by Elmira Elvazova
Untitled, Eleanor Leonne Bennett
I was going somewhere
I was thinking of going
into each other
in the air
Wings of meaning
can sweep the air
can clear a path
by Madison Bertenshaw
City Night I, Virginia Leigh Werrell
The Spit Valve
She feeds the wind
perched out, propped dumb, naked like that.
The word leans there, sighing linear.
She loosens. She is pursed on the edge of a chair
dangling and slanting over a gully of shoe shine
with the drippings of saliva from his trumpet,
cocked south, an inversion.
Sluicing the insides of her man, moving down
marooning naked, inside her bottle
of follicle grease marked Blue.
by Emily Bludworth de Barrios
Candle Scraps Sized, Jen May
“until I have placed you in safety—”
Death being an irrevocable no.
The point at which progression stops.
But is not yet totally over.
Still having yet to pass the blood and tissue.
by Kate Litterer
Chicken City, Virginia Leigh Werrell
The black crow coughs/
barks. The white dove
says God bless you.
Rain kicks at
the mud wants it bad.
That bad dirt.
I want the way my father
shut a fence door latch.
The way my mother
picked blood out of egg yolks.
I miss all of you, hands.
Please know that
I would have been too queer
for your country.
watch this: I can stand
on my hands, I can walk
to you that way.
Oh, watch the white dove!
by Kate Berson
Diving, Virginia Leigh Werrell
She parks in his driveway and goes around to the side door, where the knocker is. She doesn’t have to knock, though. He heard her car on the gravel and is waiting for her in the hall. His blood picks up pace, which surprises him.
She had always been early to pick him up. He had many times stood behind her and watched her arrange her face in the square of his small hallway mirror. He supposes she’s doing this now. They used to see art, theater, chamber music. He liked paint piled thick like food or mud. She liked two violins asking and answering each other.
It matters that he lost his sight, he had had it once. So he knows what there is to see, it’s just no longer there for him – a cloud in the sky in the shape of a fish, for example, or a still, unused bird feeder in some backyard, her unpredictable lipstick. Whatever makes no noise and isn’t near enough to be touched.
Up, Away, Here, Gone
by Andrew MacDonald
Untitled, Eleanor Leonne Bennett
Sometime between 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m., on July 20, 1998, our father and mother disappeared. We saw them get in the hot air balloon in Central Park. We waved, kissed them goodbye. Not goodbye-goodbye. Just see-you-later. “So we’ll meet you back home?” our mother said, pulling her hair back in a floppy ponytail. She was wearing special clothes for the trip: hiking books, a parka, hyper-UV-protected sunglasses.
Our father dangled the car keys from his finger in front of me. “You dent it, I’ll kick your ass.”
Before getting in the balloon our mother turned to us and said, “We won’t be long,” though I wasn’t sure why such a thing needed saying.
Now I wonder, about that statement and other things. The weather is one of those other things. Cold weather is typically preferable to hot weather when it comes to hot air balloons. They took to the sky in mid-July, a day so hot the dew of the grass stunk, as if it were sweating like us. And they flew in the middle of the day, not at just after dawn or just before dusk, the two best times to fly hot air balloons. Going over archived weather reports, I found out that a thirty-six mile an hour wind was blowing. Repeat, conditions were not ideal.
by Duffie Taylor
Of Me and More, Eleanor Leonne Bennett
Since you asked, I’ll waste no time dancing around the matter and cut right to the chase. The 9-5 working man with whom you’ve spent the best of your child-rearing years, fending for, barking at, and tending to, that is not the same husband who will someday share an afghan with you deep within the bowels of old age. That man woke up at five and drove home at sunset with just the right kind of exhaustion. Tired enough to make love, but too tired to fetch a half-baked idea.
Now I know people say a man can’t change and, in many ways, the point stays true: Just this morning I set fresh pineapple out, having read in the Ladies Home Journal that such gestures are a token of hospitality. Now, do you think the old codger noticed? No, of course not. In this respect, he is the same sandy-haired, shorn-face boy I saw standing across the aisle from me oh so many years ago.
But trust me Louise when I say that that man, that 9-5 working man, did not prepare me for this. Since accepting the factory’s buyout five months ago, my husband wasted no time in seizing upon his newfound indolence. First, he thought, a pilot license. Then, he had the mind to skydive. Now he’s planning a motor home tour of every Wal-Mart across the Western United States.
When will it end, Louise? When will it end?
Verica / Terica
by Kyle Whitmus
Venn Diagram, Jen May
Well. I sailed across ten-thousand miles of salt and shaking seas, straight into an auspicious storm, wroth, as if all the wind in the world had gathered there to strip me of my sails. I saw the blue lightning. A rogue wave swept me from the deck of my boat and carried me away, far out into a sea that was eerily calm thereafter. I drifted for the rest of the day until night fell and I thought perhaps if I could touch the moon’s reflection on the water it would somehow, someway bring me to safety. I swam and swam and only reached exhaustion.
Struggling to stay afloat, I let myself sink beneath the surface and for a moment closed my eyes, trading one darkness for another. When I opened them again I saw below me a lovely glow. It was so pretty I couldn’t stop myself from swimming down, down to where shapes moved and the silhouette of colossal teeth appeared in the midnight water.
Staring into the open and enormous mouth of an anglerfish, huge and hideous, I was swallowed whole. I can’t say how long I spent in the stomach of the beast; how does one reckon time in the lightless guts of what surely must have been an old god? Hungry. The anglerfish had swallowed everything it seemed: entire schools of fish, a merchant ship with its champagne cargo still intact, a rustless sword (this I took for my own), and great blooms of jellyfish that glowed pale and blue in the darkness. I sat on the wreckage of the ship and ate disgusting fish, listening to the sharks, lesser predators, thrash and die in the bile. In the waste I found fourteen blue bottles, and inside were fourteen letters. I popped a bottle of champagne and began to read:
The Thing in the Feathers
by Laura Willwerth
This little girl hides in the stacks reading chapter books. Three boys walk up and fidget. They stand in a semicircle around her seat, surrounding her head with their navels. They put hands in pockets and take them back out.What’s your name?It’s you, it’s totally you.You did it with him in a shed. You did it. He told us.
What it is: it’s when they touch you with their things. Below their grubby jackets, boys grind their stocky fingers in their pockets.You did it in a shed.And your head was banging up against a shovel.
Boys thrust their bulgy thumbs down in their pockets.It’s totally you. You told us your name.
Garden, Guarder, Garderobe
by JoAnna Novak
Sunburn, Virginia Werrell
Interruption, animal, Garrett crawls out of the water and wraps a towel around his waist. He taps his head, knocks his ears, and a brown slug slops onto the deck in a dim puddle. While the bug is accompanied by water, nothing about an insect vacating his cavity comforts Garrett.
Adult swim: going. Kiddie jumble: over. Bullhorns, sun-deck, schnoz-zinc. Aviator-degreasing and toe-hair-tweezing, silent prayer in the stalls to his own tawny powers: he must salvage his purity, keep tucked his junk, resist resist resist. Their wet wrists, their sun-twist hair. Hell has always scared him, but only recently has he begun to understand the pool mothers: minions of Satan himself.
never get married
by Zoe Mungin
There’s Tia Regina up on 116th, an old-school boricua who doesn’t go outside because she says the air makes her ill. Rosie says it’s called patatús, but Mami says patatus is a load of shit, says it’s just a reason for Tia to act a fool, falling over like she needs something on the floor, gasping in prayer: ave maria, dios mio, you’re all going to hell.
Every month, Mami sends me and Rosie up to see her on the first, to pick up money, because Mami doesn’t ever have enough. Mami says it’s because she’s got to take care of me and Rosie both. And it’s not like Tia’s has anybody, Mami says. Not nobody but us. So after school, me and Rosie ride the train for more than an hour, still in our school clothes, all the way up to the barrio, and as soon we come out the station, it’s like stepping off the world, like maybe stepping into a TV, color and people and noise pushing in on you like walls, all the Spanish, nothing but Spanish. Tia lives right across from the station, right above a shop called, Yoly’s Hair, where Tia will take Rosie to get her hair cut and take me to get a perm when we bring our good report cards. Tia gets her nails painted and Yoly tells Rosie she has such pretty hair. And Jenny, Tia says, Jenny is such a good girl.
Qué suerte, Yoly says to Tia, and Tia nods at Rosie and Yoly and doesn’t look at me.