Poetry: My Consciousness

Issue 2.1

by Lea Moore

I am a smoothie.
I want my fish to die.
The metal feels smooth under my fingertips.
The light makes the green fern almost translucent.
The spices invade my nose from two stories down.
The blueberry skin lingers in the cracks of my mouth.
There is a hidden banging as he strikes the keys.
The. Clock. Moves. So. Slow.
The chocolate-butter aroma warms my face.
Scot wants to be like New York City.
The light solidifies the green fern.
The leaves squat in the ceramic pot the color or every Cape Cod guest bedroom with the sandy,
white sea shells in the clear candy jar.
‘Badonk-a-donk’ wakes me up with a smile.
If he told his story, she would be an alien.
That indicates there is a very strong relationship here.

I zoned out.

They were as chatty as turtles.
He plunged into the sink and swam with the eels.
Lea is confused.
He will scoot in and she will scoot to the side so he will scoot to the side.
I scalped her book.
Shut up! I’m trying to observe this painting!
J’ai faim. (aka I have hunger.)
My zumba instruction video was having a fantastical time.

Just like how bananas, lemon juice, blueberries, and coconut water
(oh and with a hint of cayenne of course)
can sing sweet music in my mouth,
my thoughts love to party in my brain.


Lea Moore is a high school senior. We are proud to be her first publication.

Poetry: Escape Artist

Issue 1.2

by Howie Good

I liked to walk around with a friend and a granola bar, especially when I was wasted, my mind free of the tedium of this size 71/2 head. Understand? Ambulances roamed the roads in anticipation of frequent car accidents. Canaries were there, and there were lemon trees, and they brought smallpox and hundreds of words, none of which rhymed. The sky got so dark sometimes that shadows from all over the world seemed to appear out of nowhere and then leave me with eyes engorged with blood. Today yet another woman said the darkness reached up her skirt. Point me to the doorway to the river. I just want to sit and play guitar to the goldfish.


Howie Good co-edits White Knuckle Press with Dale Wisely. His most recent collection of poetry is A Ghost Sings, A Door Opens (2016) from Another New Calligraphy.

Poetry: Vroom

Issue 1.2

by Howie Good

 

Something, I don’t know what, wakes me. My head feels weirdly organized, like a city policed by mobs. Ah, the absurdity of having a fixed bedtime! “How long did I nap?” I ask Mollie, whose hair looks a radioactive shade of red in this light. She doesn’t answer, just continues texting. Maybe I should calm down. A soul weighs, on average, 21 grams. How much does a ghost weigh?

*

The sad old men who play accordion on the street were staring at the sky. Only then did I notice that another layer of the atmosphere was missing. That night, rain fell, interspersed with neon words: “glaze,” “thread,” “murmur.” The result was hypnotic. “What a town,” I said, “what a town.” But who spoke for all the dying animals? It wasn’t like every house had a two-cow garage.

*

The last great American hero killed himself in a bathtub surrounded by 12 pairs of children’s shoes. Now a man who looks something like him is hitting on a skeptical blonde. “If you want to study the disease,” he is saying, “you must live in the swamp.” As he spoke, strange black flowers burst open overhead. Back there behind the sun, all ideas fall apart, and dreams tell the future, and everyone is too drunk to fuck.

 


Howie Good co-edits White Knuckle Press with Dale Wisely. His most recent collection of poetry is A Ghost Sings, A Door Opens (2016) from Another New Calligraphy.

Fiction: Looking at Pictures

Issue 1.2

by Janet Mason

(May, 1926)

Tina looked at the image in front of her and wished she still had her camera.

She was walking along the deepwater port looking into the hold of a ship that had backed up to the cement pier. She could see both levels. Initially she assumed that first class was on the top and that steerage was down below.  Then she noticed that the people below were almost all women and children.  They looked like immigrants from Europe wrapped in their drab shawls and holding their squalling infants.  None of them looked up.

On the top level, in what looked like first class, men in their bowler hats waited for the sailors to open the gang plank that in a few minutes would be secured on the dock.  To the left a man with a banded panama hat bent forward over the rope railing. He looked like he was lighting a pipe or cigar. He was going to smoke while he waited.  The top of his white straw hat against the brim formed a circle within a circle.

Between the two levels of steerage and first class, a plank ran diagonally through the scene.  Behind the plank, a wide metal chimney came up from the floor of the ship bottom in steerage behind a woman huddled with two children. The effect of the line of the chimney cutting behind the plank made a triangular space in the upper part of the ship where the men and their bowler hats stood.  To the right, the plank and the chimney framed the women and children in the bottom of the boat.  The horizontal line of the second floor and the stairs on the low right leading to the second floor of the ship further divided the image into another triangular space.

Tina recognized that the scene in front of her was as cubist as a Picasso or Braque. It was as mesmerizing as Duchamp’s “Nude Descending a Staircase.”  It was the perfect image.  The women in steerage, with shawls wrapped around their heads and shoulders, looked like they were from the old world.  Even the young ones stooped slightly.  They were probably Germans — maybe from Bavaria.  The men too – in their dark caps and bowler hats – looked German. They were European immigrants who had come to Mexico to flee persecution, to be with family (for there were so many Germans living here), to find work.  Tina grimaced.  If they were coming to find work, they were in for a surprise.

Maybe instead they would find the Mexican Communist Party – like she had, like Diego and Frida had, like everyone Tina was fleeing.  She wouldn’t miss them though – Frida and Diego.  She wanted to put them as far out of her mind as possible.  She would miss the Party.  It had become her life. She never thought about leaving her beloved Mexico, her sunny country filled with romance and tropical fruits.

But then she had met Peggy and she convinced Tina to return with her to Europe.  So Tina sold her camera and bought her passage on the RMS Alcantara.

Peggy was right.  Tina would find more opportunities for her photography in Europe.  But she would miss the land, the people, the Mexican Communist Party.  She would miss Frida. No!  Frida was the reason she was leaving.  The thought made her look away from the scene she had been hungering for.  It wouldn’t be right anyway.  The men in the caps and bowler hats looked indifferent.  They were just waiting to come to a new country.  They wouldn’t care if they were photographed.  But the women were different.  Most had shawls wrapped around their heads but not all.  One had her fuzzy head exposed.  They probably had been at sea for weeks — and Tina knew how women felt about fixing their hair. Plus, they had children with them.  The women would most likely not want to be photographed.

Tina ran down the walkway and reached the gangplank at the end of the dock to the liner, just as Peggy called to her from aboard the ship.

“I thought I had lost you,” she yelled to Tina.

“I’ll wait for you up here and then we can find our rooms.”

Tina threw back her shoulders as she stepped up her walk.


Janet Mason is an award-winning creative writer, teacher, and blogger for The Huffington Post. Her radio commentary airs worldwide on This Way Out, the LGBT news syndicated based in Los Angeles. Her book, Tea Leaves: a Memoir of Mothers and Daughters (Bella Books, 2012), was chosen by the American Library Association for its 2013 Over the Rainbow List and also received a Goldie Award. Janet’s short stories have appeared in many literary journals including the Brooklyn Review, Sinister Wisdom, and Aaduna. Her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

Poetry: Take off Your Clothes and Walk into the Arthropod Wildfire

by Justin Karcher

 

Fireflies are a summertime staple

And I’m so happy tonight that the junkies

Wandering up and down Grant Street

Are like magicians, something like Prometheus

And when they light their cigarettes

Each cigarette becomes pregnant with a firefly

And when the cigarette’s dead and gone

And the butt is cuddling with the concrete

The firefly bursts into life and flies off

 

Seeing all that newborn fire flying through the city

I can’t help but think good can come

From something that is broken, that beauty

Can climb out of cancer and I feel better

Because the last few nights I’ve been feeling really down

Sleeping on a Novocain mattress

And wondering what my exes are up to

Wondering why there are so many hostages

In the word, wondering how the hell car bombs

Find the time to fuck so much

Sad that they’re procreating like never before

And the honeybees are dying too fast

 

We spend too many nights sleeping on Novocain mattresses

Wondering if our feelings are lost

In a nightmare world of anesthesia

Wondering what suits are responsible

For all this colossal shit going down

Wondering what we can to do to right the ship

We end up doing absolutely nothing

 

But those goddamn cigarette fireflies, it’s nice to see

So I think I’ll skip sleep tonight

And chain smoke until I feel warm on the inside

Until the ashtray spits out an arthropod wildfire

That gobbles up the rainforests in our eyes

Until we’re dry and barren and can start over again

Justin Karcher is the author of Tailgating at the Gates of Hell from Ghost City Press. His recent works have been published in 3:AM Magazine, Plenitude Magazine, and more. He is the Editor-in-Chief of Ghost City Review, and the winner of the 2015 Just Buffalo Literary Center members’ writing competition.