Jos Charles is a southern california writer and founding-editor at THEM – a trans literary journal. They have poetry published (and/or have publications forthcoming) with BLOOM, Denver Quarterly, HTMLGIANT, Metazen, Radioactive Moat, boosthouse’s THE YOLO PAGES, as well as variously online. Their writing has also been featured on Huffington Post, BitchMedia, Entropy, Medium, The Fanzine, The Quietus, interviews with GLAAD, LAMBDA Literary, Original Plumbing, and other pieces forthcoming.
Two days ago, my job went missing. Yesterday, my house went missing. And then I went missing too.
For some reason, I can’t stop moving. I would like to stop moving and settle down.
My job is a three-dimensional rectangle with four floors and is mostly filled with people I do not care about. But two days ago, when I cycled to work, it had been replaced with a hole. I looked down into the hole and saw fire.
Upon walking home a day later, my house was gone. My house was a warehouse unit with a car garage next to it. That, too, had been replaced. But this time, it had been replaced with a mass grave. Everybody inside of the grave was naked and pink.
And today, I woke up but when I opened my eyes everything was red. As if my eyes were closed. Around me, the sound of traffic but the sound was muffled as if two pillows were cushioning my ears.
My vision slowly came back. I was on the floor. I couldn’t get up. My legs had been replaced with walking sticks.
This couch is uncomfortable.
Things got better for a while. I came back. I was conscious and my legs were legs, my arms were arms and my head was still intact. This is the way life should be, with everything in place, where years go forward and minutes die in seconds.
Suddenly, everything was worse. I was sitting in a chair at the top of a Georgian townhouse in 1765. Samuel Johnson, writer of the first English dictionary, and other artists, were taking turns kissing me all over my body and I didn’t say no.
And then they taped my eyes open and my glued my hands to a Nintendo Entertainment System controller. Johnson laughed at me and I asked: why me? No answer. I was forced to play Duck Hunt. Duck Hunt is a two-player game. Player 1 controls the ducks.
Back to reality, I decided to go and buy a flute of bread to satiate my hunger.
Outside, the weather blinded me and I couldn’t see again. All I wanted was to go back to work and resume life as it was.
I woke up in a field. Cows surrounded me. I was thirsty so I grabbed an udder and sucked. No milk came out.
Upon returning home, three of my high school friends were sitting in my sitting room. I asked why and they said they wanted to talk about my absence. Theodore remarked that my drug abuse was ‘pronounced’ and I said: please leave.
My job came back to work. So I went back to work.
My colleagues commented on my shaking.
Upon returning home, I had a shower and all my skin came off. I went to dry myself. An elderly gentleman called Fellows told me that’d be a bad idea. I went up to the roof of my apartment block and dried off my skeleton.
Don’t worry, they told me.
I was told that I could take a two-week holiday. My boss said I looked thin. His assistant said I looked like a skeleton. I told them that I was a skeleton. I told them I was trying to find my skin again.
They fired me. Now what?
My house didn’t want me either. It told me to leave. I asked if we could talk this over and my house said nothing.
I asked my friends for help: could you help me out/have you got a couch I can sleep on/Just until I get back on my feet. The answer was no. They said they didn’t feel safe around me.
I went to the library and found a small opening behind a bookshelf. I now lived behind a collection of medical journals. I would travel out every day to bring provisions for my new home. I had a pillow, a yoga mat for my back and some tarp for a cover.
I learned many things in my new house. But there are only so many times you can read about Central African lymphomas and ambiguous genitals.
An artist named Koonig said I could stay at his place. He picked me up because he liked my legs. He said to me: “do you like my apartment?” I said: “Sure.” And I did. He laughed and patted me on the back. My jaw fell off. He said: “the ceilings are high. Don’t hang yourself in here!”
The weeks passed by. I liked Koonig and he liked me. I was not sure whether I was coming or going most of the time. I asked Koonig just to check. “Koonig, am I coming or going?” He said neither and this didn’t really help.
Koonig got me back on my feet. He gave me some new skin. I wasn’t moving around all the time anymore. People weren’t forcing me to play games I didn’t want to play. People weren’t kissing me on my body against my will. Time was suddenly finite and organized.
Koonig sat me down and stroked my legs. I looked at one of his paintings. It was of a man sitting down having his legs stroked by Koonig. I struck Koonig aside the head with a tire iron.
I left the house. I ran far away to a mountain and looked out on the city. The lights were moving. I had a headache because I felt every single person in the city moving. I just wanted to stop moving and be surrounded by silence and a black blanket of darkness.
And that’s all I remember: how pretty the world looked when it wasn’t there.
Bio: Oliver Zarandi is a writer. His work has recently appeared in Hobart, Electric Cereal, theNewerYork and The Boiler Journal. He’s working on a collection of short stories and a novel. Find him on twitter: @zarandi.
THEORY OF ASH
Behold the THEORY OF ASH!
shouts the woman in the public square
whose face is a carnival mask.
Some spectacle is surely about to take place.
What will you do when your mother is dead?
What will you do when your mother is dead and you come
face to face with the woman whose face is a carnival mask?
The Man of Good Questions asked.
What could I say to The Man of Good Questions?
I lay down with the Injured Thing in the grass.
And that’s when the crowd gathered. They gathered
in refutation of all refutations. They gathered in the absence of
anything else. What is the meaning of the THEORY OF ASH?
The Man of Good Questions is asking now. (Ascending the stage
is the woman whose face is a carnival mask.) I don’t know, I tell him.
I cannot even begin to describe the beauty of what is about to happen.
Bio: Sarah Schweig is the author of the chapbook S (Dancing Girl Press), and her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Atlas Review, Black Warrior Review, BOMB, Boston Review, Maggy, Painted Bride Quarterly, The Philadelphia Review of Books, Verse Daily, The Volta, and Western Humanities Review, among others. A graduate of the University of Virginia and Columbia University, where Ben Lerner awarded her work the David Craig Austen Memorial Award for Poetry, and former Ruth Lilly Fellowship finalist, Tennessee Williams Scholar at the Sewanee Writers Conference, and Emerging Poet Resident at Poets House in Manhattan, she works as a senior writer at a criminal justice think-tank in New York City and studies philosophy at The New School for Social Research.
People Think I’m Disgusting
because I have
a huge house.
restrooms to rest in,
washrooms to wash in,
and water closets
to hold my water,
while I shit
in the yard.
Bio: Brendan Flaherty is an LA-based freelance writer, originally from the Hartford area. His work appears at Fast Company’s Co.Labs, McSweeneys.net, the LA Fiction Review, among others. You can read more of his short writings at BrendanFlaherty.net.
from Don’t be like that.
From behind the tree you can see her mouth. She can see you & the mouth says help me. You could. There is a basket, a blanket, a skirt.
You think of the field stripped beneath the power lines. You return with scissors.
A light shines on slices of wood. A light shines when you shut the door. You use the branch to cover the mouth.
& the blanket spread beneath them. Truly, they don’t know yet what they are weeping for. The sound of stone on skull is like a kind of crying: everyone closes their eyes.
He puts a chocolate in each hand, loose but useless. When he looks at them, he sees himself.
It was bound to happen, you know. It was only natural.
They are going to lie a long time now.
What you’ve done so far, you’ve only done to their bodies. They have one last place left in them to reveal to you. Little by little they remove the dress of your grip.
They do not go very far.
Bio: Lisa Ciccarello’s first book of poems, At night, is forthcoming from Black Ocean. She’s the author of several chapbooks, including Worth Is the Wrong Word, recently out on Black Cake Records. Her poems have appeared in Tin House, Denver Quarterly, PEN Poetry Series, Handsome, Poor Claudia & Corduroy Mtn., among others. She edits poetry at draft: The Journal of Process.
the holy thought can’t kill me, it can only burn through me at a steady pace. fastened to an electronic lit- parade. bad thoughts + cool chicks. come find me. but leave me mounted. crystals randomized. parasites setting me up for a ritual rolling of the dice. don’t let me be maaaaagik. this time. I hear postpartum depression is trending. but I’m transcending valves for fun. talk to me please. somebody, I can’t hear you. there is laughter in this magazine and it’s eating all the content they told me I am allowed to have. this is a primitive kind of transition. a kind where you lust. tell me about your palm. I want to eat it. consume the feelings. but I’m not sure how to, yet. yet. I am running tassels gold through my fingertips and counting sideways. 7, 5, 9, 6….I’m starting to get into ritual vaping and cinnamon lost bread as it falls through me. don’t test me.my my disruptive innovation is taking a toll on my insides and I’m trying to be someone who works with their hands but I’ve lost all the brick to the mortar. I’m going to bow down and insert dirt into my kneecaps, and shake my my body sideways. and when the futuristic Hasids look at me they will be jealous of my brows. this is what it means to daven. I am really only in it for the artifacts and jewels.
Bio: emily is getting into radishes. she also writes poems and co-edits the online journal glitterMOB.
What We Make of Her
Happy Meal Barbie wears two-inch heels.
Hair pulled up in a yellow pile and hands
on her hips in a swaggering way, I’m lighting
the match to her plastic narrows and then,
I’m lighting it again. Eyes grow wide as she begins
to flux, to soften, and blue is a sink in a pool
then it pours. Rereleasing my strike, I illumine
her pucker, replace kiss for a smear. In my mind
mopping away stains, blood lips from her face
like a plaster wall set to come down two weeks,
one week, now, followed by a bandaged attempt
at smoothing over. Features come back or don’t,
the way a house turned salon is still a house,
Nesquick and Fun Dip are still a diet, but not.
Barrettes, pinkpants and a big blonde bag puddle
to the side in their own shock and I let them,
body a fizz. Face cools, face hardens, and I take out
my Sharpie and I fix her myself.
Bio: Laura Romeyn is pursuing her MFA in poetry at Columbia University. A poem of hers most recently appeared in Leveler. She lives in Brooklyn and can be followed on twitter @LaRomage
Everything Will Be Fixed by Love
Everyone woke up hungover
Everyone woke up in the wrong bed
Everyone had the wrong shoe
on the wrong foot in the wrong weather
Everyone was so hungry
then everyone ate too much
Love me everyone said
Love me first everyone said
Fix me everyone said
Fix me first
Bio: Elizabeth Clark Wessel is a founding editor of Argos Books & co-editor of Circumference: Poetry in Translation. Her poems and translations have appeared in DIAGRAM, A Public Space, Guernica, Sixth Finch, Lana Turner Journal, and Boston Review. She is the author of the chapbooks Whither Weather (GreenTower Press, 2012) and Isn’t that You Waving at You (Big Lucks Books, forthcoming in 2015).
Every Blessèd Day I Feel a Gun To My Skull
I was crapping in an outhouse by a Mississippi highway
I was wishing for a fog that could raise the dead
I felt free from my body for a waking second
The traffic sung but my face was hidden
In my dreams I sleep in a stranger’s house
I see Death rise in the darkened window
He knocks on glass, his pale face shining
He leaves his horse painting by the door
Listen, he says, I’ll tell you a secret
He chokes the handkerchief around my neck
He moans the name of someone else
We hum like a beehive in the dark
We make love with his clammy hand at my throat
My blue-threaded self then wisping out softly
Death never mistook me for a man
O every blessèd day I feel a gun to my skull
O every day when I’m against the wall
I want to exhume my voice from the back of my throat
I want raise it up from the base of the well
& let my corpus rot at the bottom
Allow my spirit to bellow loud
O make me a woman on all fours hissing
Her black hair wild & eyes gone white
The spirits swimming like ink from the sockets
O Lord shake me awake from my livelong nap
Make me a newborn steaming in a foggy pasture
Make me a split-open night-crawler foaming over
With the popped-off head & a new one growing
O every blessèd day I feel a gun to my skull
O every day when I’m against the wall
I wish I was doe in the morning dew
I dream of the sky for the sky can shake you
I dream of the dagger for the dagger can shake you
I dream of the bed for it has no ending
Wish I wasn’t a guppy with a knife in its gills
Wish I wasn’t a gator playing dead
Wish I was a thresher who could cut through the tide
I hear the cornfield sway like an ocean on fire
I wish I was a knife in the forest flying
Bio: Marty Cain is an MFA candidate at the University of Mississippi, where he reads for PANK and The Yalobusha Review. His poems have appeared (or are forthcoming) in Rattle, The Journal, The Minnesota Review, Word Riot, and elsewhere. Find him online.
Tom woke up thinking it was the apocalypse.
Nobody worried until Tom became indifferent.
“Far as you know, we’re done for, and you couldn’t care less?” his brother said.
“Yes,” Tom said.
His brother drove him to the hospital.
The receptionist gave him a form.
“Where should I sit?” Tom said.
The receptionist pointed to a row of chairs in the waiting room.
Tom said, “I thought they’d be bigger.”
“There’s a bed in the examination room.”
The receptionist was also a nurse. A blouse on top, scrubs on the bottom. You only saw them when she stood up, which she did to show Tom the row of chairs.
Tom filled out the form with two words: It’s over.
The doctor saw him half an hour later and said, “What do you mean?”
Tom said the world is ending.
The doctor was checking Tom’s reflexes. He said, “How?”
Tom said, “You’ve never watched television?”
The doctor said, “Do you watch a lot of television?”
“I dreamed of a television last night. I turned it off. I didn’t want to spend my last day like that.”
The doctor called the receptionist/nurse into the room. He said to her, “What if he’s right?”
“I don’t want to spend my last day like this,” she said. She tore off her blouse.
Tom didn’t notice before, but her left arm was a prosthetic. She tore that off too. It landed in the sink. She reminded Tom of a plastic soldier. When they broke, he’d melt them with a magnifying glass and reshape them into something else.
The topless/one-armed nurse/receptionist sat on the bed with Tom.
“Can you tell us?” she said.
Tom said, “All I have is a lighter.”
He flicked it and her scrubs burst into flames.
This was not at all what Tom thought it’d be.
The doctor began to douse the burning/topless/one-armed nurse/receptionist with water, still asking, “How?”
Bio: Michael Credico’s fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in MonkeyBicycle, Necessary Fiction, TheNewer York, Word Riot, and others. He lives in Cleveland, Ohio, where he edits Whiskey Island.
Baby 4 Lyfe
Here’s a baby
here’s a pic of my baby
just ate my baby
on vacay w/ my baby
baby’s first dance, death;
baby updates baby on baby
baby’s first car crash erased by
baby’s first second car crash
eternal and irrepressibly stale like pound
cake, my baby’s b-day is better than baby
baby grows up so fast
click or you will miss it,
baby on teevee baby glory
baby so hot right now
foreign talk-show circuit baby
baby rehab boo hoo
itty bitty baby pyre
Bio: Will Roche is from Smyrna, GA but lives in Brooklyn, NY. You can see more of his work on his website.
from The Middle
Infer, no, inferno. Gather the facts before inferring that
we are living in an inferno. A war on many things;
they want to kill you for any reason, make money off
you, lick you bone white and dry. They would rather
see you poor, imprisoned, uneducated, sick, hungry.
They want to keep you alive.
* * *
Practically all things are related in one form or
another. What kind of boy is unboyfriendable? What
kind of girl? Not in words are we like our parents.
Only in words are we like our parents. Language is
premise enough to begin. You will always be between
your mother and father, regardless of if you never
met them—a bloody and fleshy edge of comfort and
* * *
Translation teaches that stanza means room. Bakhtin
wrote of literature’s architectonics. A book is a static
and constructed space through which a reader moves
at will. It is rooms and passages, design decisions.
Ought the same wood floor to flow from the dining
room to the kitchen? Where should we place a
doorway? Does this blotch of blankness cry out for
carpet? I should have studied architecture. The way
through might have then been less jarring. Let’s begin
again as always.
* * *
Things are said to fall apart – thank God. I split my
day into parts just to manage. Whole hours at once
overwhelm. Days come as waves or weights to rend.
But dissolution’s only normal. Cells want to split.
And dismal couples. Hot legs and hot dog buns. The
double doors of the city bank lobby. The seams of
tight pants desire this, the lips of hungry mouths. We
break bread and promises. We cut film. We split
seconds and sides and the rent. The trees branch out
just to live.
Bio: Feliz Lucia Molina is the author from UNDERCASTLE (Magic Helicopter Press) and co-author of The Wes Letters (Outpost19). Her poems are published and forthcoming in Gauss PDF, The Volta, Electronic Literature Organization Vol. 2, comma, poetry, Coconut, and others. She is currently gathering material for HANDS: a journal of poems typed & handwritten and makes chaps for Museum Of Expensive Things.
Ben Segal is the author of 78 Stories, co-author of The Wes Letters, and co-editor of the anthology The Official Catalog of the Library of Potential Literature. His chapbooks Science Fiction Pornography and Weather Days were published by Publishing Genius and Mud Luscious Press, respectively, and his short fiction has been published by Tin House, Tarpaulin Sky, Gigantic, and Puerto del Sol, among others.
Cool poem-video of “High-Fives” by Ben Mirov from his poetry collection Hider Roser, (Octopus Books). The video was directed and produced by Dan Lichtenberg:
from When Empurpled: An Elegy
Amazing how every home be a
haunted house with gables like
the deadliest of sins and witches
tied to Corinthian pillars pilasters
splintered like firewood hahaha
how my flesh be the heretic and
my body be bewitched and how I
will be the one to burn it like a
smoldering pile of embers a
moist cigarette pinched between
the lips of all loneliness O
astonishing how a leaf does fall
as does the long night moon after
the winter solstice when people
sleep in pursuit of solace of love
longevity and lowliness lowly as
those angels fallen from the
graces of God as does fall a leaf
from the canopy of our habitat
inherited from the bravest of us
human beings being human
seeking refuge in Allah from the
devil the rejected my poor
harmless child protecting you
from those who seek to have you
dead I take refuge bat at hand and
ask you O God my hearer you
mighty man near my homeland O
my thy might and thy power you
are not incapable of seeking
refuge speeding far beyond this
world in perforated lines that
from the desk of elsewhere go
and and and
dAndAnd I swear to God that we
will not forget the dead who walk
among us useless and flailing
marinating autumnal colors
crumpling beneath our feet
birthing a pattern a rhythm a
dirge for the fallen anyone of
everywhere some supportive
setback or burial of the
bloodened continues to beg for
the forgiveness of God no power
but in God no pedestrianization
but in this place this place of
overpopulation and carbon
monoxide inhaled deeper and
deeper down daintily now down
from my ancestors down the field
of fever dreams coming to
fruition flourishing amongst the
flowers the seeds of promise
planted for the sake of a
prosperous land and your
crumbling cookie eyes and your
museum mouth opening wide
wolfing down disintegrated tape
loops on holiday the most
difficult task of all so far insofar
as not yet having had the chance
to get to know any individual
having taken leave from the
crowded marketplace of the
world with this thunderous
swarm of pedestrians all about us
all everywhere and at once upon
a time in the remotest reaches of
a darkened village miles and
miles beyond where we now
stand there stood a harrowing
house with a roof steeply pitched
and cornices sated and columns
of a certain Greco variety
attempting to embody the ideal of
rationality the revival of some
fantasy and in this house there
lived and burned a homely harlot
at home with omens and without
a name O God to live and burn
without a name to bear to wear
upon one’s shoulder as if it were
a badge an expression of
nationalism of identity of the
mythical ideal of rationality of
solace of love longevity and
lowliness lowly as those angels
fallen from the graces of God but
I O I am calling off all falls from
grace and I O I will stop words of
I into stir the stirring of the
melting pot like the melting flesh
of floundering witches flailing so
uselessly amongst the flowers the
seeds of promise like the seeds of
everything I could be but
mmmmmmaybe may not be just
as be proven false cannot be
proven false just as it cannot be
proven false that every dog be a
god and every god be begotten
and every body be bewitched and
every home be a haunted house
Bio: Matt Margo is the author of the book-length poem When Empurpled: An Elegy (Pteron Press, 2013) and the poetry chapbook what i would say (Peanut Gallery Press, 2014), among other works. He edits the blog experiential-experimental-literature and the magazine Zoomoozophone Review.
It looks around after it pokes its head out and it sees that it can still make McDonald’s breakfast if it hurries.
She goes to school, she fingerpaints the universe, she responds to stimuli, she fits her responses in her lunch box, she talks like “I am embarrassed of this lunch box,” she twinkles and thinks of what a gaping asshole the future is. She does karate on a classmate, she goes home, she does karate on the darkness.
If you really want to know someone, watch how they cut meat.
“Here is my lighter. Don’t look at me, and don’t fucking hurt yourself.”
“Here is my fucking Gmail password, don’t look at me.”
“Here is my favorite book in the world, fucking read it. Don’t fucking look at me.”
“Here is my fucking full external hard drive, don’t look at me.”
She likes chicken on her salad. She hates the impermanence of lettuce. She has thoughts like, “I can feel it moving through me. My body is a level of Donkey Kong.”
“In five years, we will have at least one,” she said. Then, five years later, we had a squirming, sloppy little child. He swam out of her backwards, which made me nervous. When he dropped into the doctor’s thinly latexed fingers, I choked on my spit and coughed, trying to struggle out that I loved him.
The doctors wiped grayness from the Tonka toy of a man. I felt, for whatever splash of seconds fucking minutes, that he would be the one thing that would not drag or be dragged through it all. I thought of my own undoing, the way I look at myself in the mirror now and consider myself as a piece of gutted history, a product, phallic, a fuck ton of haircuts.
Someone will eventually say, “I remember when this was a Denny’s,” and everyone will feel like they’ve been shoved.
Bio: Bryan Coffelt lives in Portland, OR. These pieces are from an as-of-yet-untitled book that is forthcoming from sunnyoutside press.
Her Space Circle(s)
From our brief chronology of time it appears that first
he briefed his job about the current inadequacies
of forgetful behavior & lit some marijuana as he was talking
& got fired right then for speaking what words he thought were true.
It could be said he fell terribly for the roses that fell from the balcony
of her MySpace after that call. The new look of her page was like being in her.
Her space even smelled like roses & see here he scrolled forever one night, etc.,
because she had presence. Even I used to wonder specifically about spaces
& the matter that destroyed & created. Check this out.
If you look closely enough & back your eyes away from this screen
real quick you can see the trickled space of white between these words that
would allow rose petals to slowly drop between these sentences. & symbols
are space circles that can be galaxies too. That would be
a poem. This is what he saw: the absence of this Space dissolving into a million
empty catacombs. He wished upon roses built of code
because they were the only roses he would ever receive & they were
beautiful to him. This was no game that Called to Duty
it came back with a story about infinite disappearance, it was real
& empty at the same time, the same representation of bird and bee:
is there matter in the lost message to a girl from the woods?
Somewhere in space there must be this message bouncing between stars,
& after a long time the stars return with a typed story about a boy
with the world at the tips of his fingers who had brought the rose petals
that fell from the screen of her MySpace & presented them as proof
that she existed to him
Bio: Kenny Jakubas came from the inside of a little mitten under a bridge in Michigan. He graduated with honors from Western Michigan University, where he received his BA in Creative Writing. While there, his poetry and prose appeared in the literary journal ‘The Laureate’. He currently has creative non-fiction forthcoming from ‘Niche’ lit mag. Kenny lives in Kalamazoo, MI with his son and will be attending Western Michigan University’s MFA program in the Fall of 2014.
I soak a tampon in apple cider vinegar and push it up my
lavender candle, lavender candle.
people do awful things to make money in the name of entertainment.
Sea World is a fucking horrible place.
Entertain me, entertain me,
Fuck Sea World.
Are you captive in a place just a little bit larger than your body?
I fall into a very deep thought about the conditions of vanishing
in the well-lit, but not too well-lit change room.
I buy fluoride-free toothpaste because I’m trying to
activate my pineal gland.
Some people say evil people who work for powerful people
put fluoride in the water because it dumbs you down.
I am self-medicating with pure cranberries and apple cider vinegar.
I buy chocolate eggs and tea light candles.
Everyone’s tongue is pink la-la-la.
I am craving sugar so much.
I do mountain pose in yoga and kill it.
I kill that pose.
I dream that I dance with Beyonce on AstroTurf.
I kill that dream.
I dance like the best I’ve danced ever.
I sip my cell phone, mistaking it for a glass of water.
I breathe out of my ears.
Bio: Ashley Opheim (Ashley Obscura) is the author of the poetry collection I Am Here. She lives in Montreal, where she is the founding editor of Metatron and co-director of the reading series This Is Happening Whether You Like It Or Not. She can be followed on Twitter @hologramrainbow.