thanatotalitarian • Dylan Krieger

by show of hands, how many think freestyle breeding is still a feasible idea? how many see the throughline from dr. kevorkian to mother theresa? in the middle of the arctic sea-melt, i’m aborting scores of polar bears for jesus, but somehow to dignify my suicide with last rites is beyond reason. somehow tying my fallopian tubes into a bowline is still considered ill-advised, despite my familial predisposition to psychosis, cancer, cults, and violent crime. despite my own nightmarish memories of being kept alive. sometimes the ghosts shriek so loud i fear they’ll never quiet down, that libido’s so strong the death drive will never win out. so i redirect my sex down reckless detours of upset, fishnet my breakfast in a banana hammock leaning left, and petition the government to unite our long-silenced uterine borders under a newly issued formal order: armies of darkness, come hither. we need you now, in all your grizzly mouths and gizzards 

-by Dylan Krieger, from The Mother Wart

Overheard at a Bar Near My Home • Al Russell

"I lost fourteen teeth that day.
Not my teeth.
Other people's."

Notes of this man's voice
make me imagine the gnashers
he could have stolen
had he been better at craps,
musky yellow molars
mushy with bad-apple-brown spots,
incisors chipped down to
points finer than felt-tipped pens.
His opponent, original owner 
of the tokens, might could get a new set
with the money he saved
betting his teeth instead.

 "I want diamonds, Ben,
flatout diamonds!"

  . . . He'd say to the jeweler-dentist,
and happy Ben might saw
into a lump of rock and extract
canines shinier than God's teeth if he has them,
plugging the bloody sockets, dark garnets
dripping down and clotting gingival
around the new choppers.
And did our barroom narrator
get any souvenirs,
playing that poor sap
for his rotting bicuspids?

"He coulda lost the top row easy, 
but I just knocked him one good."

The storyteller spits a jagged sparkle
to the bottom of his glass.

-by Al Russell, from Children of the Anxious City


Why my eyes get heavier • Orooj-e-Zafar

Pain was once the taste of a headache

on the bridge of my mouth, the quiver 

of my hungry fingers, the pining

pangs and the screams of every cell

that made me.


But pain matured:

now it precipitates to weights

and gravity

making my every projection

a center to act on.


I am a host.

My ends are vulnerable,

easy to encompass,

simpler still to cut open.


So hear this—


When you ask me to walk a mile

in your shoes, know that I couldn't even stand

my own.

-by Orooj-e-Zafar, from heart the size of a loosening fist

Blah • Kelly Sexton

For the d and the b


When you have been off playing with death in rural America I am sedated on the couch…

Staring at dried out carnations and a life-sized yoda…


But sometimes you call with tales of tails and curly laughter…

And I laugh under my frown…


“every night I dream that I’m bald and have no teeth.  I think it’s something to do with sexual inadequacy.  My tictac dick, is that it”…


And, yes, that is it.


And in that dream I had…

Where he was trapped in his house…

Bloodied and frenzied…

He couldn’t see me…

He was years away…

States away…

But I was still outside his door


He had large calves…

I always thought he just bought pants that were small at the bottom…


You never really look at someone’s calves…or eyes…


And he randomly meets people of great importance at coffee houses I hate…

He claims the encounters are random, but we all know he spills his coffee on them and uses apology as a clever introduction…


He doesn’t like ‘dick’ or ‘fucking’ jokes…

(some things you learn the hard way…)

Or vodka…really…

But for the most part…the fucker loves everything…

Or at least likes…

I almost wonder if when he falls he thanks the ground for catching him…

Or thanks the sky for not pushing too hard…


I think I must have met him on a mountain…

Analyzed him over the wide terrain…

With dual-turned backs and a dharma-bummed whistle that said

‘I’m not like you’…


And I laughed under my frown…


And I never thanked you for putting your earplugs in so you wouldn’t hear me puking in the bathroom…

And for pretending to be sleeping when I walked past you to get to the porch…

Where I would puke again…

(over the railing this time…)

And frighten that family of squirrels…


And it makes me wonder…


Where o where would I be without the d and the b…

Greatest asexual threesome the world was to see…

-Kelly Sexton, from Dear Mr. Phillips, Thanks for the Brandy. i hate what i've become

Days of Robert The Food Processor • Noah Burton

Low to the ground, under the table, Robert never gets dizzy. Not plugged in. Not spinning, grinding up walnuts or blending a root.

His red round button unclicked, bladed brow arch unquivered. Then a hand grabs on to his chord, slips it into the wall socket. A timer ringing over the oven. Robert's vertigo kicking in

in the emulsification of

an olive oil based salad dressing. Nauseous. A golden sea

in his head, whirling.

-by Noah Burton, from Look Out Animal

Wasted • David J. Thompson

She slept on her couch, was still there

in the morning, wrapped in a blanket

and hugging her little dog.  She mumbled

something about coffee, gestured

toward the kitchen.  I was stirring

in some sugar when she turned down

the tv, and yelled out that she’d called

a limo service to take me to the airport,

they’d be here in about an hour or so,

I’d better shower and pack.  Then she turned

the tv up even louder than before.


The day before we’d been drinking heavy

at her brother’s birthday party, ended

up after dark real wasted out in the woods

with a bunch of people I didn’t know.

She grabbed a blanket and a bottle

of wine, took me off by the hand

behind some trees where she started

kissing me.  I wanted to kiss her back,

but I felt too drunk or something,

just laid there real still trying to hold

her tight enough to maybe stop time itself,

but it was no good.  She pulled herself on top

of me, pushed down hard on my shoulders. 

When the hell are you going to ask me to marry you?

she asked in the same voice she used with her dog

when he peed on the carpet.  Can you please

just tell me when you’re going to get around to it?

I wanted so badly to tell her, but by then she was sitting

on my chest and I could barely breathe.

-David J. Thompson, from Grace Takes Me

Amourosity II • Maura Lee Bee

He sat on the floor of the living room

eating pizza crust and dreaming 

again of the days falling slowly

behind him, dripping as sweat does

on cold Sunday mornings


And between his mother’s rom-coms,

and arguing with his brother over

who would get to use the tv next,

he would lay on the floor

and count the crooks in the ceiling

the way he would count stars 


He would tap the air, 

the outline of imaginary sparks

waiting for something,

something he could not understand

just yet.


He asked his brother how girls taste,

and he said it depended what lipgloss they’re wearing,

and Peter couldn’t help but wonder

for years

how he could love the flavor of someone else’s lips

if he didn’t even know how his own must taste

by Maura Lee Bee, from Peter & The Concrete Jungle

from "Bone Diary" • Isabel Sobral Campos

Bone Diary

[“Fantasy:” from Greek “a making visible”]


In the fractured dark

the sacrilege of

thighs          A fear of


my smell    The blood

flowing down


the groin        It touches

the left and right inner thigh

rouge on leg cheek, a paltry wound

a rub          all animals can see now


My reliquary flows deep                        

and reeks of daubed dirt


“I am not my blood”

“I am not an estranged maternal gift”



all mine shaped

as rainfall inside cell:

a mute rune


Fed it to the pigs

and porcupines

-by Isabel Sobral Campos, from Your Person Doesn't Belong to You

Come Play with Us • Lindsey Frances Pellino

janus and his double faces:

god of portals, custodial passage—

where there is a mirror there is a ghost,

guarding, keeping, mirage

mopping up glacial drip of blood

on a cloth fiber mop.


janus and his double faces

was our father.


he poured bourbon into polished glasses.

we like to pretend our faces shone in the light

and it took the might of a hundred bricks

not to smash them on the bar and in the face and face

of our new host.


we watched him spiral down staircases

drag his knuckles on the carpet till they sparked

stuck his fingers in a typewriter and prayed

for it to bruise his intentions.


he must have been a good man,


or maybe he was forever this caretaker

this boatman, this janitor.

but our mother loved something,

married someone,

doused in lace and holy sacraments,

got pregnant by some entity

and we

crawled out.


janus and his double faces,

no wonder there were two of us.

we would cower in the pantry

brush each other’s hair with our fingers

until we could breath again.


his cabin fever rose,

the ice wouldn’t melt.

we would peel back the wallpaper

and find floods of ink

listing every sin and madness

rushing from around corners

like the flooded nile.


and when we died,

how the blade thudded

like he swung it

through air,

slow gurgle of oxygen and

we glued to the wounds.


we only wanted to go home,

somewhere warm and glowing like a city,

not this labyrinth of ice.

we just wanted to play

with a little brother,

riding our bikes outside,

at dawn, no stars, just us

on pavement.

on pavement.

on pavement.


by Lindsey Frances Pellino, from Hysterical Sisters

Invited • Denise Jarrott

I bought a rose glass, it is mine now I own it

I bought it with money I spent money it is full

of money it is full of rot/


ten boys lined up at the door she has made

a list she invites them in the heart is full

of mold, of leaves, of thickening.


there is a mad genius in the blue spruce tree there is a cat trapped there it is crying it is afraid to go down. the needles


I bought I have sewn myself an image, made

doll made cackles

up the magpie talks


a child voice, the metallic cry


licked the metal licked the boys they are crushing

her she is licking the blood off are we not beasts we are

not beasts are we


lie down with us we lie down with beasts you always

come up as the beast with blue marbles for eyes for

pink marbles for eyes


you bought it with your eyes you bought it why

do you inhabit this place, though

I have smudged, as if sludge


held our bones together as if the sky

melted into your eyes wide eyes a rose

licked stamen licked pollen


salmon pink. sunset finger

grapefruit center. sweet, bitter the beast's eyes,

flash in the head


light. hear you give great head. hear its barely

like a mouth at all. here its barely like you're there

at all but then you're always there aren't you always


there just there, always there though I did not welcome you.


by Denise Jarrott, from NYMPH

Hospital • Matthew Johnstone

There is a wall I lean

              at           when

              the ice breaks apart      the house.




              knives of wood              rum

              and milk.                         I bite hands. 

              Clean in planes                            intimate

              with hooks       pounded

              falling air. Sun went badly        hail

              slapped up        asps. There just


              are no straight lines left.            It

              loved the earth but could not say.



              could not type.              Or axe

              shut from peeling bark.


by Matthew Johnstone, from Eater, Of Mouths

Originally appeared in Concis


Sweaters On, Windows Down • Kelly Sexton

cat becomes a sort of illegal muffler, envelops the beginning on close smooth light
lies, unraveling, delinquency
loss forces covens

stops all equilibrium, guttural scream of a child hands pervading love
perpendicular to nothing
the other fallen fortress (now just undress) below, openings last

darkened, dorsal, not deterred
fallen, unrevised
never careless, stagnate tents of grammatical death sketch off smoke
ignore the backs of throats, take-a-bite 

by Kelly Sexton, from Vodka-Mountain

Instinctual Degradation • Freddy La Force

messes made from admiration
stick thoughts to orbiting faith
grab straws for procreative hymnals
etch names past tissue casings

fluid exchanges currency no matter
fraternal progenic beneficiary refuge
plays markets poising completion
producing duty, loss, exhaustion

moments purchased with decades
meteor-sacrificed comets
menace subconscious hauntings
no pesticide designed eradicates

still warmths reach occasional axis
coordinate matching roulettes
sustain exploratory incentives
mapping heavenly bodies

by Freddy La Force

Empty Farmhouses • Troy Schoultz

You see them off highways marked

with carcasses of dead deer, eyes still open

tongues out, bemused by minuscule length

of their disposable meat lives.

Scattered wrecked holdouts along the back roads

that used to be the highways. Gutted,

flaking lead paint, buckled roof and doorways

with cataract windows. The thin scar of gravel

through tall grass like a fossilized snake

marks the ghost of a driveway.

I eye them on my drive home from

whatever crises I have lived each day.

I want to take the first exit, find my way

to the forgotten highway, follow that

scar of gravel as far as the snake allows,

wade through the cut grass and paintbrush,

survey the stone foundations fashioned by

hands now bone and dust,

step across the threshold like a widower groom,

breathe in the decay and old memories

like a wine snob in a goblet.

bask in the gutted solitude, weave your way

through rooms asunder, pick up broken dishes,

found objects waiting for human touch

once again. Take a seat on an unbroken chair

and watch the autumn sunset through a shattered pane,

listen to something crawl and chew within the walls,

tell yourself

only the insane

choose to not be hermits.

by Troy Schoultz, from Biographies of Runaway Dogs

You May Feel Nude When Reading It • Bethany Price

she said

we should get together


she said

let’s just nail the flowers

into the drywall

she said

i’m middle aged

she said

that time goes slowly but

it speeds up the mundanity

as age progresses

she said

while driving fast in a bright car

lighting palo santo

don’t let a bad friend ruin

the smell of a good tree

she said

I still feel him in my mind

as she smiles

she said

that pain

is a gift too

she said

it’s nice to hang out with

someone who is fun and

has the time

she said

the mind cracks open

and nerves flood all sorts

of sensations

she said

I’m a healer

give me your hand

as she passed it

under the bathroom


she said

I slammed my fingers

in the door

she said

my acrylic nails saved me

she said

mama joe will take care

of you

she said

I’m a scorpio so

I’m pretty private

she said

while driving east

on the highway

I don’t know what it is

but my soul is a cat penis

and it won’t let go

she said

I’m squishy so I don’t model

she said

who is this woman

to you

in the red

she said

I’m attracted to people

who are bad for me

she said

your father wrote me

this poem

left it on my steps

she said

this spider is my friend

she said

I loved him as Kristian

and now I’ll love her

as Katrina

she said

initial sex wasn’t great

but in the morning

she did yoga


then he fucked

her real good

she said

darling heart

keep writing

she said

let’s walk through

the graveyard

but we have to

break in first

-Bethany Price, from Return to the Gathering Place of the Waters

Tongues • Georgia Lundeen

Climb on top,

and feel my systematic veins,

as they pump.

I walk through your body like

a first look at the sky;

I want to stream straight across

this glacier of a night,

to your door,

thousands of miles in milliseconds.

Take a different woman every time,

they all have my face,

my name,

they were all me,

in the suffering decline

of a tyrant's bent nose,

and you a fortress below.

Make them pant,

like I do,

lying tangled in the coursing torrents

of my own fingertips.

Let the violence of life collapse,

just for the length of a scream.

Words appear before me

on a screen:

"Go on,

do as you please,

oh, Infinite Being.”


Georgia Lundeen, from spare

Eat the Alphabet • Anja Notanja Sieger

Sometimes I hug books I love so tightly
to my chest
in hopes that by some osmosis I will retain them. 
Something like the way I retain water
when I eat too much salt. 
But in writing this, I’ve realized, 
maybe I’m doing it wrong
and need to eat the alphabet
to ever retain a word. 

Sometimes when I walk I imagine the feeling
of my feet going through the floor
instead of on it, 
like maybe how Jesus felt walking on water
or maybe how certain feet feel when trained
for coal walking,
and I could never compare a feeling to an action
or coal walkers to Jesus, but I just did, and I question my morph-ability
and make up words while choking on the alphabet and
sometimes the bottoms of my feet feel like coals without warning
and they walk with goals but I don’t know where I’m going.  

Sometimes I just go
and see where go leads me
because there is always a point A and B,
and sometimes
there’s a C we wander to.


Jenny Janzer, from Return to the Gathering Place of the Waters

What My Father Talks About While Drinking Beer • Troy Schoultz

We crack the fresh pop-tops

from the garage refrigerator,

an avocado-colored refugee from the 1970’s
still humming. He takes a good
long pull from his, a lager watery and weaker
than the darks and stouts I’m used to. He says light beer
helps him keep his edge. After two more sweat-beaded

cans he begins to open up. Talks about
the young nuns at his Catholic high school,

fantasizes about the sleek white swimsuits
underneath the layers of black and grey,
says he hates church, prefers the marsh
at sunset, swears he and a buddy saw Satan
in a a denim jacket and eyes like sparklers
drinking in a tavern at the Illinois border in 1972.
He tells of the teacher who chastised
him for watching ditch diggers
from the classroom window, how she told
him that was all he’d amount to.
He asked her what were they doing
that was wrong? Where was the crime
in irrigation? As I’m taken aback
by the dignity of that response,

he goes on to say that years later

when he found himself at the roadside

laying pipe, deep in soil, he wished
that same teacher would drive past.
He would raise his shovel in the July sun
shouting in personal victory, “I’ve made it!
I’ve finally made it!”

-Troy Schoultz; from Biographies of Runaway Dogs

Tower • Georgia Lundeen

I watch your hands as you paint me

into your walls and unmentionables.

I seep into them like water,

like apocalyptic dye.



Your hands, smudged so beautifully,


bloodied with acrylics; improbables.

I look at them and I falter,

I'd like to give them a try.



Use all your languages for me


until we are raving Unstoppables,

clinking glasses at an altar;

for we are the best Most High.



I love it when you don't look at me;


instead, keep sketching impossibles.

Don't call me Ishtar's daughter;

go ahead, tear down the sky.


 -Georgia Lundeen; from Spare


Sights and Sounds of Apollo in Drag • Annie Grizzle

But baby I like these curlers
I throw all my legs around them and multiply

            if these things aren't pretty and
            bouncing around me

I feed you all the yellow I can manage

  transferring chemicals from six bodies to a nucleus
  you have wobbly gravity and I will fit all of me in there

                        chewing at the opening

                        I opened a face from the middle
                          and held it open like some scar
                       for sixteen hours I shaved a skull

            I dressed in layers for preparation of a dive
                          I wanted to love you

-Annie Grizzle; from Return to the Gathering Place of the Waters, May 2017