FOUR POEMS by MARGARITA ATHANASIOU

FEARS

A fear is a funny thing. It’s a thing you have: I have a a pen pal in Thailand who has a dog with a fear of heights. Fear sounds like the humming of the elevator shaft when inactive and like elevator music when activated. To get over a fear means to no longer be under it, carrying it like a huge backpack; up a steep mountain hill, in July, in the south of France with an ex- boyfriend that smells of beer. If fear was made out of matter it would be the hugest backpack ever, made out of your own skin and bones. It would sit in your chest humming elevator music. To no longer carry the fear means to no longer be the same person. All fears are ultimately one.

Ενσωματωμένη εικόνα 1

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From Analects: Caprichos Sequence by R

Prose adaptations of Francisco Goya’s Caprichos, I-XXVIII

 

 

Artist Portrait

His expression is a pretence at inscrutability, but it gives him away: there is that haughtiness of the besieged, the embittered mercifulness, that tense, intermittent truce of compassion and disdain that distances a man from mankind as he finds men caught in the crossfire and sees them hurt…

 

They Say Yes and Give Their Hand to the First Comer

Every man is a boatman on the infinitely branching river of his possible lives, and every man is condemned to the course ordained by those faults and misfortunes particularly his, and she will marry one and embark, as first mate, siren and captive, with those faults and misfortunes particularly hers, to certain death amid the wreckage.

 

Here Comes the Bogeyman

A mother and her children cower before a hooded figure, who is perhaps the bogeyman, or a comparable human evil, as he prepares to eat the children, or extract his payment, or drag his family back home.

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“THE BATHTUB IN THE GUESTHOUSE” by DAVID HENSON

The apartment floor was cold to the touch. She pushed herself to her knees and turned her head to watch as her roommate breathed one last breath and reclined against the far corner of the room. The three-pronged leather whip was still in the middle of the coffee table next to the few fresh, unopened packages of hypodermic needles. She knew the men would arrive soon and call these things evidence.

She couldn’t stop thinking that her saliva had a taste to it, and that the ceiling was restricting her line to heaven. Not heaven but the place above where the others existed. The others being the people we are not. The dead, but not dead, because they left their bodies behind. The dead are only bodies and what leaves is something else. Continue reading

“SIDEWALK PENTAGRAMS” by JAMES NULICK

We only leave the house late at night and wear hoodies when we do go out so none of our neighbors will notice as our numbers diminish.* The house I live in is small and dark, a four bedroom ranch, desert cookie cutter, windows aluminum foiled against the heat. A small yard with a few anonymous plants and two saguaros watered by a drip system I never see, and dying twin palms on either side of the cracked, oil stained driveway. All the windows are dark except the slivered window near the door, illuminated by a small orange light glowing through the curtains. I’m on my Free Agent Chronik, a smooth three hundred dollar ride in matte black. I follow behind Mouse, Peanut and Baby J as we push ourselves through the dark abandoned streets. The asphalt is singing under my tires, a constant low hum that reminds me of an air conditioner. Mouse pivots his butt and kicks his rear tire out and to the right, splashing gutter water on a car sitting in someone’s drive. He’s in front so he’s directing traffic. The houses on the block are all dark, save for a few frightened porch lights. I hover above the seat and work my legs, two pistons whirring above the crank as we roll toward the unknown. We cross the street, cut through a break in the median, headed for a convenience store on 23rd Avenue, on asphalt, crossing sidewalks, passing under streetlights, gliding along the smooth concrete slab, propping our bikes against the glass wall of the store, our wheels silent as Mouse opens the door on a startled clerk. Continue reading

“DRAIN” by DAMAEREAN

“I’m leaking,” The Leaking Man replied.

The Leaking Man was always leaking in a sense, as we all do from time to time. I could control my leaking, but The Leaking Man could not. “Are you sure?” I knew the answer. His needs were few, and he wouldn’t speak up unless he was sure. He showed me the towels stained with bile, acid, and those enzymes that tend to digest whatever tissue they come across. “When can I get surgery?” He was lying, as he had done for years, in the middle of the room. The reassuring hum of the suction devices was the hymn of pax medicorum for his overseers, but our peace had been disrupted. Continue reading

SIX POEMS by TAYLOR COLLIER

MOONSONG

 

The only thing sadder, or so
the saying goes, than a washed-
up whale carcass, the body
plopped on the beach like
a slimy, meat-stuffed puppet,
is a dozen whale carcasses
fanned out in some apocryphal
testament to the accidental
power of chemistry and greed.
But by that logic a couple dozen’s
worse, et cetera, ad infinitum.
And maybe it’s not so much
that I don’t care about degrees
of suffering—as if each flavor,
shade, make, model, and stink
deserves, no, requires some
specialist with two decades of
experience in a field utterly tan-
gential to the pulse behind
the human condition—I’m just
never sure which way my head
should turn, which stories most
need my funneled sympathy. Continue reading