Hands Peripheral by Grant Tarbard

My hands have been gutted from the inside out, like a watermelon,
into a corpse flesh of trick questions, grotesque of colour;
veins of agate, spinel arteries, stretched skin of alabaster.

My hands are beautiful with daggers held behind my back
gently scraping at flesh in a scream of silences held in a box
beneath my tongue, salivating discreet sentences, hush-hush.

My hands holler loudly, drunken protests in darkened rooms,
jump off rooftops and shout in all my aching bones declaring;
“the sky is built with one nail a day delivered by coquettish boys!”

My hands are made of oak, or at least oak’s reserved echo,
I rub them and I get a splinter. I’ve put them in the barbecue
as an offering for good weather. I hope my echo of hands will burn.

My hands are mannequin hands, fingerless, useless in embroidered
theatre gloves, pictorial carved aerophones that produce notes when blown.
Find me in the stalls swallowing jewels for the coming lean times.

My hands were hissing kettles, now they boil down to a slow sigh
into the soothing wrath of this nullity, a bagatelle of void. My fingers
are vicars that’ll tow the golden chariot when Death comes to town.

Grant Tarbard

Grant Tarbard is internationally published. His collection As I Was Pulled Under the Earth, published by Lapwing Publications, is available now.

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Love-Sick by Paul Tristram

“Put your love away…
you’re making everyone feel sick!”
she hissed.
“No!” someone answered,
“Put your bitterness away…
you’re spoiling everybody’s fun.
You and your ugly sneer
should fuck off somewhere else
where you can’t upset decent folk!”
So she walked home sideways
like an irate crab,
to her lopsided, dilapidated house
in the Forgotten Quarter.
Drank half a pint of vinegar
straight down without even flinching.
Then took a potato peeler to bed
and roughly scalped her pubic bone.
Whispering “Miss Havisham’s
a fucking sunbeam compared with me…
I even hate the women!”

Scribblings Of A Madman

Paul Tristram is a Welsh writer who has poems, short stories, sketches and photography published in many publications around the world, he yearns to tattoo porcelain bridesmaids instead of digging empty graves for innocence at midnight; this too may pass, yet. Buy his books ‘Scribblings Of A Madman’ (Lit Fest Press) http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1943170096 ‘Poetry From The Nearest Barstool’ at http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1326241036 And a split poetry book ‘The Raven And The Vagabond Heart’ with Bethany W Pope at http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1326415204 You can also read his poems and stories here! http://paultristram.blogspot.co.uk/

A Ten Question Interview With The Artist… Alexandra Naughton

Why do you write?

Well I definitely don’t do it for pleasure. Not that it’s a pain, it’s fun most of the time. It’s not a hobby, it’s a habit.

What books do you read?

I just finished Thousand Cranes by Yasunari Kawabata, and So Sad Today by Melissa Broder. I’m probably going to read this Mary Ruefel book next.

What inspires you?

Memories and sensations, like I always feel like I’m trying to go back to this one moment that’s dusky and clean and quiet and I’m listening to death cab for cutie on my stereo and burning incense maybe and my mom is downstairs cooking dinner and I’m just sitting in my room alone thinking and I know that my boyfriend really loves me and even though 911 is about to happen next year, everything just kind of feels okay and nice because I’m 15 and I haven’t done anything too dumb yet.

How did you know you wanted to be a writer and when?

I’ve just always kind of done this. It’s only been fairly recently that I’ve made an effort to put work out and get published. I was just like, why not I’m doing this already anyway.

How do you deal with rejection?

It’s usually fine. I might get a little ticked off at first but I edit a zine and I run a press so I understand when sometimes a piece doesn’t really fit in with what the greater vision of the publication is.

Who are some writers you admire?

Jesse Prado, Ctch Bsnss, Luis Neer, Amy Berkowitz, Maisha Johnson, Mk Chavez, Cassandra Dallett, I think I’m just naming writers I know and admire and work with.

Is writing the only artistic medium you do?

I like to make videos, direct little films. I draw but I’m not super talented.

What would be some advice you would give to your younger self?

You’re cool. Don’t believe people who tell you different.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Just write. And read. Like a lot.

What is your writing process?

I think about lines in my head and then I’ll write them down when I think they sound tight in my head and then I have a catalyst for a poem or story or something and then later I’ll mess around with it.

Alexandra Noughton

Alexandra Naughton is founder and director of be about it press. She is the author of several poetry collections. Her first novel, American Mary, was published by civil coping mechanisms in March 2016.

 

Chiaroscuro Longing by Mark A. Murphy

We are not given readily to loving,
but turn instead
to the familiar pain
of the heart in a state of dislocation.

Though not still young,
we are no more
middle aged than we are free,
obligated by time’s momentous fancy,

we see the world in chiaroscuro,
feel love in a vacuum
of giving,
hardly able to tie the evening’s cravat.

Pitiable really, to think any new love
could overturn
thirty years of longing
in the tear stained, bleeding eye.

So we turn inward against all advice,
let the church bells
ring out misgivings,
their melancholy proclivities,

we have no need of their sad favour,
rather we would sing
of the insolent dead
who drew us to kneel at the alter

of passing, unable to move forwards
or back step
in some full and vain retreat,
unable to see the light for the dark.

Mark A. Murphy

Mark A. Murphy’s first full length collection, Night-watch Man & Muse was published in 2013 by Salmon Poetry, Eire.

Nothing At All by John Sweet

cold in the shadows of empty warehouses,
in the indirect blur of this burnt-out november sunlight,
and i couldn’t breathe,
could only smell gasoline & approaching snow
and what i kept hearing in the back of my mind was lou reed,
was the velvet underground,
oh! sweet nuthin’,
the chorus going on and on,
the guitar,
and it was like church bells & stained glass,
it was like summer skies from when we used to live at
the ruined end of jefferson ,
from when you tasted like sugar,
and i remembered this while i crossed the field,
was tired suddenly, was old,
and a storm was moving in,
was pushing down from canada ,
and i couldn’t get warm,
couldn’t find the staircase or speak your name
and the song was almost over,
and i finally fell the last three stories & hit the mattress,
i finally heard the final words approaching in this empty house,
in this dying age,
and i closed my eyes & smiled,
felt the memory of your warmth & i breathed,
and i spoke your name & i slept

JohnSWeetphoto

john sweet, b. 1968, opposed to all ideologies, political parties, organized religion and reality tv. votes the surrealist ticket whenever possible. latest collections include THE CENTURY OF DREAMING MONSTERS (2014 Lummox Press) and the electronic chapbook A NATION OF ASSHOLES W/ GUNS (2015 Scars Publications).

She Told Me She Was On ‘The Voice’ At 4am In A Crappy Bar by Brenton Booth

Don’t you know who I am!
I shouldn’t even be talking
to you. I have over a hundred-
thousand hits on YouTube.
Who the hell do you think
you are! she said.
Thankfully not you, I said
and stood up and waited
until I got to the toilet before
I let out my shit.

Brenton Booth

Brenton Booth lives in Sydney, Australia. He has recently been printed in Chiron Review, Mas Tequila Review, Bold Monkey, Red Fez and Paper and Ink. brentonbooth.weebly.com

Against Heads Like Hickory Wood by Victor Clevenger

Mornings I drink my coffee and look out the
car windows.
I’m simply a writer riding,
but
I
have
come
to the
conclusion
that
too many men’s skulls need a reminder of
what
primal means, and
beautiful women
refuse to believe that
they are actually
ugly
when
they cry.
The truth —
these city streets are a
self-indulged,
stuck-up-the-ass
horror show and a seven-pound hammer swung wildly
is not a
guaranteed
resolution,
but it’s a damn solid suggestion.

Victor Clevenger - Copy

Victor Clevenger; With guts full of grit, I spend my days in a Maximum Security Madhouse and my nights writing poetry and short stories from the kitchen table of my ex-wife’s home. Selected pieces of my work have been published in Chiron Review, Eleventh Transmission, Crab Fat Literature, NEAT, and anthology collections published by Lady Chaos Press.

Things Said on a Train by Thomas O’Connell

(Which mean something else
When said while not on a train) I would rather
Go forwards than backwards. How long
Are we going to be stuck here? Would you like
To sit by the window? This is the end
Of the line. Thank you for waiting
for me

Thomas O'Connell

Thomas O’Connell is a librarian living on the banks of the Hudson River in Beacon, NY, where he happens to be the 2015-2016 poet laureate. His poetry and short fiction has appeared in Elm Leaves Journal, Caketrain, NANO Fiction, The Broken Plate, and The Los Angeles Review, as well as other print and online journals.

Starship Commander by David J. Thompson

Shitty, he says, real shitty, when I ask him
how he’s doing.  Katie’s dropped out of college,
didn’t even tell anyone, he says, sticks his finger
in his drink, and swirls it around. Now I find out
she’s living with her hippie friends in Asheville.
She says they’re going to start a t-shirt company
or some bullshit like that. I shift a little bit in my seat,
tell him that doesn’t sound so bad, but he finishes
his drink in one swallow and says, When I left her mother,
I signed on Katie’s student loans just  to make everybody happy.
We all agreed she’d pay them back after she graduated.
Now I’m really fucked. Christ, what was I thinking?
Oh, shit, I say. That sucks really hard, and motion
to the waitress to bring another round of drinks,
tell her to make them doubles.

Twenty years earlier we tiptoed up to the crib
in the makeshift nursery. Isn’t she great? he whispered,
and I replied, Yeah, she sure is, even though
the room was too dim for us to really see. I’m going
to be a great dad, he told me. I’m going to make sure
she can be anything she wants. Doctor, lawyer . . .
hell, maybe even a starship commander. Who knows?
I don’t care. Whatever she wants, I’m going to make
it happen.   I’m sure you will, I said, raised my beer bottle
to him thinking then that I was the only  one who heard him
make those promises in the dark that would cost him
so much to keep.

David J. Thompson

David J. Thompson is a former prep school teacher and coach. He has been traveling since October 2013. His interests include jazz, film, and postcards. Please visit his photo website at ninemilephoto.com.