Sara Sutter

I Tried to Make You Fall in Love with My Avatar


It's painful, how he watches

her mouth. His pineapple slice

eyes. Everyone gathers

at the stream, stars bright

against the sky. Idol, ideal, idle, so

lovely,— she needs it out 

of her, as though pushing out is 

feeling. Gray balcony

where communist Yugoslavia 

tobacco factory workers lived. 

Romantic/authoritarian

narrative—idea of lineage, but mostly

sorrow burrowed in her 

hips. Pink fish

growing fewer in the brown

river. A rosy film. Gives her 

love to the Great Internet 

Hunt, its infinite interference 

patterns and potential 

mates. Endings make

for such glorious suffering. 

So it's like that. Can't decide

when it flies or hatches, all 

dividends of a circle, #9. Theory 

that it should be 

easy, but all theories feel difficult, like

knowing someone = harder 

than kissing them. When we 

start at once, minutes fall 

into new shadows.

 

Sara Sutter is a poet and professor in Portland, Oregon.

Ben Kessler

In the Baleen

The gastropods find ways
to amuse themselves

They gather around
the table and take turns
engaging in a little Mumblety-Peg
Converse on how
they have only now
acquired a taste
for orange juice with pulp
The littlest ones play
cops and robbers

All of this is possible
until the great beast sucks them in

 

Ben Kessler lives and writes in Portland, Oregon. He is an MFA student studying fiction at Portland State University.

Charlie Moses

Consolation

            I laid in bed staring at the shadows on my ceiling—distorted and shifting, my arm burning and swollen with an infection, but I was feeling okay. I was thinking about how nice it would be to share my bed with another and also thinking about how nice it was to get to sprawl out alone—my arms and legs extended to the corners of the mattress. And I felt those hot waves of anxiety that make my cheeks flush and I felt there was something wrong with my body. Surely there must be something really, truly wrong. Surely I will lose this limb. Surely I will not wake up tomorrow. I wanted to come to terms with the idea of my death. I’d come to terms with it before. I was going to die, if not tonight at some point, and that was fine. Death is good. Death is not losing the fight. Living is not a fight we’re winning. These shadows on the ceiling rose and fell as my mind danced. When I was young, while running wildly through the woods, I came up on a gully and saw a stark metal structure standing five-feet tall. The ground was covered in crisp leaves and I delighted in their crunching below my feet as I walked closer. The structure was square shaped and the hollow bars that stretched from side to side were covered in rust. It looked like it once stood in a schoolyard and below the corrosion I could see its blue and yellow paint. I’d found it. It was mine. A treasure. A relic from the forest. And I rolled it through the woods and down the trail to my house. It made heavy thudding sounds against the floor as it toppled over and over again. And my legs began to hurt. Began to burn. Began to sting! An excruciating sting!! And when I looked down wasps were flying out of the ground and stinging and biting my legs. It was an entire hive of them. I didn’t scream or yell. I was in shock and I sprinted the rest of the way and I couldn’t feel anything. I don’t remember finding my mom. I remember she was there and I remember she sat me in her lap and put toothpaste on the stings and bites. I remember how wonderful it was to get to sit in my mom’s lap but I don’t remember the pain.
            My arm pulsed and burned. I took four ibuprofen and got up to make myself a pot of tea and while the electric kettle warmed up I sat down at the kitchen table and I wrote about all of the people I loved who’d gone away. I wrote to them and for them and for myself. I stared out the nighttime window at the red flashing lights of the cell towers on the west hills. I’d driven up to those before. I stared at the yellow and white flickering lights of the houses balancing on the side of the mountain’s face. What a brave place to build a home. The kettle clicked. I got up and poured the water over lose chamomile in a copper pot. The flowers swam in a circle together. Three broke loose to the center when the water stopped pouring. I put the lid on and reached up into the cupboard for my favorite mug. My left arm extended—heels coming off the ground. It’s the mug my roommate left behind when she moved out—dark teal, the same color as the keys on my typewriter. I didn’t wait for the tea to steep. I filled the mug and cupped it in my hands. I drink hot things when it’s hot outside. I run hot. I like cold showers. I produce steam. I often look like I’m wearing blush. My hands are usually shaking. I cannot wink my left eye—only my right. My left eye twitches. I put my glasses on. I don’t like to wear them, but lately I have to when I write. My right arm pulses, but does not burn. The ibuprofen is helping. My writing is helping.
            My mom held me in her lap and ran her fingers through my hair. She didn’t say anything about my crying. She wasn’t upset by it. It felt right to cry. I wasn’t embarrassed. Why can’t I cry now? Why can’t I cry for this pain? Why can’t I cry for my friend? It feels right to cry now. My body wont let me. It’s trying to protect me. I tell people I’m okay. I’m trying to protect them. Though maybe it’s true. Maybe I’m okay. I’m trying to protect myself. At some point I left my mom’s lap or she had to go. I remember my legs in an oatmeal bath—staring at my appendages. Or was that chicken pox? I remember it looked like chicken pox—fiery red dots covering my limbs. I didn’t go to the hospital then. I didn’t need to. I was going to live forever.
            I pour myself more tea. I hope the antibiotics take. I wonder if Judy’s family will have a funeral for her. Her daughters said they didn’t want to. The hospital wouldn’t take her body out of her house because it was heavier than reported six weeks ago. I sat in the house with her daughters that afternoon. They’d found another service to take her body away. Her bed was in the front room and her imprint was still there. I tried to eat lunch and have conversations. I drove home alone and cried on my floor. I begged her ghost to sit with me when I dreamed. It hasn’t yet. My right arm pulsed. My pot of tea was almost gone and I felt I could lie down again. My mind was steadier. The pain was duller. The lines in my curtains projected their shadows onto the wall—limbs reaching out together for nothing in particular. Could I still reach if I only had one arm? Maybe I don’t need to reach at all anymore. I think I can sleep now.
            Some nights my mom would work late at the church and my siblings and I would be there with her. We’d run through the pews, eat communion hosts freely, and splash each other with holy water. We’d light too many prayer candles and make up prayers for everyone we knew. My first kiss was downstairs in Tony Rinella Hall where we’d have coffee and donuts after 10:30am Mass on Sundays. All of the lights were off and his name was Brendan Hagerty and we always used first and last names then and we had no idea what we were doing and after our lips touched we ran away from each other and I hid behind the statues of saints. Saint Francis was my favorite. I dreamt of him recently—I was being chased by a horse through the woods. I could hear its hooves getting closer. My lungs tightened up and I darted between tree trunks and over logs until I fell. I expected to be trampled but it didn’t come. I rolled onto my back and saw thousands of spiders floating down from the sky. They shielded me in their webs as the horse trotted slowly past. The statue’s shadows often played tricks on my anxiety. The bathrooms had a green hue and smelled like powdered soap. For a long time I could fit between the bars of the gate that divided the classrooms from the rest of the church. I went to daycare in those classrooms when I was three and four years old. They fed us dry Cheerios for snack and I would escape before nap time and slip between the bars of the gate to hide in my mom’s office underneath her desk. It’s my first recollection of separation anxiety. I thought she wouldn’t come back for me. I thought she didn’t want to. And I always cried when she did because it was such a relief. On the days I couldn’t escape I kept myself occupied writing stories and drawing pictures. On the days I could escape I’d get in trouble but I didn’t care. The water in the church always tasted like metal but I didn’t care about that either. At the time I liked praying to God. It felt similar to making a Christmas list. Gloria Steinem says if your God looks like the ruling class you know youre fucked. I knew that was the case when I was 16. By that time I was getting paid to lead Mass in song as a cantor which made it trickier to leave the church. My mom working there and my dad playing drums in the church band also made it trickier to leave the church so I did things like staying seated instead of going up for communion and not saying the prayers with everyone else. I would sing and leave. I don’t think anyone noticed but I think I wanted them to. I still enjoy the lilies in the prayer garden during the Paschal Triduum and the candlelight Mass for Easter Vigil. They’re the sad songs of the Catholic album and I love sad songs. The candles come with a little paper donut to place above your hands so the wax doesn’t burn you. I always played with the wax and let it drip on my hands anyway. I still do.



Charlie Moses is a writer, performer, and visual artist from Portland where she owns and operates Kenilworth Coffeehouse. She has published creative nonfiction work in Knee-Jerk Magazine and Map Literary. Her upcoming collaborative album Feels Duo will be available mid August of 2017.

Jon Boisvert

STRANGE MONKS (2)

They put four hooks in your back
& lift you
Pulleys feathers incense

Over those with smaller hearts
Clutching white tape & gauze
For the blood

But no blood ever comes
There's no blood inside you
You're not even here

You are the secret
Dispersing in the air
The wet roots tell me

Wait for her
Wait for your next body
Weird & asparagus-like

To fail again to be
Broken enough for love
As water breaks from air

I want to drink I say
But my mouth is gone
I want to see but my eyes

 

Jon Boisvert was born in Elkhorn, Wisconsin, and now lives in Oregon. He studied poetry at Oregon State University and the Independent Publishing Resource Center in Portland. You can sometimes see new writing and art at www.jonboisvert.com. His first book, BORN, will be published in September.

Darla Mottram

Why Arms if Not for Reaching

Someone is barbecuing & the smell gets everywhere.
Smoke carries: we are hungry
for flesh we don’t have.
Deep in my dark it is safe to admit
I’m worth more when I’m stranded
inside myself, my own
fickle thoughts.

A self is weeping
in the tree behind the art building. Other selves
frolic in the high grass, then fuck. They spread out like butterflies,
a slow explosion of softening colors—a future
there, another, another—

the viceroy monarch painting
the field with movement.
Perched on a fence is a mother—moth-grey, anonymous.
I barely notice the frenzied beating
of the Spicebush Swallowtail, its black silk,
its turquoise tips,

until it alights atop my ankle.
Rests in plain view. I know
to reach for it is to lose it.
All around me the world hums its lush song.
It is summer. I hold still
as a blade of grass.

 

Darla Mottram breathes & writes poems (not necessarily in that order) in Portland, Oregon. She has an MFA in creative writing from Portland State University. Her poems have appeared elsewhere, & are forthcoming. 

Matthew Rowe

Untitled

You are who trilogies are written about
Blue hour
Madrone tree
One day cheek kisses in public
We are topless on the roof
The dirt under my fingernails
says I’ve been doing something
We loved so hard a top row
of mason jars shattered
I still think about trying to despise
cheese anything
We are in Costa Rica
Doing what people do there
I dig with my pocketknife
You rehearse ways to escape
The heat
Some tourists consider snorkeling
The small pool of sweat
Collecting in the small of your back

 

Matthew Rowe is a poet/farmer currently living in Brooklyn, New York. He grew up in the desert and keeps a lot of his heart in the Redwoods. Previous work has appeared in Funeral Parade, Sunset Magazine, and on street corners spanning the Pacific Northwest. 

Emily Kendal Frey

CONCERNING LONELINESS: I AM WEARING YOUR UNDERWEAR

Eye contact with very old

people fills me with a power

I try to smile back

into them

 

It's similar to sex in that you feel

unable to close

for a moment 

 

The world is still

filling with garbage 

 

At the doorway to the island church

I cried

Wept, really, it came down

over me not through

 

You will not ever I don't think

understand my position 

As I am a yellow raft in a green pond

and you are a word

asking itself for definition 

 

Perhaps the lamp and other gifts are ripped

When I think about love

a glass of glass 

 

One person's advice was to make the rain      

sounds a part of you

I have not yet achieved feeling

safe in anything not my body 

 

I try to rise above

My pain before I enter it

 

Who would we be

without a very dark yard

 

Language and water do not understand

Each other 

 

You don't have to believe

In what makes you happy

 

Emily Kendal Frey is the author of several chapbooks and chapbook collaborations, including FrancesAirport, Baguette, and The New Planet. The Grief Performance, her first full-length collection, won the Norma Farber First Book Award from The Poetry Society of America in 2012. Her second collection, Sorrow Arrow, won the Oregon Book Award in 2015.

Nooks Krannie

sad insults

cashmere and sad insults is the theme of our ikea bed sheets
i single handedly destroyed my mustache with ur grandmother’s razor.
i say, “oh fuck, the hamster’s ded”
u say, “exercise is a form of mind control”
government fucks us because we’re addicted to sex and
fantasize
about our assholes riding tin cans, cutting assholes
on tin cans, mermaids fucking
under the sea.
it’s disturbing how ariel is lacking an ass and still
desired by porn addicts worldwide.

i want to seem cool and fit in with millennials cuz u say they’re just like
me i think that’s an oxymoron.
my mustache is shaved so i guess i’m not trending.

after i say oh fuck, u take the dead hamster in ur hands, limp
body and clogged arteries protruding in ur face. i never experienced a lack of sexual organs
before it makes my stomach flatter and my boobs feel like a set of
disappointed paragliders. i’m gonna have cake.

i think about ur grandmother and how her barn cat
showed u his penis once and i secretly wonder if it turned u on.
ur grandmother insists u eat ur broccoli fried in tubs of lard.
i think she worries about ur sexuality in terms of feline desire.

i think i’m less sexual than ur grandmother’s barn cat.

i think i’m sexual only in my chromebook in a .docx  doc cuz
holding in pee
and releasing after a long time gives me an orgasm i think
millennials judge and question my millenniality i fucked up
and shaved ur dead hamster so u stop asking me to
shave my pussy.

we bury ur dead hamster in ur grandmother’s backyard
death makes me horny i feel ikea could
replace god this millennia
i say, “oh fuck”.

 

Nooks Krannie is a girl and poet. She is half Persian/half Palestinian and full human. Her first chapbook "I have hard feelings & I wish I could quit chocolate" was published by Moloko House Press in 2016 and her second chapbook "candied pussy" is forthcoming from Thistlemilk Press. She tumbls at http://nkrannie.tumblr.com/  and instagrams @nookskrannie.

Allen Forrest

Allen Forrest is a writer who has created cover art and illustrations for literary publications and books, the winner of the Leslie Jacoby Honor for Art at San Jose State University's Reed Magazine and his Bel Red painting series is part of the Bellevue College Foundation's permanent art collection. Forrest's expressive drawing and painting style is a mix of avant-garde expressionism and post-Impressionist elements, creating emotion on canvas. 

Grant Gerald Miller

ELEMENTAL


The sun is filled with gas and carries an axe.

I am the wound I inflict on others
during Saturday morning cartoons.

The sun is a feral cat.

I am asleep and not responding to your text.

The sun is a way out of night.

I get excited about everything from stardust
to a wet burning mouth.

The sun is also a hot mess.

I am weary of men who call out nature.   

The sun is a slit throat.

I am often asked to make something
better than it previously was.

The sun is brokenhearted in the comments section
but confident in the sky.

I am a weeping tree, and the rain
is torturing someone outside the window.

The sun is a glowing screen of scrolled feeds
intended to make us lonely.

I am the billboard that faded after the new highway
rerouted traffic and turned us on ourselves.

The sun is to blame for growing things
in the depths of its darkness.

Like the sun, I wooed the sea.

I am at fault for wooing the sea.   

 

Grant Gerald Miller was born in Memphis, Tennessee. He is currently an MFA candidate at the University of Alabama and an assistant editor at Black Warrior Review. His work has appeared or is set to appear in various journals including Hobart, Qu MagazineBartleby SnopesNecessary Fiction, and Nimrod. This poem is part of a larger work co-written with A.M. O’Malley entitled Duel or Duet.

Thalia Doukas

SEMI-AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL

I.
Once, a girl who was green was lost in thought.
She did not willingly emerge from scribbling or sketching.
Her grades were OK. She played parts in school plays and she liked singing.
She didn’t drive but she was driven to pin down and tend lengthy reveries regarding highs and lows of her existence. She was simply a green shoot, aiming to connect with Real meaning and Good directions.

II.
Once, a young wife who was blue was drowning, as if she wore cement boots, she was sinking.
Married to a commitment that reminded of roiling, debris-littered ocean deeps, she did slowly
             Shake off cement impediments and nakedly paddle to the surface.
She paddled until she could see a glimmer on the horizon – although a seaweed veil fell into her eyes
Blurring the view, and scarves and ribbons of seaweed snaked around her extremities.
She pressed on, in many obscure years of paddling.

III.
Once, a single mom who was the color of ashes and bark struggled.
Often she toiled, pulling twigs from her hair in an effort to be presentable.
She was a merry-go-round, wrapped in careening daybreaks and dusks, in showers of rain or snow.
At the end of every day, she trudged a solitary path through golden grasses up to her chin.
And this gold surrounded her and waved to her from remote margins of the marsh.

She held down jobs, repaired her cars, hugged her son and prayed for his safety and well-being
             Until soon he was taller than she was – from very young he beat her at Go Fish.
His wins lightened her up and she might grin about them, washing clothes or digging for papers
             In a metal filing cabinet, at work.

IV.
Once, a bobble-head crone, who did not call herself a crone, because it wasn’t That Bad –
             Was mostly transparent, although she had a pink tinge,
Despite her stiff parts and tremors, she scribbled and sketched, but not daily – on lined paper or
             Napkins or fluorescent post-its or her laptop.
Because Trying barged in on Living, she simply hugged the world, prayed for its safety and sanity,
She was a slowly spinning, bobbing cork, beyond her time of keeping cats or dogs now.
She composted and mulched devoutly, paid bills, observed headlines and holidays.

And this is her narrative and it is largely true.
She makes, unmakes, re-makes. She smooths and wrinkles.
Now, to this day, she is not alone or lonely or lost.  

 

Thalia Doukas is a writer and visual artist in 2D and 3D. Long ago, her poetry was included in One Foot On the Mountain, a British anthology of feminist writers. Since then, she has earned a living as a print and online writer/editor/designer in a variety of settings. Her blog address is http://thaliadoukas.blogspot.com/. Her website is at http://tdoukas.zenfolio.com/

Kate Jayroe

HFOd (Horse Food Only diet)

Have you ever wondered why horses are so pretty and smart and have really strong hair? Me too. It's Horse Food.
          Apples. Carrots. Oats? Hay.
The idea of a balanced diet is quite simply a bunch of mottled garbage. I’m betting all of my weight on the food that horses eat.

Since beginning my HFOd (Horse Food Only diet) the luster of my hair is now quite lustrous. My pores are so clear, that they have begun sprouting chestnut hairs of a goddess or of a quadruped that you could guide with reins. My neck has never been stronger. Or longer. My ankles are slender, yet sinewy. My ten toes have melded into two sexy hooves.

HFOd makes my people eyes grow big and gleam like fire in the cruelest afternoon light. I’ve stopped wearing clothing. Sometimes, though, my sweetheart braids my hairs with interesting mermaid-colored ribbons. He’s taken to wearing a large western-style hat in my presence. A sudden twang has attached itself to his speech. He has taken to the bolo tie, and he never plans to look back.

He makes a little clicking noise with his teeth when we are making love. I used to think it was odd, but now I find it to be a soothing vocal cue to our shared pleasures. He knows me better than most. He carries sugar cubes in his pockets.

The consumption of sugar cubes is a genius tactic of the horse, really. Cubes are quite cheap in bulk and serve as a highly effective morale booster. See, even Horse Food allows its “cheat days”. HFOd is flexible for all lifestyles (of anyone striving to live an equine lifestyle).

One word of caution: Hydration. On the Horse Food, I now drink seven gallons of water in a day. And if I don’t, I get all colicky and stamp around while making sad noises.

But also: don’t over hydrate! You may find that your body cannot process all of the moisture. It may get stored into your body as fat. Then, you would be a camel, and not a horse at all. Your expectoration skills would be the talk of the town, but a horse you would not be.

Have you ever been to Charleston? It’s quite haunted. I’ve just moved there, for a new job. As a horse, I’m also proudly able to defy the currently depressed job market. My niche skills and giant eyelashes have led me to offering historical carriage tours for my livelihood. Horses are public servants and I am horse.

Nicholas Sparks did some shit right over there, at that old home where shameful historical things happened for a long time. Now, the extremely wealthy enter marriage in that very same house, at unawares or perhaps simply with uncares of their grand ignorance. The orange corridor wallpapers were special ordered from across the unclear waters of the Atlantic and cost twenty dollars, but three hundred years ago. There are joggling boards. I’m not certain of the math. As a horse, I am beyond such petty concerns of economic exchange over generations of time. Right this way; we will see the lovely harbor, its brined wash of history.

Since HFOd, I now have the grace of a unicorn and the practical capabilities of a large machine named Kubota or Caterpillar. And people just can’t get enough! If being a tour guide doesn’t suit your fancy, fear not! The careers of a horse are many. I’ve been featured in FFA shows, and am have a special tour with the local County Fair circuit forthcoming. And the boys in blue let me tell you! I’ve had to stop the police from recruiting me so many times! It feels invasive! It is invasive!

Perhaps the greatest effect of the Horse Food Diet is the reality that I now sleep standing up. People who are afraid of becoming their best selves may be frightened by this physical alteration. Do not be afraid, this upright rest allows for heightened productivity and makes loud snoring that will wake your loved ones virtually impossible.

As an avid muncher of grass, I can also proudly boast of my environmental conservation efforts. Rather than a loud ole’ hog of a lawnmower, a horse is a stunning vision of beauty who landscapes for sustenance.  Grass is the horse’s bread and butter. Bread and butter are the horse’s grass. We would never eat such!

If you have further inquiries about Horse Food Diet, I congratulate you for valuing your physical shell and your wellbeing. Many do not ever take this crucial step. If you’re tired of choking on those biotin supplements, if you’re feeling stifled by your lack of career options, if you’re craving grass and oats like a motherfucker, then I can assure you, HFOd is most certainly your answer.

 

Kate Jayroe is an editor with Portland Review, bookseller at Powell's Books, Youth Programs Intern at Literary Arts, and staff member with Sewanee Writers' Conference. Other work by them appears in NANO Fiction, Juked, jmww, Hobart, and elsewhere.

Jenny Forrester

Social Media and Revolution

A man broke into the garage and came running out of it just as I got home.

Our eyes met as he ran so fast – away, around the block. And gone with my bike and some things.

I froze.

Was he alone? Was there someone else left behind – maybe in the house?

My socially conscious programming said Don’t call the cops. He left behind a knife – a hunting knife, fake bone hunting knife handle, fake hunting knife swirls on the sharp-enough metal, fake Celtic symbolism, but the sharp point and bloodying hunting knife edge are real.

It’s symbolic – his breaking in that night. Another man stealing what wasn’t his because he wanted and believed he should have it. The knife freaked me out and the man who broke in was white so I called the cops, too late, they said but they took away the knife. Not very revolutionary of me. But I can breathe because that knife is gone.

I’ve heard that if you’re NOT on social media, you will miss the revolution. I’ve heard worse, too. If I don’t retweet this message or repost that, I’ll be just as responsible as they are. Log off and I’ll be complicit.

I’m new to particular battles. I was born at the right wing of the war bird, to the philosophy of judgment, to the AUTHORITY of a Jesus who required more love for himself than a man could have for his children. I’m from the Second Amendment Constitution and the Edicts of my Father and the Waving of a Particular Kind of Flag. I lived where running under the trailer were skunks and cats and raccoons and a dog sometimes. A coyote or three. Terrifying sounds from last cat fights. Smells we covered our mouths for. If something befell us, it was god’s plan and if something good came, it was his blessing.

My mother’s mixed messages in quotes raised me.

I may not agree with what you say but I fight to the death your right to say it but Don’t argue, it isn’t politeJudge not lest ye be judged but Your reputation is the most important thing. My mother’s salve after bullies was ever Think about what they’re going through, minding their tears as much as mine – a message of injustice I despised.

My mother could wring a chicken’s neck and render deer and sew a hem and plant a garden. She whispered to me separate things from my brother because I needed separate things for this world. She said Don’t give in to hate and she said Words have power. She used soap to wash out my brother’s mouth but never had to wash out mine. She raised me to become a city girl so I could find my people – my true kin.

I am trying to connect all these threads to create something to catch up all these wrong things, to have a flag to weave, to wave, to wield.

There’s revolution here right now with these threads my mother saved for me with this voice my yelling father gave to me with this temper my brother stirred up in me and with the wildness the animals breathed into me.

I offer up these threads, the power of rage and the trajectory of this particular flight not to Facebook or Twitter but hand to hand to ear to heart and mind to protect those more vulnerable, minding NOT the tears of bullies.

Don’t get me wrong. I understand that battles for justice can be contained in a series of tweets or an insightful post but having been born before the information highway was installed, I know that The Revolution, the one this generation didn’t start, the one my ancestors didn’t start but were the cause of, the Revolution that’s so close to being won for all time: that’s the one - THE Revolution is bigger than that.

 

Jenny Forrester has been published in a number of print and online publications including Seattle’s City Arts Magazine, Gobshite Quarterly, Nailed Magazine, Hip Mama, The Literary Kitchen, Indiana Review, and Columbia Journal. Her work is included in the Listen to Your Mother anthology, published by Putnam. She curates the Unchaste Readers Series. Her debut memoir "Narrow River, Wide Sky" is forthcoming from Hawthorne Books and launches at Powell’s on Burnside on  May 5th, 2017.

Juleen Eun Sun Johnson

JJ

Crush a cigarette on a tree.
No one knows anything.

We all know coffee tastes as cold as coil in winter,
When the afternoon takes a bow.

A Golden Hawk sits in wait
                                       waiting for a squirrel to feel a tire for the first time.

We stress the importance of falling off, 
                                                                           Time
But time is a construct.

                          Like the time    JJ brought a dead Bob Cat home to the dorm.

                                                    JJ hung the carcass outside my window from a tree.

                          At night
                                                    JJ asked Brandon if the body could live in his refrigerator
with his dialysis bags.
                                                                      Brandon said, “What the Fuck Dude!”
                        The next day
                                    
                                                    JJ skinned the cat for a taxidermy class.

He accidently threw
the cat carcass in the dumpster

                                                                                                       on a homeless woman
                                                                                                       looking for bottles and cans.

 

Juleen Eun Sun Johnson has been published in printed publications, including Cirque: A Literary Journal, Nervous Breakdown, The Rio Grande Review, Yellow Chair, Apeiron Review, The Round, Unchaste Anthology Volume 1, and other journals. Johnson attended the Iowa Writers’ Workshop Summer sessions. During this time Johnson studied with Professor James Galvin and Mark Leidner.  She read at: Prairie Lights and The Mill while she resided in Iowa City, Iowa. Johnson currently writes and creates art in Portland, OR.

Goldie Negelev

Crawling, Headfirst

The angel inside my bone,
drank dark red marrow to an early grave.
Self-honesty was bad for the both of us
because I was born wrong,
whatever glow she had she drowned in.
But my hair shines like butterscotch underneath the cold light of a firefly.
I love him like this,
without the ability to fly.
When his sea-black eyes look inside me
I know I am good.
& when the water collects into a swamp
I trust he will dig me out

 

Goldie Negelev is a poet living in Oakland, California. Her poetry has appeared in Reality BeachFog Machine and Bottlecap Press.

John Michael

Homesick Brinksmanship

I know a place where we can leave the streets
A black blanket cafe that leaves no room to breathe
But the entry fee it takes to get in
I got by stepping on weakerthans

Bar-soap-washed hair running under my palms
Forty backward notes to trenchant psalms
Hearts still struggling to beat in sync
Your scratch-ticket fingers feel coarse, she says

Well your red-stained lips may still look sweet
With a smokestack accent overdue a sweep
But from across the street
You felt more like home


John Michael doesn’t have a Boston accent. He is a New England separatist, a Red Sox diviner, and a writer of prose. He is currently seeking a publisher for his novella. You can find his work in journals such as NANO Fiction and The Finger, or read more atwww.johnmichaeltxt.com

Eric Baker

Selected Status Updates

Now seems like a good time to retreat into the woods for a couple of months and avoid all human contact

Out in the woods I can sell immaculate weekend chalets in the Poconos

Out in the woods my inherent and undeniable worthlessness will not be readily apparent to all the wildlife

Out in the woods I will be the squirrel I want to be in the world

Out in the woods I will learn the ways of the squirrel, befriending them and adding them on social media

Out in the woods I will be alone and thus will have nobody to disappoint anymore

Out in the woods I won’t have to sit next to other people in the train, won’t have to feign interest in my coworkers, and won’t have to dress up for work, rather I can let my appearance gain a rustic hipster vibe

Out in the woods I can listen to Fleet Foxes and it will feel really authentic

Out in the woods I can communicate with people at an extreme distance.

I won’t have to feign enthusiasm in person I can do it from the leisure of my phone.

My emails will be formal and emotionless.

Everything will be bright and pixelated.

None of my emotions will matter they will be washed with glowing screens indicating nothing.

The Internet cannot process pain it is just a highway of information that is mostly concerned with clicking on things, scrolling down to click on things, and typing words into fields to get things to click on, it is my kind of world and it is so kind.

Out in the woods I shall greet the morning sun wordless, with a cool nod like I see in movies.

Out in the woods the morning sun will nod back at me, which typically it can’t do without feeling self-conscious about it.

Out in the woods I will meet other real estate brokers also learning the ways of the squirrel, but I will learn the squirrel ways best.

 

Eric Baker sells real estate in the tri-state area. He has a loving wife, a libertarian cat, and that’s that.

Ben Powell

Webs

Lost my savings in a Bitcoin scheme, so money’s becoming an issue. Had to open two hundred credit cards to net the necessary frequent flyer miles to visit mom on X-Mass. Thoughts of moving back in with dad aggravates the rash behind my knees, under my gut. I itch & then I scratch.

Obsessing over my shitty WIFI. Decide to make appointment with Verizon. Guy can’t come today, but set the date for tomorrow. Feel giddy thinking about rapid streams. Makes me feel hopeful & unafraid, which tempers the sad necessity of closing my accounts on Netflix, BangBus, & Spotify for funds.

Remember that dad used to be petrified when people would be coming over. Still is. Plumbers, electricians. In our old apartment, he would position a chair inches from the door, waiting, on-guard. He’d complain about how hard it was to get a gun. Like that would’ve helped him. Tried to tell him that a gun isn’t a gun anymore. Most dangerous weapon is a crushing Yelp review, a forum smear, an anonymous claim of assault. He doesn’t get it. Hasn’t been on. Have U? Been on Reddit? Been on 4chan? U seen this? Know what they’re saying?

Hillary’s reptilian: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wHa9uHQltW8

Beyonce’s illuminati: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hltAf8Bijdc

Kanye’s god: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ge33hrlN2Uc

Ever looked at the back of a dollar bill? Ever actually thought about Bush doing 9/11?

Sometimes I just wanna cover myself in the slime of it; sometimes I wanna be the savior. I add my voice to the chorus. Why not? Comments under hundreds of usernames attached to hundreds of proxy email addresses I keep indexed in an excel file. I’m Gristen13 & PurpleDragonFly4 & Ebony66HazeLSD & SpacedOUTer3 & 4Dsando4 & xxRillyHixx. My username on Christian Mingle is Peter St. John. On Grindr I’m MisterPipe44. My face is a 32-year-old white guy with adult braces that I pulled from a friend of a friend on Facebook. My face is a stock photo of a black guy working behind the counter at a bank. My face is yr face if it’s out there.

Visited dad the other day. Delivered groceries. Nice to be out. He still calls me Fat Fuck. We both laugh. He hasn’t been out of bed in years. Least I can still walk.

Better WIFI will do more for me than porn, but there’s that too. Always craving new stuff like its Cheeto dust. U seen some of these videos before? Starts with u watching girl on girl. Then guy on girl. Then guy on girl dressed as squirrel. Then girl dressed as squirrel on guy dressed as girl. Then I’m watching half-guys on half-girls. & then it’s actual squirrel on actual squirrel. I’m googling Discovery Channel footage of ape sex, elephant sex, tiger sex. Shit’s unbelievably gorgeous.

Look at myself in the mirror by accident. Well, not the mirror, but the webcam puts my face on the screen & reflects it back to me. Can’t fit my body in the frame. Not when I roll back from my desk on the squeaking wheels of my chair. Not when I’m backed up onto the edge of my bed. Only when I’m all the way back, kneeling on my pillows, back against the wall. Then I can see it all. Starting to think I’m beautiful, u know? & not in a lame-ass body positivity sort of way, but in a mythic fashion. Like a crater or mountain or ocean or moon. This night I’m a monument & till tomorrow I’ll be still.

But then I stay up too late & accidentally watch the sun rise outside my window: a gold slit between neighboring apartment buildings. Wonder why I haven’t done it more often, so then I do: hooking up to my projector & bringing it into my bed. Sandwiching the device between my legs & aiming its bright shine at the ceiling, playing time-lapsed footage off of Vimeo: 1,000 sun rises condensed into 10 minutes of footage played out above me. High def. Soaring orchestrals projected & booming through my bluetooth speakers. Wish I had the energy to get up & shut the shades.

Must have slept, because dad calls me & my cellphone sets my pillow vibrating. Woke me up in a savage way. He wants to talk about the groceries I’ve been buying him. Real disappointed. Makes me think about how mom always seemed to be dialed straight into his system. Knew his cravings like they were her’s. Bought him things he’d never tried, knowing he’d love them. & he did. Saw pictures of her on Instagram a couple weeks ago posted by Kenny. Had to unfollow. Can’t stand to see her against green grass, happy & thin. Makes me sick all the way down to fibers of my motherboard.

Tell dad I’ll be over in a bit. Just have some things to do. Verizon guy should be coming soon. Setting me up with faster access. I like to think that things will get better. That I can keep lying back in my bed & the gossamer strands of hundred-dollar WIFI will pull me up, suspend me so I’m weightless & free.

Tonight I’ll be expansive online. I’ll deny the holocaust in the comments section of David Blaine magic tutorials. I’ll talk eugenics on clips of Rolling Stones live shows. I’ll send pictures of my penis to recent college graduates who are unfortunate enough to swipe right. I’ll edit Wikipedia so that Lance Armstrong is a saint again. I’ll hack into mom’s emails & send another email to dad, saying she still thinks of him sometimes. I’ll have her send an email to me, too. Telling me I’m generous and knowing and kind.

Knock at the door forces me out of bed & I have to let this poor Verizon guy in. Could have cleaned but didn’t. Wouldn’t matter if my favorite flavor of Pringles wasn’t Salt & Vinegar. Keep the cylinders stacked against the wall like trophies. Whole place is violently sour. I do love it here. This WIFI could drive me to broke, though. But it’s a staple. It’s food & clothes & shelter, all in one. Whatever.

I’m sure the Verizon guy has seen this sort of shit before. We’re all monsters in this part of town. Seems like a pretty nice guy. End up following him down the stairs on my way out for dad. He makes conversation about team sports & I think about tripping & falling on him, how he wouldn’t survive the pressure of me, how no one could.  

 

Ben Powell is a writer, teacher, and musician based out of Worcester, MA. He is currently seeking a publisher for his first novel.

Celeste Perez

The Forecast Made No Mention of Your Peculiarities

Disintegration breeds in bile.
The clever bleed skyward.
A temple is only a temple
Because we call it a heartbeat.

We become singular in breath—
A fraction of something is still
A whole of
Its fractioned self.

Medicate limbs one pulse at a time,
Motion might be the only certainty,
But we are inherently liars.

         That cloud, just below us?
Has gone.
         It is not so lost as you.

 

Celeste Perez is a senior in the undergraduate English Literature and Creative Writing program at Marylhurst University, where she is the 2016 recipient of the Jackie Mosier Emerging Writer Award. She has been published in M Review and Elohi Gadugi Journal. Recent literary endeavors include collaborating on a children’s book about gnomes with her boyfriend, and translating Spanish poetry with her father.