slotnick_chicago02

Rachel Slotnick is originally from Los Altos, California. Slotnick is a painter and writer who received her MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in May, 2010. Her work is on permanent display at the Joan Flasch Artist Book Collection at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She is a muralist for the 35th, 46th and 47th wards, and her paintings were displayed in a solo exhibition last August at Beauty & Brawn Gallery & Think Space. Published in Elimae Literary Journal and High Chair Poetry, Rachel was also a finalist in the Gwendolyn Brooks Open Mic Awards. Rachel currently resides in Chicago where she works as Adjunct Faculty in art Studio and English at Malcolm X College, and the Illinois Art Institute.

See the full scope of her work at: www.rachelslotnick.com

The Goddess of Wagering

I bet the daily double, combining Mickey Mon Amour, a horse with a string of bad trips, with Chilly Willy who I love in the second. Sometimes a string of bad trips is not a bad thing. When Mickey wins and pays $11.40 and the double returns $91.80 I’m flying, but I don’t let it show. I say a prayer to the Goddess of Wagering who punishes emotional behavior and overconfidence.

For the rest of the afternoon almost every race is won by a horse on the rail. Sadly, I don’t catch on until the eighth. But I clean up in the tenth on Maudlin and cash my tickets.

***
Jean Erhardt’s work has appeared in The Quarterly, Sonora Review, Plazm, 8 Track Mind, and elsewhere.

rebus

You once coated crickets in calcium. For your lizard. Now you choose an L-shaped option, a fake rock basin that fits in a corner. It’s got the powder. When you remember to fill.

Set an adhesive-backed hook by a door. It can hold five pounds. Or a classy J-handled umbrella, pale wood finish. With a jacket, too.

Everyone cleans a cage while someone almost escapes from a shoebox. The Vs of front legs.

Syllabary on the ceiling. If texture texting with data plan or planted. The soil is relative, asking one question: have you grown.

Somewhere my piranha is dried and chipping. You, as teen, separating yourself from a gift of alligator foot on string.

What is alive has ticks. Jump at my sounds. Initially I will paint acronyms but not myself. There is and will be a machine for that. I live like I am my future, too.

***

Vanessa Couto Johnson earned her MFA from Texas State University. She is listed as a Highly Commended Poet for the 2014 Gregory O’Donoghue International Poetry Prize. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Little Patuxent Review, Eratio, Hot Metal Bridge, Storm Cellar, Star 82 Review, Really System, 100 Word Story, and elsewhere. She runs treksift.com, blogs at meansofpoetry.com, and has a BA in both English and philosophy from Rice University.

josephine, the plumber
     

you will not see scuff, nor stain, nor particle—only loss.

& once, her index finger stuck, crooked in its hook-bent shape.

& when her heart jumped, like some jolt-to-wrist, carpal tunnel bloomed.

she chewed the plaster green grit out of her nail slit.

died of chemical poisoning.

can you open her up at the rusted drain plug
& mend her joints, frozen in bent mutation.

these are her all-funeral hands, wrists crucified to the porcelain bin.

*****

Courtney Leigh Jameson recently graduated from Saint Mary’s College of California with an MFA in poetry. Jameson currently lives in Phoenix, AZ where she is The Bowhunter of White Stag Journal. Jameson’s work has appeared in several journals including The Doctor TJ Eckelburg Review, FLARE:Flagler Review, Sierra Nevada Review, and Slipstream Press.

The Doctor at the V.A.

 

tells me it’s all in my head. The cough,
my back, the pneumonia, the memories,

my future, his past, the smooth leather
of chairs, the story of Snow White,

the Qur’an, the weather, this hospital.
He writes on a slip of paper for me to slip,

fall, tumble, collapse into my own eyes,
swallow myself in a mirror, and I try.

For three weeks, I attempt every word
he tells me. The chairs becoming air.

The leather being eaten into nothing.
The ability to see no snow . . . I go back

to the hospital that doesn’t exist.
He pulls out an encyclopedia, shows me

that there are more Christians
than Muslims in the world. I pull out

a brochure that shows him there are more
Muslims than Christians in the world.

A Hindu shows us a wikipedia entry
that states there are more Hindus

than people in the world. The people
of the world all pile into the office,

billions, so that the ceiling Alices.
It rises like a crucifix and impales

the glass ceiling that holds us all
back.

 

 

My Best Friend Attempts Suicide, Fails

 

I wonder sometimes if failing
is a good thing, that if Jesus
could have convinced everyone

he was the son of God we wouldn’t
have had a crucifixion. Instead
it would have been all peaceful

at the Last Supper. The Last Supper
not being the last, but instead
one in a long sequence of suppers.

Jesus getting fat as Elvis,
dying on the toilet after too many
cheeseburgers, too many fish,

too much wine, too much talk,
too much laughing and fishing,
too much fish, the fish growing,

getting bigger and bigger in each
story Jesus tells, where it’s a cod,
a shark, a whale, a fish never yet

created, a dinosaur, so that no one
in the bar is left believing a word
Jesus is saying. Not a word.

 

* * *

 

Ron Riekki’s books include U.P. and The Way North. His fiction, poetry, and non-fiction have been published in New Ohio Review, Spillway, Verse Wisconsin, Moonshot Magazine, Cease, Cows, and many other journals.

songs of strange language

 

as he guided the blind woman’s finger tip along the lines of his drawings, outlines and form, she would speak to him of color, what her fingers knew, in songs of strange language. you had to believe, the grace. she had once been his whore, tracing the face of shame on hearts in dark places. but they had changed things around, the man and his whore, by the words of a prophet, a spoken vision. life can offer so much with the right people, at the right time. it went well.
 
the paintings sold wherever they went and people were quite amazed at the sight of them, the disheartened and those who faced death. they had stopped to get work done on their old silver station wagon, a Ponitac Safari, new parts old adjustments. the man and his blind woman were now sitting in a clearing by a river behind the What If Diner, waiting for the mechanic to get it all done. it was good to rest and watch the river go by, they traveled so much. had been some kind of resort area this place, a long time ago, there being picnic tables and bar-b-cue things all around. broken up now. a pinball machine sat a ways off, in the open, under the sun. faded out and cracked. it had a Three Magi theme, they who believed Heaven had opened and made their offerings. down the river was a shut down amusement park with an ancient Ferris Wheel, animal figures were painted on the seats, very muck like those animal figures drawn by the cavemen in their caves. the man took it as a kind portent and magic. “people gone away from here,” the man said nicely, always telling the woman various things being that she was blind and could not see for herself. but still a touch of meanness in his voice from how he used to be.
 
the cook from the What If Diner came out, taking a break from cooking. he brought with him some fresh baked pie that was a favorite around here for the people that were left. super ingredients. it was a glorious morning and he liked his new friends so he began talking things about this and that, not having really talked for a great while and and needing to talk. these people were friendly of course, the kind of people it was good to talk to. they listened with all their hearts.
 
they all began talking about things good and bad, the way things went. what people do to each other, tearing away at each other and life an how they wanted to be most important when it didn’t even matter at all. its all about lies when it comes down to it said the man, lies make us feel more powerful than love. the blind woman said love makes us want truth, which was a pretty good thing to say. but then people could be good too, said the cook, because we know that is what we are here for but we just want to get away from ourselves is all. nowhere is somewhere when you need it he said and then he confessed his fears and hopes and sorrows right then and there. soon after he went back to the kitchen with a new idea for chili sauce.
the man and the blind woman decided to go to a movie to wait a while longer with the hope of a fixed car. they went to the How About Theater to watch a movie, So Much So was playing. a really great movie revealing the meaning of life as it unfolded in our hearts and minds with truth and grace. funny thing, about halfway through the movie, the part during the parade, the blind woman was able to see, her blindness had gone, sight was given to her eyes. that’s it, she said out loud, I can see. new eyes were born you could say. the man got up to dance, with madness and ecstasy, to her songs of strange language.

 

* * *

 

Robert Paul Cesaretti has published in many journals.  He is the founding editor of Ginosko Literary Journal and a native of the San Francisco Bay Area.

Accelerated Office

 

Inside the office you are born. Inside the office all insignia expire, your name becomes meaningless; all doors are now locked.

The music plays, like Salome, dancing for you, whirling like Saud with the scimitar, every beautiful note an exquisite escort to your death.

“Let me out of here!” you scream. Your desperate shout is beautiful, a rocked wilderness. Your fear expresses a deeper need: transfiguration.

Our friend wheat births agriculture and the temple, and then the scribes multiply. We end the blue collar and soon the white, approaching gold: Gold Collar, King of the Robots, is coming, but you’re stuck inside the office and there is no way out.

You throw the chair at the window

“Fuck you! Fuck you, Santa Monica!”

But Santa Monica fucked you first. The millionaires outnumber the working people 4 to 1. The radiation increases. Your screams are being fed into a recorder: your beauty astonishes all living things.

Open up your veins.

But the sharp objects available in the office have been carefully dulled; they only redden your skin, unable to make the smallest break. You begin to sob.

Accelerated time or accelerated divinity, euhemerism on steroids, you are the sacrifice but you are a phoenix too; you will be revivified by satellite on television. The children will know your name.

“LOVE!” shout the robot voices from the walls. “LOVE MORE!”

You try to bang your head against the plaster until you bleed but the walls turn to rubber and you’re a bouncy ball.

But of course. The telephone. The sound from afar like the music of the spheres! You pick it up and listen to the sound of the object in your hand: the dial tone is like quarters spewing from the slot machine, like a cute co-ed cumming beneath you, so hard it echoes off the walls, it’s DIAL TONE. Now available in your ear. Collect all five.

“Hello?” you say. Your voice; it is still your voice.

The dial tone is still there.

You understand, somehow innately, the way that Einstein understood relativity from a sunset, or the way God created the universe on a whim or a dare, just to see what would happen, you feel your brain seeping out over the telephonic wires, a feeling not unlike your first kiss, slipping into the lips of Margaret Starlight, her saliva the nectar that liberates consciousness from the body . . .

Writ in your body is the spirit of the time; your middle name is Zeitgeist. You walk into the office on Monday and now you are everywhere. Simulation or nightmare, if it quacks like a duck and fits like a duck, just put it on your head.

“It’s me again, isn’t it?” you say to your clone, who is shining and metal, sitting behind the desk, a cute little telephone glued to its cheek.   More than the transfiguration of Christ, a mysticism that rivals the transformation of matter into light within the secret heart of the sun, the office has made you yourself at last, inside the aleph, the scroll is unwound forever . . .

 

* * *

Robin Wyatt Dunn lives in southern California and is the author of three novels. He was born in Wyoming in the Carter Administration.

On De Kooning’s Woman I

 

Woman smeared in grease, brush-strokes of red,
blue of uncooked meat, saffron, the black
of fingernails after an afternoon changing the oil,
all scooped out and scribbled on canvas
edges. He painted your skin all the luster
of lard, spat rouge only on your nose,
no nipples on your breasts, plastic bags
once filled with soda water now sucked dry.
But through that mess you smile—
five fangs chiseled dull as horse teeth—
you flaunt your overbite, saying:
what if you stick your tongue at me,
I’ll bite! And your eyes, the mud basins
of the Mississippi, yet wide open, glaring
at the one who had the nerve to paint you.
Leather shining on a General’s
boots would not make you blink.
With a shopping bag in your right hand,
clothes iron in the sinister, you’re armed lethal,
ready to wrestle all of Manhattan’s taxis. Fueled
with peppery mezcal, you look me
in the eye the instant before you open
the crystal door to Saks Fifth Avenue.
And you’re ready for a bargain, you’re thrilled
to live on credit. Your feet, goat-hooves,
click in midair.

 

* * *

 

Anthony Seidman’s poems and translations have appeared or are forthcoming in such journals as Ambit, Caliban, The Bitter Oleander, The Black Herald Review.  His second collection of poetry, Where Thirsts Intersect, is available from The Bitter Oleander Press.

Another One Cuts Her Wrists

 

So many gadgets I notice now have me, the talking
armchair, the whizzer, the little pump, the tool for cutting
hair and nail and any bad connections. The tool:
“only connect,” I told them today, like it was me:
I said, the world will not be clearer, don’t pretend,
but it will somehow shine. There are depths, I lied,
and heights, and time will get you there. I told them:
fight the gadgets. Fight the power. Fight the fat
and turbulent and dull. Fight me, I told them,
rather than not fight. I rock, I rock, the armchair
talks in its low girl’s voice and the whizzer peels a thing.
The Nirvanaphone is quiet. The automatic purrer is turned off.
Somewhere else in this pile of cells a gang of transistors says
bird. Then magic. There is static, as if things
were breaking down. I told them to connect,
and break things down. Don’t worry, I said,
there are always fixers everywhere, they get paid.
There was an empty seat by the window
in the third row, I know that absence, that turn-off,
that’s the one who writes a microscopic hand, always
of death. I know what she did. They said,
she won’t be back this year. Pressure, they said: something
pressed, and then she got a phone call, and she broke.
I told them, break things down, break the beast, break me down,
rather than break nothing, but christ don’t you see,
somehow you must not touch the things that are made to harm you.

 

* * *

 

Jerry McGuire has published three books of poems, The Flagpole Dance (Lynx House Press, 1991), Vulgar Exhibitions (Eastern Washington University Press, 2002), and Venus Transit (Outriders Poetry Project, 2013). He has won a number of prizes and awards, including The Sow’s Ear Poetry Review Prize, the PublishingOnline POL Poetry Contest, the Louisiana Literature poetry prize, the Primavera Award, The Allen Ginsberg Competition, and the Outriders Poetry Project Competition. He teaches Creative Writing, poetics, and film studies at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

Tortuguitas

 

Newborn sea turtles erupt from their nest
like lava from El Momotombo.

With a slingshot, he shoots a seagull
that flies away with a hatchling.

Neither survive the fall,
and he buries them in the sand.

He leaves home, where the taste of a glass-bottled
Coca-Cola is as sweet as a first kiss,

and the white sand between his toes
never burns his bare feet

to return to a beach lined with fewer palms,
and to find sparse footprints of tortuguitas

like the memory of his first kiss, when he was
a boy yet to discover the point of a broken promise,

and the memories that lie beneath the surface—
a slingshot, a seagull’s bones, and a turtle’s carapace.

 

* * *

 

Onnyx Bei is an undergraduate student at University of St. Thomas in Houston, where he is working towards a BA in English literature with a minor in creative writing. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Midtown Journal, Laurels, Glass Mountain, Columbia: A Journal, and others. He is a recipient of the Susan T. Scanlon Scholarship in Creative Writing and the Danny Lee Lawrence Writing Award for Poetry.