The Devil of Uneasiness by Jeffrey Letterly

There is a world where it never stops
raining and it’s this one fallen
leaves cardboard boxes and piles
of newspapers disintegrate before
our eyes what do dry church bells
sound like if I ever knew
I have forgotten birds try
to reassemble waterlogged nests
squirrels tire of digging when everything
below drenched grass is mud
how did I ever get to sleep
stay asleep when it was
just crickets if I ever knew I have
forgotten now there’s a ceiling drip
in the kitchen storms leaking
through the shingles and rafters
slipping around aching joints what
is a windshield view free
of wiper action what does it
feel like to have sunlight
evaporate the backyard
if I ever knew I have forgotten
and if this house must now be
a boat I don’t know how
to steer it to guide it through
rocky rapids and I don’t know
a damn thing about nautical charts.

Jeffrey Letterly is a composer and multi-disciplined performer. He was born and raised in the heartland of the Midwest and now resides in Syracuse, NY. His poetry can be found in Atticus Review, Bird Brained Zine Anthology, Clackamas Literary Review, and The Comstock Review.

Chinos by James W. Reynolds

Now this is progress.
The trash trucks are new
crisp and clean.
I can see my silver reflection
deep inside the battleship gray panel
protecting the womb where the waste is crushed.

This speaks well of my city –
removing the rust belt that trapped it
inside grungy jeans covered with coal dust.
The city can now put on a nice pair of chinos
and reasonably hope the beige stays clean.

The trucks glide to a tuneful stop
and the refuse managers emerge from the cranium
in crisp clean battleship gray uniforms.
They tenderly lift the comatose
larva-like addicts and homeless
and gently place them in the womb.

James W. Reynolds lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.  His work has previously been published in Blue Lake Review, Boston Literary MagazineDefenestration, Ariel ChartLighten Up Online, ParodyThe Broadkill ReviewThe Loch Raven Review, and The Oddville Press.

Ronsonol® by Penny Sarmada

The plaid of his pants is not the same plaid as the plaid of the couch. Old man stands like an ageless tree, solid as a father, a grandfather, a great-granddad. Neat clothes, neat hair, polished shoes. Unruffled like he was beamed down from spacecraft. A small smile. Returning from the corner store I stop and see him across the street. He waits for me to recognize him so I wonder does he look familiar or is it only that I want him to. Plaid couch at the side of the road is sunken, confused, no choice but to accept its new homelessness. It’s all over now: watching reruns, supporting awkward sex, inhaling reefer and Chinese takeaway. It’s all soaked into its fabric skin, its body tissue of yellow sponge. It waits for a garbage truck to come along and put it out of its misery. Its misery of memories. The man, the small smile, moves behind the couch, looks straight at me. He does not sit, he makes no sound. As if the couch is invisible. He waits for me to recognize him and so I wonder if I do or even if I should. There is no hurry. The couch fits exactly on unmown grass between sidewalk and curb. Boxy white building behind. Gridwork windows. Black telephone wires stretch across the top of this photographic frame. The man is centered in reassuring symmetry. Still the smile. I peel cellophane off a new pack of DuMauriers, pull out the first dart with my teeth. Flick open my Zippo. Snap fingers. Flint sparks the wick. Inhale. I take the new bottle of lighter fluid from my back pocket and cross the street. Squeeze my name onto the cushions over and over in fine spray until the fluid runs out—p e n n y—in big loopy letters like a movie star autograph, like happy birthday icing, like it’s the best word in the world. Toss the lit Zippo on top, letters leap up in bright flames. Couch burns to the ground. Ashes soak into the earth like hot snow and disappear. No trace. Memories erased. A small smile remains. Old man. Polished shoes. Plaid pants. Of course I recognize you, I tell him. It’s you who no longer recognizes me.

Penny Sarmada is from Ontario. New and upcoming in Versification, Sledgehammer, Selcouth Station, Pink Plastic House, Bullshit Lit.

Mutilation by Hayley McCullough

I sliced the feet from my legs
So they could dance free of me.
I sliced the fingers from my palms
So they could write without my hesitancy.
I sliced the tongue from my mouth
So it could sing and speak
Beyond the limits of my capabilities.

And now, I sit against the furthest wall
In shadows, silent and unmoving.

I see the motions and the movements of my feet –
Like forest leaves and flower petals
That soar and twist on wind and river currents.
I read the words and sonnets, the novellas of my fingers –
Emotions and sensations born by pen and ink.
I hear the songs and speeches of my silver tongue –
Pure vocalizations of a living soul.

And so, I sit and watch and experience,
One of ten thousand faces in the crowd.

I see these creations of my body’s pieces –
Things of art and substance,
Things I can never claim and do not really know…
Because I severed more than flesh and muscle,
More than blood and bone.

And so, I sit and think about tomorrow,
And the fleeting possibilities it may hold.

I wrap the shadows around my shoulders.
I push the wall even further back.
And it is not long before I decide
My eyes and ears will be the next to go.

Hayley McCullough probably spends more time reading fanfiction than is strictly healthy.