They are dangerously sexy
and always married to a king,
generic wealthy man or stonecutter,
living out their tumultuous lives
in the first wife's home, altered first
of course; scarlet-draped boudoirs, gothic
windows opening on to moors
where deformed trees loom.
They harm stepchildren in
enchanted forests by incising
their subcutaneous fat with blue light
turning them into swans, proffering
poisonous fruit or exposing them
to the vagaries of witches. They have a thing
for mirrors, lakes and strange headgear.
Age toughens them; keratin scales within
their nails and hair. When they die, it is
by bitter herbs, their spirit thrashing
like a hammerhead shark, never
in history going down without a fight.
*originally published in Fiona's first collection of poetry, Alchemy (Turas Press, Dublin, 2020)Altered State
Oh Father, this forest is a labyrinth
I have caught sight of the flying saints
you sent to rescue me if that is what you
need you to hear. I feel no compulsion
to compete with this ecosystem. I have never
understood the concept of ancient self.
Let me tread through the seedlings of tender
ambition. Seal off the charred remains
of childhood in syncopation with the seasons.
Your white emulsion appears as Polaris
in the vast Vantablack. All in good time
I will follow it home.
An unexpected spectacle-
all those luminescent
through the forest
creatures, other tiny
soft and unfettered
as moon jellyfish
they form fleeting
rings around bats
congregate in all
the in-between spaces
my susceptible heart surges
to their baroque rhythm
a caravan of light
wiping shadows away
they will not pass
this way again.
Bio: Fiona’s first collection of poetry, Alchemy (Turas Press, Dublin), won the Poetry Book Awards (2021) Silver Medal and was shortlisted for the Rubery Prize. Her flash fiction, Sea Change, won first prize in the Bath Flash Fiction Awards (2020). Her poetry and short fiction has been published internationally in publications such as Fevers of the Mind, Lighthouse, Skylight47, Utopia, Abyss & Apex, and Ink, Sweat & Tears. She lives near Oxford, in the UK, with her family.
We wonder in shadows
of previous lovers.
and the sun drenches our
shadow with memories of
And you won't forget me.
And I won't forget the way
you loved me nor will I
forget the way I loved myself.
Subterranean sheets of melody
hang around your neck
I can only see it
nobody else can
and there is a moonbeam
in between us
in between lost memories
I hold its goodness in my
green tweed jacket's pocket
with a lapel shaped like
I feel it alive
A deluge of Bob Dylan as
The next Pope of mankind
And it's a cold February day
and lyrics come when I need
them the most a maxim tied
to my fat thighs and God needs
me, I don't need you,
and stitched to my neck is you
a straitjacket dipped in aconite
of hemlock an eclipse of you
and a blue neon corduroy Steinway piano
bloodshot and alive
I watch my aphorisms like
broken vessels of an unprecedented
grace I fall into this mire and
I want to be awake
but I've blended myself into
aghast fumes from your displeasure
I won't awaken again
November is too late
and November was my
and my tempest doesn't roar
and I can't find Babylon
my sweet vagabond is supports
November is too late it's a dislocating
my uncelebrated beautiful
Bio: Jeremy Limn is a poet in his late twenties who has published three books of poetry, Raining Poems, The Auguries of Lost Lilacs, and The Roses Forget You, his work also appeared in the 2016 July Issue of Infernal Ink Magazine, and the Yearbook for the University of Tasmania 2015, and published twice with Vext Magazine, The Ernest Becker Foundation.A Super Poetry Showcase from Jeremy Limn
To the all the alpha-widows I’ve known…
You used me
which is fine
done this so many times before
when you said you weren’t quite ready for intimacy
It’s never been about that
and I meant it
You used me
getting accustomed to having someone in your bed again
as we held each other- chastely
exchanging innocent, affectionate kisses
You used me
afraid to develop feelings
so you wouldn’t get hurt
needing immediate consoling
for things I’ve never rendered upon you
freezing me out for days
You used me
developing feelings for him
wanting to remain friends
dick in a glass case syndrome
as you chase alphas
the kind that
physically and psychologically pummel
see, the thing about alphas is…they’re primarily psychos, narcs and sociopaths
so keep getting exhausted from your self-engineered funerals and constant half-hearted resurrections sculpting punching-bag trauma into bright-side venomous ideals
I’m no beta-simp
I’ll go my own way
with a clear mind
does this make me a sigma?
but here’s some notes for your understanding
at the open bar
glass of tequila
in full sensory exploration
canvas, wine, consumption
image based display
this positive space
has become so negative
steeped in stipulation
a real love affair to experience
there’s no sense of belonging
in the state of genuine communion
heart touching earth
reaching for the sky
in tender joy
Sweating out anxiety on this cold February night
no gun is shy tonight
grabbing a fish sandwich and cup of coffee on the way back to work
walking straight past the cops
seemingly wanting an answer from me inside the job
three doors down
some dude just got shot
up in the barbershop
at the dive bar
across the street
where we would plan rips
two doors behind
on the west side
things stopped going deeper a long time ago
Dirt rides at night
Blood on my loins
lord is a man biting dog guiding northern shores toward the effortlessly awakening green light
god is your name
after we make love
a dirty consecration of the purest
a natural synchronicity
when the two of us
in a universal outpouring
when the only absolute is
Bio: Mike Zone is the Editor in Chief of Dumpster Fire Press, the author of Shedding Dark Places (almost), One Hell of a Muse, A Farewell to Big Ideas and Void Beneath the Skin, as well as coauthor of The Grind. frequent contributor to Alien Buddha Press and Mad Swirl. His work has been featured in: Horror Sleaze Trash, Better Than Starbucks, Piker Press, Punk Noir Magazine, Synchronized Chaos, Outlaw Poetry and Cult Culture magazine.A Super Poetry Showcase (re-post) from Mike Zone including interview
"Your Great Uncle Mott died in a Nazi work camp," my mother tells me.
It's my 30th birthday, and in my mother's fashion there is a party atmosphere.
I'm wearing a gold-paper crown, there are streamers, those little party horns.
And a dinner of Hawaiian pork chops, a cake, champagne. I wonder why
she has waited until my 30th birthday--the age when Jesus set out to
redeem humanity-- to tell me this. "We just never talk about it," she says,
pouring more wine.
I think about the Holocaust movies I saw at school, 4th grade, 6th grade, and every
year after. Sobbing for the people who died and the cruelty, but also for myself
because my family came from Germany. If she'd told me before, I wouldn't have
felt like a Nazi, I said. Searched the faces of cinematic SS officers for family
resemblance, thought I caught a glimpse of an uncle, worried about the relatives
my parents never mentioned. They who talked so often about the War- but always
Stateside. My father's service, air raid sirens, blackout curtains, food rationing.
"You were always tender-hearted," my mother says, and I wonder what that has to
do with keeping secrets.
When I'm 35, she tells me we're not 100% German. This is in a Hungarian
restaurant, and she recognizes the dishes because her mother made them.
"Where do you think you and I got our cheekbones ?" she says. "My mother."
"I thought your mother was German." Well, Mom tells me, Austro-Hungarian,
she spoke German.
When I'm 40 my brother begins a family tree. Traces my mother's lineage back
to Hungary. Some drunken uncles who tried to raise silkworms, and my grandmother
leaving with a wealthy family, working as an au pair. In the manner of all old timey
family trees, names appear and reappear. "Saved," my mother said. But other names
fall away--Old Testament names like Esther and Ruth replaced with the names of Saints.
Maria, Anna, Christine. I think I spot a surname-- lost in marriage to one of my mother's uncles. Glassman. Then another. Hoffman. Jewish names. I wonder about my mother's maiden name. Keller. German name, yes. But also Ashkenazi, like the others. And I wonder when I'll be old enough for her to tell me.
Bio: Joan Hawkins is a writer and spoken word performer, who focuses mainly on creative memoir. Her poetry and prose have appeared in Avalanches of Poetry,Fevers of the Mind, the Performing Arts Journal, Plath Profiles, and Sand.
Two poems are forthcoming in a special poetry issue of The Ryder Magazine. She and Kalynn Brower have co-edited an anthology called Trigger Warnings, which contains one of Joan’s stories; it’s currently under consideration by Indiana University Press. “My Writing Teacher” comes from a manuscript in progress– School and Suicide.
Joan lives in Bloomington, IN with her cat Izzy Isou. She is currently the Chair of the Writers Guild at Bloomington.
Having given up on marriage, I took up cheating.
Having given up on Alex, I took up Jason.
Having given up on savings, I took on debt
(in part, to pay for therapy). Having given up on debt,
I took to asking my husband to pay the rent.
Yes, the same husband I’d given up on.
A man of simple means who bought me
this computer and this phone and now this roof
over my head. I gave him head, in return,
as he sat on the same green couch
(and I knelt on the same grey mat)
as Alex and Jason did before him.
Having given up on certainty,
I took up only being certain of how unsure I am.
Having given up on who I’ve always been,
I got a tattoo, so why not get another?
(I’ve already put down the deposit,
even though I can’t pay down my credit cards.)
Having given up on days off, I took up
working on them, so I can pay for frills
like Pilates and contact lenses
and eye cream and mani/pedis and yes,
even body art. Screw the rent.
I haven’t given up on ink just yet.
Not the purple kind that fills my pen
or the multicolored kind that decorates my right wrist
and soon-to-be left ankle, though that one
will be black. Having given up on morality,
I took up accepting unemployment money
for a year. Perhaps one shady behavior
led to another. "Don’t do anything
that’ll keep you up at night," my mother said.
Having given up on sleeping soundly,
I’ve taken to dreaming all the guilty dreams—
thoughts I suppress during the day—
when, having given up on everything,
I gave up on myself; or maybe that's not quite true.
Maybe I only gave up on the idea of you
and me and tradition and norms and values,
and my new vow is saying screw it
and generally not giving a fuck.
And maybe, giving zero fucks,
I'm only now getting started—
I'm just not somewhere I can think
about it at present.
*Inspired by Jeff Oaks's Having Given Up
as originally published in Fourth Genre and later in Sunday Short Reads (#191)Dirty Laundry
Oh, Hamper: with your malodorous scent
wafting toward me, awakening me from my daydream—
you are overflowing with sweaty Pilates leggings,
sweaty Pilates underwear, sweaty Pilates sports bras (all mine),
not to mention dirty boy socks and sticky summer clothes
(my Camp Director husband’s). Once rectangular,
you are now misshapen with your left side
jutting outward like a cocked hip. You have
visible bruising—lines and gashes—
on your bumpy beige exterior, a bumpy beige
that reminds me of my childhood home
and its in-your-face modern facade.
There, it was me who would often be marked—
scraped and scratched—by the hazardous,
sticking-out stucco. There, since the fifth grade,
it was me who hauled my too-stuffed hamper,
You, to the laundry room, dragging You
against the medium-pile grey carpeting in revolt.
Because I refused to help Mom do the family’s laundry,
thinking it beneath me to touch my brother
and dad’s disgusting tighty-whities—brown with stains—
I was left, as punishment, to do my own washing.
So, since the age of 11, You, Hamper,
have been eyeing me, and I have been smelling you,
as I impatiently wait out the spin cycle.
(Part II)I Once Made a Shocking Discovery
Sitting on the laundry room’s white Formica countertops,
I began opening and closing cabinets to pass the time.
Two loads down, one to go. (Mom taught me
to always separate into three piles:
whites, colors, and reds.) Speaking of Mom,
I could see an invitation out of the corner
of my eye with her name, Debra Gail,
practically screaming at me. It was written
in cursive and looked worn with age,
but it seemed to be calling: Miri Rose,
Miri Rose. So, I picked up the cardstock as beckoned—
it was as rectangular as You in your younger years, Hamper,
and I saw that Violet and Laurence (my grandparents)
were inviting their beloved friends and family
to gather on a June afternoon in the ‘70s
as their daughter Debra Gail wed some dude named Bob.
What the actual heck? My dad’s name is Norman,
and he and Mom had married on Tax Day:
April 15, of ‘82. And so, it was while sitting
atop counters made for folding clean laundry
and riffling innocently through cupboards
filled with odds and ends—buttons, sewing needles,
scoopable Tide, Downy dryer sheets,
and one errant wedding invitation—
that I learned of my mother’s first marriage.
The marriage, I later discovered, was foul.
It smelled worse than You, Hamper.
Mom had tried to back out of the wedding
before the big day, but she really liked his mother—
a strong pull when you have but a dead-
and step-one of your own. Plus,
she felt guilty that money had already been spent.
Invitations sent out. I wonder why she kept this one?
Why she stuffed it in the laundry room
the way I stuff stinky clothes into You—
an aging hamper that’s as worn and faded
as a beloved pair of jeans or a decades-old
wedding invitation. Hamper, do you remember
when I hardly filled you at all? When I took
everything to the dry cleaner and bought
new underwear whenever I ran out,
rather than hauling your smelly ass
down flights of creaky apartment stairs,
along with carefully counted-out quarters,
and a too-heavy bottle of liquid Cheer?
Now, Hamper, I make my husband deal with you.
You are filled with several mesh bags:
one in which I keep my intimates,
including my Pilates grip socks;
one that contains just my stretchy workout pants;
one that gets dried; and one for the clothes
that should NOT go in the dryer. No longer
do I sort by whites, colors, and reds. No,
that sorting system fell out of favor
when I learned of Mom’s own dirty laundry.
I wanted more thrill. I wanted a tongues curling, backs arching, bare bellies touching kind of lust. I wanted more danger. I wanted middle-of-the-day, windows open, curtains drawn brazenness. I wanted nosy neighbors who, envious-throated, would peek and listen and wonder—What's going on up there?—more and with greater curiosity. I wanted more hunger, and I wanted urgency. To be taken, devoured, and eaten up in a I-must-have-Chinese-food-and-I-must-have-it-now kind of way; to be savored like moo shu pork.
I wanted more sameness. I wanted nights in, take-out boxes stacked on the counter, TV-before-bed. I wanted comfort and routine: coffees shared in the mornings, secrets shared in the evenings, a neighborhood walk in the hours between. I wanted financial and emotional security and more of both, so we could spend our money as freely as we spent our together-time.
I wanted to be selfish. I wanted it all. Passion and a partner. Novelty and grounding. Commitment and the freedom to explore my own interests, whomever they may be. I wanted lips and drapes parted for daytime dalliances and the quiet privacy of a doting husband after-hours. I wanted to be greedy without guilt—the familiar imprint of my wedding ring on my finger and the equally familiar imprint of an old lover's still-smoldering body on my memory foam marriage mattress. I wanted to stay together for as long as I could keep juggling my conflicting desires.
I still want to get away with it.
Bio: The pseudonymous Miri Gould publishes works of poetry and creative nonfiction. Her personal essays can be found in The Los Angeles Review of Books, Brevity, and The Manifest-Station to name a few, and she has been nominated for awards by Meow Meow Pow Pow (best short fiction) and Kelp (best of the net), where her work has also appeared. Her poems, meanwhile—which have run in Sledgehammer Lit, Neuro Logical, Poke, and The Erozine—tend to be erotic in nature. Miri lives in LA, where she teaches fitness by day and writes by candlelight.