SITUATIONAL FICTIONS by Kushal Poddar

Situation A

I could hear him bang his head against his side of the wall. It would sound like Morse code for ‘Help!’. Once I asked him, actually everyone should have done so, but I did, and he said, “If I were a storyteller, I would have said, “That’s another story.”.” I could hear him and the noise soothed me into a tunnel of dreams.

Situation B  

“What’s this place?”
“It is called darker.”
“Darker? Darker than what?”
“Itself.”
The fragrance noted Chinese cuisine. One red lantern sways our shadows as if two monsters came to a blind date, and one’s eye opened up.

Situation C


Tim’s this birth rewrites his other ones
with some correction ink.
Think, he received a hard spanking
from his father, after he was caught
catcalling a girl in red number (he said,
“You are a walking wet dream.”),
and his father was sentenced to jail
for having intercourse with his secretary
promising to marry her. Tim joined
the team of ‘Death for Rapists!’
Things were bad and worse and then worse and bad
until all narrowed down to a zero begging
for a rebirth before a woman. We know, somewhere
Tim’s father has his new life as well. We want
to meet him and together find the rest to erase
past mistakes with the new ones. It will be bad
and worse, and then worse and bad begging
for another chance to complete what we mean
to begin and never do.
….

Situation D


“Tidy up your mouths.” her mother said, “You’ll have many kisses. Some will break open your inside. All of them will be the first kiss ever.” Now she wanted to tell this when her daughter would be caught kissing their neighbor’s son who would seem reluctant.

“I hate to live here.” She hissed. She desired to leave the memories of her debauchery outside their knot. Her husband held her waist and reeled out the kite into the bright sky.

When he sat on the old leather upholstery he imagined himself staring at the car’s pane and the reflection of the branches and the leaves and the wind shaking down the flowers. He blew the horn for no reason. It was not a windy day at all.
 …


Situation E

“I hate to live here.” She hissed. She desired to leave the memories of her debauchery outside their knot. Her husband held her waist and reeled out the kite into the bright sky.

Situation F

When he sat on the old leather upholstery he imagined himself staring at the car’s pane and the reflection of the branches and the leaves and the wind shaking down the flowers. He blew the horn for no reason. It was not a windy day at all.


A poet and a father, Kushal edited magazine ‘Words Surfacing’ and authored The Circus Came To My Island’, ‘A Place For Your Ghost Animals’, ‘Understanding The Neighborhood’, ‘Scratches Within’, ‘Kleptomaniac’s Book of Unoriginal Poems’, ‘Eternity Restoration Project- Selected and New Poems’ and ‘Herding My Thoughts To The Slaughterhouse-A Prequel’.

Find and follow him:

Amazon -@amazon.com/author/kushalpoddar_thepoet 

Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/KushalTheWriter/ 

Twitter- https://twitter.com/Kushalpoe

FIVE POEMS by Caroliena Cabada

SONNET WITH A SHORT STORM

In the Midwest, storms go as soon as they
arrive. Torrential downpour of water
in liquid form or ice. Everyone stay
inside; this is not weather to dance. Turn
the lights off and observe the sun shower.
Clouds diffuse the glow and turn to static.
Witness the sky falling in past the hour,
weather mimicking moods, turns erratic.
Earth, maybe, is stir-crazy, too, wishes
for a spring of realignment, bringing
chaotic blossoming, and finishes
with a steady drip of robins singing.
Here, the sunset shines throughout the rainstorm,
gives thunder lurid color and its form.


HOW TO COMMUNICATE CATASTROPHE

Give it a name. If you
name it, you own it: ask
Adam and the God he’d
chosen. Dominion is
another word for only.
Ask Eden. It was growing
wild just fine until
these humans
arrived. Give it back
its terrain: it will
mend, and still.
Give it a name—it will
take a body, too. Give it
an inch, it will blossom
for miles. In the end,
dominion sounds nicer
in a poem, and a naming
seems innocuous: that’s
innocent. A name
can still strike fear,
retain its feeling, be
said wrong: make it right.


AUBADE, INSIDE

light brightens horizon,
dissolves darkness


sunrise reaches the bed
we’ve slept in,
smooth again for dozing
afternoon on top of covers
of course we are lovers


we hold each other’s worries in
our stomachs, feed them
with every bite of news
scrolling our screens


in this life there are beds
and there are beds


listen, birdsong
heralds springtime


flowered trees
lose blossoms in the hail but still
we’re awe-struck transfixed
blink the storms away


rub eyes, stare sunlight,
tomorrow do it over again


AFTERMATH

Gusts sucker punch

       steamroll
    straighten gnarled
branches into wicked sharp
scratches in the screen door
At best
    this is all
More often trees
stretch then fall into the door,
knocking so hard glass
       shatters
    into every reckoning
    What’s with the tornado
warning? It’s only a little
bit of wind, it’s only a summer
    storm gone
       faster
than it came on, lingers
still
    in the power lines felled.
Every gust is a body slam.
       Every
    slam is another day
left in the dark. The trees do
their part.


SONNET WAKING UP DURING A STORM

East wind changes, lightning illuminates
the bedroom wall, thunder smacks skin, rumbles
soothing after. Night passes, at this rate
sieves through eyelids, gone with gentle grumbles
of an empty stomach. This, too, shall pass.
With sunrise comes shadows and greying light
thinned by tiny water drops gaining mass
into another thunderhead; it might
break on this great plain, or travel on wind
to the mountain. But days will be long dark,
sunshine found in cups, robins determined
to out-sing the gloom. A calendar mark
to remember another day is gone.
The year passes and always feels so long.


Caroliena Cabada is a writer based in Ames, Iowa. She enjoys warming her feet in the patch of sunlight that crawls across her bedroom floor as the day passes. Her poems have been published in Verse-Virtual, As It Ought To Be Magazine, Eunoia Review, and The Orchards Poetry Review, as well as anthologized in Lyrical Iowa.

FAINT-LIKE, NUMB SLEEP; OUT OF THE ORDINARY DREAM by László Aranyi

Translated by Johanna Semsei

Under the cracked chitin shield the size of many.
Continets there lies the smoldering pile of landfill.
On its habitual heavenly route dragging its
damaged abdomen the overpopulated Earth.

Faint-like, numb sleep; out of the ordinary dream faint-like, numb
sleep;
out of the ordinary dream written by a ghostly hand, a mysterious
meaningless writing a porcelain urn covered by dust It summons
Baron Samedi, the lord of the cemetery.

They say, faint-like, numb sleep;
out of the ordinary dream faint-like, numb sleep;
out of the ordinary dream because honey grounds
moisture is crystal clear drinkable source. war, femine, epidemic is
unknown, it will pace out eachother, mythical unity is created by
man, vegetation, also the Earth

its soul.


Laszlo Aranyi (Frater Azmon) poet, anarchist, occultist from Hungary. Earlier books: (szellem)válaszok, A Nap és Holderők egyensúlya . New: Kiterített rókabőr. English poems published: Quail Bell Magazine, Lumin Journal, Moonchild Magazine, Scum Gentry Magazine, Pussy Magic, The Zen Space, Crêpe & Penn, Briars Lit, Acclamation Point, Truly U, Sage Cigarettes Magazine, Lots of Light Literary Foundation, Honey Mag, Theta Wave, Re-side, Cape Magazine, Neuro Logical, The Daily Drunk Mag, All Ears (India), Utsanga (Italy). Known spiritualist mediums, art and explores the relationship between magic.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/laszlo.aranyi.3

Twitter: @azmon6

FIVE POEMS by Lucia Larsen

DIRT

reaching for the language of a lover
to explain my fledgling tears
tipped the bucket onto my head
    Wash me
I was just a girl, they didn’t tell me
a friend can’t leave you brokenhearted, until
I was already drenched in her promises,
slick with her betrayal

a new word traced into my window
by the accusing fingers of children
    Wash me
has me reaching for soapy sponges
with the instinct of an adolescent
concealing their first stains of blood
    Wash me
but if I scrub off her scent
would she no longer recognize me?

watch me paint my window with tar
until no finger can expose the glass
watch my hair become so full of grease
children could mistake it for water
watch me become dirtier than any word
you could ever call me
    Wash me
and then watch
as the dirt exudes from my pores


KITE

woman reeling all the
shame out of her tight guts,
fashion a kite from the catch
strung with anger
woman flying kites of
indignant rage,
breathe fresh air
into your relaxed bowels


woman, wake to a world
where we are all made of
equal parts paper and wind
and find your bowels to be tight again,
twisting in their strangeness,
in bed with the girl
on the cusp of puberty you’ve
become without
shame, string, or soul
what of the woman
would be left in the girl?
just a mother for her teenager
to try out contempt
would she even remember
that woman with the hand-crafted kite
from her new, untethered ascent?


EDEN

I dream of a child- mine
Through some fluke of creation,
they will be made solely from my line
Wrestling endlessly against our relation
Eden, two bodies intertwined,
making each other in bruises and scars

I dream of a child- ours
Through two women, impossibly birthed,
they will be made from of the strength of our powers
Forging dissent that could shatter the earth
Eden, a foundation made of flowers,
braiding a home to cradle our wars

I dream of a child- yours
Through the conspiracy of your genetics,
they will be made behind locked doors
Breaking wood in my impassioned hysterics
Eden, new blood on pine-needle floors,
tearing out walls to enter my shrine

Re-making the earth with each ripple of the vine
Eden, a woman and a child- mine


SOAP

they rubbed soap on my belly
to soothe the cramps
they anointed my heels
to keep me on my knees
they pinched my arms
until I shed enough tears of joy
to fill the baptismal font


trade cigarettes for
redemption
then put one hand to the heavens
and one to the floor
just don’t drop the soap
or they will brand you
a whore


the soap on my belly
is leaving me cracked open
but, you know I’ve got to be
worn down to nothing
to pass through the eye
of a needle
does God know her daughters
are starving themselves
to fit through her door?


CRAFT

our sunday school craft
was to make a familiar of our shame
we slaughtered them for red wine and
peace be with you
but I must have bled her dry
somewhere
because even my grandmother’s funeral
could not make me cry now

we were reluctant theater kids
envying nuns
for being allowed conviction
behind closed doors
promising to bow our heads
through all our passing youth
if it will win us an exorcism
behind the bleachers

performative sinners
praying to all our good grief
that somewhere in the wings
there will still be a god
for the shameless


Lucia Larsen is from Chicago and is currently studying for her Masters in Environmental Management at the University of Stirling in Scotland. She is interested in climate change and conservation efforts.
Twitter @mslucialarsen

FOUR POEMS by Andi Talbot

COFFEE HOUSE

The trick
he told me
was establishing a connection
catching the eye
when theirs move up
from the headlines
to the room
from the phone
to the counter
from the menu
to the waitress.

Catch the eye
but
don’t stare for too long
don’t be too obvious
it sends entirely the wrong message
and makes for a short
and uncomfortable
Monday morning coffee experience.

Trust me
that’s not how you want to start your week.


SLOUCH

Could it be the eyes?
Some newly discovered shade of blue
they are piercing me
and finally I feel seen. 


I stumble through my order
my tongue tripping over every single syllable
and I’m not quite sure it’s got anything to do with the fact I’ve been day drinking rum like it’s going out of style.

Could it be the nails?
Painted on in public
between tending to the pumps and
pouring pints for the parched patrons.
I envy them, it’s such a power move and they need to know I feel this way.

If you’ll allow me to get slightly off topic,
the music in here is always memorable
It’s the only reason I have Shazam downloaded on my phone and before tonight was the only reason I returned.

Bloc Party
Mansun
Hendrix
The Doors,
the list goes on.

I don’t know,
maybe it was the company
maybe it was the alcohol
maybe it was my mood
or maybe I was just feeling it
but the music in this place always did something to me.

Between every round I would
talk my friends ear off about it
about the music
about those nails
and those eyes
and that smile

until eventually
I find the courage
likely Dutch
but courage none the less
and I find my feet
and I find myself at the bar
and I find myself
finally
finally
finally telling him
and a weight lifts
we slip into casual conversation
and the night rolls on.


STAY

The comfort of a stranger
fresh eyes without judgement
skin against new skin
with a scent unfamiliar
yet appealing

This home
could be my home
that bed
could be my bed
that smile you smiled
the first time I spoke your name aloud
could be
my smile
it’s
different
from the one you wear
in the company of others

In your company
I find myself content
not content as in:
“this will do”
“I’ll settle for this”
or even “this is good enough”

but the kind of content
where time loses all meaning
though there’s never enough
and I find myself wishing I could stay.

Could I?
Could I stay?
Here?
Could I?


OLD WOUNDS / NEW SKIN

It’s a new outfit
or a new style
or a new haircut
It’s to be daring again
to feel liberated
to find yourself
by yourself
for yourself

It’s new ink
or a new hobby
It’s a new life
a fresh start
and a whole new level of
“Fuck it, this is my life and I’m going to live it by my rules”

It’s putting yourself first
it’s realising that you can actually put yourself first.

It’s growth
It’s change
It’s looking to the future
and shedding the weight of the past

It’s learning to cover Old Wounds in New Skin.


Andi Talbot is a poet from Newcastle, England. They are an avid Raiders, San Jose Sharks and Newcastle United Fan. They can be found on Instagram @andichrist19

BARABBAS by Felicia Buonomo

Translated from Italian by Sara Russell.

You speak to me of time that ravages,

of the rebellion that isn’t happening,

of dignity shattered

under the weight of angry words.

You tally my faults

with the voice of those who cried “Barabbas!”

You remind me that even the son of God

is made of flesh that bleeds and dies.

And that no one will watch, for me,

on the third day.


Felicia Buonomo is an Italian journalist. Some of her video-reportage have featured on the Italian national RAI television. Her poems have appeared in various Italian literary magazines and in the American magazine “Our Verse”. She’s author of the essay “Pasolini profeta” (Mucchi Editore, 2011), the book-reportage “I bambini spaccapietre. L’infanzia negata in Benin” (Aut Aut Edizioni, 2020) and the poetry collection “Cara catastrofe” (Miraggi Edizioni, 2020). She directs the poetry editorial series “Récit” for Aut Aut Edizioni

facebook: https://www.facebook.com/feliciabuonomo/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/feliciabuonomo/ 
Twitter: https://twitter.com/feliciabuonomo

SHEEP’S HEAD, DOG MEAT by Jason Love

hanging a sheep’s head above the door

to sell some dog meat without blinking



slinging lies to save just yourself

while the ship is slowly sinking



holding a Bible outside a church

a foolish act of false salvation 



hosting a party on the white house lawn 

while the cities burn within our nation 



helping one’s family to get rich

while forgetting about those in need 



scribbling out this short poem 

that you hopefully will read 


Jason Love was born in Camden, New Jersey and still lives in the area. You can find him on Twitter: @jason_love1.

STRETCH MARKS by Ivan Ruccione

Translated from Italian by Sara Russel

This poem may be triggering to readers who have experienced miscarriage.


We don’t have children. We were about to have one, but he died in the womb. Sure, I was grief-stricken, and yet it was relief that prevailed. I truly don’t know how we would have managed. In an outpouring of sincerity, I told her. Not even she, Virginia, wanted to become a mother, theoretically speaking. It’s just that she came to wrap her whole mind around it. It’s a thought she can’t free herself from. A tiger that crept up on her from behind and left the marks of its claws. Stretch marks. A thought that opened up subtle fault lines on her olive skin, indelibly tracing the map of the drama. I look at the alarm clock, then at Virginia. She spends her days reading and dying. Nothing else. She doesn’t care for anything anymore. Cocaine, yes, but it’s an occasional splurge. She hardly speaks. Not long ago I asked her to try again and she said no, it’s better this way; it would not have been fair to me. She kills herself with beers. Discount beers that taste like rust and tears. So bitter.
I fumble in my underwear, lightly touching her butt with my hand, while she sleeps face-down. Strangely, she doesn’t notice. What can I say? Not even thunder wakes her up.



Ivan Ruccione’s stories have appeared in Italian literary magazines such as Nazione Indiana, Poetarum Silva, Altri Animali, Cattedrale, and in American AGNI Magazine, Minute Magazine and The Daily Drunk. He is author of a story collection Troppo tardi per tutto (Too Late for Everything; Augh Edizioni, 2019, preface by Helena Janeczek). He was born in 1986 and lives in Vigevano, a historic town near Milan. He can be found on Twitter @IvanRuccione and on Facebook.

FIVE POEMS by Carly Dudek

OF ALL THE THINGS I COULD BE GRIPPING

My hands gripped the steering wheel. 

This feels like this start of all bad stories.

She sat right next to me. We were laughing,

And then I asked her if she had feelings for someone. 



That someone was not me. I laughed. 

She grinned. They were dreamy, lovestruck,

Star-crossed lovers with every reason to tempt fate.

I was enamored with her joy. 



We sat together and stared at the water. 

I imagined a life where I loved her.  

Where I was hurt. Where she loved me. 

Where I denied her. Where we both loved



Each other.


I’M SURE YOU LOVED TO READ WHEN YOU WERE YOUNG

I’m sure you loved to read when you were young.

Now, you forget what I’ve said 3 sentences ago.

I can’t imagine you’d do well with a book of thousands. 



A generation of geniuses 

(And their kids are getting dumber, it seems)

Must have inherited their wit from somewhere

(And it surely wasn’t their father). 



We used to say you were sharp as a whip 

While your body decayed. 

Both brain and body 

Have seen better days. 

So is the curse of age. 



One day,

I won’t know myself.

The universe will end in a

Supernova.

I will end

In erosion.


TO LIE IN BED

To lie in bed, 

Listening to the sounds of a former teen idol

Singing of a love you only wish you knew. 



To feel so full, so much of a heartbreak you assume—

You beg— 

Is fictional, 

Lest your fantasy of solidarity be spoiled. 



For if he, 

Who sings of loneliness, 

Of a void you know so truly, 

Is not alone— 

What does that mean for you?


DO YOU LOVE THE SMELL OF DECAY?

I think about the way  

It’s not really a personality trait 

To say you love the fall. 



When you arrive, smiling wider 

Than I’ve ever seen, crunching

Leaves underfoot, 



I can’t help but think that 

You are the most amazing 

And unique person in this whole world.



You consume me.  



When you think of autumn, 

You think of sun rays and 

Bright reds and oranges and pumpkins. 



When I think of autumn, 

I think of decay and death 

And the smell of rot.


1765 C (TRIGGER WARNING)

This poem may be triggering to readers who have experienced self harm or suicidal thoughts.

I was pink slipped into the hospital
When I was in college;
It was really unfortunate because being pink slipped
Means they think you are a danger to yourself
Or others, but it’s kind of unfair to think about
Because I didn’t want to hurt myself and
Actually, now that I think about it,
I specifically told them that I was thinking about it
And that’s what scared me, because to reiterate
I did not want to hurt myself or others.


Anyway, the food was terrible and some
Girl actually walked up to me and
Said, “What’s your story?” and I
Didn’t know how to respond so I guess
I just told her that I kind of thought about dying
Too much.


Anyway I got out in 24 hours
But it would have been 2-4 hours
Because I didn’t want to die
But hospitals are like the DMV and it
Takes hours to be seen.


Residents used to do a pretty racist
Impression of the Doctor from South Asia
Saying something like “This is not the Motel Six,”
Because you can’t just check out any time you want.
It felt pretty ominous because it sounded exactly
Like the lyrics to “Hotel California.”


Anyway I still think about it all the time
And have nightmares
And overshare with people who just met me
Because my psychiatrist told me I have mania.


The speaker
Is not
The poet,
I cry indignantly.


Carly Dudek (she/her/hers) holds a Bachelor’s degree in English and a passion for writing that frustrates her to no end. Her academic interests include mental health, adaptation theory, and aesthetics. She currently works in residence life for an arts boarding school.

FOUR POEMS by Mia Ochoa

2,200-SOMETHING MILES OF WISHFUL THINKING

if I told you every story of when I’ve thought I’ve met a ghost

I wonder how many you’d believe

lately I’ve been thinking about these sort of things

how late you’d risk staying up to talk to me

when I’m sleeping on California time

it’s not like my timezone here makes any more sense

I complain about it every chance I get

nonstop dreaming about waking up in Chicago

getting real food and meeting someone new

who’ll make me think the west coast beaches

are a little too tacky for a corn lover like me

am I a nihilist for thinking, if nothing is real

then I should be able to have you?

in the end I guess I’ll never know

(chew up the thoughts,



spit them out)

I keep thinking of the girl I loved and how badly I want to love her again

but she’s stayed the same, timid reverence staining her cheeks

despite the temptation, I’ve quit my habit of chivalry

in fact, I’m not sure I care for

anything anymore

now I’m driving further from you 

ending up just as close

cutting states in half with my toes, I carried

something from coast to coast

maybe it’s the allergies, or all the bad moods

intergenerational pain marked in every chromosome

I hope it washes away in the mountains,

sweated out in salt water

so when I come back I’m stainless, polished

ready for the things about you that I’ll never know


HARDLY A MIRACLE

the weather app said it was 80, but it felt more like 60

as me and my mom stood outside the doctor’s office

then we got a phone call allowing us inside and

in 2 hours, I ended a 2 year streak of being med-free



here’s how I did it: speaking too softly at the front desk

forgetting my ID, gauchely trailing a nurse

to a room I had never been in before, filling out a form I know 

like the taste of my fingernails



it told my doctor I have mild to severe depression, but given my history

she immediately began the “you’re not a failure” spiel

I nodded along to soften our eye contact

with the strength of a washed-up jellyfish, I agreed to SSRIs (again)



you see, I’m always a good girl at therapy and what happens in between bi-monthlies 

but stress is something you’re born with when your family’s one step away from Hereditary

which wasn’t a scary movie, by the way. Honestly, 

it was boring



anyway



my real problem is 

the space from me and my dreams shifts like the New Madrid Seismic Zone

while I waste energy selfishly gnawing on my bones

and the real kicker is, ever since I was little, I’ve had a thing against Jesus

wanting to prove I could do that schtick better than him



I mean come on, I’m 19, I need to grow up

pain isn’t sent from heaven to save me from sin



with my mouth sewed shut, I avoided mentioning any of this

we decided on 20mg of fluoxetine

before I left, a nurse had to draw a blood sample

lucky me, I remembered which arm works better, the blood

splashed in the tube like someone turned a tap on

I squirmed, thinking of how I hate veins almost as much as wine

she asked if I was okay, I said yes



it was a celebration


GLITTER BAND-AID

This poem may be triggering to readers who have experienced self harm.

the equivalent of getting a bomb in the mail

grim metaphor, but that’s the world today

I have canyons in my flesh that were taken from me

the second I saw you, my sleeves rolled up

and instead of drying blood, glitter sparkled

spilling out onto these gritty plastic floors

everyone knows now

on lonely nights, every night 

I clean the mess by snorting the piles

and piles collecting in my bedroom

at least that’s what people assume

the truth is I let you stick to the walls, 

repaint the sides of my bathtub

then I spend all night calming my heartbeat

“I love you” arrhythmically repeats its dance

until I get up the next day

smearing your glitter on everyone I know


SEPSIS (KARMA, AS THICH NAHT HANH WOULD SAY)

if you keep your hands half open on your lap

on a road trip, they feel twisted upside down.

I’m not as bitter and confused as before,

but my pain is still rotting inside.

maybe my words have gotten weaker

because I’ve given up on ever being happy

and I’ve given up on the fantasy of dying.

only inches separate me and my dad.

my head turns to the fields, frozen and lonely.

I wish people didn’t just call me “cool” or “funny”.

my soul must’ve made this choice

long before I was born.

while I stare at the cracks in the highway

I think of how the me I know never deserved this,

but I know I am eager, and when given the option

I prefer to get the worst over with.

this life I’m not meant to be fulfilled,

I’m meant to suffer past when I can’t anymore.

and when I grow old and die my small family will cry

and you’ll sit on my lap as you hold my hand.


Mia Ochoa is an anxiety-riddled Hoosier with an infatuation for heartache and fantasy getaways. Beginning with short horror stories in elementary school, she has used writing as a way to materialize her skewed view of the world ever since. Mia is currently earning her BSW at Ball State University.