR, Pallaksch

Pallaksch, Shiny, Talisman, and Vanitas. He lives in Boulder,




In a still night

No moon softening

Sharp stars

No cloud drapery.

Against this midnight

The night mares move

Sharing colour with the darkness.

What cannot find them is found by them,

There are no ways secret:

Spiraling stars leave every sky familiar,

Foraging herds by trails of green weeds

Breach every underwater sanctuary.

The night mares

Sleep standing up;

Contain any stallion,

Give birth in the middle of any weather,

Can knock bones, eyes, or internal organs out of any creature.

Simply by their passing

Men have been sucked breathless.

The night mares

Know where dragons come from,

And who, mothered by seas and singing desert sands,

The twin birthed are.

In languages that the thunder knows,

They answer one another.

Navigating easily unbridled,

No boundary deludes them.

Yielding, the only response they know.

How Long My Unfitting Skin, The Night

she had come down from Gunnison

it had been a hard ride

thin air refusing to support her

old shoes needing to be thrown away as soon as possible

met for drinks at The Last Chance

she told me brief stories

life in the wilderness

ways of ghosts and proud flesh

we booked a room from the man who wore a star

make believe log cabin

steel spring mattress

Jim Beam on the bed side

we smoked silent shapes up at an invisible ceiling in the dark

I was happy to be there

thought she was too

but somewhere after moon light

she had gotten up

kneeling by the drifty window

to whatever she prayed

all i could make out was –

How long my own unfitting skin the night?

Editor’s note: “The Night Mares” first appeared in print in Searches For Magic Lapwing

Press Belfast

Author bio: PD Lyons was born and raised in the USA. He has been traveling and living

abroad since 1998, and is now residing in Ireland. He received The Mattatuck College

Award for Outstanding Achievement in Poetry. His two books of poetry include Searches

For Magic, and Caribu & Sister Stones: Selected Poems, published by Lapwing Press,

Belfast. A third book, Myths Of Multiplicity, was published by Erbacce press, Liverpool,

as part of the 2014 Erbacce International Annual Prize The work of PD Lyons has also

appeared in many magazines and e-zine/blogs throughout the world, including The

SHoP, Books Ireland, Irish American Post, Boyne Berries, Virtual Writer, Slipstream,

West 47 Galway Arts. He was recently selected to participate in the Human Rights

Consortium at the School of Advanced Study, in a University of London publication

titled ‘In Protest: 150 Poems for Human Rights’. He blogs at:

Build Kindness, Not WALLS

By Lelia Shirian


Trump’s well thought out plan to “build a wall and have Mexico pay for it” has

been highly praised by politicians and common people alike. Local high school student

Felipe Rodriguez, for example, urges politicians to “recognize the fact that this wall will

help illegal Hispanic immigrants,” like himself, as much as it will legal citizens.

Rodriguez went on to explain that the mass deportation will “give immigrants the

motivation they need to get in touch with their roots” by allowing them the opportunity to

return to their home countries. “And the best part is,” Rodriguez continues, “airfare is

taken care of!” This is a sentiment commonly held among Trump supporters today

including well known figures in US politics like former teen pop sensation, Aaron Carter,

and prominent race relations expert, David Duke.

It may seem radical, but, the truth is, we don’t have to spend hard-earned all-

American dollars to deport millions of immigrants.

There is another way.

According to Lamar Alexander, chairman of the Senate Committee on Health,

Education, Labor and Pensions, “teen sex is the answer to all of our prayers.” In short,

Alexander proposes that we build a cheap, homegrown American workforce comparable

to that of the illegals in order to drive the “bad hombres” out of America. “The

ramifications of illegal immigration can be catastrophic. Building a workforce of ablebodied

American children is the only way to combat the worsening problems caused by

illegal immigration,” the Senator argued. Currently, the members of the Senate

Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions are collaborating on a bill that will

“foster the growth of the American child workforce” in order to eliminate the problem of

illegal immigration.

Some critics make outlandish claims, arguing that “child labor is unethical” or

“forcing minors to work is illegal.” Still, Alexander remains hopeful.

The bill is a complex and delicately balanced piece of legislation, so we had some

of the Senators working on it walk us through it. There are no current laws requiring that

the content taught in sexual education courses in America is accurate. According to the

legislators, “we must actively perpetuate this fact... the best course of action is to keep

these courses exactly as they are,” the passionate Senators argued.

In order to defend our country from the corrupt, immoral illegals we must

effectively transfer the weight of the American economy onto the backs of small children.

To that end, it is critical, according to Senator Patty Murray, that we continue teaching

abstinence-only sexual education. Murray, ranking member of the committee, told us that

in many states, abstinence-only sexual education is the only type taught. It is in many of

these states, she explained, that teenage pregnancy rates are the highest in the nation.

“The best way to ensure the steady growth of teen pregnancy rates and enlarge the

existing pool of potential child laborers is to ensure that teenagers remain just as ignorant

of the uses of contraceptives as they are today,” Murray explains. Furthermore,

Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin points out that “comparing young, sexually active

women to used gum or tape that has lost its adhesive properties has proven a most

effective aphrodisiac among teens, resulting in a tremendous number of teen pregnancies

and, just nine short months later, producing eligible candidates for a strong child-driven

labor force.”

All we have to do to eliminate the problem of illegal immigration is produce

children well equipped to enter the labor-force and take their jobs. All we have to do to

ensure our teens continue producing these useful children is make sure we keep our

sexual education classes exactly as vague and uninformative as they are today, presenting

an easy solution to the complex problem of illegal immigration, without all the hassle of

building that dreary old wall

Author bio: Leila Shirian is a writer published in local newspapers and online literary

magazines. Inspired by this great nation's most entertaining soap opera, politics, she aims

to convey her opinions on controversial topics through well intentioned humor and

passive aggressive sarcasm. She currently resides in New York with her equally sassy pet

puffer fish, Puff Daddy.

Knock Knock

By Wayne F. Burke

who's there?

its a woman

says she's seen me around

and would like to get to know me

and can she come in?

I kick aside some books

and clothes so that

she can sit;

I play a record for her

on the gramophone.

If I had a gramophone--

If I had a record...


Oh no, its the landlord.

No its the landlord's brother

my friend

whose friendship I need

like I need a hole in my head;

I let him in

he says he wants to inspect the light fixtures


there are none

and I don't know what

happened to them


The poor guy,

he begins to mutter,

but hey,

I can't be expected to keep track of


can I?

Author bio: Wayne F. Burke's poetry has appeared in a variety of publications. His three

published poetry collections, all with Bareback Press, are WORDS THAT BURN (2013),

DICKHEAD (2015) and KNUCKLE SANDWICHES (2016). His chapbook, PADDY

WAGON is scheduled for publication in 2016 by Epic Rites Press. He lives in the central

Vermont area.

Two Poems

By Gregory Autry Wallace

Author bio: Gregory Autry Wallace is a poet, painter and collage artist. He studied

English, World and Comparative Literature, and Creative Writing at San Francisco State

University. His poetry and collages have appeared in Athena Incognito, Atticus Review,

Paper Radio and NRG. He was a poetry editor for Ink Magazine and a founding editor of

Oblivion Magazine. Mr. Wallace is the author of The Girl with Seven Hands and The

Return of the Cyclades.

Electric “Elegy”

for Carl Rakosi

[Young black girls covered with stars]

Because he can imagine

secretions of its web

subject unmakes himself

he left his horse and flew several centuries

passed by the idle cylinders

Heaven and earth filled with flywheels

china clocks tick in cold shells

dismal swamp scaring the owls

a still and quiet angel of knowledge

Hunter penetrates fingers of his left hand

and sees grave-worms crawling

in the blood of dazzling fire)

I start thousands of paintings

stopping finally all art and all fantasy

Even the princess had been forgotten

geared in loose mathematics

push in and I become invisible

when the thing stops every power stroke

is stopped with the last slow cough

Antistrophe of the sea light

ineffable beauty of forms

hear the plectrum of angels

fly and hover in Arcadia

Shade of Agememnon

stopped the heavy frenzy of pistons

compression leaking in a flash

one following another and

thoughts slide in equinox

The Points at would be fur

The points at would be fur

now looked once of creamy

very creamy barrier

soft, dark nebula.

again through triangle of would

All his everywhere

was but light carbon

Barrier of spirals]

Phoenix dark between everywhere

Boilding within time jumble

witch's body descends over

dizzying hair of Isis

like had been front

and was see ends

It that walked out of

darkness of many

so went the other above

open ends stars above

spread interior light










y Thomas Piekarski

Spears sticking up in peat where dead sparrows nested.

Expressway frozen still. My double is your Valentino

thumbing his way back to Alaska. The middle occupied

by abandoned reindeer stranded on your daddy’s navel.

It’s muggy tonight. My Venice, your gondola. Voltaire

disguised as a motley harlequin hiding in the bushes.

When walking the wide Rambla in Barcelona watch out

or you may be ambushed by the ghost of Pablo Picasso.

Black sandpaper sky. Neighborhood houselights sparkle.

A few scraggly stars through the smog. Hoorah Uranus.

And then a dry field, parched tinderbox where I watch

jackrabbits morph into zebras before my bulging eyes.

Tis said you felt the essence of your sentencing within

those stanzas you penned, dear poet. Credit hard labor,

dust wrapped in cellophane. My Brutus is your Judas.

The poor ride the metro. The rich pontificate, and stall.

Strolling to the chapel of love, it could be anyplace. Take

this pill and chill out. If just for once go preemptive. Let’s

annex music and swing on grace notes. Green Lantern will

make his own way. My enlightenment is your epiphany.

Magritte taut, sweats, casts a big broad smile, hard at work

on a self-portrait, him wearing his typical bowler hat and

black tie, smokes a J-shaped pipe. Meanwhile Rimbaud is

having a ball, rides a comet tail round and round the moon.

The ferry leaves in ten minutes but who cares? This tidbit

of information irrelevant, and contrary to the development

of one’s understanding. All for one and we equally free-fall

said thunder hailing ancient Arcadia with a boatload of light.

City rail cars zip past, then a freight train trundles by, both

barely skirting catastrophe. My reality is your fond fantasy, so

we’re even. I have blood cells and thin air to dish out, although

we won’t gain satisfaction this night any more than gnomes.

Grand bedfellows my indistinguishable cadence coupled with

John Philip Sousa snoozing in the heart of the sun. And the sun

never rises without a prompt, an approval from you my friend,

my fiend, dark paramour. Now I’ll sing my latest song for you.

Author bio: Thomas Piekarski is a former editor of the California State Poetry

Quarterly. His poetry and interviews have appeared widely in literary journals in the

U.S., India, Canada, Austria, and the U.K., including Nimrod, Portland Review, Mandala

Journal, Cream City Review, Poetry Salzburg, Boston Poetry Magazine, The

Journal, and Poetry Quarterly. He has published a travel book, Best Choices In Northern

California, and Time Lines, a book of poems.


By Jay Jurisich

Mortadella ginseng hyssop clay

she mucked in the garden raking mother's mulch

blocked from talking by the mocking rocker

blind gramophone bruising headwinds sway

last glass seen leaving scene with chalk talker

in amiable fury swept her walk away.

Toluene gun control razorback

the grinding efficiency of this or that wager

pausing to reflect the farmer laid bare

his billowing wheaties talking sweet smack

digesting the dirt in furrows of care

not walking not talking but for what they lack.

Rootward rootbound dryroot rootbeer

another salty conundrum searching for its savior

into the molting soil we blindly feel

pausing this planet without pulse without peer

You don't need census data to reveal

something's not quite right around here.

Author bio: Jay Jurisich is a Berkeley, California based artist whose artwork and poetry

explore the visual identity and conceptual nature of language. He is interested in whether

language can be "used" in a way that is not conventionally communication, poetry, or

logical, but inhabits or inspires a physical presence. W:

Return of the Cyclades by Gregory Wallace

Artist bio: Gregory Autry Wallace is a poet, painter and collage artist. He studied

English, World and Comparative Literature, and Creative Writing at San Francisco State

University. His poetry and collages have appeared in Athena Incognito, Atticus Review,

Paper Radio and NRG.


By Fred D. White

Moonlight over Mulholland; suicides

from the letter H; searchlights and busty palmists;

Tarot readers with moonstones and garnets

authorizing every finger; psalmists, palm trees,

palm frauds; Casablanca slow fans;

here’s-lookin’-at-you-faces pressed in cement;

gilded goddess-heads lording over back lots;

tailored suits; spike heels amid Armani thugs

in smirk and four-day bristle:

How could I forget thee, H-O-L-L-Y-W-O-O-D,

American obscene and my home town.

Mash-it-smash-hit, sully of Pixar, war-adoring town!

Your screen hallucinations

and light-saber animation-amputations

have shattered me into a million permutations.

Good riddance, crash-blast, flip-over

bash-badass orgiastic computer animation.

Take your explosion plumes and bodies

slow-motion pirouetting though the air,

and choke on them.

I take my leave from your wired, your boors,

your muddled asses, fondled into thinking they are free

Author bio: Fred White’s poems have appeared most recently in The Courtship of

Winds and Euphony, and is forthcoming in Allegro Poetry Journal and The Cape Rock.

He lives near Sacramento, CA, with his wife and cat.

Of Bigotry and

(Book Review) by Alison Ross

Jayne Cortez's Coagulations is the kind of collection that, were I a savvier scribe, I

would write. While I do sometimes/often covet other writers' talents, I seldom feel I

could inhabit their poetic persona; they are different people with different aims in their

writing. But in Jayne Cortez, I feel an aching kinship.

Granted, Cortez, being African American, wrote from deeper dimensions, given her lived

experience with ruthless racism. As a woman, I can relate to her musings on the evils of

misogyny, but my ghostly skin hue has not routinely caused problems for me, and therein

lies our separation.

Where we converge, of course, is in our love for surrealist imagery transported through

pulsating lines. Cortez is the poet that I aspire to, but will never, be.

And I'm mostly okay with that. Cortez has much more to say, anyway. Despite having

dealt with sexism throughout my life - what woman has not? - I won't say that I have

been crippled by such experiences, whereas I am sure that Cortez's status as a double

minority threatened to severely set her back. Clearly, she fought back with her art, and

clearly, she won.

Because, you see, Coagulations is a crowning collection of poetry. In these gathered

verses, Cortez spills forth with sanguine sass and crimson rage the torments of enduring

bestial bigotry. In one of her more straightforward poems, "There it is," she seethes:

The ruling class will tell you that

there is no ruling class

as they organize their liberal supporters into

white supremacist lynch mobs

organize their children into

ku klux klan gangs

organize their police into

killer cops...

inoculate us with hate

institutionalize us with ignorance

hypnotize us with a monotonous sound designed

to make us evade reality and stomp our lives away

Her structural repetitions lend a lyrical lilt to otherwise harsh subject matter, and this is

what makes Cortez imminently readable. But where her lines become downright

mesmerizing is when she injects jarring juxtapositions, as in "Tell Me":

Tell me that the plutonium sludge

in your corroded torso is all a dream

Tell me that your penis bone is not erupting

with the stench of dead ants

that your navel is not the dump site

of contaminated pus

that the spillage from your hard ass

is not a fallout of radioactive waste

Tell me you're not going to peel off your skin

and be a psychedelic corpse in the holy water of patriotic babble

Cortez's phrasing becomes purely potent when her indignation takes on a rhetorical flair,

as in "If the Drum is a Woman":

why are you pounding your drum into an insane babble

why are you pistol-whipping your drum at dawn

why are you shooting through the head of your drum

and making a drum tragedy of drums

if the drum is a woman

don’t abuse your drum don’t abuse your drum

don’t abuse your drum

Though the blood of Cortez's battles against a greed-mongering, white supremacist,

woman-hating society congealed into an anger poised to sting the world with its venom,

she managed to temper her fury just enough to allow it to seep into these poems

throbbing with a jazz-surrealist tempo.

Cortez's art is deliciously deadly.

The Holdout

By Alexei Kalinchuk

The zombie apocalypse went hard on all of us, but a special sliver of hardship went

towards Elise Fleming. Elise Fleming, you see, prided herself on her home and garden, on

hanging black and white gelatin prints of mountainscapes on her walls, on coaxing the rarest most

prize-winningest flowers from the soil in her yard.

She, and all of us, did-not-could-not prepare for the onslaught of the undead devouring

citizens on the street, infecting the living and killing anyone they could find.

Before the military counterattack and its mop-up on pockets of zombies, we all stayed as

a group in the house of our beloved orderly neighbor.

Barricaded in there together, in that most tasteful house for five days, we stained her

floors with blood, boarded up her windows and killed four of our own who became infected.

While we saved her life, albeit having to kill her zombified husband, I don’t think she

ever forgave the violence committed on her home by the undead trying to break in or by the

wretched defenders within her walls.

With the military at last triumphant and the siege lifted, Elise Fleming did not thank

anyone or even look in our direction, but instead went outside to her flowerbeds to assess the



It’s been ten years since the apocalypse and there is now a vogue of survivor reunion


We remember those who have fallen, admire each other’s children born since, note

paunches and gray hair and guzzle beers and eat nachos while discussing the apocalypse and

thanking each other for never giving up.

Each year on the anniversary of the counterattack, my fellow survivors show up, but each

year in our group there is one summons that goes unanswered.

She lives with her new husband in a lovely house in Berne. I know this because I have

researched and looking at the photos online, I note that this house is not as posh as her last one.

Perhaps because I was the one who butchered her first husband, homicidal and infected,

on the Spanish tile of the bathroom, or perhaps because I broke up her antiques for firewood and

torches, or perhaps because I’d genuinely admired her grit and poise before that whole awful

business of the apocalypse began, but something makes me feel responsible for Elise Fleming’s

alienation from us.

Other survivors in our group tell me to forget that spiteful woman who cared more about

her house than anyone or anything, but I can no more forget her now than I could then.

My last attempt at reconciliation did not go well.

After winning the lottery in the year after the apocalypse- it’s been a strange time for me

really-I devoted my time to thinking of how to reunite all of our original band of survivors

because after being set for life materially, I could think of no higher purpose for my life than this.

I decided I needed to reconcile with Elise.

Having commissioned an elaborate picture frame, one of a kind and expensive, I took my

private plane out to Europe to see if Elise Fleming wouldn’t accept my peace offering. I must’ve

had uneasy dreams on the flight over, because I cracked the top of a molar while in my sleep, but

this pain would not dissuade me from my mission.

I stood on the doorstep of her house, knocking, sometimes moaning because the winter

cold crept into the broken tooth and made a misery of my mouth, but I would not leave.

After my arrest however, I did leave; left the country, left the picture frame with the

police who did God knows what with it, left without even seeing her face.

Yet I will not delete her from my list of invitations I send out every year, and if I had her

email, I would send her our survivor group’s online newsletter so she can see who is getting

married, having a baby or graduating high school.

I’ve learned to survive, but not how to give up.

Write me back, tell me how you do it, Elise Fleming.

I want to know.

Or maybe that’s for the next apocalypse to teach me.

Author bio: Alexei Kalinchuk writes literary novels, has had fiction published in Amoskeag

Journal, The Bitter Oleander, Foliate Oak. He smells like fennel, sleeps on a mattress stuffed

with cilantro, and eats pomegranates alone.

The Inevitable Failure of

Historians of

Civilizations (Polemic)

by Edwin L. Young, PhD

I feel quite certain about two things. First, these universal, male

dominated, power structures have been present since the earliest

beginnings of all civilizations. Second, not even historians of

civilizations understand the arbitrariness of these evolutionary

processes. They keep lauding the unbelievable cruelty of the dominant

male leaders of all previous civilizations.

As a result of these two universal trends throughout history, I am

unwaveringly convinced that these trends will continue even as long as

mass destruction weapons continue to be lethally evolved along with


Importantly, along with that dire trend, antiquated male physiology

predisposes male leaders to be monomanaically goal oriented, power

superiority motivated, aggressively competitive, unempathic and

insensitive to the pain of others. Simultaneously, the majority of males

of lesser intelligence continue to live by group loyalty and conformity

and to be incredibly easily ordered by their leaders to perform

unconscionably despicable acts on their 'falsely supposed enemies.'

This latter trend is also pervasive in sports; which so easily prepares

them for militancy and which then is transmuted into compliance with

'us versus them,' mass destruction, global conflicts.

All the while, the CEO Directors of this horror drama have orchestrated

their corporations so as to reap huge profits from it all. Unwittingly,

the populace is complicit in corporate, unrelenting move toward

devastating climate change and the distantly inevitable destruction of

all life on earth.

Public education, one of their invisibly conformist creating strategies,

prevents the hoi polloi from ever suspecting that they are being

molded to be obedient slaves of corporate profiteering and militaristic

motivations and goals.

It is all a pervasively well integrated, worldwide system, dictated by

about 100 of the earth's richest and (almost exclusively male) crossnational,

most powerful individuals --- the "Bilderbergers."

All the while the populace, the "adult and children kiddies" are kept

mesmerized by the major pseudo news channels owned by the earth's

largest corporations, titillating adult sitcoms, and children's' television


The populaces were well entertained by these during the US coup of

most of Africa, excluding South Africa, and, so far, the also nearly

excluded, is that almost impenetrable nation, China. Included in this

untouchable category as well is the impotent, religion obsessed,

sleeping giant India.

Postcard #7 by Bob Heman

The Shining Example (Film Review) By Alison Ross

"Moonlight" is a film of confounding contradictions. It is both easy and difficult to

describe - and both easy and difficult to watch. The film left me speechless, and yet

hopeful. It depressed me while also uplifting me. The subject matter is grave, and it is

that gravity, and the verisimilitude - the vehicle transporting that gravity - that sank my

soul like a dull weight. And yet the pathos driving the movie - the vast empathy displayed

toward the main character's tormenting travails - is what illuminated the edges of my own


Technically speaking, the movie is pristine. I cannot think of a better mode of telling the

story than the brutal sparseness and starkly linear trajectory the film embraces. The film's

protagonist, a poor black male gradually coming to terms with his own sexuality, is

personified by a trio of stellar actors at various stages of his life. His main antagonists -

his mother and a callous society - are embodied authentically to an anguishing degree.

The whole movie reeks of realism, which is its staggering strength and yet the element

that evokes the most disquiet.

"Moonlight," indeed, situates itself in a place where pathos is filtered through a

wrenching realism. It is not concerned with slushy sentimentalism, just as it is

unconcerned with being icily aloof toward its troubled lead. Too, it eschews mere

caricature and presents the protagonist as one whose luckless lot nonetheless renders him

infinitely relatable, a fully formed character worthy of our respect, imbued with a dignity

and courage normally reserved for more conventional characters. Chiron is fractured, to

be sure, but has an unorthodox charisma, and as such, is more realistically realized than a

stock archetype.

"Moonlight" exists somewhere at the intersection of austerity and veracity, where vivid

truth is presented in a sternly minimalistic manner.

This is why the film, one of the best I have seen in a long time, is simultaneously easy

and difficult to watch. We want our movies about difficult topics to be digestible, and

that, in itself, is oxymoronic. We crave simple storylines and simple solutions, even if the

subject matter defies simplicity.

But we cannot have it both ways. Difficult subject matter demands astringent, if nuanced,

artistic approaches. It's the only way to validate, and hence seek answers to, complex


"Moonlight" shines a harsh radiance on what it is like to be poor, black, and gay. It's

time, at last, that a film did just that.

The Drunkeness of Ashes!! ! ! !"#$%&&#'(&)*#



Artist bio: Bill Wolak is a poet, photographer, and collage artist. He has just published

his twelfth book of poetry entitled Love Opens the Hands with Nirala Press. His collages

have been published in over a hundred magazines including: The Annual, Peculiar

Mormyrid, Danse Macabre, Dirty Chai, Hermeneutic Chaos Literary Journal, Lost Coast

Review, Mad Swirl, Otis Nebula, and Horror Sleaze Trash. Recently, he was a featured

poet at The Mihai Eminescu International Poetry Festival in Craiova, Romania. Mr.

Wolak teaches Creative Writing at William Paterson University in New Jersey.


By Kane X. Faucher

Profethah, when is class...where is class... what is class?????

read the syllabus


read the fucking syllabus

When are your office hours???

the syllabus

read you must

What did I miss last class when is my assignment due will you hold my hand

will you hold my hair when I puke will you tell me what to do and how to do

it so much it is like you are doing it all can I write on this or this or do i get the A++++++ and keep my scholarship and go to

medical-law school but without doing too much just give me an A cuz I have

lots of potential????




what is your policy on...???

the syllabus

So can I hand in my essay a bit later because...???

Read. The. Syllabus. Then, read it again.

Can I double-triple-quadruple space quoting Youtube how do I quote

Snapchat is Fox News an academic source whaddya mean by academic

source where is the library what is a library can I tweet my essay to you as I

do it will you edit it as I go will you validate me like a proxy parent and be

my blackhawk daddy-mummy and explain all the big words and I'm having

a lot of total stress and anxiety and depression cuz my iphone won't turn on

and I think I have the flu cuz of all this facebook drama in my life, my life is

so busy and important I think I'm having a total pumpkin spice latte mic

drop right here and right now and I dunno why i should ever learn to use

apostrophe cuz I'll get a nineteen-figure job in something I dunno-what but it

will be on social media with lots of emojis and everyone will love me and

give me golden sparkly houses and rainbow ponies with mad stackz of billz

for my BMWs as I chillax with my peeps and show off my individuality in

my style tribe and can I hand the paper in next year cuz my stress and

emotional diabetes??????

syllabus! syllabus! syl-la-bus-s-s-s-s-s-s!

Measure of ‘Lowest Common

Denominator‘ Among Americans

Near Zero (SATIRE)

By Gilbert Prowler

The benchmark for the so-called ‘lowest common denominator’ of

Americans is now close to bottoming out. “Any lower and we’ll be flat

lining,” says Owen Richards, head of statistical analysis at More On, a

California think tank.

The term represents a measurement of the level of the least discriminating

audience or consumer group. The study titled ‘Reasoning In the Population’

(RIP) paints a grim picture of a growing segment of Americans.

“Left to their own devices and the misinformation they get from them, many

adults are regressing to a point where they have difficultly coming up with

even one fact based thought.” Richards said.

The study of 2,700 subjects shows the correlation of the growing use of ego

driven social media, a hyper political climate and the need to fill a bloated

24/7 news cycle as some of the factors responsible for the downward spiral.

“To get a base line we pored over thousands of Facebook postings and

Twitter feeds as well as stories in the New York Post, interviews at public

urinals and Fox News. The findings were horrific. For example, the large

following of YouTube egg videos and people unwrapping a box of

merchandise is not an aberration."

Richards also points to the popularity of Donald Trump as indicative of the

decline in perception and reasoning. He cites the acceptance by Trump

supporters of his string of near truths, contradictions and outright lies as

examples of the lack of basic analytical thought among millions of


“What we see happening is a worldview based on fiction posing as facts that

seeps down to become core beliefs. Across all segments of society people

are believing what they want to if it fits into a narrative they’re comfortable


"Unfortunately, that can result in an inability to consider any conflicting yet

pertinent data. About the only thing those in our study could agree on was

the alphabet, although not necessary in letter order.

“I'm afraid the days of enlightenment are long over,” Richards added.

Author bio: Gilbert Prowler is a freelance writer and independent filmmaker who has

spent most of his life working, looking for work or running down checks. He was born in

Brooklyn, New York at a time when you could use a public restroom without having to

pass through security, the pornography was usually hidden in the attic by your old man

and Pluto was a planet. He currently lives in California with his wife, children and a

brown lawn.

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