Haunting by Razili Roy

Variation of Awakening by Ranko Ajdinović | Website | Etsy Shop | Facebook


You saw me inhale snow for the first time and
I breathed it all in until my lungs were glaciers.

You kissed me once – only once.

The ice caps are on the verge of turning into oceans and
I can already feel my mountain heart and tornado stomach

He had his lips pressed against mine as
he looked for all the crevices in my skin.
I was trying my best to memorise his hands and all
they had learned from her, when he pulled away.

His eyes looked like they had just realized
they were in love with nightmares.

I tried to find his mouth again but
he did not know the way anymore.

“You kiss me like you are looking for someone else.”

I held onto my breath for an entire infinity as
I realised I was in love with nightmares and I was

There comes a time when you realize
missing is not the same as wanting.

It is like putting your money into a coffer
whose key you threw one sunny afternoon.

All those faces end up becoming your face
and your face is in all of those faces.
All those faces I have kissed end up
looking like the only face I want to kiss.

I think I would burn the postcard you send
but have an urn for the ashes all the same.

Razili Roy

Razili Roy is a college going student who has a penchant for multiple cups of tea and equally abundant hours of sleep. A failed art curator, among other things, she writes during odd hours of either (or both) the waking and sleeping day. The rest of the hours are spent mincing words and petting strays. You can take a look at her Instagram account (@raziliroy) if you wish to see more of her work.

I Think the Answer to the Question may be Zero by Kelly Jones

photography by Amadeus Long | Website | Etsy Shop | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

I Think the Answer to the Question may be Zero

The gun in Travis’s hand pushed
against Matt’s face and wants him gone,

so go Matt does, faster than New Year’s
booze and resolutions. In the bathroom

a counter groaned with the weight of bodies
thrust together. This is not romantic,

whispered one reflection to the other.
Curled in the crook of Adam’s arm

after one too many keg stands, he told me “I love you,”
I smiled and said “I don’t want to be alone.”

Dead-drunk in the backseat, Matt shot up
and sang boys, boys, all types of boys, then crumpled

back to sleep. Justin let me in whenever I showed up

drunk at 3 a.m. We’d crawl into bed, sprawl out,

each with a foot rooted to the floor to stop the spins.
The picnic table didn’t mean to break the bottle of Jäger,

but Adam and his brother set it on fire anyways

and the cops came to Long Street, but arrested no one.

Travis was evicted but came back for furniture that wasn’t his.
I sat on the couch, 
the morning after a party gone wrong

and Justin wore 
a light blue button down shirt,
messy with blood, as we chain-smoked into morning.

Matt leaned into me once and asked his beer
how many ways are there to forget a person?

Kelly Jones

Kelly Jones is a librarian in training that currently calls Greensboro, NC their home. Kelly earned their MFA in Poetry from the University of New Orleans’ Creative Writing Workshop. Three of their favorite things are manatees, glitter, and Wild Turkey. In their spare time, Kelly tries to keep houseplants alive, runs The Gambler Mag, and attempts to come to terms with the concept of infinity.

Gravedigger by Katrina Gray

photography by Amadeus Long | Website | Etsy Shop | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter


I buried your jaw in my backyard.
People think the trees are talking.
When they ask, I say nothing,
or, Just the wind.
I do not flinch or laugh nervously,
though nothing grows here,
and the neighborhood kids
think I’m a witch.
I’ve heard their stories:
under the full moon with a mason jar,
my hands turning soft the soil
like spades.
They’re not far off.
The moon was full
– yes –
and I used my hands,
but I carried your jaw in the hammock
of my nightgown;
like a lover who still loved your memory
because that is what I was –
what I will always be.
The children are too young to know
what it’s like to want to forgive,
but to not be able to.
The girls come back though,
one by one, when they’re older;
peering over my fence, holding this
or that; tenderly;
and suddenly they’re no longer afraid of me.
I am the one who shows them how to bury their dead.

Katrina Gray

Katrina Gray is a twenty-eight year-old Canadian who is fulfilling the prophecy, as foretold by her sixth grade teacher, to write. She’s never one to back down from a feminist argument, or a long binge of TV. She suffers from existential angst, always losing her pen lids, and thinking of the perfect line just before she falls asleep. She has been published once before on Words Dance, and twice on Persephone’s Daughters.

A Love Letter to a Room, Grown Up by Cadence Pentheny

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A Love Letter to a Room, Grown Up

This is the dream where I always leave before you let go and the lake that holds no swords or magic kingdoms keeps us diving simply to test the true capacity of our hollowness. On the bad mornings, fragments of bone left behind from the amputation of my wings come loose from their holds and stab me between the shoulder blades. My bird mouth is never not hungry; it never learned how to feed itself. I woke up haunting for a song, a kiss, but our mouths are tombs and whoever gets too close will choke on the dirt.

This is the time when you left thumb prints on my wrist bones, skin flint eyelids set ablaze driftwood washed to shore. Little sisters took me swing dancing with tongue studs clicking on teeth, rode the subway and left glitter in the door jambs. “I’ll take you home”, he said, but they laughed at me for tying virgin tongue-knots in cherry stems while the heat turned our lungs into drums, leather stretched tight. These walls remain jam-packed with my own heat, like the monsters in children’s books who taught us that to be loved was to be swallowed whole. I’ve spent eleven years practicing the art of the Irish goodbye. Sometimes the grocery list becomes a poem and flowers grow from the dirt under my fingernails, moss under my tongue, lichen on the roof of my mouth.

This is the place where hip flexors caught in hands, caught in the tangle of sheets at the edge of the bed. In the tangle of the mind she warmed madness like a feast and begged me to eat of it, a mother to my starving hands, the one who taught the Right to say ‘please’ with its sharp claws and the Left to say ‘sorry’ with thumbs calloused ‘round the shape of her teeth. The illness of lycanthropy – once a month, fur mixes with blood. I’m bigger than my bones but they keep telling me that I still have to learn how to call them home.

Cadence Pentheny

Cadence Pentheny is 21 years old and a NH native, where they grew up homeschooled and surrounded by dogs, books, and art projects. In 2016 they graduated from a small college in PA with degrees in sociology and women’s, gender and sexuality studies. They have returned home and are about to start their second year with a national service organization in which young people get the privilege of working with students in under-resourced public schools. You can witness some of their shenanigans on their Instagram @bird_mouthed.

Time is a Circle Crushed by Jonathan Louis Duckworth

photography by Amadeus Long | Website | Etsy Shop | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Time is a Circle Crushed

What is loved can’t be dead,
             as a liquid cask of honey
separates the flesh from its rot.
             You who’ve not yet passed,
I’m mourning you now.

             You who I’ve not yet met,
I’m loving you now.

             I’m stripping for you,
swathing pale hide
             in Spanish moss stoles, skin now
host to a host of mites,
             just to see your cheek
become a paper lantern
             illumed by the world’s
smallest hydrogen bomb.

             I’m burying you
in the shade of the myrtle
             you sang from a seed,
I’m waiting for my foot
             to bloom with a patina of roots
knot into the soil &
             walk no more.

We’re fucking
             for the first time
& in confluence our bodies
             become pure verb, voices
loud with thorns to braid
             the night in brambles.

Jonathan Louis Duckworth

Jonathan Louis Duckworth received his MFA from Florida International University. His fiction, poetry, and non-fiction appears in New Ohio Review, Fourteen Hills, PANK Magazine, Thrice Fiction, Jabberwock Review, Superstition Review, and elsewhere.

His Breath is Late November by Christine Garcia

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His Breath is Late November

deep dark rich heady earth.
branches snapping, fire kindled
embers carried on windy winter gusts into star lit skies.
cold puffs of beauty.
it is ancient.

his breath is ancestral and ceremony.
sage smudge honeysuckle breath
on my cheek, rolling smoky
onto my chest in tendrils,
reaching across and down,
always reaching further.

his sighs are hewn nutty oak
pine with hints of fresh dappled cedar,
native aztlán nopales, sandias, chiles, maize,
cottonwood puffs floating on a southwestern breeze
over the endless llano estacado.

when he breathes i have the urge
to thrust my hands into wet mescalero sands and squeeze;
to feel the world rough and thick against my tender skin.

his breath smooths stones like a stream
calm flows of constant pressure,
seemingly silent murmuring
slight waves and tides pulled by the antediluvian earth
carbon complex life giving compounds.

his breath is a heartbeat, an ohm, a soft subtle sigh,
a reminder of his fragility, of my fragility, of what my proximity to him means;
of two bodies coming close enough together to exchange air because love is
recursive particle exchange,
it is the reception of depths,
a coming together of ephemeral bursts of breath, breath, breath.

Christine Garcia

Christine Garcia is a professor and lover of words. She believes that writing is both the salve and the holdfast for the heridas abiertas de la vida. She resides and teaches in lovely Connecticut, but will forever be a desert woman of the Southwest.

Somewhere on Hollywood Boulevard by Mathieu Cailler

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Somewhere on Hollywood Boulevard

Today, on Hollywood Boulevard, near the Rob Lowe
star on the Walk of Fame, I passed a sitting bum
who wore cargo pants and a World’s Greatest Dad
t-shirt. His feet were bare, grimy; and he was eating
an orange like an apple—gnawing right through the rind.
A copy of Les Misérables lay next to him, its pages fat and
swollen, and when a breeze pushed through, the sheets
ruffled; a pleasant sound, like leaves in the wind. I said,
Hello, and the man said, Hey…what’s up, muchacho?
I reached for my wallet. I only had a five spot, but
since I’d already cracked the leather, I had to give him
something. Lincoln, he said. No shit. Good prez.
Better beard. Hell, sometimes I wish I’d gotten shot
in the theatre. Nice way to go out if you ask me—
just bam, right there, while watching Bye Bye Birdie.
True, I said, before walking off. Wanna sit down?
he asked. I got some orange left, he said, and this
book here, that’s depressing as shit. Fucking French
guys, right? Hard to get through even five pages
without tearing up a bit. What do you say?
Uh. Sure. Okay, I said. So I leaned up against a building,
lit a smoke, and listened to him as he cleared his
throat and started in. He had a pleasant reading voice,
especially applied performing dialogue,
so I closed my eyes as his words blended
with the shuffle of passersby, the rumble of engines,
and the day-to-day buzz of honks and hollers.

Mathieu Cailler

Mathieu Cailler’s poetry and prose have been widely featured in numerous national and international publications, including the Los Angeles Times and The Saturday Evening Post. A graduate of the Vermont College of Fine Arts, he is the recipient of a Short Story America Prize for Short Fiction and a Shakespeare Award for Poetry. He is the author of Clotheslines (Red Bird Press), Shhh (ELJ Publications), and Loss Angeles (Short Story America Press), which has been honored by the Hollywood, New York, London, Paris, Best Book, and International Book Awards. His poetry collection, May I Have This Dance? (Black Magic Media), is slated for publication in December of 2017. : mathieucailler.com

What We Talk About When We Talk About by James Croal Jackson

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What We Talk About When We Talk About

Pepper burned my mouth
and all I could think of
in that salivated flame
was you telling me your tongue
no longer felt the heat
of a moment: meaningless
sex– bite and garment
here between the green
walls of your zen room
your small goldfish
swimming in circles–
submerged flame and hunger
for love so intense
I flicker poems to you
thumbs on lighters
waiting for the matchbook
to catch– combed pomade
hair, designer jeans, and wit–
what I want is origami
and fire– instead
we talk about love
but unlike Raymond Carver
we have nothing
more to say.

James Croal Jackson

James Croal Jackson is the author of The Frayed Edge of Memory (Writing Knights Press, 2017). His poetry has appeared in FLAPPERHOUSE, Rust + Moth, Jet Fuel Review, and elsewhere. He has won the William Redding Memorial Poetry Contest and is founding editor of The Mantle. Find him in Columbus, Ohio or at jimjakk.com.

6 Things I Have Learned About Disasters by Vanessa Koh

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6 Things I Have Learned About Disasters

1. there is nothing natural here.
i could twist my words
into the fractured roads after an earthquake,
or paint my desperation
with the death toll of the 1931 china floods.
but every crimson thread of defeat
is furiously woven together
over and over and over again
until all i am left with
are blistered fingers and a tapestry
of all the times i forgot how to pronounce my name.

2. catastrophe is a ghost –
my mind is its favourite haunt.
it will not leave even after closing hours,
and sits at the bar counter
drunk on irrationality
slurring on about
burying broken compasses and
wringing wrists of their pulses

3. i am the bartender,
precariously balancing
its drinks in one hand
and waking up in the other.

4. every fantasy of fading
into salt and apologies
is an avalanche tearing through
paper planes and origami faces,
a wordless prayer to a non-existent god
in a burning sky,
begging for a reprieve from

5. the aftermath.
the aftermath that feels like
being dragged out of the mortician’s hands,
exhuming corpses of the people
i could have been,
waiting at the wrong end of the tunnel.

6. i wish i could soothe this into a more palatable story,
a soft whisper with a full stop.
but there are still houses with roofs torn off
in my throat where my voice used to be,
too many emergency shelters,
too many crevices for shadows to creep in,
too much disaster in my blood,
and god damn it
i’m bleeding everywhere.

Vanessa Koh

Vanessa Koh is a university student from Singapore, studying Linguistics and Psychology. She’s an aspiring poet who frequently gets excited over the sky and other small things. She has self-published two chapbooks, Are We Here? and Is This Now? She hopes you are well and loved. : 1rann.tumblr.com

Blackout Poetry Suite by Colette Love Hilliard

queen of hearts by Carrie Hilgert | Website | Etsy Shop | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Blackout Poetry Suite

(titles: Solitary, Reveries, Hangover, Infinity)

Colette Love Hilliard

Colette Love Hilliard is a writer and teacher currently chronicling her journey of love, marriage, and infertility through poetry and art. Colette hopes her open and honest approach to such sensitive topics resonates with her readers and inspires them to use their creative talents to heal. Her work has appeared in Harness Magazine and The Cincinnati Review Blog, and a forthcoming collection of poetry will appear in Issue 3 of Beechwood Review. instagram.com/colette.lh.