I Am You by Marjorie Sadin

Marjorie, you bite your tongue off.
Marjorie, you eat while talking.
Marjorie, you sing like a caw.
Marjorie, you pray like a mantis.
Marjorie, you breathe like a brook.
Marjorie, you sleep like a cemetery.
Marjorie, you mourn a thousand graves.
Marjorie, you make love to a shadow.
Marjorie, you married a ghost.
Marjorie, you are in labor with a poem.
Marjorie, you live to 120.
Marjorie, you have no regrets.
Marjorie, I am your surrogate.


Marjorie Sadin is a nationally published poet. She has five books of poems in print including a full length book, Vision of Lucha about struggle and survival, love, death, and family. Recently, Marjorie published a new chapbook, In the Closet. She lives and reads her poetry in the Washington DC area.

Old Big Name by Jarrod Lacy

(For Paul Mooney, 1941-2021)

Our uncle on the idiot box has
turned off.
His was the one that loved you
but would lay that embarrassment of yours,
all and only familiar, full on the world
table to be known for all of
its casting and color right there
posing with the attention of good
food at Gran’mama’s to teach you.
He was the laughing man that
tried your nerves and garnished
your playtime with a lecture
before he bothered to gave you a quarter –
later you learn the lecture was
definitely more bankable.
Sure, you would hear his voice
thunder before you saw him whenever
he visited and dashed for some distance,
but later on when you think he’s
gone, a “Hey there, young blood, where
ya going? You don’t know nobody?”
squats on your eardrum and then
that magic finds you after one pat on
the shoulder and one more shot at how
skinny you are here comes more lectures
flowing next as advice bonding to life,
so your love can come from respecting
him outright.


Jarrod Lacy is an appreciative late bloomer and Gen-Xer from the Tennessee Valley who describes himself as a simple explanatory poet and was inspired to further his poetic explorations after hearing his 11th grade English teacher recite a poem in class. An eternal fan of strawberry ice cream and Brick Breaker-style games, he has managed to get an early number of his poems published in various publications. Currently, he’s writing one poem a day and exploring plans for his first book of poetry.

2 Poems by Rod Drought

The Cavern

Hundreds of skulls
Colored sandstone pink
Ring its great yawning mouth
They grin at your arrival
You cannot determine
If they were carved or absorbed
The one you touch crumbles
Like a parched castle
When the tide recedes

She asks for your ticket
One appears in your hand
She tells you are late
You were due long ago

You follow the wandering line
To enveloping dark
Water drips,
Detached voices
Of ones that went before
Playfully echo their inside joke
Taunting the graduating class

The time passage narrows
The chambers disorient
You relent to the catacomb
Choose to cling to the ceiling
Rather than plant to the floor
The sediment washes over
Sealed and affixed for eternity
Tour guides and believers
Marvel the slow drip of you


Collectable

Porcelain face with long, curly locks
I sported a lavender dress and handbag
I was an ornament on a shelf in her room
Encased in glass propped on a pedestal
Tied to a stand, a bloodless Jesus
They told her I was too pretty for play

She wanted me
Mother said no
Like her I was to be admired
Never touched
For years I watched from above, she
Rough with the more fortunate ones
Undone hair became tangled and wiry
Their shoes and clothes mismatched or lost
Some were naked and crayon marked
All weathered from love

I a collectable, collected dust
My finery faded in the relentless
Rising and falling of the sun
The air in my glass prison stifling and stale

She grew, her face changed, wonder lost
One day she did not come back
The favored toys and I waited in
The silent room until the morning
Her withered mother sat on
The empty bed and wept
She looked up and noticed me
For the first time

Taking me from the shelf
Dust whirling in the air
She removed me from my cage,
Untied and hugged me
She gasped when she felt my tremble

Shortly after we were tagged, displayed,
Discounted on card tables in the garage
Unsalable, we were stuffed in a garbage bag,
Hauled to this hellish place of trilling,
Frantic birds, stench, and machinery

Rain pelts the bag, we are dry in
The dark but my painted blue eyes can see
The terrified faces of the wasted ones
Pressed against my fragile tomb
I hear a demon grinding, squealing,
Creaking ever closer
Soon I will be free


Rod Drought, an ex-New Yorker, now calls Arizona his home. He has four books of poetry found on his website, droughtsthirst.com.  He has been published in many literary journals, and is co-administrator to Port of Call Poetry, an online page that supports poets worldwide.

2 Poems by John Grey

DATING THE ANTIQUE LOVER

you’re in your element
Venetian cristallo
Philippe cocktail watch

when your fingers take to
the electroplated canteen set
you’re also in an Edwardian nursery
cuddling the Jumeau bisque doll
with the long long face
or the plush Steiff teddy bear with growler

in the eagerness of your Chanel day suit
that ancient pink stone
you drop me in the present

the present can’t contain you

you join the Chinese
blanc-de-Chine Dutch family
you sit at the restoration oak refectory table

so what am I?
chopped liver?
or merely modern inconvenience?

I’m jealous of a dancing sailor
shuffling forward
at the insistence of your winding

I can’t prize you away
from the mantel clock
with the pewter face

I am flesh and blood and now

and that gets old in a hurry

but not old enough apparently


HELL’S ANGEL AT 68

Guy gets off his black motorcycle.
No helmet, long gray hair, white stubble,
leather jacket of the thousand rusty zippers,
faded eagle on the back,
pants tight enough to handle all but his gut,
strides into the diner, legs wide,
so as not to wound his crotch.,
sits up at the counter, legs spread even wider,
doesn’t bother with the menu,
orders the special with a pot of coffee,
thumbs through the newspaper
somebody left behind.

So what if it’s yesterday’s.
That’s what day it is.


John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident, recently published in Orbis, Dalhousie Review and the Round Table. Latest books, “Leaves On Pages” and “Memory Outside The Head” are available through Amazon. Work upcoming in Lana Turner and Hollins Critic.

Sensation and the Human Element by Christopher K. Coffman

All of the flowers that had been inside her torso, set free from their confines, spilled on the ground. Bright red petals fluttered across the broken glass and twisted metal, before amassing in puddles of multi-hued lubricants. In the sunlight, she stared, surprised for a moment at the crumbling blossoms, the crushed car, the glittering fluids, before leaving us with the scent of roses and the sound of wooden soles clacking.

After that day she greeted each morning with vacant features. Sometimes, kneeling by the basin, contorted with retching spasms, she watched a dark, viscous pool grow. On other days nothing came out except for a sound as of escaping air. She tried to staunch the flow, but nothing could not be pushed back by slippery fingers.

In the operating room, the entwined lines of the “Quaerendo invenietis” from Bach’s The Musical Offering flowed from her scalpel’s edge. Her mind ran backwards and forwards, chasing the notes. After removing the crab, two golf balls, and a battered copy of Breton’s Nadja, she stitched the incision, crossing one way, then the next. Not even the faintest hum of the machine could be heard when he was finished. A nurse took the tools away, for sterilization.

Later, petals dripped from a kitchen knife’s accidental revenge on the fingers of her left hand. They were scattering across the tiles, dropping into the salad bowl, and staining the marble. Where each landed, a wriggling worm grew, then sprouted wings. Soon, a swarm of butterflies pattered at the window. As the flow slowed, she reached out for the smallest of all the creatures, lifting it carefully from the air, and placed its fluttering form in her mouth. For a moment, it hung on a lip. Then she lifted her head and swallowed. Her throat moved rhythmically, her eyes seeking again the light of the stars.


Christopher K. Coffman is a member of the faculty at Boston University. He lives in Brookline, MA, with his wife, sons, cat, and dog. The author of Rewriting Early America: The Prenational Past in Postmodern Literature, Coffman has also co-edited three volumes, including William T. Vollmann: A Critical Companion and After Postmodernism: The New American Fiction. His most recently published short story appeared in the Winter–Spring 2021 issue of Gobshite Quarterly

Hands Down by Thomas Koperwas

I was only eight at the time, but I still vividly remember the sound of those prosthetic tool-hands pounding the surface of our luxury ground vehicle, bouncing off its smooth, composite skin and shiny windows like a hail of fists and fingers. The crowd of irate workers swarmed our vehicle at the gate to Dad’s tech plant, disconnecting their tool-hands, flinging them at us en masse. Every man and woman there had exchanged a real hand for a surgically implanted tool-hand, calibrated specifically for work in that plant. It was a condition of their employment.

* * * *

Dad sold their cryogenically stored organic hands to the medical market on the Q.T. and made a fortune. Then he laid the one-handed workers off.

My father was enraged at what he called their impertinence. “What right have they to protest my business decisions?” he shouted.

The next thing I knew, he’d stepped out of the vehicle to give the crowd a piece of his mind. Meanwhile, our chauffeur Richards sat at the controls of the vehicle, grinning from ear to ear. He knew the score. It was his fellow AI workers who’d replace them. They were willing to work for less and they didn’t require any expensive physical modifications.

The door to the vehicle flew open and Dad fell in, bruised and bleeding. They’d given him a piece of their minds, too. Richards gunned the vehicle across the deactivated electrical security grid. Some of the protesters managed to pursue us through the open gate, and got fried on the reactivated grid for their effort.

The incident at the plant gate gave me a valuable insight into the boundless wealth and power that would one day be mine.

I could hardly wait.


Thomas Koperwas is a retired teacher living in Windsor, Ontario, Canada who writes short stories of horror, crime, fantasy, and science fiction. His work has appeared, or is forthcoming in:AnotherealmJakob’s Horror BoxLiterally StoriesThe Literary HatchetLiterary VeganismBlood Moon Rising MagazineCorner Bar MagazineFree Bundle Magazine.

Throughway to China by Josh Sippie

Mom used to make fun of me from the kitchen window—“you digging to China?” Then she’d cackle with everyone in her bridge club like Muppets in a gallery and I’d go back to digging with my little plastic beach shovel, not meant to upend an entire manicured lawn, but doing a decent job of it. I got deep enough to hide my kneecaps. Shit of it is, dad would fill the hole in every week or so. Pack it in really tight too.

“A man needs a good lawn,” he’d say in that way that meant there was nothing else to say.

The thing is, I was digging to China. That’s where Li Zhao was, my pen pal from our third grade assignment. I wrote him every week and he wrote me back. We talked about all the cool things—mac and cheese, monster spottings, Mario’s latest rescue. He was the only one who never made fun of me.

But he stopped writing in fifth grade. So my digging took on added urgency. Clearly Li was in trouble. Or maybe his parents were even worse than mine. Or maybe he’d already dug half way and I just had to get through the other half.

“You’d have better luck sprouting wings,” Harriet, mom’s bridge club attaché, said. But I hated heights, flying, even floating. Awful. Keep my feet on the ground. I couldn’t even jump. Which ruined my dad’s plans of turning me into a professional athlete and earned me more laughter from classmates when I cried during gymnastics in PE.

Nobody laughed at me now. I had a crew, a city ordinance, the whole shebang. It was the perfect set-up. Fix a pothole. Sure, I’ll fix a pothole. But in the meantime I’ll show that aging hag and her seemingly immortal bridge club that I’ll make it all the way to fucking China through the core of the earth.

Collect call from Shanghai Ms. Butterwell, yeah, imagine her face when that happens. I am now. Her face looks kind of like this deep black hole into the earth anyway.

I mapped it out, you know. If we dig straight through from here, we’ll pop out just outside Shanghai. Li Zhao was exactly halfway across the world. Now, I haven’t figured out how to deal with the core and the mantle and all that molten mumbo jumbo, but one scoop at a time, that’s what I always told myself as a kid and that’s what I tell myself now.

“We’ve hit bedrock,” Benny tells me.

“So hit it back,” I told him.

He nodded. They don’t know what we’re doing here. I told them city wants us surveying for abnormalities. Total horseshit. So they think that’s what we’re doing, the city thinks we’re here fixing a pothole, but in reality, I’m rubbing my mom’s face in it, that decrepit witch.

When the jackhammers started up again, I reveled in the faces glaring at me, mostly wondering where I was digging and why it had taken me five weeks. I’d show them too. When I found Li Zhao, we’d go straight home. We’d upend mom’s bridge table and we’d tell her how wrong she was. About everything.


Josh Sippie lives in New York City, where he is the Director of Publishing Guidance at Gotham Writers and an Associate Editor of Uncharted Mag. When not writing, he can be found wondering why he isn’t writing. More at joshsippie.com or Twitter @sippenator101.