Brief Interaction with God and Pizza by Ashley Pearson

  I was Christened fashionably late in a white lace gown from the sales rack at Bergners. I can not remember being baptised, but I imagine it was a grand affair. Much of my family was in tow; a crowd of stiff pressed black pants and strong cologne.
  My dear Uncle, who was on the brink of his third divorce and fourth marriage, was named as my godfather. I wonder if the title of godmother was passed between girlfriends/wives and handed down like a worn Bible. I thank God that I never had to come under their care and be tucked away in the back of some book shelf.
  My baptism brought a sense of normalcy to my birth which was wedlocked, adopted, and foreign. There had never been a Korean to hold my last name. But, there were generations of blonde or bald heads dunked by Lutheran pastors. And, in tradition, my bush of black hair had to be plunged too.
  Briefly, in the baptismal font, a small German child reflected below me.
  I imagine that we celebrated in good, middle-class, Midwestern fashion with a pot roast at home or pizza from a place that handcuts their own pepperoni. I could not eat solid food, but maybe one of my cock-eyed cousins slipped me a pomegranate seed to ensure my sanctity, fertility, and abundance (it was never too early to spit blasphemy on a girl).
  Wedlocked, I was 0-1 with God. Perhaps, 613 seeds down the road, I could break even with Him.


Ashley Pearson is a writer, creative writing and biology double major at Knox College. She is Korean-American. Ashley has been published in The Global Youth Review, Ogma Magazine, and elsewhere. Her work is forthcoming in Qmunicate Magazine, Catch Magazine, and elsewhere. Follow her on Twitter at @ashley___writes and on Instagram at @ashleynicolewrites.

That In-Between Time of the Evening by Collin McFadyen

It had been winter dark for a few hours, so it seemed later than it was. It was that in-between time of the evening, when you could just go home or maybe stay for a few more drinks and see what happens. The dyke bar wasn’t busy yet, a few older butches leaned around the pool table talking about work and women just like any other place. I was the youngest in the room, sitting at the bar with my fake ID hot in my pocket, but the old woman behind it hadn’t asked when I ordered a Rainier. It wasn’t really fake, just stolen. I’d swiped it from the hutch at work where the servers stashed their cigarettes and car keys. I felt a little bad about it because the girl I’d taken it from had pinned a sweet, genuinely friendly note to the corkboard in the break room, asking had anyone seen it?

I sipped my beer and worked on the halfway finished crossword I’d picked out of the pile of newspapers next to the door. The daytime bartender sat a couple stools down from me at the end of the bar, his shift drink in front of him while he counted out his tips and settled up his till. Eventually he pulled his wallet from his back pocket and tucked the bills inside, then knocked back the rest of his whiskey and walked behind the bar and put the zippered bank bag of cash somewhere underneath. He was slim and not much older than me, his faded Levis worn thin in the crotch and butt. A big Western belt buckle peeked out from underneath the hem of his tight black Tina Turner concert tee. He poured himself another whiskey and came back around to his seat and smiled at me and said Oh Lord what a long day and then we just started chatting like people do in bars; about not much but friendly enough. He had the old lady bartender pour him another, and he bought me a beer too. I went ahead and bought myself a whiskey to go with it because it was too early to check into the shelter anyway. We talked about Tina Turner and how it was the best concert he’d ever seen, even though it was in the Tacoma Dome. He was from Ellensburg, originally, he said, but aside from the cowboys who came for the Fourth of July Rodeo, there was no reason for him to stay, so he’d come to Seattle. Like Dorothy goin’ to Oz he said, and I wondered what he meant by that.

He was a nice enough guy, at least nice enough to be working in a dyke bar, so when he told me his dog had puppies, five of them, I agreed to go with him and see them. His apartment was above the bar, two stories up. We walked out the back door of the bar and then went right back in through the alley door that led upstairs. Inside, the air felt slightly moldy, and smelled like cigarettes and bleach and tv dinners. I followed him down a narrow hall on a stringy trail of carpet until he stopped and took out his keys. The door was white once but now it was greyed with years of ghostlike handprints, and the tin room number 24 was nailed on a little crooked. When he put his key in the lock, he had to jiggle the worn doorknob a certain way before it turned.

Inside, a person could tell it had been an SRO, a bum hotel, with a tiny sink and a small shelf under a mirror on one wall. The other side of the room was a makeshift kitchen; a two burner electric hotplate and a small dorm room sized fridge sat on a rough wooden counter that looked like it was found in the alley and would have to do. The Murphy bed was down, and neatly made, but it felt weird to sit there so I just stood where I was. The only window looked towards the Space Needle; a reminder I was far from home.

The dog lay on a pile of pillows covered with a flowered quilt. She was brown and medium and no particular kind of dog at all. She looked up at the bartender and waggled her stumpy tail, then went back to mothering her puppies, licking them and arranging them with her nose while they nursed. Their little bodies, plump with milk, looked more like baby manatees than puppies.

He said Hi Mama Girl, and stroked her head and ears, then reached into the pile of pups and pulled one out for me to see. Her worried brown eyes watched him rise and she nudged the others closer together into the warm curve of her belly.

He passed me the puppy, it’s body so loose and boneless that it almost slid through my hands. I held him up to my face and looked at him closely, close enough to smell his earthy puppy breath. Little drops of foamy milk clung to the tiny whiskers sprouting from his chin and lips, and his nose was pink and damp. He was perfectly still, and I stared into his cloudy blue eyes for a long minute until my own eyes felt hot and sharp and I turned away. Mama Girl watched him hanging above her in a stranger’s hands, and shuffled a little on the quilt, maybe considering saving him but afraid to leave the others. I closed my eyes and rubbed the pup’s smooth fur against my cheek and breathed his smell, then gave him back to the bartender who put him down with the rest. Mama Girl tongued him clean while he searched for a nipple and went back to suckling like nothing ever happened.

The bartender asked if I wanted to go back downstairs and have another drink, and I said sure, and as we left the apartment I noticed that the door hadn’t fully closed and I could see Mama Girl through the open crack. I followed him down the hall to the stairs and as he descended ahead of me, I changed my mind. I told him I wasn’t feeling well, and thanks for showing me the puppies, but I was going to go home. We said goodbye and he walked down the stairs and I heard the music get loud as he went in the back door to the bar.

I turned around and walked back to the apartment, my chest tight and so full of mad and sad that it felt like my heart was pumping nothing but tears. Quietly, I pushed open the door. Mama Girl looked up from the litter, suspicious, but didn’t get up. I looked at the puppies and thought about taking mine with me, but he was snuggled warm and safe in with the others and I knew he was better off where he was. I stood quietly and looked around the room. On a small table next to the bed sat a bracelet made of cheap silver, probably from the market, the kind that turns your skin green. It looked like it was supposed to be Indian, and had tiny little bells that tinkled quietly when I picked it up. Mama Girl watched me with her sad dark eyes while I slipped it inside my bag. I left the apartment, careful to close the paint-chipped door all the way and turn the knob until I heard the latch click. Outside in the night, I could smell the puppy on my hands as I warmed them with my breath. It seemed later than it was, I thought, and I turned quickly down the alley, hoping to make it to the shelter before they locked the doors.


Collin McFadyen is a Queer writer living in North Portland with their wife, two sons, and a wicked cute terrier. They have been published at Subjectiv, Tealight Press, Kissing Dynamite, and others. Follow them on Twitter @crayonsdontrun and on their website.

VAMPIRE by Holly Redshaw

I wait on your replies,
They mean as much
As your mouth and touch,
Though somehow still,
They’re never enough.
There’s a gap, a crack,
A little jagged, perhaps.
I feed on your love
To fill me up,
I must leak, I suppose,
It keeps draining out.
And I hold you close,
I bite your skin,
I give, give out,
And let you in;
Take from whatever else
the earth can give,
But there’s dirt
out there, and smoke.
I don’t know if
I can let myself live
In a place where people are happy
To just be unhappy.
Where satisfaction’s crude,
It’s normal to be rude
Uncouth
Feral
And empty.
The sky is empty,
The clouds are only air –

I feed on your love
To fill me up.
I must leak, I suppose,
It keeps draining out.


Holly is a bassoonist from London, currently studying for her Masters at the Royal College of Music. When not playing the bassoon, Holly enjoys going on long runs, making her own bread, and writing reviews of crème brûlées on her blog, “Can’t Be Beaten.” Follow her on Twitter @hollyredshaw and on Instagram at @hol_red.

THE DELIVERY MAN WAVES by Kevin Bonfield

Silhouette of a child
Waving.
Her Dad,
I’ve presumed to be
her Dad,
so powerful,
not tall,
but a presence
at the door.

Her Mother,
I guessed her Mother,
struggles
with the dawn grizzling
of
(what I imagine is)
a sibling.

Still waving
Glancing left
To catch a parents eye
Her face
In shadow
Back lit by
Modern trappings
Yet I feel the smile
Without glancing
Back

This magical
Moment
Simple
Yet soiled
By what we know


Kevin Bonfield is a rather private writer inspired by a certain past, a glorious present and a hopeful future. Follow him on Twitter at @bonfield_kevin and on Instagram @kevinswrites

IT’S ALL RIGHT, REALLY by Hannah Beairsto

It’s ok, really. It is fine, no, honestly, I should have reminded you we were meeting for coffee. I know you’re busy as the ant who found half of a donut in the puddle behind the coffee shop. No, no, I wasn’t waiting long. I just ordered a latte, then crossed my legs in a table by the window so I could see the street and see you coming through the droplets in the glass. 

It’s all right, don’t apologize, I ordered a pastry when I’d finished the coffee, but after  five hours they kicked me out. I knew before then you weren’t coming, but it was raining outside, the pavement slick beneath cars that weren’t yours, my empty coffee cup clammy in my hand and I knew if I unglued myself from that seat to head out in the downpour I would ruin my dress and my makeup and I would start crying. And I’d keep crying and the tears and the rain  would runoff my skirt and dissolve together into the water cycle, streaked with eyeliner for contrast. I’d forgotten my umbrella. 

See, I forget things all the time, so it’s ok, it’s fine, we’ll get coffee next week. I know you’re busy with the husband and kids and that 401k while I couldn’t justify wasting money on a second cup of coffee so I could keep my seat longer, because I knew that wasn’t how it worked. No matter how much I sacrificed to the coffee shop, no matter how long I waited, or how hard I  cried in the parking lot rain, you weren’t going to come. 

I sat dripping in my car, watching that ant try to pick up the donut, crumbs melting away into the puddle. Since when do ants gather alone? 

It’s all right. Really. I had towels in the backseat. 


Hannah Beairsto hails from the Poconos in Northeast Pennsylvania, home of ski resorts, waterfalls, and family fun. She has no pets, spouses, or children to brag about, and would like everyone to remember her first name is a palindrome. Follow her on Twitter at @thepalindrome12 and Instagram at @beairstohannah.

DISSECTION OF A NANNY CAM BEAR by Kristin Garth

after Servant

Lacerate cheap seams, cobalt blue fur,
ribboned fluff around electrical veins —
extraction of camera demure.
Even the small in this house are not spared pain.
You live with a miracle, credit unclaimed
by the stranger whose name you know to be feigned —
chiseled on slate by two surnames the same
inside a cemetery in a town
she is supposed to be from. Your child in
unknown arms, you under her thumb, is grounds
for plush evisceration, invasion,
crawl spaces, camera in her bedroom wall.
You’re past the cute espionage protocol.


Kristin Garth is the author of eighteen books of poetry including Flutter Southern Gothic Fever Dream, The Meadow, and Candy Cigarette Womanchild Noir.  She is the Dollhouse Architect of Pink Plastic House, a tiny journal and has a weekly sonnet podcast called Kristin Whispers Sonnets.  Visit her site Kristingarth.com and talk to her on Twitter @lolaandjolie.

SNOW by Howard Moon

With apologies to Carl Sandburg

Snow covers the slain
At Wounded Knee
Old men
Women and children

Snow covers the trail
Over 1,000 miles
Nothing but hardship
Over 4,000 dead

Snow covers the gallows
38 hung
As 4,000 watched
In the Mankato square

Snow covers our lands
Snow covers our graves
Snow covers your murders
Snow – so white so pure


Howard was a professional corporate writer most of his life. In retirement he writes poetry and flash fiction. He identifies as BIPOC – he is Native American. Follow him on Twitter @halfblindpoet and on Instagram @halfblindfloridapoet.

ALLEGORY OF THE BIRD by Shine Ballard

the birds stirring,
chirrup, pitched
outside, snow falls
skirring

and i’ve no clue
why they’re so rest
less

through my picturewindow,
a rouge regard, stoically
alit, sits seen, un
ruffled

it, through the pane, i do perceive—
am i seen, as well
refracted


Shine Ballard, the loucheluftmensch, currently creates and resides on this plane(t).

NOT JUST ANY LOVE SPELL by Alyson Tait

Marina stood in front of the chapel with a wooden box in her hands.  She watched a scrawny teenager close the heavy doors.  

He wore a tux an inch too short; bribed at the last minute by someone in the groom’s family to be an usher, she was sure. 

The doors closing were a sign that the bride was ready to make her entrance, that the clock had struck noon. 

Pews were full.

The wedding was about to start.  

The time she’d allotted for her ritual was slim. 

Marina hustled to the top of the steps and sat down,  legs folded under her — the small box set on the cement.  

Marina opened the lid, doors in her peripheral. If they opened too soon, she would be exposed.  The entire plan would be ruined if she was forced off the leyline to the altar. 

Quickly she removed a square of fabric: silky white with a patch of lace and a single pearlescent button in the middle.  Next, she grabbed a pair of scissors with large black handles and freshly sharpened blades.

 She whispered as she cut into the square, lips moving at warp speed. 

Banish the imposter. 

Protect the lover.  

Shield the innocent.

The scrap fell to the ground in two pieces as she swapped the scissors for other contents — a bundle of herbs and a lighter.  She deftly lit the sage and stored the lighter,  thick smoke curling into the air. 

A scraping sound flitted underneath the doors. 

With urgency, Marina closed the box, tucked it under her arm, and stepped around the corner of the building. Her lips moved again as she waved her smoking bundle through the air. 

She didn’t hear the doors open, but it felt like perfection when she heard a high-pitched scream coming from the spot she’d stood just moments prior. Through a satisfied smile, she repeated her chant. 

Marina finished her sweep of the chapel’s perimeter, legs aching but stable when she reached the front doors again. They stood open, and the inside of the building looked dark as far as she could see.  

A mess of flowers littered the entry, and the two halves of the fabric she had destroyed trailed into the building. 

She doubted the pastor had left with the doors wide open, and very few clergies appreciated her cleansing their buildings; however, badly, she wanted to. 

She’d be in trouble if she entered, even though bad proposals rippled into the spirit realm, and churches were no exception. Not even the veil hid that Heather was never meant for that ceremony, and Marina had felt the dark cloud over the groom’s head. 

With no other options, she shrugged and turned away. She may not be able to change the damage done inside, but still, she was happy.  A doomed relationship had been destroyed, and as an added benefit, she had another chance to court Heather now that she wasn’t in the chapel with that prick. 

My spell worked just as planned, She thought, that or the note I left in her bouquet.


Alyson lives in Maryland where she got married, had her daughter, and began her writing journey. She has appeared in Altered Reality Magazine and (mac)ro(mic). You can find her on twitter @rudexvirus1.

THREE POEMS by Molly Andrew

Blackberries in Autumn

You’re a deviation from the season,
like picking blackberries in autumn.
Or fishing at a frozen lake,
snowflakes powdering my hair and arms
like the dust of old books.
You’re an early morning thunderstorm,
tearing the sunrise like crushed tissue paper.
You draw me towards you
and I finger paint with lipstick on your face,
tracing a constellation.
Then we’re up on our feet,
darting along the ridge of a hill
and tumbling down to the bottom again.


Little Red Inside the Wolf

I was swathed in scarlet.
Everything was dark.
I would go fearlessly,
counting all the seconds if I died.
But I would tear my way out
to plant you heavy with rocks,
dragging you down, crippling you.
Enticing you off the path you drew for me.

Enticing you off the path you drew for me,
dragging you down, crippling you,
to plant you heavy with rocks.
But I would tear my way out,
counting all the seconds. If I died,
I would go fearlessly.
Everything was dark.
I was swathed in scarlet.


Persephone

Pulled beneath the crust of the Earth,
the dread Persephone, Queen of the Underworld,
still wearing the garlands she forged above.
Hypnotised by the fruit of his country,
inexperienced girl craving a barbarous man,
she abandons the vegetation of her blood.
He’s a shadow, that sentient hieroglyph:
“bow down, pretty lady, tell me you love me,
sit here, rule beside me, hold me and fuck me”.
She trails a black silk train down the aisle,
doused in crumbs of grain for confetti,
and is swept up in his arms for a second time.
Kneel for the goddess,
kneel for the queen,
plant seeds in her name in springtime.
She crushes the jeering pomegranates,
dominates the dead with one hand,
and while she’s no lily of the valley,
she’s a cornfield of Hell.


Molly Andrew is a 20-year-old English Literature student at the University of Exeter who enjoys writing poetry in her free time. She finds inspiration in both the personal and the imaginative. Writing is an incredibly cathartic pastime for her.