A Poem by Hayley McCullough

There was a poem I wrote once
But its name escapes me.
My words that danced
In plaid skirts and linen trousers
Are nothing
But dark smears across my vision,
Blocking what I have already seen from view.
They make the world quite unpleasant to look at.

I have tried to rewrite
The tone, the meaning, the cadence,
The sheer malice
Back into the world of the known
Back into an existence of paper and ink
But with each stroke of my pen
My fingers crack and bleed.
And the pages rot into petals,
Cluttering the ground with distraction.
I fear I will drown in their quantity.

And now I have another poem
That will eventually fade from my memory…
But there was a poem I wrote once…
Its name escapes me.


With each passing day, Hayley McCullough becomes more convinced they are actually a brain in a jar. 

3 Poems by Katrina Kaye

In Your Car at 4am on a Thursday night

The awkwardness of the steering
wheel presses against thighs
as if to balance the round world
between my legs. You were shy smiles
and lowered eyes and I, in the brave
cover of darkness, looked at you longer
when you were looking away.

We were riding crashing waves,
horses stomping though shoreline,
sand left upturned,
and it was no secret
I liked your hand on my knee.

Windows slowly mist with
the heat of conversation,
tongues slip fast over sermons.
At some point we forgot how to breathe.
We were already removed from the pack,
paired off, claimed.

There was no future
on that downtown street,
Only moment, only want,
and the knowledge of your
middle name meant
everything to me.

I want to feel that again
the surge of emotion,
a force of transcendence,
strength, freedom.

I grew past parked cars in empty lots.
Arms no longer tempt, only secure,
hold down, hold back.
I may have stopped curling my toes for you
but there is still a rip torn into lifeline.

A memory healed over,
but a scar remains.

To be child again,
to bleed abandon and
release quickening howl,
in your car, enraptured
all over you.


Bone Collector

She pieces together
a puzzle at a time.

A shard, humerus,
stretch of femur,

attempting to construct
fierce outline.

She collects broken dolls
with missing parts,

recreating what was
left to decay.

Eyes may fit better
in different sockets,

the porcelain doesn’t
always shine until

it’s cracked. She
takes her time.

Once the bones align,
the flesh can grow,

roped veins,
threaded muscles,

covering the white
of bone,

creating life,
a strength, a purpose.

With the patience
of glass, she draws

fine lips and outlines
the lashes of eyes.

Collector of dead things,
you hold the foresight

to see what could be,
once our construction

is complete.


Halfway

Old friends,
twice lovers,
now just two people
who cameo each other’s lives.
Little in common between
the two of us these days.

You are still the artist,
ever drawing the pictures
from the webbing in your mind.
You teach now and sell work on line,
occasionally making a charitable donation
to those victimized by mother nature’s glance.

I am still a writer
and I still scrawl poetry
on bath walls and alley ways.
People have never paid for my verse,
but that never stopped me.
I make my living listening to sad stories
behind the desk of a doctor’s office.
I am simple,
I am satisfied.

You didn’t mention her once
in the sixteen hours we spent together,
and I didn’t ask. That is not why we met
at that hotel room, halfway between my
New Mexican sky and your New Orleans night.

We fumbled, despite familiarity
and found ourselves in bed eager for
the intimacy we shared one summer four years ago,
eager for the comfort of a friend.
I awoke not to your terrible dreams,
but to you sitting up in bed,
sketching my still form.

Upon my movements,
you kissed me still and we made love again,
eager in the hours of the morning.
You awoke not to my impatient concern
but to the sound of me writing
and kissed my shoulder blades until I slipped back
to your side.

Our time was small,
secure and entirely necessary.


Katrina Kaye is a writer and educator living in Albuquerque, NM. She is seeking an audience for her ever-growing surplus of poetic meanderings. Find her hoard of previously published writing on her website: ironandsulfur.com. She is grateful to anyone who reads her work and in awe of those willing to share it.

The Wedding Feast by Amber Bradbury

He tried not to notice
how the priest licked his lips,
how often he wiped his palms,
mistook the trembling for age
as he eyed his new bride.

Outside the church women snatched,
at her bouquet, grabbed gerberas,
caught petals that bruised in their fists.

‘Say cheese.’
And he swore that he heard
over the peal of bells
the grinding of teeth
behind those white smiles.

Nobody touched the starters.
Iceberg wilted, eyes rolled wild.
‘Well let’s eat,’ said his bride,
raised her glass in a toast
that never reached her lips.

Someone slit her stomach
with the knife for the cake,
handed out coiled rings of intestines
portioned up on Royal Doulton plates.

His mother-in-law dug a finger
into one glittered socket, sucked
an eyeball like a sugared almond.

The children hid under tables
gnawed a bone, licked their hands
then wrapped themselves up
in the bloodied wedding dress and slept.

Once the guests had been fed
stomachs swollen, cummerbunds bulged,
they made for the dancefloor
slipped off their shoes,
left footprints in red.

His best man handed him a napkin
dripped blood on his tie,
felt the warm weight
from his wife’s cooling heart
and pondered the hours since
‘death do us part.’


Amber Bradbury is currently studying for a BA in Creative Writing and English Literature with the Open University. She is also working on compiling her first chapbook and a collection of short stories. Her first flash fiction story, ‘Waiting for the Snow’, was featured in Litro magazine and her first piece of poetry, ‘Bluebeard’s Wife,’ will be published in September’s issue of Carmina magazine.

2 Poems by Elyse Jancosko

Broken Pedals

It’s blueberry pie that I made 
and tossed off the balcony
hot into the dumpster.

It’s ice cream 
passed between scoops,
never a bowl home.
Bloody annoying

curves in the road. It’s a wreck, 
a bicyclist she ran into a wall, 
flat on the sidewalk, 
legs curled against her chest. 

It’s the fetal position,
we all came out crying. 

Ambulance firetrucks 
gawkers. I saw them 
wheel out a gurney. 
It’s a black steel frame,

white cushions. It’s the 
cushions that held her. 

I rode my bike right by
thinking about a dandelion 
puff that I blew when I 
was six. I made a wish. 

My pedals kept me going. 
For just a moment,
I thought about dying 
women everywhere.


Uprooting

Carp experts say 
all goldfish are actually invasive
carp that have traveled 
 
from afar to become people’s pets. 
When dumped into ponds, 
they grow, unlimited 
 
by a fishbowl. 
Native plants simply cannot establish 
roots in those ponds. 
 
Someone 
caught a four-pound goldfish 
of which I saw a photo: 
an orange-scaled football 
 
carefully cradled
by a local fisherman. 
 
A carp that simply 
could not establish 
roots as a pet.
 
A scientist looked 
at its inner ear bone 
under a microscope 
 
to count its growth rings.
Has it reached its
potential? 
 
Did it know 
it was discarded? 
 
I for one don’t feel
sorry for that pond’s fate.
 
Source: Football-size Goldfish Found in a Minnesota Lake


Elyse Jancosko was born and raised in a small town hidden in the Appalachians. She studies theopoetics and conducts poetry therapy and expressive writing groups in Denver where she lives and works.

2 Poems by Jason Melvin

A proper burial

you ended up on my bookshelf
tiny urn in an over-sized jewelry box
stuck in a library man cave
no bigger than a closet
between Lehane and Palahniuk
between mystery and satire
I don’t know where to place you
but I do know you weren’t much of a reader
My wife has seen too many Hollywood pratfalls
and fears you will end up in the Shop-vac
if displayed

there’s a chair in there
nothing fancy
one fifth of an unused kitchen set
I see you sitting in it
when I peek through the cracked door
and the moonlight from the lone window spills in
but not all of you
just where light would touch
most of you rests at home
with your wife and kids
some of you is with mom
I’m not sure where they put you
I doubt it was a bookshelf


Where the grass grows higher

stationary
the grass grows
wraps around my legs
squeezes my hips
slashes across my chest
scarfs around my neck
restricts airflow
covers my eyes, ears, nose
enters my mouth
like floss between my teeth
my tongue fights, loses
mounds of dirt form
cover my feet
wildflowers
sprout out of my armpits
parents tell their children to stay away
something could be living in there
thorns replace my fingernails
earthworms and grubs tickle my toes
parents tell their children to stay away
There might be something living in there

There isn’t


Jason Melvin is a father, husband, grandfather, high school soccer coach, and metals processing center supervisor, who lives just north of Pittsburgh. Most of his poems come to him while riding his lawnmower around the yard. His work has recently appeared in Rat’s Ass Review, Kitchen Sink Magazine, The Electric Rail, The Front Porch Review, Shambles, Spillover, Olney, Last Leaves, and Zero Readers, among others.