I’m So American Sometimes – Micro Essay

by Azia DuPont

I’m so American sometimes.  White, 2.5 kids, Christian, and I feel free—until I think about my IUD and the Suffragists long before me and suddenly I’m in cages, tied down with thick ropes, gagged, unable to breathe or scream, blindfolded.  I’m so blind.  I think maybe the box my little life fits into isn’t made of a white picket fence, but barbed wired worries barricading my brain—small reminders to not get too comfortable, too satisfied because maybe I’m still second-class (maybe still a bit white trash.)  And it seems no one can remember a time when women had to keep their mouths shut.  It seems that there are people out there that want me to keep my mouth shut.  It seems some people choose a life of silence, holding in their words until they dissolve into their throats, into their blood and their bodies are made up of everything they’ve ever swallowed. Their daughters growing up to expect hollow hearts with swollen wombs, ovaries that belong to God & Nation, birthing little soldiers and package-makers who fight for Freedom! and 2.5 children households!  While the corporations wear crowns made of thorns and we worship our paychecks and we drink to our freedom and the bombs explode in the sky while our children light sparklers and we wear American flags on our t-shirts because where do we go from here?

Azia DuPont currently resides in Northern Iowa. Her poetry has recently appeared or is forthcoming in The Screaming Sheep, Scapegoat Review and Haunted Waters Press and her essay, “I don’t love you like I don’t hate tomatoes” was featured in the Canadian magazine, Highbrau. She is the Co. Founder and Fiction Editor for the ePub Dirty Chai. You can find her online via Twitter @aziadupont.

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“No Love Lost”

by Ryan McGinty

Take my reflection
and wear it as a mask
mirrored in the dark.

Through the wall
her muffled screams
crescendo and break.

A door slams shut,
the screaming stops.
Gentle sobs fade to
nothingness.

The faucet runs
uninterrupted
for days.

Water can’t find a toehold,
slides right down the drain.

Ryan McGinty graduated from Gustavus Adolphus College in 2010, where he majored in English with a writing emphasis. His work has been published in Eclectic Flash, the Battered Suitcase, and Firethorne. He won the Lawrence Owen Prize for Poetry in 2010. Ryan is also founder and CEO of Oil Can Marketing LLC – a Minneapolis based internet marketing firm that helps small businesses increase their visibility online. When he’s not working or writing you can usually find him home brewing a batch of beer. He lives in South Minneapolis with his bride Lauren.

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“A gunman opens fire”

by John Sweet

when all you want to do is sing,
or maybe be
be told you’re beautiful

a baby falls from the sunfilled sky,
a rain of weeping hawks, of
angels with broken wings,

and do you remember the
sound of me holding your hand?

were we actually ever in love w/
anything more
than the idea of escape?

i need to believe
that we were.

John Sweet won the 2014 Lummox Poetry Prize, the resultant collection, The Century of Dreaming Monsters, is now available. 

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“Crossing the line”

by Mark Vogel

The habit of their lives is never to recognize
that they have irredeemably crossed the line.
~Philip Roth, Exit Ghost

When the intuitive gropes, seeking to act,
there can be beauty in creating change,
in turning from habit, though by definition
time is insufficient to judge as the spontaneous
and innocent push forward. Elsewhere
a plotting determined cabal collects this morning
under florescent lighting, ready to force
confrontation. Those living for sustained
destruction are parodies of professors
so professional as they walk a poisoned
trail cultivating their degree-ed outrage.
Arranging damning labels that cheapen,
documenting sources arguing for pain,
they breathe as one glued group,
with hair in place and words arranged.
They know to whisper propaganda—
respect, justice, community—
and catalogue in notebooks the spreading
sin of others, and visit suited authorities
to test rhetoric, to weaken their enemy
and drive her away. Then, when noticed,
they swarm and sting because they suffer
so much, o tears, living so long as grey ghosts
powerless to strike. They pick at wounds
in spare arranged moments, then explode art
and refuse to see the rubble. When their victim
appears to confront, they stand together
erasing plotting smiles, and speak innocently
of love for pedigreed dogs. They can’t
help but hold hate tight like a hardened turd
until a persistent chill curdles their blackened
blood. When exposed blemishes fester,
they build the inevitable stroke, waiting
impatiently to see what they have built,
to get all they are due—blind to seeded
karma already growing roots down
in the trampled ground.

Mark Vogel has published short stories in Cities and Roads, Knight Literary Journal, Whimperbang, SN Review, and Our Stories. Poetry has appeared in Poetry Midwest, English Journal, Cape Rock, Dark Sky, Cold Mountain Review, Broken Bridge Review and other journals. He is currently Professor of English at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina, and directs the Appalachian Writing Project.

Two Poems: “A Final Round” & “Slouching on a Siamese Pipe”

by Colin Dodds

A Final Round

I was led like Socrates to the slaughter.
And they cut my head off quick, without hacking.
They batted it idly against the courtyard wall awhile.

I think my parents set me up.
After the crowd left, they placed my head back onto my neck,
then walked off, burbling with smalltalk.

I stood up, gingerly. I wasn’t dead yet,
but couldn’t reason why. A little dizzy, a little bleary,
I went for a drink, to wait for death to catch on.

My executioners came in, talking cautiously.
And I stayed at the bar, rattled but amused.
Healing was out of the question.

Beyond eavesdropping at last,
I ordered another drink and reveled
in my peculiar, almost-dead blues.

Slouching on a Siamese Pipe

I’ve been waiting this way
As long as I could arrange—
Somewhere between a millionaire
And a man who needs to change.

Every bar is an island,
But not one where I can stay.
I make my home, I take my stand
Then daylight throws me away.

I throw myself away, claim it wasn’t my idea.
My self-breaking heart waits until the lights are out
Before uttering its one true plea.

The barstools, the women and the war
Come along for the ride.
Like the contents of a drawer
Yanked open too hard,
We slosh like a frustrated tide.

All the bars are the same.
Their residents meant me harm before I came.

The friendliest ones take the most,
Wielding new vices,
Sealing my fate with a toast.

At the end, slouching on a Siamese pipe,
The air dirty with desperate laughter
I look at my hands and wonder
If the moment was ever ripe,
If it was life that I was really after.

Colin Dodds grew up in Massachusetts and completed his education in New York City. He’s the author of several novels, including WINDFALL and The Last Bad Job, which the late Norman Mailer touted as showing “something that very few writers have; a species of inner talent that owes very little to other people.” Dodds’ screenplay, Refreshment, was named a semi-finalist in the 2010 American Zoetrope Contest. His poetry has appeared in more than a hundred forty publications, and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Colin lives in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife Samantha. You can find more of his work at thecolindodds.com.

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Two Poems: “ageing” & “reborn”

by Dan Jacoby

ageing

sometimes at the end of the day
just before giving up on waking
trying to gather thoughts
about the next day
failures, victories
like a preening tom cat
going over old ground
listening for a sound, a chance
to minister some resolution
a figment like gatsby
fresh to the scent
of daises and coke bottle glasses
found in barbwire wastes
I hear the house move
just so in the hard wind
cat hears it too
he hears much more than I
ears still ringing
from a 1960’s firebase shelling
back cramping, flinching
hears my heart racing
sensing an incoming old terror
mind no longer in neutral

reborn

where does one catch
the moon taxi for the bayou
you think you know
you have no idea

brother, you don’t know the road
its’ roots go deep
hidden in the kudzu of time
a thin line between genius and delusion

destructive power in blind ambition
when you’re ankle deep in horseshit
with that three on a tree
in high gear on bald tires

early lunch, tacos and beer
moonshine in the trunk
trying to find spirituality
on a tractor or in bottom pasture

one can always go back to that place
and pull the pain back up
sitting with a bottle of sour mash
making obscene coyote calls

momma said it was just a phase
growing up southern baptist
a little too rigid, just elohim
too low on air

like an old stern wheeler
trying to capture the rhythm of the river
navigating the snags of mussle shoals
to avoid an early grave

an all too fast tequila boogie and
jukebox playing chautauqua hymns
left over from an old medicine show might
leave enlightened cab fare to gather at the river

Dan Jacoby was born in Chicago in 1947. He has published poetry in Indiana Voice Journal, Haunted Waters Press, Deep South Magazine, Lines and Stars, Red Booth Review, Wilderness House Literary Review, Steel Toe Review, and Red Fez. He is a member of the American Academy of Poets.

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Tourmaline – Micro Essay

by Karen Eileen Sikola

The day you got married, the forecast predicted rain, a rain that never fell but seemed to remain still in the air. I took my dogs to the park, where the mist clung to their fur but never seeped in. I ate breakfast in a train car diner, where the coffee was weak and the Spartan Special sat uneasily in my stomach. I returned home and watched recorded TV dramas until the meal settled. I had sex in the shower. I finished an opened bottle of blended red that had been on the counter a day too long. I ate Rice-A-Roni, and roasted Brussels sprouts, and an ice cream sandwich. I went to bed.

The day after you got married, I ran six miles in new shoes that gave me shin splints. I showered too soon afterward and sweat through clean clothes as my body tried to recover. I watched my boyfriend and his friends brew a batch of stout so dark the runoff stained the patio, listened silently to their banter as I closed my eyes and soaked in the last few rays of sunlight before the cold turned permanent. I watched the dogs chase flies that flew into our rented townhouse every time the screen door opened. I drank cider in 4 oz. increments. I ate leftovers and watched the Saints overcome an 11-point deficit. I stayed up for the evening game only to go to bed at halftime.

The Monday after you got married, I woke up.

Karen Eileen Sikola received her M.F.A. in Creative Nonfiction from California State University, Fresno. She now lives in Boston, where she works in publishing and conducts the blog TrainWrite. Her nonfiction has appeared in several journals, includingMonkeybicycle, Specter Magazine, and Used Furniture Review. Her digital chapbook, “Riding the Green Line,” is available from Walleyed Press.

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