Poetry by John Sibley Williams

Not Even Names

.

Nothing

left night’s sleepless wake

.

but forgetting

what is still being said

.

and an open mouth

expecting to be filled

.

and a homeless dog

pawing up earthen roots dark

.

yet no darker than morning’s,

haunting the borders

.

of a virgin cemetery

we may as well call a garden,

.

not even names

to lose oneself in.

Prose by Richard Osgood

What I Tell Strangers While Bagging Groceries And Loading Shopping Carts

Poppy seeds don’t grow in red dirt. She thinks anything can grow in red dirt. Ever try watering the shit? Nope. Can’t tell her nothing. Big fucking head is all she’s got. Crawl inside that thing and you’re face to face with a Minotaur.

Troxel is no name for a cat, but she calls it that anyway. Can’t yell it out the window. Here Troxel! Here Troxie-Troxie-Troxie! Sound like a fucking moron. Plus, it’s her own last name. What jackass names their cat Smith, or Jones, or Bradbury?

Can you believe she left me for that scumbag? The zits on his face are like a medieval battlefield. I once caught him in the locker room squeezing puss rockets into the mirror. Maybe he’s got a big dick.

Kiss and tell, that’s all she knows. Me and Benny did it in his room while his parents were downstairs watching re-runs of The Lawrence Welk Show. Tell one person in this backwater town and you tell them all. Big fucking joke, until the Lutherans get hold of it. Then it’s a big fucking whisper.

My feet and my heart are not on the same page, and my head is pissed with the both of them. You can do better than her is the mantra. She’s no good for you, I tell myself. My parents think it’s cute. They’re relieved I finally started dating. I guess they haven’t heard the whispers.

Ass and tits. Or is it the other way around? Either way she’s got more than eight women can share between them and still use a phone booth. Lay her down in the mud and watch the piglets come running. Fuck it. I guess it’s over. Do you want paper or plastic?

Poetry by Joseph M. Gant

Cancerous Sonnet for a Tumor
.
I shall collect as many cancers as my body gladly
holds. Let the tumors run wild in an orgy rife
of death and living decay. I’ll take no chemo,
watch no diet, opt for no invasive surgeons. To writhe in
agony of the body’s own consumption of self
is my calling and I heed the grim toll, collected
from my flesh in pounds. Survival of the fittest, and
the winner here is obvious— not medicine, nor
therapy, but black crawling cells devouring the weak.
Strong enough to put religion back in most, they thrive.
I will take the glory upon me; I call it by every means
discovered as of late, and do so with no god if only
to prove the uncompromising Darwinian truths,
eaten, black, pontificating from the deep velvet closet.
.         Let me be an example so hideous,
.         you’ll not want to touch me again.

Flash fiction by Catherine Zickgraf

When the Truth Is in Poor Taste

I did it today, though I promised myself I wouldn’t.  I googled abortion pics.  What I saw didn’t surprise me—I’d seen those images growing up—but they did leave me breathlessly ill.  Stored in the basement of my childhood home, were packs of pamphlets in rubber bands.  We played down there on the olive green carpet that covered half the teal-tiled floor.  And sometimes we’d peek at those basement photos while driving our baby carriages or washing dishes in our plastic sink.

Those pamphlets showed photographs: ripped legs with blistered skin, brick red torsos, and cords like worms all swirling around in trash bags. My sisters and our dolls coexisted with those glossies.  They didn’t bother us: we had the absolute confidence that none of us would ever, ever, ever kill a cute little baby.

Little booklets laid perfectly in our pink hands as our family picketed the Women’s Center Saturday mornings.  My Mom pocketed my other hand to protect me from the dead of Winter.  So we walked down the sidewalk beside the rusted graveyard fence, crossed the street, and walked back beside our Catholic friends.  Their prayers were like songs, those monotone songs—Sister Joan spent six weeks in jail singing songs for her cause.

The promise itself of never, ever, ever is a dangerous, useless safety net: today, as I perused the pics from those garbaged child parts, I remembered why in college I made the choice I did.  Because my life is blessed—some call it cursed—with a weedy bouquet of options to weigh

Poetry by Molly Guy

no secrets
old lovers, body searches
revealing too much
the ‘ulterior’ in motive.
***
Andy
apologized because he had no cache of funny stories
to keep lovers amused
wrote very long poems
telmares on the ends of Andy’s poems
rarely if every eroded.
2.
whenever Andy’s cat Frankie eats mice
no body parts is wasted
not one single arsehole.

Poetry by Donal Mahoney

Cats At Their Bowls Lapping

.

This time there’s a postscript:

“If ever I cook dinner for you,

it will be Coquilles St. Jacques

and Jefferson Davis Pie.”

.

Imagine Angela,

after all these years,

rising and gliding

to check on my pie,

.

wouldn’t that be something?

Angela, come to Chicago,

and bring all of your cats.

I’ll watch those cats

.

in your lap napping,

you in my lap napping,

the cats at their bowls lapping,

and I in my chair laughing.

.

Angela, bring all of your cats

and come to Chicago

to make Coquilles St. Jacques

and Jefferson Davis Pie.

***

Little Cartons, Little Sacks

.

Every day at ten a.m.

I piss away

the pot of tea

I drank at six,

the tea that gets

me to the train.

.

At work I wait

for lunch and then

I eat so much

the waitress gawks.

I can’t explain

the years till supper

.

when again

I’ll dine alone,

bolt everything

that I bring home in

little cartons, little sacks.

After supper

.

she’s not there

and so the couch

becomes

my slab till ten

when bed becomes

my mausoleum.

***

People Who Live Above Stores

Morse Avenue,

Chicago

.

It’s two in the morning

and people who live above stores

have sprung from their beds

this hot summer night.

They’re leaning out of their windows

and bellowing into the street

.

at the baker who launched the alarm

in the Rogers Park Donut Shoppe.

It’s been ringing for hours

and the police haven’t come.

Not even the firemen.

The donuts will never get done

.

and it appears now that

people who live above stores

will remain in a rage

leaning out of their windows

waving cigarettes like strobes

and bellowing the rest of the night.

Poetry by Seth Jani

When It Comes

.

The peace becomes unbearable,

The perfect contours of your life

Settled on perfectly symmetrical streets

And suddenly you realize

It’s a fire you want!

Something unexpected

That will make your head jolt

Side to side

Trying to catch whatever it was

That rushed past you

Ruffling your hair.

.

You’ll throw the laundry

In the street,

Pack as many books

As you can carry,

Burn the odds and ends

That cannot fit

Into the sad suitcase

And leave a poem

On your desk

Aptly titled “Goodbye.”

.

You’ll walk the old road

Out of town,

Or crack the sleeping car awake,

Rear forth in the early-morning frost,

The cigarette’s lonely cat’s eye

Your only beacon

In the old, untrusting dark.