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.

GO FOR THE BALLS by John Tustin

When she got really mad at me
Her hands would gnarl into claws
And she’d go for the balls.
Every time.
She’d start by scratching at my neck
Or my arms
But then, once I began to protect myself,
She’d try to grab my balls and twist.
She thought she had them figuratively
And then she wanted them literally.
I once got eczema on my neck
That began as a cut from one of her attacks.

Some of my sleights were real, some perceived
But over and over
It would end with her tearing at my balls
Like a woman possessed.
No woman did that to me before
And none have since.
I felt quite lucky she never got my balls
Until I realized
I got out of there with my balls
And my dignity intact but
She got everything else.


John Tustin’s poetry has appeared in many disparate literary journals since 2009. fritzware.com/johntustinpoetry contains links to his published poetry online

Your Name by Leslie Dianne

You name had
too many consonants
all scrunched up together
robbing each other of space
still trying to figure out where they
belonged after so many years
of fighting each other
your name had to be said
all at once
in a rush
there was no slow
rolling of your sound
through me
instead it was sharp
and razor edged
and every time I said
your name I
bled consonants
and healed the wounds
with vowel stained rage


Leslie Dianne is a poet, novelist, screenwriter, playwright and performer whose work has been acclaimed internationally in places such as the Harrogate Fringe Festival in Great Britain, The International Arts Festival in Tuscany, Italy and at La Mama in New York City. Her stage plays have been produced in NYC at The American Theater of Actors, The Raw Space, The Puerto Rican Traveling Theater and The Lamb’s Theater.  She holds a BA in French Literature from CUNY and her poems have appeared in The Lake, Ghost City Review, The Literary Yard, About Place Journal and Kairos andare forthcoming in Hawai’i Review. Her poetry was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize.