Cents and Corpses

Yash Seyedbagheri


On the news, they talk of trade-offs between bodies and money.

Older sister Nancy was a hostess at an Italian restaurant. Once she moved about, serving bread and wine with snark, whispering suicide and death jokes to me, joking about patrons’ wardrobe.

Now she gasps, calling for me, virus rising.

I can’t visit.

The restaurant won’t pay my sister her due.

They trumpet statistics. X customers, Z dollars.

One night, I take out their windows with baseball bats. Turn tables. Destroy cash registers.

The destruction is a mere tantrum. They can repair this, replace Nancy. Trump more statistics.

Nancy gasps, unheard.


Yash Seyedbagheri is a graduate of Colorado State University’s MFA program in fiction. Yash’s work is forthcoming or has been published in WestWard Quarterly, Café Lit, and Ariel Chart, among others.

Bazaar

Akanksha Singh


The hawkers yelled,
The street urchins tugged.

The horns blared,
The policeman glared,
And the beggars sang raucously.
But for the first time… I felt peace.

I floated up, no longer bound,
Lighter than air…
Lighter than sound.

The bazaar throbbed around me like a beating heart,
And my heart… drunk on its loud din,
Its harsh neon light,
Beat exactly to its tune.

I walked through the bazaar no more.
I was the Bazaar…
And the Bazaar was me.


Akanksha Singh is a poet and a writer though she prefers to call herself a storyteller. Her poems have been a constant fixture in her college magazines. She also won the Honorable Mention in the Delhi Poetry Slam. Writing is her way of fending off the tedium that often afflicts technical professionals. When she is not working or writing, she often wanders into the Himalayas, living the local village life. Her travel escapades can be found on her Instagram (@_travelinghungry_). Currently she is pursuing an MBA from IIM Kozhikode.

A Series of Bodies

Jessica Klimesh


This is the story of a body, born head-first into the hands of a young midwife with cowering blue eyes and a timid pink smile. She comes to work in this body factory every day. She knows the story by heart. The fluorescent lights from above pierce the body’s soft skin, and it crosses my mind to ask the young midwife about her hair. I can smell the lavender and citrus mix in it, and it reminds me of my sister, so educated and aware. I start to regret.

The body screams as the midwife wraps it up, its eyes squeezed closed. I strain to see. It is just one in a series of bodies, a series of whites, pinks, reds, purples, and tans. This one has ringlets of black like its mother, like me, I’m sure. Or maybe I’m just imagining it.

I see the scene from a distance, like I’m on the moon or floating in space, my twenty-two years on earth just a microscopic fabrication. And then I’m right there, here, listening for another force of air to be expelled, then taken in. The body wails as the young midwife wipes it clean of blood. The white towel is then tossed into a bin that says “waste”, and the body is relinquished to a man wearing a hazmat suit. The man in the hazmat suit puts the body in an opaque box on the counter. Like a casket, my sister had warned me. She’d read about it in the books, had said it’s not worth it, to do what I’ve done.

The man then shoos the young midwife to the next bed so that she can tend to another. The next one is ready. And then another. They are all ready. Like clockwork. He doesn’t look at me. He is concerned about profits.

It is my body, the man in the suit says, his glance falling at my stomach in disgust. Then a plastic smile. This is the worst of it, he says. You won’t think about it after this because now it’s mine. Poof! It’s like it never happened. Hahahahaha. He has a laugh that bounces once before falling flat.

No, it’s my body, I say.

They have not sewn me up yet. They have not let me hold it. The room is gray; the shades are pulled. It’s as gloomy as any other factory that uses human labor.

Boy or girl? I ask. My sister said they never tell you, but I ask anyway.

It’s a body, the man says.

It’s mine, I shout. I want to see it.

The man says no. You have no rights, he says. You have no rights to your body.

My sister had told me not to argue.

Please! I say, but my voice is wilted. The man says, here, as he injects me with a gray fluid. Gray like the room. You won’t remember anything when you wake up, he says. Everything will be normal.

No, I say.

You don’t have a choice, the man says. It’s done. I hear my sister’s voice telling me tellingmeto just. Just. So I do and. the effectsare immediate.

Its my bdy, I say. I wunt to see

Yu might fel tired. Its bess if youdonnt remmber.

Itss my bdy, i say. i reacch forit butitsgone Leemmee holdit lemmme at leasseeit. lemmeee toush it

pleasss

Shh…shhh. 


Jessica Klimesh enjoys reading and writing innovative flash fiction. When she’s not experimenting with form and language in her own work, she’s editing others’ technical, academic, and creative manuscripts. She holds an MA in English and an MFA in Creative Writing. Her fiction has previously appeared in Unlikely Stories Mark V and The Mark Literary Review.

Serious

Philip Berry


too frightened to laugh
‘case it makes memories
for others to cry over
moments of pleasure
hang off you like cotton
caught on rusty nails


Philip Berry‘s poems have appeared in Black Bough Poetry, Lucent Dreaming, Poetry Birmingham and Lunate Fiction. He is a hospital doctor working in London. You can see more of his work on his website or on Twitter (@philaberry).

On the Highline, Glacier N. P.

Larry Pike


for Carol

Stippled spray of fireweed and hawkweed
against teal and rose argillite delights
hikers beneath the Garden Wall, yes,

but careful pole plants and foot falls help
avoid the thin path’s slick stones
and surprising shoots through snow

drifts across the trail where mistaken steps
in the slush may give way to a different,
more desperate view – the thousand-foot

tumble down the sheer divide over
a vast ocean of rolling cloud, surfing
a gulf of blurred beargrass, toadflax, monkeyflower.


Larry Pike’s poetry and fiction has appeared in The Louisville Review, Seminary Ridge Review, Caesura, Exposition Review, Vitamin ZZZ, and Capsule Stories, among other publications. He has work forthcoming in Jelly Bucket. He lives in Glasgow, Kentucky.

Candles

Jennifer Patino


It came around again —
like a birthday,
but no one gives presents
for simply surviving

Blow on the scars!
Put them out!

The smell of sulfur
is synonymous
with suffering

It’s not just aging
for some of us,
it’s a progression —

A new day
for the disease
to have a chance
to devour.


Jennifer Patino is an Ojibwe poet living in Las Vegas with her artist husband. She tweets poetry and microfiction stories from @thoughtthistles.

Perfect Jake and the Bank Heist That Goes Wrong

John Adams


Perfect Jake caresses the plastique with a breeziness that makes your left eye twitch. “It’s serendipity,” he says. “A new security guard and an old security code, the same night the bank’s holding the Wutherton Diamonds? Serendipity.”

The rest of the crew strum their admiration.

“So true!” laughs Twelve-Finger Tilda.

“Perfect observation, Perfect Jake!” beams Grandpa Pudding, your boss, the mastermind.

“Whatever,” you say, guiding Perfect Jake’s moisturized hand away from the explosives. He grins at your touch, the same grin he learned in high school, not really a smirk, not really a sincere smile. Shunning that entangling grin, you follow Grandpa Pudding and Twelve-Finger Tilda across the dark bank lobby, empty except for your crew and the unconscious guard.

Perfect Jake saunters over in his own relaxed time. “Everything OK, Cleo?” A question normal people ask in private, in muffled tones.

You don’t answer.

Grandpa Pudding flashes Perfect Jake a concerned look, desperately paternal. The “son” just grins, easing the old man back into the plan. Grandpa Pudding tugs his ice-white beard. The signal.

You slowly activate the chipped detonator. Everyone, even Perfect Jake, takes another step back. Twelve-Finger Tilda holds up her ten remaining fingers—stumpy reminders of February’s messy museum heist—and starts the countdown.

Ten fingers.

Ten years ago, Mr. Gomez introduces a scrawny, stuttering student to your 3rd-Grade class. His real name is Jacob Weisman. You’ve already decided his nickname.  

Nine fingers.

Nine months ago, Perfect Jake lies to the cops about the cars you stole on prom night. They believe him; he’s handsome now. They clap his back, encouraging him to apply to the force after graduation.  

Eight fingers.

Eight days ago, the crew laps up pizza in your living room. “You guys heard of the Wutherton Diamonds?” Perfect Jake asks.

Seven fingers.

Seven minutes ago, Perfect Jake fake-flirts with the bank guard as you crash the butt of your flashlight into the sucker’s cranium.

Six fingers.

Six minutes from now, sirens blare. The others tear away, but Perfect Jake—hands wet with blood and moisturizer—lies caught beneath rubble. He coughs weakly. “Leave me, Cleo. I’ll be OK.”

Five fingers.

Five weeks from now, at his trial, Perfect Jake spills the secret, fingering your crew as his bank-job accomplices in exchange for probation.

Four fingers.

Four months from now, a sneering prison guard tosses the letter you mailed Perfect Jake back into your cell. Return to sender.

Three fingers.

Three years from now, you sob, alone, as the judge denies your parole.  

Two fingers.

Two months ago, you stood before another judge, Perfect Jake’s soft hands in yours, whispering “I do”.

One finger.

One decade from now…

One day out of prison…

One hand rings the doorbell. Your other hand shakily raises a stolen Glock.

Perfect Jake answers, hands still soft from moisturizer, face still scarred from explosives.

He is perfect.

You drop the gun.

You tumble into him.

And right now, in the bank, Twelve-Finger Tilda’s countdown reaches zero.

The explosives detonate. 


John Adams (he/him/his) writes about teenage detectives, pelican-people, robo-butlers, and cursed cowboys. His publication history includes Australian Writers’ Centre, Bowery Gothic, The Drabble, Dream of Shadows, Fat Cat Magazine, SERIAL Magazine, Siren’s Call, Trembling With Fear, Triangle Writers Magazine, and Weird Christmas (forthcoming: Paper Butterfly, peculiar, The Weird and Whatnot). His plays have been produced by Alphabet Soup (Whim Productions) and the 6×10 Play Festival (Barn Players) and selected for readings at the William Inge Theater Festival and the Midwest Dramatists Conference. He performs across the U.S. with That’s No Movie, a multi-genre improv team. Check out his website and Twitter.

The Power of Group

Ben Nardolilli


dodging upcoming webinars and poetry month sales,
along with conversations about the dangers
of conflict photography  – what day is it again?
last Tuesday now feels like a classic – remembering
when the voice of tired out workers included me

now my stories are set among swings,
as I collect colored glass in the parks while reviewing
superstitions before interviews, it’s something
for the weekend, flashing all my resources on Friday
while saying live and let live to news and events 


Ben Nardolilli currently lives in New York City. His work has appeared in Perigee Magazine, Red Fez, Danse Macabre, The 22 Magazine, Quail Bell Magazine, Elimae, The Northampton Review, Local Train Magazine, The Minetta Review, and Yes Poetry. He blogs here and is trying to publish a novel.

Junebug

Simea Stevens


I remember that porch. I remember we were sitting on its steps that summer, when I asked Mama about the house. 

“What about the house?” she asked.

“It’s broken.”  

“Oh hon…” She trailed off, but her eyes finished the sentence. So blue, so bright, so full of hurt. She wrapped her arms around me.

“Well June, you see…” She stopped to think for a second, but hung onto me too tight, squeezing my shoulders as if she could wring my doubts right out of me. “It may be broken, but it’s still alright. Windows don’t need glass for you to see outside of ‘em.”

“Mama, this isn’t just about the windows.” 

They were part of it, that was true. I might’ve jumped when they were shattered, but I didn’t care enough to feel anything about it. I just sighed, that house had a mean draft before the window came down.

She sighed.

“What do I always say, June? We might not have it all, but we’ve got all we need.”

But this wasn’t enough for me. Somehow, she sensed it. Back when she had a good head, she was all there and then some. 

“Now listen, Junie. Sure our fridge doesn’t work right, but really that’s just fine. I’m out of a job too. And your father’s just like our washer.”

I knew she was getting at something, but I just didn’t know what. I felt myself almost smiling, even though I didn’t want to be. I swallowed that smile and turned to look at her.

“Mama, what washer?”

“Exactly. And what father? But we get along just fine without both.”

She paused for a second to think, eyes momentarily fixed in the distance, before she continued.

“Now, I know we don’t have enough beds, but sharing with your sister can’t be too bad. ‘Specially now that she never sleeps at home.”

She looked down to avoid my gaze and started smoothing her dress of non-existent wrinkles before she added, “We’ve got it all between the five of us. Don’t need a chimney when we’ve got your brothers. And I’m a regular old doormat. Two more problems solved.”

After that a pause hung in the air. Mosquitoes idly drifted by, knowing well enough not to land on us.

“I guess so” I said, choking on nothing, but the humidity of June and the bitter truth. My mama had a way of dressing things up to make them seem pretty. She’d always do a good job, making herself look like a princess each time she managed to find a date. It still wasn’t enough. Those men never loved her and I never loved my home the way we all should have. Its emptiness crept into me at a young age, making it hard to breathe. I never really had a breath of fresh air ‘til I was hours north, in a state I had never been before. Maine and some clarity, a mental state just as foreign to me as the physical. 

I took my first breaths in a hospital just outside of Charleston, an hour or so from my hometown of Cairo. I don’t remember this, but my Mama tells me it was so. My father was there, and so was my sister. Lori tells me I was so pink, I scared her. 

I couldn’t help but wonder if I was pink the moment I stepped off that bus and took the first breath that I ever remember taking.


Simea Stevens enjoys writing stories about others in the first person while writings bios about herself in the third. Currently, she’s working on her first full-length novel and continues to write poems and short stories. Contact can be made through simeastevens@gmail.com or by visiting her new website

Blind Retribution

Ogedengbe Tolulope Impact


A fire is burning in a distant land
And we hear that some young men
Are being undressed by fire.
They say these men
Are seeds bearing their father’s crosses
With scars of terrific moments.
They say their fathers’ fathers
Cast sharp spears of inhumanity
And threw wars onto several doors.
They say their forefathers
Left cruel marks on many walls
With blasts of human wickedness
And that the retribution of nemesis
Is only a tit for tat.


Ogedengbe Tolulope Impact is a Nigerian poet. He is a chemical engineering graduate from the prestigious Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife. His poem ‘Tell them’ was shortlisted at the 7th Korea-Nigeria poetry feast 2017. His works have been published in Duane Poetree, Pangolin review, Amandasteelwriter, Words Rhymes & Rhythms, Literary planet, Wax poetry and art magazine, Porridge magazine, Parousia Magazine, Subsaharan magazine and elsewhere. He tweets @fruitfulimpact.