a series of hauntings
READ WITH CARE
sexual abuse | death | substance abuse
HAUNTED BY THE PAST
she knocked at the door.
He opened, went pale,
as if he was seeing a ghost.
Something about what he did to her
when she was eight years old.
photo by Timothy Schulz, concept: Daniel Schulz, Model: Isabelle Haase
AT THE CLINIC
i imagine confessing
to the gruff kind of man
to the crime of being
photo by AES
When I had a body I was careful with it. I took milk baths to make my skin glow, never smoked, ate lean meat only occasionally. It was an era of excess--of burlesque strippers dousing themselves with champagne and mobsters pushing diamonds into my hands--but none of that could widen my eyes. My eyes were wide enough as it was. I came from a small town that trusted no one, where old men stood at screen doors and kept watch for strangers. I should have known better.
He was insidious, hungry. He showed me that people can be haunted, too.
INSTRUCTIONS FOR MARITIME
if you slice a fish in two, it will escape
through the hole of its mouth before
you have time to catch it – its trans-
lucence pouring itself right back
into the ocean and you left
with an empty
THE GHOST IN YOU
You follow him with a craving because sweet cordials aren’t enough. You want him to watch you flame. You want him to combust before he goes home to her. I watch you dance. Watch you dip cigarettes into Florida Snow. You inhale so deep your heart is beating up and out and you are blurring around the edges. He’s checking his phone, doesn’t watch, doesn’t follow as you stumble and fade. But the me that is you... I’m always watching. I follow you to the edge. You’re pushing hard. I’m pushing back. We are not gonna fall.
me & my self-inflicted wounds
It's like a walkie talkie -
both speak simultaneously,
THE OPPOSITE OF GRAVITY
Kelli Short Borges
She sits on the moon, staring at the earth below. The earth stares back, its perfect sphere alive.
She wonders what she looks like, here, so far from the grit, the tides, the grounding force of gravity?
Does anyone see her in the vast emptiness?
Do they see the black hole just beyond? Can they feel its pull, the darkness within the death of light?
Eventually, the earth, too, will be gone, sucked into the void. Gone, as if it had never been.
Like her son.
photo by rex short
TANKA FOR DELIVERY MAN
Zoe Grace Marquedant
powdered pills cornered
on a thumb-nail of paper
twisted off, dropped down
his throat like a hang glider
floats over Arizona
this vessel volting
The carcass of my womb's violet shedding volts against its own grief.
This physical forgiveness impending on closed eyes, hand to heart;
and what does death want of my grieving, the blooming burn in my chest?
The sun's golden giving through lavender lead light graces my shoulders.
The glass throat of the sky calls to my body, turns it to prayer.
BIOGRAPHY OF A SECOND-RATE MAN
He lived his life in the shadows, the gray
areas between the spotlight and infamy.
And now he's dead. And just as when he
was alive, there's nothing more to say.
photo by kip knott
Our entire adulthood is expended
In the blanks left
In our teenager dreams
photo courtesy of wix
there is a man in the corner hemorrhaging
I see him flicker
like a lung patient
gasping for a smoke.
That is all.
take us on out of here.
photo by Kip Knott
LET ME IN
Try to stretch out my legs but no use, they keep snapping back into foetal position.
Creep to her bedside and paw at the cover, asking to be let in.
Her eyes are forests. Might I live there in a trailer, in a buried-deep clearing?
after William Sovern after Charlie Newman
When I release myself of these exhausted bones
either through self-mutilation or by natural cause,
construct me a magnificent tomb of endless wonder
where this dead fucking flesh will remain above ground
& all the words I couldn’t find can simply slip away.
my suicide note will be like a jukebox,
will play the music of life
at a flip of a coin
to see how death asks for my hand
for one last dance at the ball.
because you always loved murder ballads
I killed you in the light of a Hare Moon so no one else could possess you. Tonight I believe I see you jump from a thicket of icy branches and watch as you rise higher and higher to nuzzle the bright grasses of Heaven. And now I worry that Orion will pull his arrows from his quiver and hunt you down. If only you were more than the dream of a pill-less night’s sleep, then maybe I could rescue you from the lone cloud, silver-edged like a razor, that nicks your throat and bleeds the sunrise out of you.
Outside, kids are drawing pictures with chalk,
little tin scooters wobble down uneven pavements
You hold my hand the way you’d hold a knife
I don’t think I love you means as much as it used to.
I slap myself with every step
For every slap I take a step
With every crack a broken back
A backhand breaking skin
Snow falls from a low grey sky. Crystals lace the windows.
Dark crowds seethe and roar under the porticoes.
A body pale as a statue rises steaming from a bed.
A thin white hand rubs the glass of the unyielding window: behind a wall of gentle down, ashen skaters glide and pirouette in silence.
It takes patience to regard them. They turn and turn but do not change.
Mounting crowds press close to the window, tapping the fogged glass. Snow and ashes mute their roar. Lightning ruptures the sky.
Behind the drifts a black locomotive whistles its arrival.
and sealing with my lips
An arsenal of words that could destroy you.
WHEN IT FELL
I tried to build sandcastles with your ashes
in the hopes the foundations would stick
but the windows caved in your cremation
as a house fell apart
and home formed a
DAVID CALOGERO CENTORBI
you genuflect to the beat of the dying
and flick a cigarette butt at my smile
you bought a t-shirt that said:
blasphemy is an orderve I can titillate a clitoris with
you said the symptoms of anxiety are like walking
through a pane of tinted glass
you decided to leave jealousy out in the rain
and watch the scars melt away
Should i repent as buonarroti, or does the self loathing, alone, suffice
Similar to the salamander
i find no home in flame—
rather, having been, by burn, seduced
out of the shade,
i char the earth by my escape
photo courtesy of wix
Dictionary of Vulgar Tongues (1859)
Very weak tea, the third brew
(or the first at some houses).
Sometimes called “husband’s tea,”
in allusion to the wife taking
the first brew, and leaving
the rest for the wretch.
photo courtesy of wix
The day you were told,
my jaw formed a chrysalis –
the sun burned wings to the house,
I cracked our bones, to find a net
before the night retched
the cat's ghost.
photo courtesy of wix
a HALLOWEEN treat from VERSIFICATION
WOLF MAN UNDERGOES THE CHANGE
A sound softly passes his lips as he gazes out his bedroom window at the full moon locked in a cage of branches; not exactly a howl, but more of a low moan. He holds his arms up to the silver moonlight that surrounds him. Nothing. No thick tufts of fur, no scythe-like claws curling from the tips of his fingers. He shuffles across the floor to the enormous Gothic mirror standing at the foot of his bed, leans into his reflection and examines his face for any signs of metamorphosis: the beginnings of a unibrow; clumps of hair sprouting from his ears; a single, long whisker. His face stares back at him, bewildered and smooth as a nectarine.
Just last year, the night after his 49th birthday party when there was a beautiful Hunter’s Moon, it took him nearly half an hour to wash his thick and lustrous—albeit gray—fur clean of the blood and bits of flesh left over from his meal of his corpulent neighbor Edmond Gardner, a busybody who was always snooping around his house. He knew full-well it wasn’t raccoons that were tipping over his trashcans nearly every night. But he never said a word each morning when he saw Mr. Gardner watering his azaleas as he walked to the end of his driveway to retrieve the New York Times. Once, though, he did draw out the “O” at the end of “Hello” so that the word itself became howl-like. The look on Mr. Gardner’s face planted a smile on his own face that he carried with him the whole day.
And last night at his 50th birthday party, he felt hale and hardy as he danced with every person from his office who was single. He twirled Sarah Jenkins through a dizzy Straus waltz; he dipped Jenny Talbot to punctuate the end of a tango; he even spun slender Jimmy Fenner into the air and caught him just as the last trumpet note of “In the Mood” blared. As the guests left long after midnight, they all shook his hand or kissed his clean-shaven cheek to thank him for the best night they could ever remember having. And when he went to bed without bothering to clean up, wonderfully weary and perfectly inebriated, he dreamed about which one of them he would revisit tonight for a more intimate and private dinner party.
Suddenly he snaps his fingers, turns abruptly away from the mirror, and runs out his bedroom door, down the winding marble staircase, across the black-and-white tiled floor of the foyer, and out the front door of his house, leaving behind a trail of discarded clothes and undergarments. He sprints out from beneath the tree-lined portico and bounds into the moonlight that spills across his yard like a lulling tide, convinced that once the light has a chance to wash over him he will become himself again. He lifts his face to the sky and spreads his arms wide as if to gather in all the light he can hold. A nighttime symphony of tree frogs, crickets, and the wind clicking through distant branches plays all around him, and he begins to twirl to the rhythm of the world. Growing dizzy, he falls to the ground, laughing with delight, and runs his hands up and down his naked, tingling body. Slowly, his laughter ebbs and wanes and gradually transforms into soft sobs as he curls into himself in the dewy grass. For the first time in as long as he can remember, he remains furless in the light of a full moon, utterly human and completely heartbroken.
MEET THIS MONTH'S GUEST PUNKS
REGULAR CONTRIBUTORS ARE LISTED ON OUR MASTHEAD
Lorelei Bacht is a person and a poet who has been watching the rain instead of finishing her chapbook. Her recent work has appeared / is forthcoming in Litehouse, Pollux, Visitant, The Wondrous Real, Quail Bell, Fahmidan, Abridged Magazine, Odd Magazine, Postscript, PROEM, SWWIM, Strukturriss, The Inflectionist Review, Hecate, and others. She is also on Instagram: @lorelei.bacht.writer and on Twitter: @bachtlorelei.
KELLI SHORT BORGES
Kelli Short Borges is a writer and former reading specialist from Phoenix, Arizona. Although many who know Kelli claim she’s a beaming ray of sunshine, her stories tend toward the dark and disturbing. Kelli’s dream is to be served endless piles of books and bon bons, then left alone until the end of time. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming at Across the Margin, Bright Flash Literary Review, Flash Fiction Magazine, Pure Slush, Drunk Monkeys, and Versification, amongst other publications. You can find her on Twitter @KelliBorges2
Frances Gapper recently got a sore finger, as you can see. But it’s better now. However, her light (also pictured) is on the blink. Her micro She’s Gone was published by Wigleaf and is included in Best Microfiction 2021. New or forthcoming work in Twin Pies, Truffle, Sledgehammer, Stone of Madness, Blink Ink.
Salvatore Difalco resides in Toronto, Canada. Recent work has appeared in Cafe Irreal, Brilliant Flash Fiction and Everyday Fiction.
Matt Schultz is going as Ray Bradbury’s Illustrated Man for Halloween. See author photo.
Karen Crawford lives in the City of Angels where she exorcises demons one word at a time. Her work appears or is forthcoming in Sledghammer Lit, Flash Boulevard, The Ekphrastic Review, Reflex Fiction, and Flash Fiction Magazine among others. You can find her on Twitter: @KarenCrawford_
Skye Addison (they/them) is a queer writer and chronic project starter that can usually find in the woods, around a dumpster fire, or on twitter @tender_eldritch.
Tim Heerdink is the author of Somniloquy & Trauma in the Knottseau Well, The Human Remains, Red Flag and Other Poems, Razed Monuments, Checking Tickets on Oumaumua, Sailing the Edge of Time, I Hear a Siren’s Call, Ghost Map, A Cacophony of Birds in the House of Dread, Tabletop Anxieties & Sweet Decay (with Tony Brewer) and short stories “The Tithing of Man” and “HEA-VEN2”. His poems appear in various journals and anthologies. He is the President of Midwest Writers Guild of Evansville, Indiana.
Daniel Schulz is U.S.-German writer, factory worker, and researcher known for his short story collection Schrei (Formidabel 2016) and his work as curator of the Kathy Acker Reading Room at the University of Cologne. His works have been published in Der Federkiel, Luftruinen, Die Novelle, The Transnational, Electronic Book Review, Mirage #5, Gender Forum, Fragmented Voices, Divanova, Kunst-Kultur-Literatur Magazin, Versification, Café Irreal, Salut L'Absurde, Cacti Fur and the anthologies Tin Soldier (Sarturia 2020), Corona-Schnee (Salon29 2021), Jahrbuch der Poesie 2021 (AG Literatur 2021). In 2020 editor for Kathy Acker in Seattle (Misfit Lit 2021). In 2021 his poem Gorgon was shortlisted for the Mono Poetry Prize. Further publications of his will appear in the anthology Heart/h by Fragmented Voices and Matias Viegener's Get Rid of Meaning (Walter König 2021) at the end of the year. Instagram: @DanielSchulzPoet
Caroline Banerjee is a 22-year-old poet from Brighton, England, who has recently graduated from the University of Cambridge, where she read English. She is currently completing an MA in Medieval Studies at King’s College, London. In 2019, Banerjee was awarded the T.R. Henn Prize for her poetry, and her work was recently commended in Frosted Fire’s 2021 New Voices Competition. Her poem ‘Lessons’ was recently published in The Black Spring Press Group’s The Best New British and Irish Poets 2019-2021 anthology (2021). She soon hopes to publish her own debut collection.
Lauren Theresa (she/her) is a writer, mother, witch, and depth psychotherapist living in NJ with her tiny family and myriad of plants. Her musings can be found via IG & Twitter @imlaurentheresa, and her words crawl the pages of laurentheresa.com.
Syreeta Muir is definitely not doing anything weird with Haribo Supermix.
Writing in or upcoming in Daily Drunk Mag, The Disappointed Housewife, Sledgehammer, and others. Photography in Barren Magazine and Olney Magazine.
Mandy May believes in ghosts, magic, and the splendor of a body failing. She has three cats.
Louise Mather is a writer from Northern England and founding editor of Acropolis Journal. Nominated Best of the Net 2021, and a finalist in the Streetcake Writing Prize, her work is published in various print and online literary journals. She writes about ancestry, rituals, endometriosis, fatigue and mental health. Twitter @lm2020uk
Shine Ballard, the banausicbore, currently creates and resides on this plane(t).
ZOE GRACE MARQUEDANT
Zoe Grace Marquedant (she/her/hers) is a queer writer. She earned her B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and her M.F.A. from Columbia University. Her work has been featured in Olney Magazine, the Cool Rock Repository, and Schuylkill Valley Journal. She is also a columnist and contributor for Talk Vomit. Follow @zoenoumlaut
Yuan Changming hails with Allen Yuan from poetrypacific.blogspot.ca. (poetry subs are welcome year round). Credits include eleven Pushcart nominations & eleven chapbooks (most recently LIMERENCE) besides appearances in Best of the Best Canadian Poetry (2008-17) & BestNewPoemsOnline, among others. Recently, Yuan served on the jury for Canada's 44th National Magazine Awards (poetry category).