IX Case Dismissed For Lack Of Evidence by Sandra Hunter

Mattress_Performance_rules_of_engagement

Plaintiff did not indicate that she withheld consent

We are lost in our nervous system
You are sobbing
We have lost our language
We can only make sounds
I am here
I am her

We are in a wind tunnel
You are sobbing
You are a semaphore I cannot read
You are a small disappearing flag
I am here
I am he

We are in a shipwreck
You are sobbing
Call me from inside your wounds
Call me from your unwords
I am here
I am h

We are falling from an airplane
You are sobbing
I am pulling the ripcord
You are failing to open
I am
I

 

 

Sandra Hunter’s stories have won the 2017 Leapfrog Press Fiction Award, 2016 Gold Line Press Chapbook Prize, and three Pushcart nominations. She is a 2018 Hawthornden Fellow and the 2017 Charlotte Sheedy Fellow at the MacDowell Colony.

#GunViolence: Solving the Gun Issue by Tamara Madison

Let’s have a party
and bring all of our guns.

We’ll have contests
to see who can shoot the target

all the way from the living room
to the backyard fence.

We’ll bring our rifles and see
who can shoot the most living things.

We’ll take out our pistols and see
who can draw the fastest.

We’ll shoot at each other’s feet
and call it dancing.

We’ll shoot off our machine guns
and see who finishes their ammo first.

We’ll cover the house with the flag
and practice shooting the stars

Then we’ll turn the guns on each other
— to protect ourselves from the enemy —

and when none of us is left
we’ll declare our country great again.

 

 

Tamara Madison is the author of the chapbook The Belly Remembers, and two full-length volumes of poetry, Wild Domestic and Moraine, all published by Pearl Editions. Her work has appeared in Chiron Review, Your Daily Poem, A Year of Being Here, Nerve Cowboy, the Writer’s Almanac and other publications. She is thrilled to have just retired from teaching English and French in a Los Angeles high school.

#MeToo: A Wolf Girl Enters the World by Wren Tuatha

Monstorium Historia

A wolf girl enters the world
through a slice in the air
that catches eyes all around.
Is her name ordinary, Maria,
or pedestaled, Dulcinea?

The air in the village square
tells the story of the pie
she carries. Younger wolf sister
stays close, dropping mental
breadcrumbs through
the forest of eyes.

To be a wolf girl and to be
a girl are redundant. Everyone
is entitled to look at will,
on the sly or not.

At court, brocade
flowers on her gown
fit in, but she will always
be queer.

Her Italian language is
baroque with syllables,
civilized. She has written
a poem. It feels natural
to choose the attention
of others.

She will recite her poem
now.

 

First published in Danse Macabre.

 

Wren Tuatha (Califragile Editor). Wren’s poetry has appeared or is upcoming in The Cafe Review, Canary, Pirene’s Fountain, Peacock Journal, Coachella Review, Arsenic Lobster, Baltimore Review, Loch Raven Review, Clover, Lavender Review, Autumn Sky Poetry Daily, Poetry Pacific, and Bangalore Review. She’s also an editor at JUMP, International Journal of Modern Poetry.  Wren and her partner, author/activist C.T. Lawrence Butler, herd skeptical goats on a mountain in California.

At the Carnival by Anne Spencer

622px-Beatrice_Kyle

Gay little Girl-of-the-Diving-Tank,
I desire a name for you,
Nice, as a right glove fits;
For you—who amid the malodorous
Mechanics of this unlovely thing,
Are darling of spirit and form.
I know you—a glance, and what you are
Sits-by-the-fire in my heart.
My Limousine-Lady knows you, or
Why does the slant-envy of her eye mark
Your straight air and radiant inclusive smile?
Guilt pins a fig-leaf; Innocence is its own adorning.
The bull-necked man knows you—this first time
His itching flesh sees form divine and vibrant health
And thinks not of his avocation.
I came incuriously—
Set on no diversion save that my mind
Might safely nurse its brood of misdeeds
In the presence of a blind crowd.
The color of life was gray.
Everywhere the setting seemed right
For my mood.
Here the sausage and garlic booth
Sent unholy incense skyward;
There a quivering female-thing
Gestured assignations, and lied
To call it dancing;
There, too, were games of chance
With chances for none;
But oh! Girl-of-the-Tank, at last!
Gleaming Girl, how intimately pure and free
The gaze you send the crowd,
As though you know the dearth of beauty
In its sordid life.
We need you—my Limousine-Lady,
The bull-necked man and I.
Seeing you here brave and water-clean,
Leaven for the heavy ones of earth,
I am swift to feel that what makes
The plodder glad is good; and
Whatever is good is God.
The wonder is that you are here;
I have seen the queer in queer places,
But never before a heaven-fed
Naiad of the Carnival-Tank!
Little Diver, Destiny for you,
Like as for me, is shod in silence;
Years may seep into your soul
The bacilli of the usual and the expedient;
I implore Neptune to claim his child to-day!

 

Anne Spencer, 1882 – 1975.

 

 

Photograph high diver Beatrice Kyle sitting on a fire engine wheel between acts at the Society Circus at Fort Myer, Va. Courtesy of the United States Library of Congress.

Successfully Hiding It by Cori Bratby-Rudd

Sipping watery coffee, no creamer, fourth cup.
Mom takes the dog outside to shit, pattering across
the false wood, actual plastic flooring,
and I sit at the table playing solitaire.

Mom takes the dog outside to shit, pattering across
I think, when she comes back I will tell her.
And I sit at the table playing solitaire.
I will tell her what happened that day at the hostel.

But she walks back in the room –
starts ranting about how the dog pissed on the trash can again.
I will tell her what happened that day at the hostel.
I will. I will. I will—

The Christmas tree in the corner of the room,
I’m sipping watery coffee, no creamer, fifth cup.
On the false wood, actual plastic, flooring
still, I am silent; on the verge.

dog successfully hiding it

 

Cori Bratby-Rudd is an eclectic writer from the Bay Area. As a recent graduate from UCLA’s Gender Studies department, and a current MFA candidate in Creative Writing at California Institute of the Arts, she enjoys incorporating themes of emotional healing and social justice into her creative and non-fiction works. She has been published in Ms. Magazine, DryLand Lit Press, FEM News, Canyon News, Rainy Day Magazine,  and Westwind Journal of the Arts. She recently received an editorial choice award in Audeamus’ Academic Journal for the best research piece.

 

#GunViolence: Ellipses by Matt Hohner

after Van Gogh

He is a change in barometric pressure, a clearing storm in strange light. He is
a missed warning, a settled resolve, a thousand-mile stare across the dinner table. He is a truck parked in a cornfield at dawn, an empty cubicle at work. He is the husband of a classmate, father of teen-agers. He is a childhood friend slicing through the crisp, dry, Colorado autumn wind into a flagstone canyon twenty-five stories below: the echoes of our adolescent laughter; the sound of the wing flaps of his demons carrying him off into the gloaming. He is a famous athlete, lonely inside, broken, down a trail in the woods away from the house, among the dappled shade made softer by his decision.

No one hears the reports, or maybe they do: the wife of a neighbor,
upstairs in their bedroom, jolted by the bluntness of the blast muffled
by mouth and lips, hard palette, back wall of skull. The grating silence
of gunpowder smoke swirling like grit through the air over the scene;
the sound of blood made free by the act, pouring out across the kitchen
floor, warm as him. The taste of iron in the stillness. The sharp, slow burn
of rust as the minutes pass slow as eons before the sirens arrive.

Some will speak of the economy, of marriage problems, of failure
or sickness, of dark secrets only the dead held close. They will speak
of subtle signs and actions, of odd shifts, of the day they missed
the calm resolution as he gave his things away.

The left-behind will not speak of the darkness that followed him to the place
where he stopped running. They will not speak of the gravity of crows,
startled from the trees at the edge of an empty field under gunmetal
clouds, scattering away into the distance—cold, black stars
punctuating the morning horizon like terrible ellipses.

 

 

Matt Hohner, a Baltimore native, holds an M.F.A. in Writing and Poetics from Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado. His work has been a finalist for the Ballymaloe International Poetry Prize, taken both third and first prizes in the Maryland Writers Association Poetry Prize, and won the 2016 Oberon Poetry Prize. Hohner’s work has been published individually in numerous journals, including Rattle: Poets Respond, Free State Review, and Crab Orchard Review. His book-length manuscript Thresholds will be published by Apprentice House Press in Fall 2018.

 

Detail of Sower at Sunset by Vincent van Gogh.

#GunViolence: Inside Every Story by Alicia Elkort

inside every story

I’m telling Paul about the devil look in my pacifist father’s eyes the moment he tells me he wishes he could go back in time & shoot the motherfucker who hurt me, even if he ended up in jail for the rest of his life. Paul tells me he never could understand why Joe, the smartest kid in high school with aspirations for medicine, became a police officer. Until, twenty years later, Joe tells him about sitting in the hallway as a kid holding a shotgun, trying to work up the nerve to shoot his father who’s in his sister’s bedroom, raping her. I’m watching Paul at a quiet joint in Montgomery sipping whiskey, sitting next to Joe drinking soda. The wooden bar is uneven & the stools have no backs, but the air is warm & smooth music drifts through the sound system. Paul is watching Joe in the hallway where the carpet is shab green, the wallpaper peels & the sister’s cries are muffled. There’s some kind of dusty moon leaking light across the back shed & the mother is passed out, an empty bottle of vodka on the floor. Joe is watching his father, night after night, same dark hallway, same shotgun. There’s no redemption in this story. In a few years the sister kills herself & Joe continues to arrest people doing bad shit, hoping one day the story ends with him standing up, opening the door.

 

 

Alicia Elkort edited and contributed to the chapbook Creekside, published under the Berkeley Poetry Review where she also served as an editor. Her poetry has been published in AGNI, Arsenic Lobster, Georgia Review, Heron Tree, Menacing Hedge, Rogue Agent, Stirring: A Literary Collection, Tinderbox Poetry Journal and many others and is forthcoming in Black Lawrence Press. Alicia’s poems have been nominated for the Orisons Anthology (2016) and the Pushcart (2017). She lives in California and will go to great lengths for an honest cup of black tea and a cool breeze.

 

First published in The Hunger.