“BEING UNBEARABLY FOCUSED ON INANIMATE OBJECTS WHILE INTERVIEWING FOR A JOB” by PETER JOHN MCLEAN

“It says here you worked in a call center before.”

“Yes, sir,” Leonard said. He stared at a large potted plant in the corner of the office.

The interviewer kept muttering “Good, good.” He kept staring at the resume.

“Definitely learned a lot there,” Leonard added, trying to pry his eyes away from the plant.

“Yes? Excellent,” the interviewer said. Then back again to “Good, good.” His muttering was barely audible.

Leonard tried to turn his head. The skull would move, the neck, the tongue, the nose, and so on. The eyes would not. He would twist his head away from the plant, but his eyes remained preoccupied with the small tree.

“Would you describe yourself as detail oriented?”

“Definitely,” Leonard said. He examined the cracked terracotta earthenware. How long until the pot exploded under the weight of its own soil?

The interviewer cleared his throat. Leonard was sure this was the part where they should look eye to eye. “Hold his gaze,” Leonard thought to himself. “This man is dangling part time employment in front of you, hold his gaze.”

But he could not pull his eyes from the potted plant. It wasn’t his fault. It was the drugs. Continue reading

FIVE POEMS by ISAAC SIMPSON, TIMOTHY BARNETT, & SPENCER DE GAUTHIER

Truth Will Get You by Isaac Simpson

 

When your son comes to you really suffering

You don’t say you look very handsome today
You don’t say there’s sex hormones in your water
You don’t say I’m feeling bullish about Taiwan Semiconductor (TSMC)

When your sister comes to you at the very bottom of her life

You don’t say lose a few pounds
You don’t say humans share 98% of their DNA with bullfrogs
You don’t say jet fuel doesn’t melt steel beams

When your best friend loses everything

You don’t say they found water on the moon
you don’t say hot Yoga opens the pores of the mind and body
you don’t say Bruce Willis was dead the whole time

What you do say is the one thing

that you know

is not true. Continue reading

“PLURTLES” by D. GREENHORN

Jenny Marie Jerris made a leaping stride out onto the front step of her house, the awning of which cast a shadow protecting her from early July midday sun. She was seven years old, of essence and of name, for she had recently changed hers to Jenny the Seven-Year-Old. Few greater injuries are done to natural justice than summer birthdays, and in Mrs. Thompson’s first grade classroom, you were a second-class citizen if you were born between Memorial Day and Labor Day. And thus, to make sure everyone knew her birthday was June 27, Miss Jerris had legally changed her name to Jenny the Seven-Year-Old, up until yesterday, when she could no longer remember what her legal name was, and she went back to Jenny.

She smiled contentedly. Eleven o’clock in the summertime: The children’s hour. Neighborhood teens are all either at work or sleeping, and unable to bust up your games or call you swear-words; the heat is just oppressive enough to keep old geezers from coming out and lecturing you for running through their begonias; moms are all busy watching the juicy lead-off soaps, and few fathers are around to rail about the doing or not-doing of chores. Most importantly, the day is new, and you don’t have to worry about playing your two-millionth game of tag, or having to tell Henry Ebert for the seven-billionth time that his lame sci-fi make-believe is just way too boring to act out today. Everything is right at eleven o’clock. In the summer, it is the best time to be alive. Continue reading

FOUR POEMS by CHRIS CAMPANIONI

Exact Change

 

Nothing less nothing more_____I want to

Exact change_____Required

To pass on go through

Get over_____Resist_____Think of me

To be looped to be continually

Repeated rather

Than referenced & quoted_____I only

Would want to remain

A living sample

 

I would want you to wish

You could see me

Today I really look

Good_____Do Continue reading

“DANCE DANCE” by SIMON GRAHAM

For the past seven years I have played Dance Dance Revolution every day at the local arcade. I am 93 years old now and somewhat of a local legend. Everybody knows who I am. I am the 7th top rated tourist attraction in my town on TripAdvisor. Or so I have been told. I don’t know how to access TripAdvisor. I don’t know how to use the Internet. I didn’t jump on that train when it was leaving the station, and by the time I’d thought about getting on, it was moving too fast. It boggles my mind every time one of the kids at the arcade tells me a story about something that happened ‘online’. Who could have ever imagined this? Everything in the world is growing exponentially except for my ability to keep up. Even Dance Dance Revolution leaves me in admiration of God’s creations and that is just a simple game of stepping on pads in time to a K-pop beat. The kids I play with do not believe in God. They believe in technology and science. I try to say to them that these are all the same thing essentially. Continue reading

EIGHT POEMS by JAY JADICK

THEORIES

 

you go, we stay
thinking about
the possibility
of my friend
who believes
in aliens

my brother
says, just checking,
just checking, if
this conception,
this human, I’ve spent
twenty years remembering
is real, why can’t
now erupt into
expanding
time traveled thru
piece and peace,
the guide, TV
IS ME, and
you are the
one I love,
paranoia,
my one
and only
is grounding Continue reading

“THIRTY YEARS OF DIRT” by SUNDAY FALL

Dulce won $1000 on a scratch off. She wanted to use the money on a trip to Tuscany, but we decided buy drugs with the money and enjoy life together as friends instead. It was my birthday. We were all sitting on the floor with our shoes off. The windows were closed. We held out our palms clear in the world and offered our eyes open. Ryan had gathered all that belonged to Felix – the t-shirts he gave him, comb, mirror, silk scarf, toothbrush and piled it all onto the living room floor. It looked like he tried to put him back together, but it was too much. I have to burn it, Ryan said pouring salt onto the pile. Salt cleanses negative energy but I have to get rid of his stuff, it’s attracting demons. I walked away from the window not saying a word. We all grieve in different ways, but he believes he’s cursed. He can’t accept his boyfriend’s death or understand why. I mean there are those who figure life is not worth living and to save themselves, they have to be killed. The last time I seen Felix, he seemed alright. He seemed completely normal. He hid it so well. It was all still fresh. I picked up the bottle of champagne on the table and drank some out the bottle. I don’t even feel sorry for him, Ryan shouted before lighting his cigarette. I got the impression that saying too much would get us nowhere. You have to forgive yourself but more importantly forgive Felix, Dulce said. It was his choice. Know that. Don’t feed your guilt. Dulce picked up the cheap champagne bottle I put down on the glass table and swigged the last of it. What he pulled was selfish at best. You were always good to him. Ryan let out a thick cloud of smoke staring at the pile on the floor. I didn’t cry. Continue reading

“ATTRACTIONS” by CLAIRE HOPPLE

Trinie attempts a change of scenery and is surprised with a new challenge.

 

I am sensitive to the texture of life like I am sensitive to the texture of food. Moving residences has the feel of a tortilla chip lodged in my throat. To ease the edge of it down my proverbial gullet, I wandered into a seedy bar.

In retrospect, it seems like this spectacle needed to happen, could only happen, if I were in the room. The room being a bar, specifically The Broad Lounge. It was most likely named that because of its location on Broad Street, but if you didn’t pay attention to street signs, it could easily be taken as a derogatory reference to women. The neon high heel displayed in the front window didn’t help.

When I walked in, the bartender instantly informed me of a karaoke contest that night. Instead of cash or a bottle of liquor the prize was a box of ice cream sandwiches. The kind made with chocolate chip cookies rather than the chalky brown planks. Sprinkles supposedly lined the outer edges of the ice cream, colorful sirens calling to the digestive tracts of the locals. Everyone seemed determined to win them.

A couple seated beside me had a baby with them, maybe a toddler. I didn’t think that babies or toddlers or children in general were allowed in a bar but no one else seemed concerned.

Anyway, I was there for maybe less than a minute before the couple started yelling at each other. They fought like there weren’t ample witnesses. The volume of their voices was becoming too loud to pretend not to hear. Plus, they started knocking some empty stools to the ground, one landing directly into my right shin bone.

This went on for a while until the man stormed off in the direction of the bathrooms. The woman shifted closer to me until I was forced to address her as a person.

“Take the baby,” she pleaded. Continue reading

FIVE POEMS by CHASE PADUSNIAK

On Achieving Self-Consciousness at an Ohio Rest Stop

 

My calves, so thin,
Burst forth from
Limp tube socks of Laotian
Sweat.

Father! In your grease-stained
Bed sheet and paint-soaked
Denim diaper, New Balances
White.

Father! In your flannel bustier, chest hair
On fire with thoughts of my effeminacy
And how exactly one should banish
Grass.

Father! Your bald head gleams in the sun, even as
Your salt-and-paprika beard assures the McDonald’s
Cashier that, no matter what, you won’t scold him, not
Today.

My fathers turn
Toward me, little
Boy, and assuage
Everything. Continue reading

“SABLE CONSTANTINE AND THE CASE OF THE KULUAK-TU STATUES” by xy7htk

– No, nothing, nobody, never.
– Yes.
– Pardon my verbiage.
– As you wish.
– God is my witness.
– Relax.
– Easy to say.
– It will get easier. Go on.
– Newspaper smell made me heave. Someone turned on the news, I’d scream. Intolerable. International news, it took everything I had not to just start punching people left and right.
– Some confusion is expected.
– They’re studying the syndrome. All the agents, spies, double, triple agents, all the vectors of memetic dissemination, everybody is buckling. Once I met a level 4 agent. After a while, he started recording his own conversations, “just for kicks,” but we could see that schizoid rictus fighting to break out in his face, and we’d laugh along so he wouldn’t feel awkward. No one knows what to believe anymore. Truth spewed out from the warm bellies of Xerox machines 24/7 (the nastiest stuff is now off the grid after [REDACTED]’s “password” password, el-oh-el). Warm paper denying, changing, confirming, creating facts HAHAHAHA sorry, can’t say “facts” without HAHAHA.
– We will filter it. Continue reading