I Come and Go

By Walter Weinschenk

No. 75 by K.G Ricci

in a dream

she summoned me,

death shroud night gown

kept her warm;

sunken shoulders,

light beige cloth.

I saw her march

through desert night,

carbon black

like Rembrandt’s hat,

darker than the ceiling

you know is there

but cannot find

when roused from sleep

by troubled thoughts

disguised as dreams.

she stepped upon the sand

as if it were a street;

no mission, no considered route;

she meandered, yes, she wandered,

among the dunes, she wore no shoes,

those tiny grains of sand were sharp,

they cut her tired feet.

I heard her call

from the edge of a dream;

I turned my gaze

to the blood-soaked sand;

she wasn’t alone:

a parade of mourners

followed her,

legions dressed

in tattered rags,

consumed with grief;

footsteps sinking into sand,

they stepped

and then they stepped again,

relentless, undeterred,

headlong into frigid air.

(I was among them

long ago

but took my leave

in deference

to that trifling embryo

of hope that twisted

in its sleep,

hidden in some

part of me.)

that night

so dark,

that night

grew darker,

it fell upon the ground;

I heard the sum

of suffering,

the long eternal groan;

I heard the night

explode

and blackness

seeped into the sand

like rain, and overflowed,

concealed the earth,

diffused the air,

obscured my view

of the long parade

that staggered toward oblivion;

I looked out but could only see

an outline of the up and down

of arms and legs

and curvature of bodies

moving back and forth,

vague and imprecise,

all but lost to me

in the catacomb that was

the darkest of all nights

and though I could barely see

those pilgrims pass in front of me,

I could hear them perfectly;

I heard them chant

in the ancient way,

a messianic song,

modal formulation,

chimes like holy carillons:

their voices rose in air,

fell like tears upon the dunes

and drained within the fabric

of the dream I had that night.

in time, they were gone

and when the last

had disappeared,

I woke up, I lay awake,

safe within the ancient woods,

unbound and unconstrained

for no apparent reason,

and at that moment

I understood that I was free;

I reveled in my sense of self,

alive and unafraid

and peace flowed into me;

I rested on the forest floor;

I didn’t want a thing

and nothing wanted me;

I released the dream I had

and it abandoned me.

I saw the dawn descend,

it looked for me,

it came to me,

it sifted

settled

came to rest

upon the grass

like a sheet unfurled

that slowly floats

and falls upon a bed

and in the light of that one day,

the world revealed itself to me:

yellow petaled flowers

shrugged lazy in the air,

squirrels engaged

in stutter race

between the roots of trees;

a soft breeze lifted leaves

and let them fall again

and I stood up

and breathed the air.

that human chain

was forever gone;

only I remained

and I was free:

one person,

a singularity

of my own design,

my soul a monument

to that part of me

that wouldn’t die

but resolved to wait

for the advent of day

which did, in fact, arrive

and on that day, I was released,

salvaged from a dream I had,

perfectly alive in the world

on the first of mornings yet to come:

the light was crystalline,

I danced upon the earth;

I jumped and ran;

I shook my arms and hands;

I leaped in directions

that I never knew were there;

I stamped my feet upon the ground;

I lifted my eyes to see beyond

the acquiescent sky;

I saw an iridescent light

and felt its warm embrace.

the world was awake

and, in that waking hour,

the earth was resonant

with tympanic pulse

of beating hearts,

and all those living things

conspired in collective riot:

trees threw back their branches,

wriggled out from stations

in which they had been planted

so very long ago,

frozen in earth

since time began,

now were free;

liberated, they ran rampant,

they danced in front of me;

I heard them sing

and I began to sing as well,

a song the ancients

dared not sing:

a song of death’s demise

leaped from my lungs

and out my mouth,

loud and clear,

in perfect pitch and tone,

a song as buoyant

as life itself;

it shook the leaves,

echoed in the ground,

resounded in the dirt and rock

and rang within the depths

in which the polities

of space and time

had been interred

so long ago.

I sang for myself

and whoever else

could hear my voice:

I sang for those who cannot sing

for those who cannot see,            

for those who walk forever

in circles that don’t close,

for those who stand

in long, suffering line,

for those who die alone,

and for the diaspora

of lost and scattered souls

who wander through the night.

I sang and I shall sing again,

to the ends of the universe

until those ends are one, once more

and are bound in time,

in a place beyond

the singed night’s edge,

deep within the dawn

that stretches young arms,

smooth and strong, and yawns,

and lifts its head and opens eyes

as wide and open as the sky:

they are the doors

through which I wander, walk, I run,

I come and go . . .



Walter Weinschenk is an attorney, writer and musician. Until a few years ago, he wrote short stories exclusively but now divides his time equally between poetry and prose. Walter’s writing has appeared in the
Carolina Quarterly, Sunspot Literary Journal, The Esthetic Apostle, The Gateway Review and A Rose for Lana. Walter lives in a suburb just outside Washington, D. C.

 K.G. Ricci has spent most of his seventy years in New York City where he currently lives and works. It has only been the last five years that he has devoted himself to the creation of his collage panels.  Though not formally trained, Ken worked in the art department at the Strand Bookstore during his student years and it was there that he familiarized himself with the works of his favorite artists, including Bearden, di Chirico and Tooker. After a career in the music business and a decade of teaching in NYC schools, Ken began creating his own original artwork in earnest.

Two Poems

By Lindsay Hargrave

Trippy Dippy by Kyla Yager

Renter

But isn’t all ice water ice? I argue with atlas cedars and

locals who refuse me—but

who can blame them, rolling their eyes

as I drive on the rails and trample sacred dandelions

with shaky footing.

I pretend to be like the weeds, respirating through tragedy and persevering yellow

through concrete, iron roots netted through glassy soil,

but I am less than silk.

I am polyester cheaply cloned and slowly bleached in windows.

There is wire at my core to remind me where I bent,

it pricks the craft store florist, but it is neither thorn nor root.

I cannot see the sun or drink the rain,

I was merely packaged and distributed at

an opportune moment resembling nature.

The city’s frame was warped around wires like mine,

this much I know.

But I have kicked the hard and ringing pipes beneath the sidewalk,

I have seen their blueprints,

and when I have made the neighborhood pilgrimage a

thousand times I will walk among them; I will be

a pebble in the concrete.

all there is

Searching for the first blood

sugar and what fills your spine you rise,

half-clothed in loose construction dust and

suspicious of the sunlight. 

You draw comfort from your lingering vasculars as your

fingers flatten out and blow away.

Free of skinny anchors, you begin to walk the world.

Planted firmly on your feet you pound away your planet,

making steps like reincarnation ladders from your ancestors

and ballooning lighter than the spirit that turned you green.

With a head far above any neck the view is backwards but

gaining clarity, cohesiveness, singularity,

folded ass to heels to forehead

making sense, saturating the collective,

welcoming near extinction becoming

or splitting to billions,

infecting neighbors with blind force and

filling them like spongy high rises.

With your nose to the earth you smile to yourself and

inhale the clay as a last rite of taxidermy, and you die with the knowledge that staying buried in rot is

all there is to living .


Lindsay Hargrave is a performing poet with recent and upcoming publications in giallo, Maudlin House and Armstrong Literary. She performs with the improvised music group Oarsman and the indie pop band Mỹ Tâm (@sunflowerintheeast) and serves as editorial assistant for Rejection Letters. Follow her on Twitter @notporkroll or find her running around West Philly.

Kyla is a Visual Artist with a focus on drawing and painting. Originally from New Orleans and now lives in Toronto. She uses art as a way to intersect her passions and escape from reality, stemming most of her ideas from the subconscious. Her style is abstract with a psychedelic touch. Kyla tends to combine realism within her abstract work as well. She hopes her artwork sends a message and provokes conversation among viewers.

Inconceivable

by Taylor Wallace

Alien Tree by Harry Longstreet

She fights for every lungful of air as the startled river swallows her whole. With her eyes wide open, the murky water wraps around her like a heavy cloak. She thrashes until the edges of her vision blur, until her expanding lungs scorch with pain, until the crushing coldness numbs her limbs. A force compels her head deeper, dread hitting her like a palm. Reaching out with her fingertips she grasps at nothing. Surrendering. Sinking. Her blue lips part, releasing bubbles of air into the darkness.

***

He’s sitting in the passenger seat, scrutinizing his hands, fingers spread wide, rotating his wrists. He’s been doing this intermittently since they left his apartment. She doesn’t dare

ask why. It’s taken her 24 hours to get him into the car, to convince him he’s not a monster. They’re only halfway into their four-hour journey home.

When he called, his voice was elevated, his sentences choppy. What he told her was inconceivable. Then he hung up.

            Once she got there, she held him, rocking him as he cried. She assured him he could never hurt anyone. It must have been a hallucination.

            You’re under stress, not eating properly, dehydrated.

            He had her search the apartment.

            I’m sure I held her underwater.

            His dirty laundry piled on top of the washer was bone dry. She held each item to her nose, searched every pocket. Then she went back to his room where he lay on the bed curled into a tight ball.

            When’s the last time you got a full night’s sleep?

            He raised his head off the mattress. What? His icy-blue eyes seemed fixated on some distant time.

            She remembered him gently pushing his baby brother in the cradle.

             It wasn’t possible.

            But lately he had been calling her more frequently, expressing homesickness, feeling the pressure of finals, hating his roommate. At times he had yelled at her, as if everything wrong with his life was her fault.

            She coaxed him into drinking water. Were you drunk?

            No.

            Pot?

            Nothing. He shook his head.

            Could someone have slipped you something?

            His pupils expanded slightly. Maybe.

            Hours later, once he finally drifted off, she lay on the couch flipping through his textbook, looking out the window at times, staring up at the suspension bridge. Page after page of evidence, gruesome details, brutal crimes. The door rattled open, and she closed the book, sunk down, pretended to be asleep. His roommate walked straight past her, disappearing into his bedroom.

            In the morning, she made espresso for herself and a hearty breakfast for them. His face was still pallid as he picked at the omelette. The roommate thanked her for the meal and left for the library with a piece of toast in hand.

            Should I go to the police, turn myself in?

            And say what?

            I drowned a girl in the Detroit River.

            In the afternoon, she made an appointment with a doctor back home.

            He switched on the cable news channel, turning the volume way up.

            After hours of watching the local news on repeat, she became jittery, hitting mute. See, no drownings, no missing person reports.

            He closed his eyes, nodded.

            After further reassurances she convinced him to email his professor. He seemed relieved that a certificate of illness would allow him to defer the exam. He stretched out on the couch, turning to meet her gaze. Sleep deprivation?

            Most likely.

            She packed her car with most of his things, promising to drive him back for the rescheduled exam. His eyes were glazed and his hair dishevelled as he slid into the passenger seat. She gave him a pillow hoping he’d sleep most of the way. It was late, but they’d be home before dawn.

He is holding his hands in front of him again, turning them over to examine the palms when the newscaster on the radio says, A woman’s body was pulled from the Detroit River earlier today. Molly Gunnerson, age 80, has been missing since March.

            He drops his hands, his body shakes, and he starts screaming, No! No! No!

            She grips the wheel, oncoming headlights flash around the bend, but she manages to stay within the lane as she shouts, She was 80!

            The screaming stops. 80? He’s out of breath.

            She turns her head briefly. His eyes are closed but tears roll down his cheeks.

             Her heartbeat rushes to her ears. Yes, an old woman. Missing since last month.

            I just heard woman and body.

            It never happened.

            His face slackens. He opens his eyes and looks back down at his outstretched hands.

            She turns the station, finds some easy listening tunes. They drive through the darkest part of the highway not speaking. He sinks into the pillow, falls asleep.

            Absorbed in worries, she slips into a hypnotic state until a voice on the radio announces the time. She anticipates the construction about 80 km ahead. Just before New Year’s, a transport truck destroyed the guardrail, careened down the embankment and plummeted into the Grand River. Traffic has been reduced to one lane in each direction for months, but at this hour she hopes to keep moving. The occasional truck whizzes by in the westbound lanes. Her body feels warm, like a pot simmering on the stove. She looks forward to diving into bed, submerging herself in forgetful sleep. Her eyelids grow heavy.

***

She flutters them open. The room is intensely bright. A monitor beeps rhythmically and she smells antiseptic. You’re awake. A woman in blue scrubs hovers over her, touching her arm, pressing her fingers gently into her skin. You’re lucky that young man pulled you from the river.

            Her chest feels heavy as she speaks. Which river? Her voice is raspy.

            The woman looks down at her, her brows knitting together. You’re disoriented. She strokes her arm. You nearly drowned.

            She grabs her hand. Tell me which river¾the Detroit or the Grand?


Taylor Wallace lives deep in the woods and further into her imagination, thinking of the past, fretting about the future. Having finished her memoir, she realizes it requires the veil of fiction.

Harry Longstreet is retired after twenty-five years as a writer, producer and director of filmed entertainment, primarily for television.

Mothman by Michelle Engel

Black and white

graphite sketches

with a pop of red

for your glowing

compound eyes.

Furred wings

silent in the night,

torso hard, carapace-

like. Did you collapse

the Silver Bridge? Or

were you but a

harbinger, the first if

not the last sign to

foreshadow doom

among the stars of

the Point Pleasant

skies? 


Michelle Engel received her Master’s in English from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. Both her visual and written work reflect a fascination with mythology and folklore. Her flash fiction piece “The Tall Man” recently appeared in the Bangalore Review, and some of her art and poetry will be featured in upcoming editions of Glassworks Magazine and SageWoman Magazine, respectively.

Pray by Anthony Lee Hamilton

Bill has been eating varmints for as long as I’ve known him. When he first moved in, he brought, along with the rest of the food from his last space, a Ziploc bag of frozen groundhog stew.

            “He’d been digging up all my root vegetables,” Bill explained, dumping the frozen stuff into a cast iron skillet on the stove. “So I caught him in a noose I made from a guitar string.”

            It had been three years since I’d last eaten meat.

            “I didn’t want to kill him,” Bill said. “I was happy eating beets and stuff. But he kept eating from my garden and now he’s dead. This is part of the natural cycle of things.”

            “But you didn’t have to cook him,” I said, leaning against the fridge.

            “I was feeding him from my garden.” Bill pushed the icy mass around in the skillet with a wooden spoon. “And now he’s feeding me.”

            Bill said he saw a certain kind of love in this relationship— a profound, eternal love— the spilling of energy from one body to the next, unifying the universe. And I had to admit: this was not the violent savagery I’d come to associate with carnivores, and with hunters in particular; Bill practiced a deep reverence for the natural order of life and death. Made it a beautiful thing. And so, when it was warm, I tasted the stew.

            Take; eat; this is my body. Do this is remembrance of me.

            By the time the leaves started to change, Bill and I had gotten into the practice of bringing home road-kill to clean and save for our meals. In our house, unfortunate critters— squirrels mostly— were given second chances to participate in the great lineage of life, after theirs were brought to abrupt and senseless ends by careless drivers.

            I was grateful for it, really. After years of being squeamishly vegetarian, able only ever to abstain from a meat industry that I saw in gross terms, I could now participate in actively honoring the sanctity of animals’ lives. When I would kneel by the side of the road, bowing my head in short prayer over an innocent creature that would soon become a part of me, I delighted in conscientiously rejecting the brutal practices of factory farming. I was also quite sure that, if I didn’t take it, the members of the Highway Department would only ever go as far as tossing the body of the poor animal over the guardrail and into a ditch.

            So when I hit a deer on my way home from work at the bar one night in late October, I was naturally rattled, but I knew what to do. I took the obligatory moment of silence before hoisting the animal by its rear legs up into the trunk of my hatchback.

            When I got home, Bill helped me unload the deer, and we brought it into the basement to be dressed and quartered. We worked slowly, taking the time to study the anatomy of the large animal as we pulled the skin back. Bill attentively sliced around areas where the meat may have been tainted by the rupture of an internal organ, and he occasionally stopped to explain certain parts of the musculature of the deer to me, and by the time we had wrapped the meat, and washed our tools, and rinsed the blood from the slop-sink, the sun was coming up through the trees outside.

            I woke very late the next day, and though I knew I would have to replace my radiator fan before I could drive my car again, I smiled, knowing that we now had plenty of meat in our freezer for the long winter ahead.

            Bill helped me change the fan in the afternoon, and that night, after we’d washed up, we shared our first of many venison meals. Before we ate, we sat down at the dinner table and said a prayer of gratitude, thanking the universe, and the deer, and each other, and many other things that had come into our lives; knowing underneath it all, that it was all one.

            Each night we conducted this ritual, and we experimented with various recipes. Briskets and roasts, we tried. And we tried soups and stews and pies and sausages. And each night, even when we were disappointed at the results, we would say our prayer of gratitude, and we would eat every last bite of that sacred flesh. And this went on all through the fall.

            It wasn’t until the First of December that we finally took the last package of venison from the chest freezer in the basement. Whether because we had gotten complacent in our bountifulness, or because the animals had all quieted down for the winter, neither of us had found any road-kill since the deer (except for once, when Bill brought home a rabbit, whose head had been flattened, and who we had gotten only one good dinner from, after roasting whole with carrots and potatoes). So with the last package of venison thawing on the counter, we both knew our age of luxuriance was coming to an end. “Presumably, fewer animals are dying,” I said.

            “Or they are, but not where we can find them,” Bill said.

            We were shrewd with our last package of venison, and we were careful to eat lots of vegetables, with only small portions of meat each night, but on the night of the Twenty-First, it finally ran out. We washed our dishes in silence, then we both went straight to our beds, without even sharing our usual glass of after-dinner wine.

            I slept deeply that night. It was the longest night of the year, but when I woke up, the sun was already lighting upon my bedroom wall. The air in the room was sharp and cold— cold enough that my breath fogged in the air. I pulled on my coat and went downstairs, where Bill was boiling water for tea. He poured two cups, and we took them out to the porch.

            The sky was grey and flat, so that the dark limbs of the trees stood out like cracks in polished glass. Any movement in the branches rang out, clear as a gunshot, and Bill and I would both catch our breath in our throats, and dart sharp glances toward the source of the sound. Then we would watch a small chickadee hop along, clutching some small twig or leaf in its tiny beak, and our breath would return and our shoulders would relax back.

            On Christmas Eve, we roasted a large squash and some yams with onions, and the following day, we made a soup from the leftovers. We bought a gallon of wine and a pumpkin pie, and by indulging ourselves in these, we were able to quell our carnal appetites a bit.

            For the rest of the week, we were happy to eat pie and get drunk each afternoon when the sun went down. In the mornings, we would take our tea outside to blearily watch the icicles forming on the eaves of our house and on the large, low branches of the trees in the yard.

            On New Years Eve, I was working at the bar, and Bill surprised me by meeting me there when my shift ended at midnight. We rarely saw each other outside of the house, but I wrapped my arms around him and turned to Jack, the bartender. “This is my roommate,” I said. “Let’s get a couple of pints.” And Jack nodded and poured us each a drink, on the house.

            When we had finished our first round, Bill bought us both another, and since I hadn’t paid for our first round, I bought the third.

            When it was time to go, we decided we would ride together in Bill’s truck, since it had been flurrying since around one. “But you have to drive,” Bill said. “I’m no good.”

            We both laughed and we thanked Jack and went outside. Bill waited, half-asleep in the passenger seat while the truck warmed up and I cleared the snow from the windows.

            I didn’t feel very drunk, and I knew the three-mile drive well, from having done it every weekend for several years now, but the night was dark, and big tufts of snow threw the light from the truck back into my eyes. I leaned forward as I drove, careful to keep the old truck moving slowly down the middle of the road.

            The fresh snow crunched steadily beneath the tires, and when the truck bounced sharply, Bill spoke through his sleep. “You hit something?”

            “Just some packed ice,” I said.

            “That didn’t feel like ice,” Bill said, and opened his eyes.

            I brought the truck to a stop in the middle of the road and we both got out. Along the side of the road, about a hundred feet from the truck, we saw the body— a dark mass fallen atop the smooth surface of snow.

            Bill and I made our way toward it, and saw when we approached, that it was a man. He wore a backpack and jeans and a black hooded jacket— too light for the weather. Out here, if we hadn’t killed him, the cold might have soon gotten to him anyway.

            Bill and I knelt beside the man and turned him over. His eyes were open and dark and innocent. We bowed our heads in prayer.


Anthony Lee Hamilton is an emerging writer and recent graduate from the State University of New York at New Paltz. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in The OPEN Journal of Arts & Letters, Stonesthrow Review, the Decadent Review, the Texas Poetry Calendar, and Poetry South. When not reading or writing, he spends his time hiking alone or playing music with his wife and friends.

Two Poems

by Florina Nastase

sctt by Daniel Kent

chilblains

the last month is autumn:

a bearded nun sifts pine sap

while her sisters roast the boy’s meat

and turn the potted plants

towards the sun.

sunshine on the roof of nobody.

they wired these medieval walls

for outsiders who came to

buy sap sifted by virgins.

people with mirrors listened to the trade.

there’s never been so many airways

but there’s only one belfry.

autumn has made me question autumn.

prayers are a different kind

of burning meat. i asked them to spare me

this month.

today, the mirror made me spill the sap

in my lap like a man’s fortune.

it smells of barbecue

and the history of all this goodness

gives me chilblains.


please give us the sun

finally, nothing can discontinue.

whether I hold the face under the faucet

or cut the ears like onions,

the thing will stain the floor with its children,

it will crawl in the clefts and create culture.

I can’t stop myself from being god

and god allows the being to

multiply. until when?

saprophytic little follicles, cleaving to my leg

fondling me,   please give us the sun,

I don’t turn on the light.

they mutate in the violet dark  my own

benevolence I don’t know

how big can they grow?

last week, I thought I heard

the foxtrot of bugs,

yesterday, I woke up

in the middle of the night.

the kitchen lights were on, already

they had wings.

their hungry mouths craved song.

I let them sing

my glory. god makes angels

against his will. 


Florina Nastase is an Assistant Professor at ‘Alexandru Ioan Cuza’ University in Iasi, Romania. She holds a PhD in American poetry, and spends copious amounts of time writing online. She has been published in Kajet, Gasher Journal, The Decadent Review, La Piccioletta Barca, High-Shelf Press and others, and hopes to publish more.

Daniel Kent Foley is a Navajo visual artist and writer based in Central Ohio. He works mostly in mixed media and photography, experimenting with processes and layering them to create odd subjects in strange environments that exist somewhere between representation and total abstraction. He aims to provoke critical thinking by presenting forms that vaguely echo reality in compositions that defy it; suggesting a narrative but allowing the audience to arrive at it themselves and in their own way.

Two Poems

by Colby Gates

Insights by Amy Bobeda

We Had Bodies

We grew hungry

for revelation.

Pupils dilated from the center,

able to discern distant objects—

cone and rod focused on the space

between god’s broad shoulders.

The work began: dismantling the body of the divine—

dark curtains of flesh opened, exposed

a spine of barbed and hooked bone, scraped

for borrowing.

The reconstruction:

a body in our image,

a place to hide.

We pin up this new god’s body like a moth,

stretch it behind glass. Observe:

a clean cut crucifix, the meat hanging.

The hoard of it: I see it.

The love in it: see what I have done?  

Scratch across the all seeing eye and god seeps out—

honey pot ooze we dab at with bits of white bread.



Skeleton Nymph

1 /

            They pulled your body from the lake

            and thought you were dead.

            I remember

            your hair that summer,

            long and faded—the sun.

            They pulled you from the lake,

            lifted you from the dark

            water, pushed

            your chest.

            They breathed into you until you coughed and opened

            your eyes. Your eyes remembered something

            you didn’t.

2 /

            Our cat had kittens.

One was still-born.

I saw you

            standing in the doorway,

            watching something—

            head tilted, eyes bright.

            I saw the slick, wet body

            dangling from the cat’s mouth

            sticky & red.

            I wanted to stop it.

            You held

            me back, saying, let it happen.

3 /

            Thousands of

            cicadas crawled out of the earth,

            shrugging off old bodies.

            We picked nymph skeletons from tree trunks,

            stuck them to our clothes, crushed them between our palms.

            You filled a jar with golden husks.

            You stuck out your tongue, put one in your mouth.

4/

            That night, hidden

            In the leaves of trees, an invisible symphony, a collective cry

            so loud we couldn’t sleep.

            You walked outside & peered up into the dark canopy. Seeing nothing—

            you took off your clothes & and began to slowly climb,

            limb over limb, a low, pulsing thrum in your chest.

5 /

            I knew you carried something

I couldn’t understand.

.

6/

            The summer ended.

            Autumn crept in. Everything started

            to die. Strange

            constellations moved in the sky.

            We bent them into known shapes, named them—

            This one is mother, this one noose.

            Swing. Cradle. Bone.

            We laughed until you didn’t.

            You were looking beyond the sky.

            What do you see, I said.

            I don’t see anything, you said.

            I took your hand in my hand—

            I see noose. I see swing.

I see mother. I see bone.

7 /

            I found you

face down in the bathtub.

I tried to lift you.

You slipped back into the water again and again.

And again—golden hair streamed

around your face, clinging.

I tried to breathe into you. I remember your mouth,

sheen of teeth, the quiet.  


Colby Gates lives in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. He received an MFA from The University of New Mexico in 2018. His work has appeared in Ninth Letter, Action, Spectacle, and elsewhere.

Amy is an artist pursing her MFA at Naropa Univeristy. She is founder of Wisdom Body Collective and the Ekphrasis Salon. He work explores the body, myth, and human origins. http://blondewanderlust.com

The House With All the Windows

by Ai Jiang

No. 36 by Kenneth Ricci

They say we are lucky. I don’t feel lucky.

I breathe onto the glass of the window in my bedroom. I have a clear view of the street on both sides. My only wish is for empty streets, but they are not.

People are walking; they drag their shoes across the concrete. Some are barefooted. I shudder, imagining the sound of plastic and rubber on the pavement because I cannot hear it. The glass is soundproof, but I wince as I witness the scraping of skin against the ground. Sometimes there is blood. Sometimes there is something else. Sometimes they smile; it is an eerie and terrifying smile. I want to look away, but I can’t. I want to run, but I can’t. I want it to stop. It doesn’t.

Don’t forget that they are human too, that they did not choose this. Don’t forget. You also did not choose this. Don’t forget. There is still hope. Is there? There is always hope.

I need air.

They say there is nothing we have to fight. We must sit and wait, but I hate sitting, and I hate waiting. How long do I have to watch?

I am sitting on the cold marble of a house made of windows. I can see everything, but they cannot see me. Sometimes when my eyes meet one of the Wandering outside, I imagine they are looking at me. They are not. They are looking at the swaying tree in front of the house. The movements of the branches should be calming, yet, it makes the Wanderings anxious.

It has been three years since we have all gone into insolation. The only reason that the Wandering is still outside is that they cannot stand to be alone. They prefer illness over solitude. They cannot remain sane with their wandering thoughts.

In a few days, it was will the start of my fourth year in this house. The government allowed us to be in contact with loved ones before, but that just made more of the Isolated step outside and join the Wandering. They had allowed us to live in pairs, sometimes more. But then people began to turn on one another for various reasons. These same reasons were why I lived alone.


I count each of my toes that peeked out from under my nightgown. I don’t remember the last time I wore everyday clothing. It is unnecessary now since nightgowns are more comfortable anyhow.

The temperature in this house does not change even when the seasons change outside. The government has made sure of this. Sometimes, I liked to feel the changes in the seasons.

During the summer, I wear extra layers so that I feel warmer, break a sweat. In the spring, I cup my hands in the sink to catch the water from the running tap and toss the droplets up in the air to mimic rainfall. In the fall, I cut pieces of paper, colour them in the different colours of leaves and scatter them on the ground, covering the cold, white marble. And in the winter, I occasionally strip myself of the nightgown and lie down on the cold marble. I close my eyes and pretend it is snow.

Of course, none of it can compare to the real weather changes happening outside. Sometimes I envy the Wandering, but when one collapses as they drag themselves across the pavement, appreciation for my solitude returns once more.

I often do not understand why they don’t contain the Wanderings. But at the same time, I wonder why the Wanderings do not go into isolation so that those of us confined may be free. I do not understand what is happening in the world, and perhaps I never will.

I remember a time when we struggled to collect resources for survival when the Wandering first appeared. Now, AI machines deliver our rations, placing packages in the delivery cube next to our front door. I saw the Wandering attack these machines even though the Wandering are also given the same rations as the Isolated. At the same time, I saw the Isolated fight one another for ration shares when we still lived in groups.


There were four of us: Mary, Chaser, Reed, and myself. The government tried placing different groups together. We were friends. Perhaps they believed that friends fare better together under these circumstances. They were wrong, of course. I knew a hiding spot in the house, and by the time it happened, I was small enough to fit inside. It was a hidden storage closet between two rooms. No one could open it only because I had locked it when we first explored the house.

Perhaps it was my initial distrust that started all of this … but I don’t think so, because I never said anything that might have given myself away. I believe this is the fault of humankind: Distrust.

Mary was the first to go. She was always faint-hearted. After the first year, we found her slumped over the toilet; her slit wrist created a puddle of bright red that her fingers were marinating in.

Reed was next. Chaser and I suspected that he was in a relationship with Mary that began at some point during our first year. Chaser also loved Mary. I will not go as far as to say that Chaser murdered Reed because I was not there at the moment of the accident. I believe they were in a heated argument which concluded with Reed’s body at the bottom of the staircase, his head at an awkward angle. 

I meet Chaser’s eyes now. He is not looking at the swaying tree outside the house. He is looking at me. He knows where I always sit in front of the glass. He knows my habit of counting my toes. He knows I am always looking for him because he is the only familiar person I can see. I do not want him to come close, but I know that he will.

One foot in front of another, he drags himself forward. He wants to scare me, but I don’t move. I usually scuttle away from the glass upon his approach and hide in the closet between the two rooms the way I scuttle away when he first began to lose his mind. This time I move closer to the glass the same time he moves forward. The glass of the window moves closer as I drag my knees the same way he drags his feet towards me. I press my forehead against the glass as he does the same.

Our eyes meet.

He still cannot see me, but I know that he knows I am there. He knows what I fear.

He mouths something to me. He mouthed this every time. Before, I always caught his words as I was fleeing. This time, I imagine hearing them in his raspy, hoarse voice. Dribble escapes from the gaps where his teeth are missing. His skin has become grey and ashy overtime. It is no longer the warm olive tone from before. At only twenty-five, his cheeks are sagging with deeply etched wrinkles.

“Join us.”

As soon as he says these words, more of the Wandering begin to gather at the spot he stands. They surround him, and it feels like they are also surrounding me even though the glass stands between us. Though their skin appears ashy and lacking in warmth, I feel the heat seeping through the glass and into the flesh of my face. I do not realize that my eyes are closed until I open them again. I notice the coldness of my face only when the warmth from the glass is gone.

Chaser—or the rest of the Wanderings—is no longer in front of the glass.

As much as humans desire safety and although we are distrustful by nature, there is one undeniable thing:

Community.

It is difficult to explain why I am walking towards the front door and leaving the safety of the house where everything is controlled and safe, and where I can see everything and everyone without worry. But, I think it is safe to say that the sense of community might have something to do with it.

“Chaser,” I yell in no direction in particular.

In a matter of minutes, the Wanderings surround me, with them came warmth.

In the little closet where I sat enclosed, the cold walls of the house surround me. But amidst the Wanderings, although I know I will soon perish with them, I feel a sense of peace.  


Ai is a Chinese-Canadian aspiring author and emerging writer who graduated with a BA in English Literature from the University of Toronto. She is currently working on a novel project under her mentor in the Humber School for Writers Creative Writing program.

K.G. Ricci has spent most of his seventy years in New York City where he currently lives and works. It has only been the last five years that he has devoted himself to the creation of his collage panels.  Though not formally trained, Ken worked in the art department at the Strand Bookstore during his student years and it was there that he familiarized himself with the works of his favorite artists, including Bearden, di Chirico and Tooker. After a career in the music business and a decade of teaching in NYC schools, Ken began creating his own original artwork in earnest.

I Needle My Grief, Tongue to Rotten Tooth by Ashley Mallick

Body Image by Lawrence Bridges

climb into Mama’s corpse and pull
the flooded shores of her together.
Realize this body is mine waiting, chin tucked
over the lanes of skin rocky with thread and hole.
Her breasts mold against me, the crests of her nipples
hollow pools swallowing my own.
Jump, squirm toe into toe, remember
she told me I was safe with her,
straighten the armor of her shoulders over mine.
Fit our hands, loose gloves I’ll grow into,
now black from burning. The burning
bedded down in her nails. I chew them,
dredge ash. This is my guilt, acrid – bitter –
the grinding pitch of a soaked match.
Mama snug at the hips, her kneecaps cupping mine,
thin, chalked, like a memory, a song we sang
before bed,
our mouths wrapping the words like so much tissue.
I hear the echo of her heartbeat, the vibration
bearing up the chamber of her body,
sweet and fluid like rain feathering a lake.
Her head hooded against my back
the tips of her ears soft when I pull them,
tug her chin over my forehead, mouth
searching the pit of hers, the sterile
fabric of her ghost draining, foaming lakewater.
My eyes behind the tint of blue
startling from inside.
The tower of her body collapsed over mine
held pinned by our face, a point of perfect
symmetry. More than these bodies
is the loneliness, the place we kept that’s vanished.
I walk to the mirror,
try to remember the way she stood.


Ashley Mallick works in the emergency room of her local hospital. She writes mainly about family and violence. Ashley has worked for Southern Illinois University’s undergraduate press Grassroots Lit & Art Mag and has poems available online at the Academy of American Poet’s website. She lives in the woods of Southern Illinois with her pup, partner, and darling baby.

Lawrence Bridges is best known for work in the film and literary world. His poetry has appeared in The New Yorker, Poetry, and The Tampa Review. He has published three volumes of poetry: Horses on Drums, Flip Days, and Brownwood. As a filmmaker, he created a series of literary documentaries for the NEA’s “Big Read” initiative, which include profiles of Ray Bradbury, Amy Tan, Tobias Wolff, and Cynthia Ozick.

Two Poems by Melissa Gill

Handless Maidens by Amy Bobeda

Persephone’s Lamet

I nuzzle my pointed nose

against versed violets,

a patch of giddy flowers,

touched by the sun’s golden threads.

My fingers wrap around emerald stems,

hugging their pedicels like a wine glass.

A tickling breeze stirs sleeping magpies,

rattling a still forest, whispering in my veins.

Gusts of wind steal leaves,

balding my Scarlet oaks.

My fingertips yearn to trace

the lonely moon’s craters.

I dream of growing midnight

roses in luminous white sands.

Torn away from my sacred garden,

I wither under Hades’ mighty hand.

He twisted my singing flowers

into shrill screams floating in Styx.

My cotton dry mouth,

watered for a ripe pomegranate seed,

a bubble of sweet nectar, bursting on my tongue.

As an underworld delicacy, a pop

between my teeth, bled sweet juice,

Winter exhaled her cold breath, wilting

a forest of life, I nurtured by hand.

I dived into my melancholy mind.

Burying myself in rich regret,

floating upside down in Hades’ river.

Wash away my empty desires,

what a mockery of my dream work!

If I had not wished to wet my desert lips,

I’d slumber in my golden flowerbed.


The Ghost of Annabel Lee

Call me Annabel Lee, born into a kingdom carved alongside the sea.

A somber Poe, with a heart full of woe, fell madly in love with me.

Young and greedily, we loved each other deliriously.

With a love beyond love, ‘til Winter’s teeth sank into me.

A chilling breeze tore me away, ripping me from his embrace.

Our love beyond love, entered a storm wearing the Devil’s face.

With black magic, he harnessed the remains of my dying spirit.

Neither nature’s whipping rage nor fistfuls of burning sage could tear it.

As my pulse weakened, my body faded into the misty blue.

He decided to redesign my frigid vessel into something new.

Into the wild forest, he hunted for a creature to carry on my essence.

Like Dr. Frankenstein, he wanted me to come alive in his presence.

He ripped up the squeaky floorboards, where he hid my haunting heart.

Sewing me into a wolf’s hollowed body, a taxidermist of the dark arts.

Howling and howling at the moon, I dreamed someday I’d rest free.

My dearest Poe refused letting me go, his loving ghost Annabel Lee.


Amy is an artist pursing her MFA at Naropa Univeristy. She is founder of Wisdom Body Collective and the Ekphrasis Salon. He work explores the body, myth, and human origins. http://blondewanderlust.com

Melissa Gill is a writer born and raised in Las Vegas, NV. Her poetry has appeared in Coffin Bell Journal, Raven Review and elsewhere. Her first fiction piece is forthcoming in Flash Fiction Magazine. When she’s not writing, she enjoys watching indie horror films, thrifting, and hiking.