Scene from The Monster House by Kate H. Koch

Katie J. and I could only ride our bikes down the length of the alley, and as we passed each garage we searched for magic on our street. We decided that fairies held meetings in the dimpled flaws on the neighbor’s blacktop at night. And the cherry red Volvo in the one-car garage belonged to a secret movie star. But by far, our favorite mystery lay in the Monster House. Its broken windows and peeling paint hid behind a tangle of lilac bushes that formed a dark canopy over the driveway. When the sun was highest in the sky, Katie and I would dare each other to venture up to the garage. From the alley, we could see the objects pressed against its windows. Jumper cables. Fabric scraps. Wet paper bags. Fishing bait. When we squinted through the glass, we saw faces in the loops of rope and butcher’s twine on the floor. One June midnight, The Monster stood under a ring of smoke choked lilacs. When our eyes met, he grinned, and crushed his dying cigarette over a fallen flower petal.


Kate H. Koch has synesthesia, which means every sound flashes as a color before her eyes. Her vivid condition inspires her to seek the magic in everyday things, and this has helped her during her time as a graduate student at Harvard Extension School, where she is pursuing an ALM degree in Creative Writing and Literature. Kate is fascinated by all things macabre, and you can find her work in The Metaworker Literary Magazine, Club Plum Literary Journal, and Z Publishing House’s Minnesota’s Best Emerging Poets of 2019: An Anthology.

Donna by Cat Dixon

While fishing, men find the red, orange, and green
striped shirt and brown ring. Another search
will reveal nothing. There may be something
else to find, but it isn’t here. She has
evaporated into the clouds, transformed 
into the woman who travels free without
a glance behind, without itinerary. This raindrop 
that splatters the shoulder, this black feather
caught in a fence, this dandelion 
that you would’ve poisoned or picked, 
all carry her spells. She’s left the stream
and found her way out of hell.


Cat Dixon is the author of Eva and Too Heavy to Carry (Stephen F. Austin University Press, 2016, 2014) and The Book of Levinson and Our End Has Brought the Spring (Finishing Line Press, 2017, 2015), and the chapbook, Table for Two (Poet’s Haven, 2019). Recent poems have appeared in LandLockedAnti-Heroine Chic, and Abyss & Apex. She is a poetry editor at The Good Life Review.

Spores by Teresa Douglas

The black bile of your anger coats my kitchen table, sticky residue of our final argument. It clings to me, releasing spores, growing evicera. A lattice of your intestines on the coat of the man I met on Tinder. A tiny colony of spongy spleen hanging delicately from a barista’s beard. Everywhere. A fleshly prison, forcing me to peer at the world through the angry filter of you.


Teresa Douglas is a Mexican-American writer living in Vancouver BC. She has an MFA in Fiction from Sarah Lawrence College. Her work has appeared in P.S. I Love You and is forthcoming from Adelaide Magazine.

THIS NEWS WE GET by John Grey

I’ve seen the news you’re talking about,
someone kicked off a reality show,
a diva’s third divorce this year,
a star, long past her prime,
arrested in Beverly Hills for shoplifting.
No wars, no terrorists, no famines,
no ghettoes, no murders
unless a rap star did the shooting.
None of what I know as news.
And yet, that’s news for somebody.
And that somebody is most of us.
And maybe that’s the real news here.


John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident, recently published in Orbis, Dalhousie Review and Connecticut River Review. Latest book, “Leaves On Pages” is available through Amazon.

Aesthetic // Distance by Lauren Busser

(in response to the Dutch Coronavirus Riots January 2021)

It doesn’t look real
Bold color and lights
a glossy veneer.
Peaceful, soft light
warm and inviting
next to police
in moto jackets
and helmets.
Cars are on fire,
mannequins lay
in the street.
People watch
in boxes with stone
and brick borders.
Damage is framed as art
to be aesthetically pleasing
worth of showcase,
easy to digest.
Almost like a movie set.


Lauren Busser is a writer of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. She is currently a graduate student at NYU where she’s pursuing her master’s in Integrated Digital Media and an Associate Editor at Tell-Tale TV. She has won multiple awards for her writing from the Connecticut Press Club. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Best Small FictionsStarTrek.com, Litro, Menacing Hedge, Cotton Xenomorph, Popshot Quarterly, Cease, Cows, Mineral Lit Mag, and others. She tweets at @LaurenBusser and shares photos of dogs, knitted objects, books, and baked goods at @madamedefarge on Instagram. You can find more of her work at laurenbusser.com.

SHACKLES by Iwuagwu Ikechukwu

The young bard – I

The boulevard of all mortals herein, these prancing soles kissed; clad in agility

for a score, quadruple times perhaps –

Our wishes wrestle with que sera, sera

My cranium enshrouds a debate, of the anvil and hammer- ad infinitum, a dance of life’s intricacies. Grotesque its entrails, pretty, its robe. The mind wanders nevertheless in feline prances. Muffle those myopic lids for this distant tour…

A decade,

The breath is a decaying cotyledon, wrestling mother earth’s rind. Chimney puffing curiosity and vigour. Paradise is hell to these souls

A score,

Exuberance escapes active pores, sexual tension to tame like ibexes on heat. Juxtapositions of varying degrees prostrate for discernment. Unchained a little. Sneak peek at freedom, slavery to religious, ethnic, tribal and societal dictates – initiation

Two scores and five,

A dire desire, flaming up a charted path to turn the hands of time, maybe. Lores descend like concentrates. Expectations mount the apex like snipers – of nuptial, of loin fruits, of stability. The flame transforms against the sunrise and sunset into palls of ash.

Three scores and a decade,

Regrets wrestle reality. Responsibilities had rode and worn out the rear like medieval knights, yoked to a tryst to reputation unending. The epilogue draws nigh from the horizon. The curtain could be drawn …

Four scores and ten,

Biceps enfeebled, freedom is slavery, the reaper – an aide, set to take a swipe following fate’s flimsy fantasy. Life, like Trey songz replay becomes a montâge; oil on canvas…


Iwuagwu Ikechukwu is an African poet, essayist, screenwriter, budding dramatist and graduate of English and Literary studies.  His poems won the Poetry Nook weekly contest and got an honourable mention respectively, published in the fifth paperback edition of the Poetry Nook anthology, available on amazon. His short story “Five Shades of Victory” was awarded an honourable mention in the IHRAF Creators of Justice award in New York – 2020 edition, His works have been published in The Shallow Tales Review, Black Boy Review, Talk Afro Magazine & Ka’edi Africa (Nigeria), Jalada Anthology: Nostalgia issue (Kenya), Afro Sci-Fi Series, About Place Journal, Flora Fiction, Fumble Magazine, Good Cop/Bad Cop: An Anthology from flower song Press (USA),  Dissonance Magazine (UK) and Orange Blush Zine (Malaysia). A foodie and lover of the Igbo culture, amongst his hobbies are researching, writing, studying, reading of African literature as well as engaging in creative and thought provoking arguments.

2 Poems by Liza Wolff-Francis

Dear Fire

When I was eighteen, I watched
a warehouse in Atlanta burn
while people hosed down their houses,
praying you wouldn’t come close enough
to steal them away. Now, a candle
beside me flickers in the dark
like a stutter in speech,
like you are saying something profound
about darkness and all you speak of is light.

If I write about all the fire I have known
I might make you jealous, or make you
ashamed. Hell, maybe I’m reading
you wrong, maybe you would feel proud.

When I feel your burn on my fingers,
I remember the hot marshmallow skewer
gleaming over a campfire in Colorado,
where the camp host schooled us about wildfires
and unobserved rules, we were full
up quick of remorse, doused you fast.
Trying to prevent the blaze of Colorado,
of California, of Oregon,
sky lit up like a performance of sun,
the sun hiding in plain sight,
a misshapen ball rising and sinking,
empty of its shine. This must be
like the death of all of us,
a warning in the sky.

Fire, I saw you two weeks ago,
burning in the mountains
like an angry lover after
a fight with lightning,
unleashing your venom
against your children, the animals, the air.
I watch, wait, hope you remember
you don’t have to rage,
you can also be
a small light in the dark.


Bug goddess

You should see the bug goddess.
She plays a clock that has been
cut in half as if it were a harp,

strums it like the trance
of water pouring. All swords
thrown at her miss her heart.

She catches them with her wings,
balances them on threads.
Her fractal stare holds

constellations of unassuming
faces. Her stick-like arms,
bony green legs, she perches

as tree, orbits a bounty
of fruit. She circles
the heart of the wild.

Read her palm: will you be
the taker of her nectar
or the giver of your own?


Liza Wolff-Francis is a poet and writer with an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Goddard College who served two terms as a member of the Albuquerque Poet Laureate Program’s Selection Committee and continues on the organizing committee. She was chosen to write in Tupelo Press’ 30/30 poetry challenge for the month of September 2020. She was co-director for the 2014 Austin International Poetry Festival and was on the 2008 Albuquerque Poetry Slam Team. Her writing has been widely anthologized and her work has most recently appeared in the magazine El Palacio: Art, History, and Culture of the Southwest, Steam Ticket, We’Moon, among others. She has a chapbook out called Language of Crossing (Swimming with Elephant Publications, 2015) and she blogs to support mental health through writing at Writeyourbutterfly.com.

Visual Art by Claudio Parentela


Born in Catanzaro (1962-Italy) where he lives and works…Claudio Parentela is an illustrator, painter, digital painter, photographer, mail artist, cartoonist, collagist, textile artist, journalist free lance…Active since many years in the international contemporary art scene. He has collaborated & he collaborates with many, many zines, magazines of contemporary art, literary and of comics in Italy and in the world…& on the paper and on the web…some name amongst the many: NYArtsMagazine,Turntable & Blue Light Magazine, Komix, LitChaos, Why Vandalism, Thieves Jargon, 180 Mag, and Braintwisting.

Website: https://ilrattobavoso.altervista.org/
Art blog: http://theextrafinger.blogspot.com

3 Poems by Nate Maxson

Tower Of Babel

The scientific theory of ghosts
Isn’t what you think it is
It’s much more simple actually
To make a house haunted
You just repeatedly say, that it’s haunted
And wait
It’s a kind of measurement, not too complicated if you make sure not too look too closely
Like the iron bars in France they kept in a vault to make sure there was no question about how big a meter was
Only one true measurement, it stayed like that for a while, after an attempt at standardization
How far do you think it is though? If you were to squint…
Can you see the land on the other side of this vast water?
How many, hand over foot, rods of iron would it take to cross the landscape?
Iron and salt in a circle around one’s bed to keep out witches
When revolutionary French scientists decided this was the measurement, their answer to, “how do we know?” was, “because this is the measurement and we only had to question it once.”
Or, while we’re engaging in classical mathematics, how much iron do you think resides in the bloodstream?
Not enough, not enough
The function of spirit in time, all magic being stage magic if you’re not careful
It’s Clarke’s third law in reverse,
How we’re trained to pray in the archaic familiar, thy kingdom come, never you or yours
I’ve whispered the attempt into the architecture, into the foundation of the structure, this is what you do, to make a ghost, you speak its name
And then you let the world encase it, the eggshell grown over soft yolk
This is a birth-story, like the kind the women humblebrag while tallying one other’s wounds by hand
How we’re trained to ask without expecting an answer:
What came first?
The world or the stone?


Hale-Bopp Comet, 1997

The comet was visible in the sky for about 18 months but I only remember seeing it one time
It was the same night our dog had killed a pregnant rabbit in the back yard, its half formed kittens spun across the concrete driveway, black objects in the suburban blue glow, my mother put her hands over my eyes but I’d already seen, among other things, the sky

It’s so quiet during astrological phenomena, the eclipse of 2017 was the same way, the birds
think it’s the night time and stop their singing
How quiet things were for a while there
I think about that, a lot now
Some trick of nostalgia, an optical illusion
The result of being so young
The pause between centuries, like how the sunsets following the eruption of Krakatoa were
especially vivid for years afterwards, for the whole gilded age and the fin de siècle, even
appearing in such works of art as Munch’s “The Scream” and the landscapes of William Turner,
orange fires on the horizon

The pre modern quiet
The primitive peace, whole empires of boredom and irony
Those born into it think such a stillness of wind will last forever

If anyone ever asks me what the days between days were like
I’d say,
If I can still remember

The blinking surprise of walking out of a movie theater into a daylight that seems sharp enough to cut,
And those places in the mountains where the snow doesn’t melt


Relativity

It’s like this: I’m eight years old and being thrown into the swimming pool, hoisted by a shadowy, sunblock scented figure
Into the air, the terror I feel in that moment before I hit the water is my first taste of reality since being born
In such moments something flashes like a thunderstorm before the eyes

What do you see when you’re falling?
Does it let you see it at the end?
Maybe like so?

Picture Napoleon writing his own version of the Koran by candlelight in a tent somewhere inside the Russian winter
A violet he took from the Ukrainian Wild Fields when he passed through is pressed between the pages of an earlier draft
I hear him pushing the quill, tattoo deep, into the fat of my back
The common night terror of a man sitting on your chest

Time stretched like a rubber band, all potential energy

I am in an arsenic-wallpapered room far underground, the aftermath of a burial-quake
There are mud dauber wasps in the walls, I can tell from the hum
They are building me
A palace without light
For when my life begins

It’s the unremarkable fünf that comes of lighting a gas stove with a match, the German word for five like the fingers on a hand
Someone told me I’m still falling
Towards the chlorine blue
The band snapping back forever
Like this
All time
Is one time
In one time
You’ll understand
When it’s too late
This object in my hands
A melody,
A clock I’m trying to wind without having the key
So one thinks of cutting open the mechanism,
Thinks of leaving,
Bare into the wood

Is this what you call
A celestial body?
Letters burnt in Arabic and French
Still holding my breath
The water rushing in like a human shipwreck


Nate Maxson is a writer and performance artist. The author of several collections of poetry, he lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Grounded by Michael V. Reisinger

There, along the old, worn wooden planks of the table, she was spread out.
Glucose started to slow its circulation from deep within. Click…Clack…With the snipping came such intense pulses of pain. They continued, until the sharp waves were so overwhelming that nothing could be felt from below the waist.

She lay on her side. Maybe all could be forgiven of this obsessive creature, mangling and digging away at the speed of light. Not believing she would live through the day, she squirmed inside, almost forgetting the dismal existence of her previous home, where she was trapped on all sides, bound in dry clay, and her once long, supple ends split- dried and flaked away. Through five flowering seasons, she went on untouched and unchanged, until finally arriving at the conclusion that she must be completely invisible.

A turn and balance upright, with a little wobble from side to side, and she was in her new home now, with much less of her to spread, yet there was much more space. She could feel the air tingling its way through the crevices down, onto her freshly torn flesh. But the nutrients were now all around, packing themselves in and settling. She hardly noticed the shifting sun’s rays topside.

A sudden splash of spritzer sprayed down her trunk, causing her fronds to stand up, perky. Her flesh began to feel anew as the specks of dust, that were caked on and gradually accumulated into a choking film, eroded away. She felt the cool rush run through her body. How refreshing! The pores opened up like spring buds. Even the toxins floating in the air never tasted so good.

She found herself floating, lightless, with a lifting from below, and being hovered like a bird, but knowing she was well grounded. The motion ceased and there she sat, adorned by the warm glow of the east facing window wall, which only exaggerated her beautifully frayed outline. The warmth set her backside ablaze and the still sense of belonging came from all around.


M. V. Reisinger resides in Southern Colorado’s San Luis Valley with his wife, 2 dogs, and a houseplant jungle, where he is currently taking a break from teaching writing and literature to focus on sharing his writing. He holds a Masters degree in Literacy from Regis University in Denver, Colorado and earned a BA from Northern Arizona University with a minor in creative writing while writing for Lumberjack News in Flagstaff, Arizona.