Jon Riccio: “Diseasethesia”

Diseasethesia
 
My mother was an acupuncturist, her practice near the overpass
closest to your coatrack, a needle coterie the day I learned the pitch

equivalents for disease. I say this queueing the CD of a string quartet,
the violist with a Stradivari and guesthouse face. He never said heartthrob
 
though I love it when a T de-camouflages an H, his hemophilia a bathtub’s
E-flat, the weekend garrisoned in shale. G-sharp ameliorating my malleus

during the comic-book dealer’s demise, full-page fumes bound by ink
older than office rot, his aneurism intoned. The hum a half-step higher

after the chocolatier’s stroke, samplers strewn like candied Morse,
the stretcher navigating a parquet of petit fours. D-flat, staring at

my father’s dresser and stevedore is all I think, the jacuzzi
harboring arrhythmia, sine waves emblazoning his robe.

B, driving to your house, handcuffs baked into a pineapple
upside down cake, your bedsores a purgatory for cored fruit.

I didn’t know which of us infirmity’s wheelhouse had pinged
until I heard the fourth track of Donovan’s Greatest Hits,

its harmonica the heart attack I hoped to avoid. Scalar
aorta, a CAT scan dolloping. Through me, a Camerata

of disease. Listen, the least I’ve done.

 

 

Jon Riccio is a PhD candidate and composition instructor at the University of Southern Mississippi’s Center for Writers. His work appears in apt, Booth, Cleaver, Hawai’i Review, Jazz Cigarette, Steel Toe Review, and Visitant, among others. He received his MFA from the University of Arizona.  

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Isaac Stackhouse Wheeler: “Vodka”

Vodka

crashes silently over your head
and everything slants like scenery—
theatrically, the trees across the way
turn to aquarium furniture, the brain
is shucked, sheds vegetable layers
as vodka acts on the surrounding medium.
The warm breathing center of the world
is abruptly shot full of quartz
veins that inscribe fine anatomizing lines.
The heart is stripped at last of clenched red fists
of candles pounding on cold nights,
of love and rumors of love—the lungs
are vast and empty as cathedrals and like
dockside warehouses, the kidneys are shabby
and full of contraband, yet you understand
that your body resembles very little,
and vodka least of all, though unnamed organs
go on moving, warmly moving,
as shapeless fish in a silver net.

 

Isaac Stackhouse Wheeler is a poet and translator best known for his English renderings of books by great contemporary Ukrainian author Serhiy Zhadan with co-translator Reilly Costigan-Humes. His work has appeared (or is forthcoming) in journals such as Coldnoon, Post(blank), and Two Lines.

Paul Kindlon: “Stupid Mouse!”

“Stupid Mouse!”

Every journey begins and ends in the imagination. Filtered through time and the emotional pauses of experience. Cleansed of all rational falsehood and meaning. This much have I learned and perhaps more. What I will never know is the why: that probing after-thought of jealous consciousness. Like a curious young boy left behind who insists on knowing the details of his older brother’s dangerous exploits and manly adventures. The pleasure of memory robbed and replaced by a desperate yet harmless guessing game.

But my little mind wanders, I suppose.

Still in the labyrinth, I feel about with my extremities, aware of the sound of running, scratching and bumping into. The smell of my error in a bloody trail.

Wherever I go from here can only lead me away from the point of escape: that liberating space free from the search.

And so I remain. Lost and hungry.

When I had entered the labyrinth, my expectations were modest, but mine. Not borrowed beliefs accepted and projected as personal. That would be unwise.

Look!

Fire does not burn on a page inside a book. Skin is the only receptor of truth.

To learn is to feel and suffer. Your scream a philosophical utterance no one can refute.

Yet there are those who would turn away. Afraid to see the weltering proof.

Maybe courage is measured by the unsure moments we step-step forward. Into the unknown. Adding another layer to our incomplete being. Getting fat on life. Growing large and therefore unavoidable. A living presence.

As I prepare to turn another corner, I am hopeful still. I pray the right angle will lead me to something quite new. But if it doesn’t, that’s okay, too. I realize this all must continue.

Why not?

Eventually, I will be plucked from the labyrinth by the scientist who put me here in the first place. To observe me try as he watches on with a cautious smile.

 

Paul Kindlon was raised in Albany, NY, lived in Chicago for 16 years, and has been a resident of Moscow, Russia, for 24 years. Life adventures: Musician, Stage actor, Journalist, Professor, Short-story writer. PhD in Philosophy and Russian Literature. He enjoys Jazz, Classical music, cats, and travel. 

 

 

 

 

 

Gale Acuff: “Hard”

Hard

Nobody loves me, not even Jesus
is how I feel sometimes, when I’m depressed,
which is pretty often and I’m only
ten years old, so I’ve got the rest of my
life to be unhappy, I’m unhappy
because I’m in love with my Sunday School

teacher, Miss Hooker, but she’s 25,
which isn’t young and what’s worse I’ll never
catch her until we’re both dead and that means
we’ll be the same age though I’m not sure how
I know that, some things you just do, such as
I’m alive or I’m hungry or I need
to pee. After Sunday School today I
cornered Miss Hooker, kind of, I mean that

I found her alone in our classroom when
she was putting her church-gear away, her
red Bible especially, isn’t red
the color of the Devil? Anyway,
I asked her if she’d marry me when we’re
both dead, in the life-to-come, but she said
No, Gale, there’s no marriage in Heaven, read
your Good Book, so then I asked her, Well, could
we live together, then? She hollered, Shack
 
in sin together in heaven? It was
less a question than an exclamation
but it was both, she’s good that way, I’ll bet
Jesus was, too, or I guess still is, if
there are any stupid questions like mine
in Heaven. Goodbye, Gale, she said--see you
next Sunday, so I said Yes ma’am and left.
How do you know when a woman’s playing

hard to get? It doesn’t feel like peeing,
more like not being able to so no
wonder some folks are more comfortable
with Satan–he knows how it feels to be hurt.
So does Jesus but maybe He forgets.

 

Gale Acuff has had poetry published in Ascent, Ohio Journal, Descant, Poem, Adirondack Review, Coe Review, Worcester Review, Maryland Poetry Review, Arkansas Review, Florida Review, South Carolina Review, Carolina Quarterly, South Dakota Review, Sequential Art Narrative in Education, and many other journals. I have authored three books of poetry: Buffalo Nickel (BrickHouse Press, 2004), The Weight of the World (BrickHouse, 2006), and The Story of My Lives (BrickHouse, 2008). He has taught university English in the US, China, and the Palestinian West Bank.

Stephanie Macias: “Cigarettes, Darts, and Sunsets”

Cigarettes, Darts, And Sunsets

When I come to see you
I have trash juice on my leg.
I worked all day.
You worked all night.
You’re nouveau-American—
mostly brown, a little white.
I got it all, girl.

You smoke in the garage,
into my hair.
The darts slip out
of my fingers,
wet with the dew of a sweating beer,
staking their tips just right
of the mark.

I’m trying so hard
not to talk about my problems.
You know what I mean.

I always hit the bullseye
on my first or second try.
Then never again.
It’s not because I get drunker
or sadder.
I do the same thing when I’m bowling.
I make good first impressions.
You know the rest.

You’re blue-eyed, black-haired,
and insisting that I’ll be okay
through little train-puffing lips.
I don’t want to be.
It means starting over.
It means first blushes
so damn sunset red,
they burn the retina
so that he cannot see
my night unfold,
my stars come out.

 

Stephanie Macias is a writer, artist, and musician living in Austin, TX. She has toured all over the United States under the moniker Little Brave and has released five records, as well as created artwork for many albums and concert posters. She writes poetry and fiction daily.

Daniel Edward Moore: “Fishers of Men”

Fishers of Men

I will not cast a line, not anymore,
not when regardless of where it lands

I’m still bent on a bridge at dawn
waiting for my failures to jump.

I’m the LED bulb on the fluffer’s face
making his tackle box shine, the last

inch spinning off the rod’s hot reel,
the farthest distance from feel.

Now do you see how lies take me down
like a fish belly up on the river below?

The brighter the sun, the bigger the bottle.
Yes, he’s a fisher of men, and yes, violence

is hunger with a hook, and porn technology’s
axe in the ice on the frozen sea of me.

I am a bucket flopping with men, a study in
gasping for air. Someone throw me back quick.

Daniel Edward Moore’s poems have been published in journals such as The Spoon River Poetry Review, Rattle, Columbia Journal, and others. He lives in Washington on Whidbey Island. His recent book, Confessions Of A Pentecostal Buddhist, can be found on Amazon. His work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Visit Daniel at Danieledwardmoore.com