JB Mulligan – The Beast of All
Alethea Eason – Here, Take My Eggs
Mischelle Anthony – Market St. Bridge with Attempted Suicide, Love Is An Alcove
Oliver Carmichael – The Love Song of The Monkey Bars
Lauren Suchenski – To Circumvent the Dam
Thomas Logan – The Villagers
John Mullennix – Grace in a Sky of Thorns, Apparati
William C. Crawford – Forensic Foraging, Psychic
Susan Marie – Cleansing
Barbara Ruth – Fire on the Lake
Ernest Williamson III – Two Beauties in the Rain, Nude in Abstract
Alexandria Heather – Father River
Carol Radsprecher – On the Roof, Self-Portrait Without Self
Paul Leibow – Broken
Jared Lynch is a writer living in Muncie Indiana who has never been satisfied with telling stories solely through a single medium.
snow fell from the sky
which had dreamed me first and so:
dreams are true
the tribes are right
the truth falls in a million
pieces none the same
to cover all we see
Mark Jackley is ready to retire, simple as that, folks.
Artist Delving Into Her Craft
Ernest Williamson III
Dr. Ernest Williamson III has published poetry and visual art in over 600 national and international online and print journals.
Outside my office door there is knocking. Once. Twice. Three times. Then, in a moment I now understand as the halcyon stillness between two halves of the same storm, the knocking vanishes, as sudden in its disappearance as it was in its arrival, and silence makes its very conspicuous return. Until the knocking starts again, faster than I am able to count, and something, an uncharted sensation somewhere between angst and dread overwhelms me as the knocking speeds to a hammering, then a pummeling, then its grand crescendo into delirious pounding, and through the space between the bottom of the door and the rug a palpable sense of desperation and barbarous urgency drifts into my office and I must press both hands firmly against my mouth so as not to collapse into hysterical laughter.
The doorknob, which is brass and embossed with an image of a yawning angel, slowly, ever so slowly, begins to rotate clockwise until it’s turned as far as it can, and it clicks with a thunderous echo. There is no Polak here. This is the only thought I possess as the door is edged continuously forward by the bare arm and open palm of my secretary. Her dress is green and purple polka-dot. But she is partially obstructed by a thin, balding man in a non-descript suit. They stop whispering to each other.
I uncover my mouth cautiously, and my fear of hysterics proves unwarranted. I wave at my secretary. I expect a return wave. Instead she apologizes for the interruption, and in a pleasant tone that may or may not be forced, tells me that this gentleman, whom she pats on the shoulder, is from the United States Government.
The man confirms this with a short movement of his head and a hand he extends in my direction. Frederick Ist, he says.
Seeking to project the right, circumstantial awe, I clasp his hand with both of mine and shake it rapidly, grinning as expansively as I am able to. “Very pleased to meet you,” I say twice, at different volume levels for each word.
He seems startled by my friendliness, and immediately retracts his hand after I let go. Since the vigor of my greeting dislodged his glasses, he bends gingerly to collect them off the carpet adorned with Oriental designs.
Face to face with my secretary, I form the words ‘The Polak is not here,’ and project them soundlessly.
Ist returns to his position standing between us. Thank you and likewise, he tells me.
Covertly, I steal another glance at my secretary and find her already staring at me, so eye contact occurs instantly. Inaudibly, she mouths a reply I can’t discern.
“The Mayor’s chief aide is out of town today,” she says through shortened breath, “and he normally doesn’t meet with visitors alone.” Ist twists around to look at her, and she smiles gently. He asks if, considering the importance of his position and the nature of his visit, we can make an exception today.
My secretary continues to take quick, audible breaths. The skin below her eyes looks more creased than usual. I resume my expansive grin and maintain it until the corners of my mouth ache, and I feel the grin sag in acquiescence to gravity.
“Sure can” my secretary says. She straightens her glasses and stares at me with open-mouthed concern.
I watch her close the door as she leaves, then watch to see if she will immediately open it again. She does not.
Transferring my attention to Ist, I pace around him in a circle. His shoulders are hunched forward, and he emits an appearance of advanced age and malnourishment. “With haste, summarize the reason for your presence,” I say firmly.
“Investigation,” he says.
I nod and accept this. He does the same. Gracefully, I unfold my arm and point towards the two seat leather couch occupying the midpoint of the room. He thanks me and sits down.
“Say, I didn’t mean to catch you at a bad time, but if you want to get dressed first, I can wait outside,” he says, angling towards the door.
I ruminate intently about his comment, probing each word for its unstated meaning. Its crypticness is astonishingly well-structured, buttressed at every angle like a mountainous stone basilica. I give up.
“Or you could just stay in the robe, it’s fine by me,” he says.
I perform more pathology, but again learn nothing. Frustration amasses. “Maybe I will,” I reply, dragging out the “will” longer than is socially acceptable, so that it becomes a word dripping with menace.
Ist appears upset by this, and he shifts into and out of three positions, settling on one where both feet are flat on the rug, knees touching, hands resting atop his thighs.
I remain most upright, leaning on the back of a large, leather padded chair that faces the couch, but with its mobility of rotation, it could face anything in the room at any time. Ist drums on the tops of his thighs. I resist the urge to pace. “If you came into this office with a purpose, now would be time to get to it,” I tell him.
Ist apologizes, and removes a stack of papers from his brown briefcase. He proceeds to tell me about the sequence of events that led to his presence here in my office, and how they will affect me. He speaks of a city with virtually no reported crime stats, yet claims that in the week since his arrival, my municipality is a place of cartoonish disorder, a modern day den of iniquity far beyond what he imagined was possible. He describes mass-scale high volume organ harvesting, transient hospitals that meet in basements and abandoned buildings to perform grotesque experiments, and ruthless, guerilla-style gangs that organize themselves not on ethnic divisions, but by ideology.
I cut him off and say, “Spare me opinions for they will be utterly disregarded.” He tries to start again, but once more I interrupt him. “With all due respect,” I add hastily, hoping the interval was not too long.
Ist offers little indication of this attitude, and continues, sometimes speaking extemporaneously, sometimes, in a droning voice and poor display of memorization, reading directly from the papers, which repeatedly mention my name, and deploys several technical legal terms which his annunciation implies that I don’t understand. I do not let these moments slide with impunity.
“I’m not a child, I know what that means,” I say on each such occasion. This always prompts him to look forlorn and apologize.
“Absolved,” I say.
He finishes and returns the papers to the briefcase. I am unsure of his conclusion, but his tone was accusing throughout.
“So,” he says, elongating the pronunciation and betraying his wish that I am to speak next.
Ordinarily, I would whisper my response to the Polak, and he would reword it, and convey it for me. But the Polak is not here.
“Your speech is in want of unambiguity,” I say cleverly.
He concedes the point, and what follows is a protracted moment absent speech. We do not even look at each other. Yet, he does not leave. The moment swells, with nothing changing, and it becomes transparent that our conversation has progressed to its inevitable end, and as is customary when such an occurrence is between two strangers—one visiting the other—I expect him to politely thank me for my time and vacate. Yet, he does not.
Instead, resting his briefcase against the base of the couch, he rises and begins meandering about my office. He goes to the bookcase and evaluates it. Unease wrings my throat and mouth and I struggle to galvanize the moisture needed to swallow. He examines the binding and removes some of the books, flipping through them, assessing, analyzing, and judging them. He turns around and his face is contorted into a very pronounced, but maddeningly enigmatic expression.
“That’s remarkable,” he says.
I lean more of my body weight against the back of the chair, and my fingers knead into the padded leather arm rest. “Maybe from your insignificant perspective in history,” I tell him.
He says, perhaps so, but what he means is that all the titles are scribbled over, and inside, each word has been blotched out, which he emphasizes, is not line by line, but rather word by word. He gazes over his shoulder at the bookcase, which stretches from floor to ceiling, and says that he cannot imagine the patience that must have taken.
I hear myself chortle, but suppress it before it matures into a louder expression of amusement that might embarrass him. “You’re very primitive if you find that remarkable,” I say. “It’s rather easy. I just use ink and a small paint brush to cover each word after I’ve read it.”
He lets his arm fall to his side and he takes a cautious step in my direction. “Why do you do that?”
The answer is obvious, but I feel obligated to state it anyway. “Only the present and future concern me,” I say.
Ist appears perplexed, and briefly stares at nothing, before reluctantly conceding my logic. He moves away from the bookcase with his right hand trailing behind him, running along the book bindings like a mallet over a xylophone. He arrives at my desk and without asking, pokes and prods at the contents resting atop the polished maple surface. He takes a pen and with the tip, pulls back a metallic ball and releases it, beginning my Newton’s Cradle. The rapid, rhythmic clicking creates a pulsating, metronomic anxiety that won’t leave. He notices a sheet of paper still in the typewriter, and he retracts it, and I feel too weighed down to manifest into speech or action the urge to stop him.
He reads it quickly and silently. He asks me what it is.
“It’s ‘liver’ translated into every language I know.”
He says there are only two words on the page.
“I know a little French.”
He gives no further reaction, aside from replacing the page, and he continues to circumnavigate my office.
I remain pressed against the chair, struggling to assign a reason to his continued presence. A kind of nonphysical exhaustion washes over me, and I glance repeatedly at the door, hoping the brass will turn and the oak panels will be pushed towards me and my secretary, or better still, the Polak, or someone else will enter, and lift from me the burden of being alone with him.
Ist travels to the wall behind me. He comments on the all encompassing mural that depicts a lone glass and metal tower rising to the clouds amidst an endless dirt and dead tree expanse.
“It was painted by a prophet,” I say. “It’s the future.”
He says it looks bleak, and he asks what it means.
“I don’t know, we haven’t got there yet.”
He continues to ask questions about me, about my family, about my city. I answer all of them with a high pitched voice, but absent truth. He catches me sometimes, making sarcastic comments about already knowing that I don’t have any brothers named after the Three Musketeers, I was never a Rough Rider with Teddy Roosevelt, and my city cannot trace its antecedents to a Trojan Diaspora.
At what I imagine would have been the halfway point of his inquiry, I pour two glasses of brandy. He accepts with great reluctance, only after repeated assurances that it’s actually not brandy, that I made a mistake in calling it that, which I did only because of the snifter it was poured into, and that he will not be in violation of sobriety oath. He sips, his frown evidence that he knows brandy by first taste, and he urges me to continue. But I say nothing. I remain entirely motionless until I watch him take another sip, the unity of closed mouth broken by the lip of the snifter, his hand wrapped around the stem, pushing the wide, ringed based into a position of slight aloft. Then a laughter that had been building and building deep within my hidden recesses emerges, throbbing my vocal chords and stimulating a shrill, deafening blare that’s intervaled by my excessive breathing, and before me, Ist grows agitated, screaming for me to stop, but I do not. I clutch the periphery of my rib cage to reign in the convulsions, and bend over to keep from falling. He begs me to stop the hideous shrieking he doesn’t recognize as laughter. Then, he opens his mouth, perhaps to plead with me again, perhaps to apologize for all or some of his imprudence, perhaps for a reason beyond my ability to anticipate, but I can only guess, because he never fulfills his intent. Instead, the snifter falls, splintering along one side against the carpet, and both hands shoot to his throat. His eyes flicker and become bloodshot, and he and I stare at each other, without interference, in a moment of shocking, primitive intimacy. I see his face cloud purple, then a deep red, and his knees buckle, and he collapses to the floor, perhaps knowing why.
Immediately my laughter subsides, and I drop to the floor next to Ist. I push myself partially up, so that I am kneeling on all fours, and I feel regret eat through me like acid, proliferating in all directions until my body heaves violently from the sobbing and the gagging. Every thought belongs to him, and I am unable to erase my picture of him and the quiet nobility of his comportment, and all that I have just taken from him, and those he might have been close to. Even though he lies a few feet from me, I can’t look at him. I begin praying to undo what I’ve just done, and the sobbing and the vomiting intensifies. I remain exactly as I am, and endure the smell of human decay and my own regurgitation, until the action loses all residue of the present and moves from experience to memory, becoming entirely something I did rather than something I’ve done.
It is only then that I am able to stand and gaze upon the body of the late Mr. Ist with disinterest. I walk out of my office to the reception area. My secretary recognizes the stains on my kimono and after she rings the appropriate citizens, arranging for the body to be used and disposed of, she follows me back into the office and helps me bathe and dress.
I emerge again in a black suit and vest, and grab my hat and cane hanging near the outside door. The sky is early summer dusk, and when a breeze materializes, cradling me in warm, ocean smelling air, I decide to send my driver away and walk home.
Paul Albano holds a PhD in English from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and has published his work in Cream City Review, Paper Darts, and Whiskey Island Magazine.
Having It Both Ways
Carol Radsprecher has an MFA in painting from Hunter College and has shown in many solo or group exhibitions.
Sitting looking at all the anguish of Anglican angles and arctic archetypes
of ancestral heaving and weaving.
Save the sacred from the dripping faucet of forceful forgetfulness
incompatible with life.
Mythic disjuncture, technoscapes and radioflows and image cells
and moving ethnicities of, currency and corrections; the vertebrate
of your visualization of the spinal cell of silence.
Networks of newness and nebulous news terrorizing over turbulent tubular
tentacular tunnels of truth.
Feeling the fall falling and freeing and floating and flapping and then
it comes from the inside, from the seaside from the south side,
letting it all let go, letting crack, crack snapple pop, and purple
as it comes through your body.
Search, search, and search until it finds you
and then you’re lost again
and then you’re dead tissue.
Lauren Suchenski was nominated for the Pushcart Prize in 2015 and has had her poetry appear in a variety of magazines including Gambling the Aisle, Red Fez, Stoneboat Literary Magazine, Vine Leaves Literary Journal and Dark Matter Journal.
Burial of the Children of the Earth
Ivan de Monbrison
lacs de peaux
grandis aux marges des hommes futurs
les liens de la nuit et du cœur
ont laissé pousser la parole
les racines de l'eau
dans la chair des corps
aux coins des feuilles
le mot laissé pour mort
pâturages livrés aux semeurs de saisons
trouble des corps cariés
charriant les demeures aux angles défaussés
la ville envahi des ombres élastiques
se donne en silence aux morts
les algues dans les yeux
écartent les troupeaux de voix
charriées des oublis aux hurlements sans
le socle se déboulonne
le partage des routes comme du pain donné
à chaque passage
chaque silence rompu
on organise la mort
les corps cadenassés les uns aux autres
dans les asiles enchaînés
les femmes en menstrues
donnent un lait putréfié aux nourrissons
le spectacle est dans la salle
frayeur de routes nomades
à quatre pattes nous voyageons
en compagnie des moutons et des loups
attelés aux rauques rumeurs
nous exfolions nos mains gantées
de maintes blessures enfantines
perdu dans le désert sans autre horizon
que la mer inhumaine déçue
la tour s'effondre au cœur
et nous sommes en prison
Ivan de Monbrison est un poète français de Paris.
lakes of skins
high by the margins of future men
bonds of night and heart
having let speech grow
roots of water
in the flesh of the body
on the corners of sheets
the word left for dead
pastures given up to the sowers of seasons
trouble of decayed bodies
carrying these mansions with troubled angles
the invaded city of elastic shadows
handed over quietly to dead men
algae in the eyes
dismiss the herds of voice
swept along oblivions of voiceless
the base unscrewed
the parting of roads like shared bread
every silence broken
we organizes our death
bodies locked to each other
in asylums chained
give rotten milk to their stillborn
the show is in the room
by fear of nomadic roads
four-legged we travel
in the company of sheep and wolves
harnessed to the raucous rumors
we exfoliate our gloved hands
covered with childish scars
lost in the desert without another horizon
but the inhumane sea foiled
the tower collapses in the heart
and we are in prison
Ivan de Monbrison is a french poet from Paris.
Home of God
Alexandria Heather is mostly water.
Auden Lincoln-Vogel is an experimental filmmaker and video artist, currently working on a film in Tallinn, Estonia.