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.