To Carrie Fisher— by Kim Malinowski

Were you all Princess Leia?
Was it really you in metal bikini
AND General’s uniform?
You knew my path—
I have wandered it seeing your carved initials,
as I am traipsing behind.

We both had our pills.
That yellow one, the two reds, that fucking Xanax
that falls into the passenger seat every Monday in traffic.
I don’t get to shove people that joke about first days, up, down, off
medications out of an airlock.
We both know that third days are a bitch.
You knew that with all those fuck yous and middle fingers.
Let the camera see fake strength, attitude,
hide the carrying-on strength.

I want to embrace the hydrosteel armor,
strap on my lightsaber but know to have a blaster at my side.
I want to sit with you on the Millennium Falcon.
Chat about our medications literally killing us—and us letting them.
We’d joke about Lithium, and that damned—blessed Xanax,
and still you died with medicated breath.
It happens.
It will happen to me.
Isn’t that what makes life pulse—all electricity crinkling spine
even when slugged on couch?

Metal bikinis avert eyes from eyes.
If I looked, right at that flash,
would those eyes be mine?
Would you know how my story ends?
Would you hum some space melody and wink?

Say—Kim, this is how it is.
We fucking live this shit.
And then we tell other people to live with this shit.
But we fucking show them how.

Kim Malinowski is a lover of words. Her poetry collection Home was published by Kelsay Books and her chapbook Death: A Love Story was published by Flutter Press. Her work has appeared in Mookychick, BLUEPEPPER, Illumen, Gone Lawn, Enchanted Conversation, Enchanted Living, and others. She writes because the alternative is unthinkable.

Christ at the Comedy Store by Andre F. Peltier

On Sunset Boulevard,
the party never stopped.
No one slept;
no one took a cat nap
in the shadows.
No one nodded off
behind the dumpsters
in acerbic alleyways
behind the Garden of Allah.
Night clubs were packed
at all hours.
Into this scene strolled
the living Christ,
returning to save the souls
of the Strip.
He played The Whiskey,
The Roxy, The London Fog
into the wee hours of the night,
but at The Comedy Store,
He found his niche.
The crowd enjoyed
His new material,
comments on Gerald Ford
falling down and James L. Buckley
falling up.
Backstage, with Robin Williams
and Sam Kinison,
he performed new tricks.
His Miracle of the Baking Soda
kept everyone wired for hours.
He fed hundreds
with a single caquelon on fondue
and a glass of shrimp cocktail.
By 1982, Pauly Shore was
washing His feet with
those curly locks;
he was the weasel
through and through.
By the mid-80s,
His old standards
brought down the house.
Two thousand years ago,
the Beatitudes seemed
so earnest,
but now,
in the midst of Reaganomics,
they were just absurd,
and people rolled on the floor,
turning their other ass-cheek
over and over and over.
“The meek shall inherit
the Earth,” He said.
It was hilarious.
Even Barabbas,
in the shadows at a back table
nursing a Rusty Nail,
chuckled a bit.
What’s the deal with
peacemakers?” He asked.
They fell out of their seats.
Other nights, he opened with
the old stand-by
“Render unto Caesar.”
Oh, how they howled
as they found their
tax loopholes.
“If you cast
The first stone…”
He said,
“…You might be a

Andre F. Peltier (he/him) is a Lecturer III at Eastern Michigan University where he teaches literature and writing. He lives in Ypsilanti, MI, with his wife and children. His poetry has recently appeared in various publications like CP Quarterly, Lothlorien Poetry Journal, Version 9 Magazine, About Place, Novus Review, Wingless Dreamer, and Fahmidan Journal, and most recently he has had a poem accepted by Lavender and Lime Literary. In his free time, he obsesses over soccer and comic books.
Twitter: @aandrefpeltier

Visual Art by K.G. Ricci

Random Thoughts in the Waiting Room

K.G. Ricci has spent most of his time in New York City where he currently lives and works.  It has only been the last five years that he has devoted himself to the creation of his collage panels.  Though not formally trained, Ken worked in the art department at the Strand Bookstore during his student years and it was there that he familiarized himself with the works of his favorite artists, including Bearden, di Chirico and Tooker.  After a career in the music business and a decade of teaching in NYC schools, Ken began creating his own original artwork in earnest.

Susie Left Home at Age 14 by Quinn Crook

Susie left home at age fourteen. The moon hung in the sky like a lightbulb, shattering the darkness, when it wasn’t flickering out behind the rolling storm clouds. The light poured down until it pooled on the two-story townhouse on the corner of Newton Avenue. It was happy once, but now it was covered in a thick black ooze, staining the brick, like a prick and poke tattoo made into their own soft skin.

It wasn’t that Susie never believed Mama, but she would just tell Susie that she was clumsy or that the wine stains on the skin, which burned like the kisses of a drunk devil, were the signs of love from the ooze. The ooze had not always been this way, in fact when it first came into the house; the ooze seemed kind. Then the pain started. The ooze liked the pain. It had latched itself onto Mama, draining her so that it could feed. Susie was not stupid. She knew. She always knew when the ooze would stagger into the house, knocking over everything in sight as it leaked and slobbered, leaving its thick black sludge on everything it touched.

Susie had learned how to hide her marks from the ooze. It had become a game. The ooze would always soothe Mama after its attacks. It was a form of self-preservation, ensuring the food was never gone for long. Susie was never sure what she was protecting, but she found a way to bring it back to Mama. At school, Susie only thought of Mama. She only wanted Mama to be safe. “I tripped, Mr. Harper,” Susie said. It was an answer that was robotic and vacant, and even to her own ears, it sounded hollow, echoing back in her head like a scream. She knew the teacher meant well, but this inquisition had to end. She could not give an answer that would get Mama hurt. “I’m so clumsy.” Susie looked down on her arm, watching a slow trail of black ooze dripped off her skin, plummeting down onto the floor, pooling under her shoes.

As the black ooze pooled under her shoes, Susie knew.

It was all a lie.

There was a mark on both of them. A stain and there was only one way to ensure that everything would end. There was only one way to stop the ooze from hurting them once and for all. The idea started as a match in the dark, slowly growing, flickering, gasping for air to ensure that the flame feed enough to become a spark.

The scene in her head of the ooze engulfed in flame was lovely. It became an image of a spark on that oil black stain of the ooze, and soon the idea engulfed her. As the sun sank under the horizon, the idea was carried to full term, just waiting to be born into the world.

Susie left home at age fourteen, the flames from the bedroom that the ooze and Mama shared lapped into the sky. She had tears in her eyes as she called the emergency number. “I need to report a fire,” Susie said. Getting onto the bus, she hung up the phone. As the bus pulled away from the station, she could no longer hear the screams.

Quinn Crook  (they/them) is an autistic, nonbinary writer. Their work has been published in Sledgehammer Lit, Warp 10, and Celestine Magazine. They can often be found haunting local coffee shops in their quest to drink the world’s best latte.

My birthday wish by Andy Graber

What happened to everyone at my birthday party? Where am I and who in the world are you? No need to worry Craig, you are in good hands with us. What are you talking about, and what is your name? My name is irrelevant, and I just want you to think very hard right now so maybe you yourself can figure out this puzzle Craig. I want you to picture yourself at your birthday party, and I want you to try and remember what you wished for when you blew out all of your birthday candles.
Can you do that for me right now Craig? Alright, I can do that. I remember that I kept my birthday wish a secret from everyone at my birthday party. Now tell me what you wished for Craig? I wished that I could become a mosquito so I could get back at all of the kids that picked on me in my classroom.
Ok, now we are getting somewhere Craig. Please go on and tell me more. Well, the day after my birthday party, I went to school and I heard my teacher call out my name for attendance. I heard her call out my name but I couldn’t respond to her. My teacher called out my name one more time, but I couldn’t tell her that I was there. Now why do you think that you couldn’t answer your teacher Craig? I guess because I was a mosquito and I was invisible to her.
Now we are getting closer to solving your current situation.
Please go on Craig and tell me what happened next.
I remember that I took out all of my anger and I started biting all of the kids that used to pick on me. After a few minutes, I do remember that I felt so bloated. What happened after that Craig?
I threw up so that I could make room in my stomach to bite some more of their bodies. I wanted to bite them a few more times so that the next day they would be itching and scratching their itchy bite marks. So I flew around and started to bite each one of them at least four more times.
After that, I remember feeling very sick and nauseous.
What happened next after that Craig? Well, I flew up to the ceiling and I took a nice catnap up there. Then, when I finally woke up, everyone was gone. I looked at the clock in my classroom and it was already four o’clock in the afternoon. What happened next Craig? Well, I flew down from the ceiling and I just wanted to sit in my regular seat for a few minutes.
Then what happened Craig?
I started to fly from my seat and I couldn’t fly anymore.
I felt like I was caught in some type of trap. Now are things becoming much more clearer to you now Craig? What happened next Craig?
I was trying to escape this trap but to no avail. I then stopped struggling and I took a nap. Then what happened next Craig? I woke up and I turned my head and I noticed that a spider was coming my way. Now do you understand what had happened to you in your classroom Craig?
Oh my goodness, I guess that spider ate me. So does that mean that this place that I am in right now is heaven?
Let’s just say that you are in good hands, as I then began to notice this huge smirk on his face that made me feel that perhaps this place was not heaven.

Besides writing, Andy likes to sing and he also likes to create different types of artwork.