Category Archives: Aries

The Green Carpet by James H Duncan


art by Ranko Ajdinović | Website | Etsy Shop | Facebook


The Green Carpet

It was in a waiting room of chipped plastic tables full of
wrinkled copies of Highlights magazine and cardboard
flip-books about bears flying in hot air balloons, the
scent of alcohol and Lysol. These children here are bald
or soon will be and I run my hand through my own hair,
find bloody fingertips, red robins in flight through my
very flesh, flying away and away and away. Opening my
eyes and counting my inhale/exhale, I see that the carpet
here is lime green, shag, just like the green carpet where
the small children of Green Meadow Elementary sat in
the library, 1985, ‘86, ‘87…we read books about
dinosaurs and planets and gigantic men who chopped
trees in days gone by alongside blue oxen. There were
books of women who flew planes and disappeared, and
of ghosts who haunted castles, books of egghead
professors with childish brain games, and books of
children who had troubles just like the troubles we had
at home or in our classrooms, on the bus, with bullies,
siblings, nightmares, parents who disappeared, feelings of
isolation, feelings. None of them had the troubles we had
when we grew up though, or the troubles the bald
children here have discovered. Publishers and sales reps
probably don’t like tallying such figures. Back then,
Letter People lined the walls and a TV with Ramona
played on rainy days. There were book club sales, book
reports, and wooden chairs lined up along the wall,
straight and small. All of us sitting on the green carpet. I
believe the rain still falls on the windows there, while
kids here grow old, fall down, their eyes drifting against
the wash of a television glow in hospital rooms and daybeds,
their blood and marrow melting, betraying,
hounding them, the pages of their stories thinning out
and fading blank. And then someone calls my name so I
rise and walk across that green carpet to see how many
pages my own story has left.




James H Duncan

James H Duncan is the editor of Hobo Camp Review, a writer-at-large for The Blue Mountain Review, and the co-host of the Troy Poetry Mission reading series. His work has appeared in Writer’s Digest, Up The Staircase Quarterly, American Artist, Pulp Modern, Poetry Salzburg Review, Drunk Monkeys, Five:2:One, and other publications. His latest book We Are All Terminal But This Exit Is Mine (in which the poem “The Green Carpet” appears) is now available from Unknown Press, and you can find it on Amazon and at www.jameshduncan.com.



Pretty Name by Sydney Vance


Art by Michelle Lanter | Website | Etsy Shop | Facebook | Instagram | Tumblr


Pretty Name

I don’t know how to write you without the word best. I looked at you
for years, you were my favorite winter scarf of black curly hair, unedited
Word document, the bridge in my favorite park that the homeless men
would sleep beneath. You were your own stomach the morning after
too much stout beer, summer. Timelessness of girlhood. Awareness of
this woman-ing. Breathlessness after poorly-executed drunken dance. My
baseball cap falling off the hook on my bedroom door. My favorite dog
licking my middle finger. Scar on my leg from a broken bar glass on the Fourth
of July. Airplane crash over the year two-thousand and fourteen. The time
that I forgot to carry the zero. The unruly mouth on me. Nosedive into the toilet
seat at the house that I hated. Two girls walking alone in the woods at night.
Residential apotheosis. Culmination of a circus show. The block of ice
in that riddle about the man hanging by the noose. Weight I promise myself
I will not carry anymore. Self-fulfilling prophecy. Last dying flame
of last living lighter. No more candles. No more cake. Step, crack,
shattering of twigs in the Tuskahoma dusk. Envy that led to late nights
led to work led to more work led to passion led to competition led to pride
led to better.                                                                            In other lives
I have been the weak thing. In this one you try to feed me grass, pat my head.
You say, You have no idea what you’re missing, like we didn’t walk this garden
together, petal by burlap petal, heartbreak by heartbreak. In other lives
I have been the thing the weak thing eats for a midnight snack.



Sydney Vance

Sydney Vance is a poet who resides in a suburb just outside of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. She is in her final semester of undergraduate studies at The University of Central Oklahoma where she is currently Senior Poetry Editor for The New Plains Review and is pursuing a major in creative writing. Her work has previously appeared in Jazz Cigarette Magazine and is forthcoming elsewhere. : instagram.com/sydmariev



When He Moves to My Neighborhood & His Girlfriend Writes That My Poetry Has No Literary Merit & It’s Just Meant to Make Him Feel Bad by Clair Dunlap


Art by Glenn W. Cooper | Pinterest | Facebook | Blind Dog Press

When He Moves to My Neighborhood & His Girlfriend Writes That My Poetry Has No Literary Merit & It’s Just Meant to Make Him Feel Bad

what must it be like to stand in the market
gently squeezing peaches in july and see,
out of the corner of your eye, a stranger walk in

and something about their height and the shape of their glasses
and the cadence of their walk is familiar

and not want to run?

what must the body feel like if not taken over
with shaking, fruit falling from sweaty palms as if
from some failed tree? if not hot panic when you realize
the only way out is how they just came in.

what must the body feel like if not
so small?

how is it, in the moment of could be, to feel nothing at all?
is that difficult for you?
to think you see me and to keep breathing?




Clair Dunlap

Clair Dunlap grew up just outside Seattle, Washington, and started writing at the age of six. Now she resides in the Midwest where she is a preschool teacher and MLIS candidate. She is the author of IN THE PLUM DARK BELLY (Beard Poetry 2016) and her word can be found in Sweet Tree Review, Souvenir, The Harpoon Review, The Fem, and more. She is a social media editor for Vagabond City and on several platforms you can find her @smallgourd.



Holy Scripture by Sade Andria Zabala


Art by VH McKenzie | Website | Etsy Shop | Facebook | Tumblr | Instagram

Holy Scripture

Your body as confession,

as bible story: here 

beneath your left earlobe

best friends became strangers, there 

beside your Adam’s apple

we were born again. Somewhere

on your solar plexus still lies

21 offerings cremated

ashes to ashes, dust to –

Your body as original sin:

mother abandons Eden to barter 

breast for bone, grafting you

from her cologne. You smell of

death even when you don’t mean to.

Your body as prayer, 

as scripture: 1 Corinthians 13:4-13

“Love is patient, love is kind. 

It does not envy, it does not boast, 

it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not 

self-seeking, it is not easily angered, 

it keeps no record of wrongs.”


John 14:6 “I am the way, 

the truth and the life.”

Your body as hymnals, 

your body as amazing grace, 

as hallelujah! hallelujah!, as

a-fucking-men.


Your body as church, your body as graveyard. 

Your body as purgatory, as pilgrimage, as third-day resurrection. 

Your body as forgiveness.
Your body as God.



Sade Andria Zabala

Sade Andria Zabala is the Filipina author of poetry books WAR SONGS and Coffee & Cigarettes (Thought Catalog Books, 2016). Her writing has appeared on Literary Orphans, Persephone’s Daughters, Hooligan Magazine, and more. When she’s not busy watching Survivor or having a knife fight with her anxiety, she writes for Thought Catalog. Follow her Tumblr or Instagram.



Autumn, or the Fall of an Empire by Sophie Chouinard


Autumnal Fire by Tracy-Ann Marrison | Website | Etsy Shop | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Autumn, or the Fall of an Empire

The truth is
there is salt in the wound.

The little hand in mine
sweetens the deal, but sweet
or savoury, this is only temporary –
leaves are falling, and autumn is here

to stay. Silence is the wound,
my grandmother told me,

or the other way around, some would
argue. The little hand’s grip is steady
and warm – a mug of fragrant coffee
on a damp lonely morning. There is comfort

in the holding on
just tight enough, but I know
autumn will soon claim him too;
like when you fell from my grace,

and long before the last leaf
gives up on its trembling twig.



Sophie Chouinard

Born and raised in Montreal, Sophie now hails from Toronto, Canada. She is a poetry reader and reviewer at cahoodaloodaling, but makes her big bucks by making people care about people. By night she’s either Batman or runs, either on a trail or after her two sons. Even though her French-Canadian heart loves the ruggedness and beauty of her country, she would rather perpetually eat and drink her way through the world, roadtrippin’ one country at a time. Sophie’s work has been published in Vox Poetica, Up The Staircase Quarterly, and Melancholy Hyperbole.



My Fourteenth Summer by Janie Gunn


Flowering Sponge by Jenny Brown | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

My Fourteenth Summer

Dear round gold-rimmed glasses
and a bob that doesn’t suit.
Dear bootcut jeans.
Dear paper rounds
and wanting to be famous.
Dear Kit Kat Chunkies
and Sabrina the teenage witch.
Dear 1998,
the Backstreet Boys,
South Park,
J17 and
Haribo spelly-jellies.

This is a year of discovery.
A summer of not sleeping.

Dear staying up all night laughing,
changing the lyrics to songs you hated
on Nikki’s bedroom floor;
painting hearts on your skin with nail polish,
pretending they were tattoos.
Listening to late night lovesongs on the radio
between 11 and 2,
sending in faxes to hear them read out
your fake names,
your fictional love stories –
remember that time you signed yourself as Jesus
(with a trademark)
and laughed until you wept when they said
it’s amazing who listens to this show nowadays.

You practice writing love letters in the back of the car.
Keep those ones secret
— no one needs to know they are really to yourself.

Your heart is too loud for your ribcage already,
so here is a name to cross off its list:
Hannah.
She won’t do you one single favour
and there is grief in every strand of her hair.
Run away from that girl,
run as fast as you can.
(It’s ok. I know you won’t. You never could
say no to someone who said
they needed you.
That’s ok too.)

You’re going to pick up those scissors with the
peeling flakes of dirt on their blades
and score your frustration into your own arm this summer,
because you read about self-harm
in between the pages of Bliss magazine
(the April 1998 edition)
and you thought it sounded awful,
and ugly
and desperate,
and you feel awful today,
and ugly
and desperate.
If I could reach back and hold you through this, I would,
but I wouldn’t take that blade from between your fingers.
Not everything that’s awful, ugly, and desperate
has to also be bad.
And habits can be broken just as easily as they are made.

Don’t think about kissing her.
Save that up like pocket money.
You’re not ready for it
yet.

Your friend Jo has an e-mail address
— you think you should have one too, but
you’re not too sure why when all you really want is
a flat stomach, a navel piercing, and a boyfriend you didn’t make up:
the holy trinity of being cool,
being worthy; being what everyone wants.

This is the year you discover masturbation,
and although you won’t get it down to a fine art
until next summer,
you’re exploring, and that’s bold
and it’s lovely.
Ignore them when they say it’s dirty
or unnatural.
They’re lying. Keep exploring your jungles,
my little warrior.

Here’s a thing:
mum bought you a coat in spring:
black,
double-breasted,
from New Look.
You’ve never had a fashionable coat before and
it was on sale.
I wore that coat last week
on my way
to teach a class of people older than you.
I am the woman who grows
from your scars and
your dreams
and all the cells who fight your corner
on the days when you want to pour poison down your throat this summer
when you’re fourteen
and the world is too big,
too clumsy with your fragile soul.

I wear that coat with joy because it reminds me
that the root of my skull
grew straight from your brave spine.
Let me tell you something
which no one else says to you
the year you are fourteen:

I am so proud of you.



Janie Gunn

Janie is a wrestler of mental demons who uses poetry in her warrior’s toolkit. She believes wholeheartedly in friendship, love, and the all-healing power of tea. When not writing poems of her own, she helps young people to navigate, fall for, and find their own stories hiding in other people’s.



Unevensong by K Weber


Yellow is the Color of my True Love’s Hair by Lori Field | Website | Facebook | Tumblr


Unevensong

Your breath on me:
a heavy neck-
lace with a large locket
glutted full of cement

The chain is thick
in links but insecure
at the rust
of a padlock

I wanted that breath
near my earlobe
at night but now
the pillow is a boulder

Here is where my head
breaks open and my sleep
secrets pour out
until concrete



K Weber

K Weber plays with synthesizers, words, and sound in Dayton, Ohio. K has self-published three books of poetry: “Midwestern Skirt” (2003), “Bluest Grey” (2012), and “I Should Have Changed That Stupid Lock” (2014). Her writing has appeared in Words Dance’s “Literary Sexts” and “Poem Your Heart Out” anthologies, Black Heart Magazine, and Lavender Wolves Literary Journal. More, the same, or possibly less at midwesternskirt.moonfruit.com



dis/able by Linette Reeman


prints by Elle Moss | Shop | Facebook

dis/able





Linette Reeman

Linette Reeman (they/them pronouns) is a spoken word poet from the Jersey Shore. They have competed for Loser Slam (Red Bank, NJ) and this is their second year representing Rowan University at CUPSI. They have also been published in places like Voicemail Poems and great weather for MEDIA, and probably want high-five you. View more of Linette’s work at LINETTEREEMAN.TUMBLR.COM.



Behind Closed Doors by Jamie Lynn Heller


Sweet Dreams by Inna Mosina

Behind Closed Doors

Now the table holds
only one plate
for its two chairs.
The window needs washing
from the inside and out.
The words are all clasped
shut in books or scattered
so far across the keyboard
tracing them would leave
a tangled web
to trap thoughts.
The ghost of your touch
isn’t strong enough
to wrinkle the sheets,
steam the mirror,
unlock me.




Jamie Lynn Heller

Jamie Lynn Heller has two young girls, the perfect spouse, a high school counseling career she loves, and she gets to write. Jamie is a graduate of Kansas State University and the University of Missouri – Kansas City. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee and the author of Domesticated, Poetry from Around the House. For a list of publications see jamielynnheller.blogspot.com



You Swallow Me by Micah Yee


Truth or Dare by Natalie Voelker

You Swallow Me

I ram the door frame, getting you in—forearm rouged,
welted. Later, it melts to mottled blue, jaundice yellow.

Your liver is your savior, charcoal-black shirt plastered
wet to your torso. My taut fists are like rope knots

of net, hauling against the weight of you. I consume
your cocktail of bitterness, my nails making blood moons

in your skin as I pull you in again. I reel back,
tow hard until your shirt seams are ripping.

You, the unsavory catch on the grass—home becoming
another place to collapse. Your belching conjoins

to the cicadas’ chorus outside. Look, the world darkened
beyond our front door—wide-mouthed neighbors,

silent sky. Stars rise like the gold champagne bubbles
of our wedding night—or white spray following

the biting hiss of new beer. You’ve soured both,
for me—bottle after bottle endlessly beating me

to your lips. Booze-sunk, you settle out deep.
I drag you in, you swallow me.



Micah Yee

Micah Yee has served as Editor in Chief and poetry editor for the West Wind literary journal at Azusa Pacific University and is currently working on writing and publishing while traveling. Publication credits include the West Wind, Crux, Two Words For, The Milo Review, Polaris, and Compass, with work forthcoming in the Tule Review.