Tag Archives: Fall 2015 (#7)

“The Golden Hour” – Fiction by K.A. Liedel

Street Light - Giacomo Bella, 1909
Street Light – Giacomo Balla, 1909

Time comes to an end, yet the world goes on in K.A. Liedel’s wonderfully strange & poetic short story “The Golden Hour,” the grand finale of our Fall 2015 issue.

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I ALREADY HAVE THE PINK FLAMINGOS and the gnomes, of course, plus the red-hatted jockey holding the lamp. Even the nana bent over her invisible garden with the fluffy white bloomers, the balsa one that practically glows under its shellack of dollar-store paint.

But there’s so much more out there yet. The figurines and birdhouses and whirligigs you can’t find anywhere else, born from the guts of their corner colonial, from its basement maybe. Outside its rippling flags are in every goddamn color from the Pantone wheel and the ornaments crowd around the lawn in a diorama of misshapen plasticine. You know the place, you know its pure topographical schlock. Those are the ones. My own personal MacGuffins.

Call it whatever but don’t call it looting. I’m liberating them is what I’m doing.  I’ve a damned finer destiny planned for them than their owners could ever dream. They’re gonna outlast the world that birthed them, as a vista of ugly rainbow polyptychs that’ll accompany my life into its eternal pause. My tacky, technicolor ushabtiu.

But let’s pause for a moment. Thinking back, all of this, this madness, started with a mere phrase. Temporal decay. There were others, too, just as vaguely terrifying. Prisoners of deterioration was a particularly graphic, albeit inelegant, one. Like a rejected Lovecraft title. And can’t forget UFOTU – that’s Ultimate Fate Of The Universe. Where would doomsday science be without its acronyms and scare quotes? They led off every newscast for a month, peppered between sports and stocks and weather, until the idea that time was dying became the first thing that slithered over the anchors’ lips and then soon the only thing that got out. It had erased the existence of all other events, slowly and silently, just as it was doing to life itself. Couldn’t be measured, couldn’t be seen. The skeptics barked about those last parts but we all knew it. The consensus was never spoken of much but it was inside us, that old, proverbial sinking feeling that can’t be quantified in a scholarly journal. Billions of people living their life under a crushing anxiety that soon grew into a vague sense of total, utter doom.

It wasn’t quite real for me, though, until I saw the president himself, shoulders up so far as to be around his ears. He was staring back at us through the TV in that same damn pose all his predecessors had assumed when some tragedy or crisis made society freeze in its place for a day or two to fret and mourn and look to the heavens, waiting for our frazzled nerves to be soothed by some suit who won just the right amount of swing states. On every single channel, even the local car lot show, even the golf coverage, even the Korean soap operas. That’s when I knew, there wasn’t gonna be a fix. No vaccine, no laser, no team of astronauts led by Bruce Willis, no nothing.

I’m not sure what everyone else felt at that moment, maybe they were reassured on some level,  maybe bought wholesale into the pledges and promises. But me? I was just scared. He uttered that phrase –  there it was again, temporal decay – three or four times in the first minute of his speech, and suddenly, I felt it. Fear. A real fear. Like your heart strangling your stomach. It was really happening. Time was dying, slowly but surely, crawling through the desert on its sand-scraped knees, a wanderer blindly rejecting its doom even as it fossilizes. That’s how I imagined it all going down. And we, us poor humans, would be stuck on its dry old bones like parched bugs, like the peeled-off sarcophagi of dumb, noisy cicadas, undying and immovable but still alive somehow, helpless in our stasis. Continue reading “The Golden Hour” – Fiction by K.A. Liedel

“Armed & Fabulous!” – Fiction by David X. Wiggin

Dolce & Gabbana advertisement - Steven Meisel, 2006
Dolce & Gabbana advertisement – Steven Meisel, 2006

It’s a sick, sad world we live in, friends, and violence & grief are hotter than ever this season– just like in “Armed & Fabulous!”, David X. Wiggin‘s brutally satirical short story from our Fall 2015 issue.

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LAST YEAR’S TREND WAS THE DEADLIEST IN DECADES, transforming the fashion world from a familiar Sodom into a post-apocalyptic nightmare, littering the runways with corpses and earning Madison Avenue the title of “most dangerous street in America.”

It began with the brutal murder of supermodel Alison Abigail.  One sweltering July evening, the nineteen-year-old Calvin Klein model went clubbing with her friends, her honey-colored hairs twined in those famous pigtails.  According to reports, she left Club Gonzo shortly after 2 A.M. on the arm of an unknown man.  Her disappearance, a national tragedy, became national trauma when her mutilated body was found floating in the Hudson two weeks later, pigtails chopped off.  Right away people blamed the industry.  Alison was branded a martyr in nearly every circuit of the media. Shows were picketed.  Bottles of the perfume she represented were shattered on the street outside the Calvin Klein offices.

While its tasteful battlements shook from the onslaught of a hysterical country, the fashion world was being torn apart from within.  Models withdrew from the public sphere for fear of the uncaptured killer.  A popular designer quit the business altogether out of remorse.  Nearly a third of the clothes designed that year were black.

Eventually the one-year anniversary of Alison’s death rolled around.  In a move of brilliant marketing, crass Calvin Klein produced the Alison Abigail Memorial Fragrance.  This perfume did not tingle with the gentle scent of flowers or fizzle with the electric dry smell of the sea.  It burned and blasted like wrathful mace.  It was in fact wrathful mace stored in a heavy steel spray-flask, itself a suitable accessory for bashing in the head of a blinded mugger.  First produced only in limited edition quantities, the Alison Abigail Memorial Fragrance was a surprise hit.  Sentimental fashionistas swept them off the shelves and wore them on chains or clipped to their belts.  It didn’t matter that the flasks were heavy and hideous—everyone was proud to wear them.  They provided a sense of solidarity and empowerment.  Here was an item both chic and deadly.  And because the A.A.M. Fragrance was technically a perfume, it was perfectly legal.

Not to be outdone, Donna Karan produced a silver commemorative dagger.  A good three inches longer than the legal limit, the curved blade was designed by a famous silversmith and inscribed in delicate cursive with the banal phrase: “NEVER AGAIN.”  It was the sort of tasteless knick-knack you’d see at the Alamo—only these knick-knacks were sharp enough to castrate a horse.  The day after the dagger went on the market, stabbings in New York City quintupled.

Continue reading “Armed & Fabulous!” – Fiction by David X. Wiggin

A Third Excerpt from Nothing Granted – Poetry by Anna Meister

Wrath - Giotto, 1306
Wrath – Giotto, 1306

Our Fall 2015 issue contains three excerpts from Anna Meister‘s outstanding poetry series Nothing Granted. We’ve posted two of those poems earlier this season and today we’re very flappy to present the third one below.

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ANGELS FALL UNDER IT see them bend without necks hear them beg
light swallow the itch to scratch catch myself rawer than meat

the shaking after sip that transforms a body I could keep
drowning all these fantasies packaged I could wear blood

would they all come true like apples I try to sit & pray praise
in due time what might come without whatever name god

make me secure hands of little make me pine fuck the drowning
takes too long you don’t have to dream my body is bald & fingered

by you need help call all the cool cold hands I am tired
of the guilty swallow so greedy I feel here is my throat

working teeth marks everywhere I go grant me wrath a cliff
wouldn’t change I’m leaving anything I could come home

sober for somewhere between a room filled with smoke
& commitment I stay lifted naked girl almost recognizable

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anna_meisterANNA MEISTER is an MFA candidate in Poetry at New York University, where she serves as a Goldwater Writing Fellow. A Pushcart Prize & Best of the Net nominee, her poems are forthcoming in Powder Keg, Whiskey Island, Barrelhouse, The Mackinac, & elsewhere. Anna is a 2015 Saltonstall Foundation for the Arts Fellow. She lives & works in Brooklyn.

“My Wet” – Poetry by Adam Tedesco & Juliet Cook

Two Rats - Vincent van Gogh, 1884
Two Rats – Vincent van Gogh, 1884

The fantastically feral “My Wet” is one of two twisted poems by Adam Tedesco & Juliet Cook in our Fall 2015 issue.

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Living a rough life on the ranch
In the boots of wannabes
They wait for a god to ask them to kill

The incense is lit
Pressure cooker
Plugged into my brain
Snapped into a trap

We smoke ropes of dead rat
Watch mutilation through stolen telescopes
Get high on their killing
Wet ourselves in a blood embrace

The rat that hears the voice
Appears no different
Walks a simple path
Like submission, a gift

Whether he ends it or I end it
I’m the one who stops existing

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IMGP3324ADAM TEDESCO has worked as a shipbuilder, a meditation instructor, and cultural critic for the now disbanded Maoist Internationalist Movement. He conducts the ConversexInverse interview series and analyzes dreams for the online literary journal Drunk In A Midnight Choir. His recent work has appeared or is forthcoming in Similar:Peaks::, pioneertown, FunhouseCosmonauts Avenue, and elsewhere.

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IMG_1359 - Copy (2)JULIET  COOK is a grotesque glitter witch medusa hybrid brimming with black, grey, silver, purple, & red explosions. Her poetry has appeared in Ghost Proposal, H_NGM_N, ILK, and Menacing Hedge. She is the author of more than 13 poetry chapbooks, including POISONOUS BEAUTYSKULL LOLLIPOP (Grey Book Press, 2013), RED DEMOLITION (Shirt Pocket Press, 2014) and a collaboration with Robert Cole, MUTANT NEURON CODEX SWARM (Hyacinth Girl Press, 2015). A collaborative chapbook with j/j hastain, Dive Back Down, is forthcoming from Dancing Girl Press. Her first full-length poetry book was Horrific Confection (BlazeVOX, 2008). Her second, Malformed Confetti, is forthcoming from Crisis Chronicles Press. www.JulietCook.weebly.com.

“The Playground” – Fiction by Samantha Duncan

Boys Lessons Provide Wartime Toys - Norman Smith, 1943
Boys Lessons Provide Wartime Toys – Smith Norman, 1943

“The Playground” is not just a setting but a character in Samantha Duncan‘s magically unsettling flash fiction from our Fall 2015 issue.

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IT WAS THE START OF SPRING WHEN THE PLAYGROUND BEGAN to behave in a maternal way. Howard, having just learned to walk, tripped over his own feet and landed hands and knees in a muddy spot of mulch. He had mixed feelings about dirt on his body, only enjoying it when he submitted himself to it, so this was an event altogether displeasing, which he hesitantly expressed through an animalistic wail. His mother, sitting on a bench at the opposite end of the playground, had barely risen from her place when the ground in front of Howard let off a small explosion, and from under the mulch a burst of water landed directly on his splayed hands and feet.

His mother jerked and back-pedaled slightly before charging toward her son. She frantically checked him over for further injuries from the tiny water volcano, then assessed his mental state, assuming that at the very least, he’d be spooked and immediately want to go home. But he was completely clean from his impromptu bath, and his expression suggested nothing more than perplexed curiosity, and when she moved her hands to his armpits to hoist him up and head for the car, he fought back with the move all children perfect in their first year: thrusting one’s arms straight up and causing them to slide out of their handler’s grip. It worked, and she put him down.

He immediately ran to the metal dome climber and, though he’d never done it before, climbed almost to the top and rested his body there, giving the structure an awkward but loving hug. His mother, unsure what to think, circled the playground to look for signs of another explosion, but the ground looked calm and inanimate. There had to be an explanation, some natural phenomenon she’d never heard of. Maybe the playground was built on shifting plates. Science held the answer. She watched her son close his eyes and hug the dome climber tighter.

Other things started to happen, though, that couldn’t be dismissed by any sort of science. Bailey attached his mouth to the outer curve of the yellow tube slide. A few minutes of this passed before his mother looked up from her iPad and tensed her face in disgust.

She marched over to him and demanded to know what he was doing. He waited until she was within arm’s reach before popping his little mouth off the slide, and he screamed:


Continue reading “The Playground” – Fiction by Samantha Duncan

“Cosmonaut” – Poetry by Laurin DeChae

Star of the Hero - Nicholas Roerich, 1932
Star of the Hero – Nicholas Roerich, 1932

Soar through the stratosphere with “Cosmonaut,” one of two awesomely extra-terrestrial poems by Laurin DeChae in our very cosmic Fall 2015 issue.

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“I see no god up here.” –Yuri Gagarin*

IS THIS FILLING EVERY PIN HOLE PRICK of light you thought it would  blow me
float down from space like a paper airplane drifting on the come down
trip over the underbelly of a pot-bellied pig soaking in afternoon
mud a pied piper parading pockets filled with crumbs and so much more
than music mustering up the melody enough to chime chime the church
bells the tower telling more than a tale of rings and stars torched and ciphered
by birds dotting horizons with wingspanning curvature like the body changing
shapes like the skeleton that shakes loose from skin from sin from signature
from myth from constellation from spanning across skylines nameless
tame this tail of light streaking but the aim is higher so blow me
down blow me out extinguish there’s nothing here it just goes on forever
it goes on like jack and jill and the inevitability of falling hill or no hill
I knew there was nothing for me here nothing good anyway but I had to know I had to                know

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DeChae_HeadshotLAURIN DeCHAE is an M.F.A. candidate for poetry at the University of New Orleans, where she acts as the associate editor for Bayou Magazine. She is active in the fields of education and composition, assisting in programs such as the Greater New Orleans Writing Project, Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, and the Tennessee Williams Literary Festival. Her work appears or is forthcoming in Harpur Palate, Cleaver Magazine, burntdistrict, S/WORD, and Rose Red Review.

“the things that are left behind” – Poetry by Joyce Chong

Rind - M.C. Escher, 1955
Rind – M.C. Escher, 1955

Joyce Chong explores the remnants of loss in her powerfully moving poem “the things that are left behind,” one of two exquisite pieces she contributed to our Fall 2015 issue.

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AMONG OTHER THINGS: the fruit rind
ground down to the white,
the voices of my mother’s grandmother,
and little hauntings like
wind chimes on the ceiling
in the bedroom.

among other things:
the rooms to be cleared,
secrets, trinkets,
this silence. the things
that you did not take with you.

i’ve learned to count loss
without time, without
a metronome;
it’s everything immediate,
and everything scabbed over,
the sensation of a wound
healing and then fading;
mis-remembering is
as inevitable
as every breath
that comes next
from lung
to mouth
to sky.

loss is a syntax
that never takes long to learn.

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ndsbrt500JOYCE CHONG lives in Ontario, Canada where she writes fiction, poetry, and other types of lies surrounded by farm land and wine country. Her work has appeared in Cool Skull Press’ Goddessmode anthology, (parenthetical), and untethered magazine, with work forthcoming in Noble Gas Qtrly and Liminality. You can find her online at joycechong.ca, or you can follow her mundane (and occasionally excessive) tweeting at @JoyceEmilyC.

“New Orleans” – Poetry by Violet Mclean

Storyville Photograph - E.J. Bellocq, circa 1915
Storyville Photograph – E.J. Bellocq, circa 1915

For our Fall 2015 issue, Violet Mclean contributed “New Orleans,” a gorgeous & stirring poem about our most favorite city.

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HE MAKES BLOODY MARYS IN SECRET because he is shy of anything too Louisiana. He flattened out his vowels and straightened up his consonants before I knew him.

There is a home of his I know – But then he says: Home is not heavy voices, air, lived in houses elevated from time and water. Home is not a magnolia blossom.

 Did you know the word “jazz” comes from bordello girls in the French Quarter with their jasmine perfume?

Yes, we are all familiar with Ken Burns’ work.

 May I ask this?

If I boarded the Mississippi in Minnesota and floated down her back, toes running the spine of the continent, would I know then? Would my arrival come in the morning with mundane Bloody Marys and walks down an ordinary street? Could we make small talk near Dauphine and Desire? Laugh over newspapers and sunglasses heralding the beginning of something old, a picture.


A dream

Listing on a wall where we can see the form rise.

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FullSizeRenderVIOLET MCLEAN is an essayist and poet living in Northern California. Her work has been featured online at The Toast, What Weekly, the Human Parts collection on Medium, and in the journal Prose & Lore. She tweets up a storm @oh_my_vi

“When the Seals Would Clap No More” – Fiction by Tim Conley

circuscoloringbookStep right up and marvel at the preface to the world’s most profound coloring book in “When the Seals Would Clap No More,” Tim Conley‘s contribution to our Fall 2015 issue

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IF IT SEEMS UNUSUAL TO DISCOVER A PREFACE appended to an object that is all too often called a “colouring book,” perhaps prejudices have become unguardedly confused with expectations. There is sometimes urgency in the unexpected. Therefore be warned: despite its innocuous-seeming charms (that it only seems innocuous is one of its charms), Join the Circus! is no ordinary bound stack of paper to be idly defaced, and this preface is likely to disturb and distress those who underestimate what they have opened.

Join the Circus! is certainly a joy to behold – to behold, it must be stressed and not to lay wax upon willy-nilly. The narrative that the keen-eyed reader can puzzle together from the sequence of tableaux is simple, concise, sometimes slyly allusive, and genuinely moving. It needs no improvement. The intersecting circles of clowns and poodles on page 11 are utterly dynamic precisely because they are in black and white, because the artist who gave them exuberant life disdained the superfluous and focussed on the power of the line. Reddening these clowns’ noses will not make them more antic: such an assault would irretrievably lose all the picture’s mirth. The facial expression of the poodle in the right corner is nothing less than haunting, but the smallest smear of pink, say, would demolish that nuance. The whole essence of the clown’s nose, the poodle’s ineffable expression would be violated.

Exaggeration? No. No and again no. We must understand Join the Circus! rather than disfigure it. No one would countenance a gluing together of various pages of the Gnostic gospels or the Analects of Confucius, or fecklessly stand by as some cheerful maniac made paper dolls out of The Origin of Species or The Last Bandstand: An Unbiassed Argument Against the Use of the Conductor’s Baton. These claims need not even be made – the renown of such wonders defends them; and yet one must even today defend Join the Circus!

Why? Regard, for example, the illustration on page 7: the juggling bear on the unicycle. The temptation here might be to juxtapose merry brown for the animal’s fur with jaunty red for the fez, but to do so would be a mistake. Why? For one thing, there is the temerity of asserting the familiar: bears may frequently have brown coats, but there is no reason to suppose that this particular, splendid specimen (capable of juggling four balls while riding a unicycle, a feat which the reader is politely invited to match – without opposable thumbs) does not have a magenta coat. This is only one kind of error, however. The zany who, for the sake of unconventionality or as a wearisome “avant-garde” gesture, scoops up the forest green crayon to colour only the bear’s left side and polka-dots the right in orange, presumes both that the colour does not matter and that his or her “artistic licence” trumps all other possible contingencies and concerns. Imagine a surgeon who announced, hands still within the patient’s open cavity, “this organ would look much better over here.” Imagine the firefighter who aims the arcs of hosed water right over the blazing homestead, with the justification that to his eye it looks more pleasing than merely dousing the flames directly. Just imagine!

Continue reading “When the Seals Would Clap No More” – Fiction by Tim Conley

Another Excerpt from Nothing Granted – Poetry by Anna Meister

Study of a Dead Crow - Marevna (Marie Vorobiev), 1955
Study of a Dead Crow – Marevna (Marie Vorobieff), 1955

Our Fall 2015 issue features three outstanding poems from Anna Meister‘s series Nothing Granted.  We posted one of those poems here back in October, a second one appears below, and look for the third to pop up on our site later this month. 

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BLINK & I’LL SAY OKAY / like a whip / ride
in the passenger / I’ll say it / just
like that / go on being never-enough

I long for you / turning noteless
numb  / ____ is all I say it is / that’s just
how it happened

something important in the mail / as I was
washing / water cutting bruises from my telling
I keep the blade near / hear a buzz overhead

next door the police  / step back
never help / stay soft like a crow

Tuesday around me everywhere / the distance
between summer & what / I accuse myself of
to get it right I give these boys / my navel

as an island / what it is to drag
a nail through it / fuck in a lushness
too predictable  / when I consider

the shit I believe I am / I would never
feel it in my face

when we hear about money / hear
I tried / to love the world / plump
& dumb / & my mouth chasing after

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anna_meisterANNA MEISTER is an MFA candidate in Poetry at New York University, where she serves as a Goldwater Writing Fellow. A Pushcart Prize & Best of the Net nominee, her poems are forthcoming in Powder Keg, Whiskey Island, Barrelhouse, The Mackinac, & elsewhere. Anna is a 2015 Saltonstall Foundation for the Arts Fellow. She lives & works in Brooklyn.