FOUR POEMS by CARL GERCAR

Self Love

I watched a snake shed its skin once,
they start at the face and
there’s this moment where
the old skin and the new are separating
the snake is neither and both
and the three join only at the eyes
it reminded me of where fire meets the tree
you can see it clinging but you can’t say how
until the eyes deliquesced
and the snake became a whole again Continue reading

“A MATTER OF TASTE” by MATT LEE

Through the bulletproof glass, I gave the man my order: two-piece fried chicken with a biscuit, the cheapest item on the menu.

I pushed a few wrinkled dollars into the tiny slit at the bottom of the window and the cashier took it without saying a word.  He rang the order into a beaten register then disappeared to the back.

Stepping aside, I leaned against the wall, which was sticky with grease.  I scanned the adjacent wall, studying the various framed photographs and certificates, old write-ups from long defunct magazines, advertisements promoting the latest and greatest chicken-based consumables.  I had not eaten all day.

One photo in particular caught my attention:  A famous rapper wearing the same emblazoned uniform as the man who had just taken my order.

It seemed the famous rapper had grown up in the surrounding projects, grim and ancient hi-rise block apartments, row after row of cheap brown buildings where the dealers sheltered from the hawkish gaze of the mobile police watchtowers that were posted on every street corner. Continue reading

THREE POEMS by KRISTIE SHOEMAKER

mount st. helens

 

has your heart ever beat so hard
and with such purpose
as if either begging for life or trying to end it
that it rattles the inside of your rib cage
and then sends small shock waves through layers of skin and bone and flesh and space
to make your mattress rumble
enough to shake the floor boards holding up your precious home
both body and not
enough to awaken the worms and skeletons deep in the dirt
eternal slumber has no place during a panic attack
that makes itself so strong through word of mouth from skeleton jaw to layer of rock
that a small rattle in your rib cage results in the biggest earthquake known to man
but not plant and animal because we are selfish and assume nothing has happened before our eyes were here to witness
the earth cracks open and swallows you whole and the elderly couple across the street sleep through the whole thing
you try to scream and cry and desperately seek comfort
it’s okay to feel afraid of yourself and the world
it’s okay to need help
so long as you stay as quiet as possible Continue reading

“LIFE STORY” & “KIDS WHO KILL (BOOK REPORT)” BY WILL WOODS

LIFE STORY

 

A

My name is Will Woods. I am fourteen years old. I was born on August 3, 1984. My favorite game is Mortal Kombat II. My favorite movie is Jason Goes to Hell. When I grow up I want to be a professional video game tester. My second choice is to write for Rolling Stone. My third choice is to be the man who puts old greyhounds to sleep.

 

B

I have seven books on snakes. I guess you could say that I am a snake boy. My favorite snakes are dendroaspis ployepis (black mamba) and ophiophagus hannah (king cobra). If I had a black mamba and/or a king cobra I would put it in my math teacher’s Ford Explorer. Continue reading

THREE POEMS by C PHILLIPS

poor swan poem

swan in a bath of molten lava
at least i laugh
i laugh, at least
swan in a shower of singing rain

swan in a bath of molten lava
her babies fell down from the sky
the sky threw her babies on out
swan sang in her new tub of glass

swan on a brand new singing t.v. show
her scores come back three, three, six
the six came from her mama
swan in a bath of molten lava

Continue reading

“TROPISMES” by MIKE KLEINE

The anthropologist appeared in late July, when the sky was still a cornflower blue & the earth rumblings had stopped. He ate escargots & spoke of published books & of academic lyfe & provided instruction on how to become a better person.

The anthropologist also did this thing with his h&s.

He drank whiskey & smoked Djarum Blacks & said things like, “White Cube is something new & wondrous that will never happen again.” The anthropologist would pause & then continue, “Because we are in an important moment in time right now, where limitations & regulations cannot affect the kind of world-changing work we are doing, literally, the sky is the limit.”

After that, the earth rumblings would come back for a little bit, but with less frequency. At night, the anthropologist would recite poetry & sleep by the pond & play guitar & spend the better part of his days photographing plant lyfe & investigating rock formations near & around the White Cube construxion site.

But not once did the anthropologist take a picture of White Cube or anything around White Cube. Continue reading

“HORROR HOTEL” by ALICE FLORIDA XU

ONE

 

On a Tuesday, Alice decides she will be unfaithful to Peter, her boyfriend of three and a half years. It is 10:43 in the morning and rain is drumming the roof of the building where Alice works. Alice chews on a pen and wonders when she will do it, when she will fuck someone else. Alice looks at the computer. Soon, Alice decides. Alice looks at a window and her gray chair squeaks. She chews on a pen and thinks, I am going to cheat on him soon. I have to do it soon. I have to cheat on him and I have to take control of my life.

 

Alice loves Peter. Or Alice used to love Peter. Or Alice never loved Peter. At one point Alice loved Peter, probably. A year ago, or maybe two years ago, Alice loved Peter. I love Peter, Alice used to think. Then something changed. Or nothing changed and Alice never really loved Peter. Maybe loving Peter was what Alice wanted, so Alice pretended it was happening. When Alice was twelve she believed she would be a veterinarian. Alice was very sure of it because she wanted it to happen. Every day she would think, I will be a veterinarian. Maybe loving Peter was something like that. Or maybe it wasn’t. Or maybe loving Peter and not loving Peter are the same thing, or so similar as to almost be the same thing, and there is no sense in thinking about it, especially not now, especially after Alice has decided that she will be unfaithful to Peter, an idea that feels very clear, and very large, and very unlike the question of loving Peter, which is very vague, and very small, and very confusing. Someone yells something outside Alice’s cubicle. Alice stares at her computer screen. Alice stares at a graph it is her job to make. Alice thinks, I need to finish this. I need to focus on my job. I need to be a good employee so I can keep my job. I need to be a good employee so I can buy a house. I need to be a good employee. My life is not in control. My life is out of control. I need to take control of my life. Continue reading

“ANOTHER STORY ABOUT FISH” by DAVID CATNEY

I guess I just don’t have good luck with fish though. So it’s probably for the best that I’ve only ever been fishing once. A few years ago I thought it would be a good idea to get a few pet fish. I liked the idea of getting stoned and staring at them for hours every night. I needed a new hobby. I started telling everyone I talked to about how much I wanted pet fish and how amazing it would be. I acted as though I was letting people in on some incredible secret I had stumbled upon.

Eventually, after telling enough people, my friend Darren told me that he had a fish tank and some fish. Coincidentally, he had been trying to get rid of them. He couldn’t find anyone to take them. I couldn’t believe my luck. I asked him how much money he wanted. He said I could have them for free. He said he would bring the fish and the tank by my house in a few days. I wanted to kiss him on the mouth. Continue reading

ID. by *********

MONDAY MORNING. A white apartment along I-95, a white boxy building encompassed by palm trees, a white sky of pure cloud overlooking that building, overlooking an overpass, in a suburban community, in Boca Raton.

You’ve earned this. This is what you get for your work, your trouble. (You could take this town, easily. Quite easily.)

You’re on the patio, listening to the radio, listening to the jerky drum beat of Radiohead’s Airbag, listening to your lover beckon for you to reenter the flat, listening attentively, listening and smiling at the sound of her voice, smiling at her pleading.

Back inside some low-fi VHS dream is playing on the TV, and she’s laying there on the carpeted floor, 145 pounds of Venezuelan ass and attitude, touching herself, watching you watching her from the other side of the patio’s sliding glass door. She reclines against the foot of the sofa and looks up at the ceiling. “Right here,” she says, “I want it right here.” She closes her eyes and bites her lip in anticipation of you, spreading her legs. And like any animal provided the right stimuli, you go. She gets on her knees, you loosen the shirt tie that you spent the last ten minutes doing up just right (fuck that) and G E T  T O  I T. Continue reading

“REAPER TAPS” by JOSEPH P. O’BRIEN

Ever since we were old enough to want to be cool, Pete and I wanted to be as cool as Trevor DeZuto. Trevor was the first boy in our grade to pierce his ear, the first to wear Reebok Pumps, the first to hear this awesome new band called Nirvana. He was a baseball, soccer, and basketball all-star. He pulled pranks on teachers and never got caught, like when he’d tie the art teacher’s shoelaces to her chair, or when he’d sprinkle crumbled eraser bits into the math teacher’s toupee. Sometimes we wondered if Trevor had the power to stop time, to get ahead of the curve, slip out of trouble, or simply narrate his super-cool life to an adoring audience beyond a fourth wall only he could see, like Zack Morris on Saved By The Bell. Then one Saturday afternoon, barely a month into middle school, some smegma-brained drunk driver manslaughtered Trevor as the poor kid was riding his bike to the park.

The following Tuesday, Students Against Drunk Driving became the most popular club at school. So many kids joined SADD that day they had to move the meeting from its usual classroom to the lecture hall. During the meeting someone mentioned how drunk driving accidents killed people like Trevor every 48 minutes, which got us brainstorming, until we’d hatched a plan to raise awareness of that tragic statistic so high and so hard that nobody at Deer Hollow Middle School would ever let themselves or their loved ones drive drunk as long as they lived. Continue reading