Current

Set the Feathers on Fire

Amelia Granger

What to say if you are talking to a live person. What to say if you are talking to a dead person. It’s a shock: when the address of a person you did not know suddenly becomes unusable. Especially when they never responded in the first place. Especially if you were just trying to solicit something from them.

We like to think that with our code of addresses and our blue-suited postal service, we will be able to reach you. We do not like to think that sometimes, somehow, every single person will not only say no to us, but drop off the map completely.

What to do with the addresses of the dead. Naturally, we cannot update them, as we regularly do for contacts that have shifted. If you can update, please do so. But in the regular term of this irregular situation, please file under “Retire Forever”, and we will hang on to them. How long? Indefinitely. Until we die ourselves.

Indefinite is a vague word, which someone can use to say how long they are staying away for, and think they mean forever. Indefinitely is how long you can hold onto the facts of the dead, but only if you write them down.

If, by accident, you send a letter to one of these retired addresses, it’s best to send a follow up note of condolences to whoever has received it in their stead, and must bear it. After you write the note, it’s a good idea to go outside to the park, and find the feathers of two white pigeons. Bring a silver dime, which you have polished on your shirtsleeve to the best of your ability. Arrange the fluff of the plumes over the coin, so the sun reflects into them, but to you is muted, and then set the feathers on fire with your cigarette lighter, and watch them burn.

Camden, London

Ania Pietraszek

Camden, London

Preservation

Jane Fleming

Preservation

on the curvature of Schwarzchild Justice

Timothy Leland Shores

do I have more than you? cross the delaware.
don’t fall in and drown on my compassion.
in a moment, devils lurching from the waves
dressed over flamboyant burgundy,
companions to the riddle
of boundaries so wrongly drawn.

I feel ashamed to have become
just another freckled bum in mindful robes.
broken under the freight
of a science in fractured light
that sings like a river of glass,
a mudstone fox, a plaster maiden,
idyllificent, and germ-free.

Pacific dragons, lions, thieves and servants.
states of enrichment where merchants try
our wartime for its restorative comedy,
frail love for bone, stones for currency.
to make a sacrament of foreign tongues,

and how shall we divvy up blind Milton.
we’ll distribute his talents this opening weekend.
we’ll shatter all records, an unburied billion
in promises, in ruses, and rose-colored bruises.

if you want our redshift peacetime back,
and if you have read the laws,
then show me your face that is not the ocean.
nothing can freeze this degenerate motion.
let your labors and your colors drift.
core elation does not imply incaution.

if you lift the robes from our dark stars,
then you’ll untangle this rotten delta.
a nutshell of infinite, curling space
would be no prison. black robes for sails.
it’s seaworthy, and it’s a part of me,
and you alone can make the victim whole.

Brand Neurons

Holy Ghost Machine Gun

Brand Neurons

Front Cover Art

Holy Ghost Machine Gun

Front Cover Art

Back Cover Art

Holy Ghost Machine Gun

Back Cover Art

Disc Surface Art

Holy Ghost Machine Gun

Disc Surface Art

Small or Tall?

Jane Fleming

Small or Tall?

A True Story, More or Less As It Occurred, Captured on Video and on the Internet

Tishon

The cop’s knee is in his back. All three-hundred plus pounds of his weight is applied precisely to the man’s spine. The man swallows air like ocean water. The man feels, distinctly, the pain of a rib against his expanding lung. There’s never enough air when you’re afraid you might die. Language tends to fall apart, too. The man cries for mercy. He pleads apologies but his words, slurred by the gauze of Schizophrenia and the copper taste of blood, are taken by the cops as provocation. The younger cop’s face glistens with sweat as he holds the man’s ankles. His partner’s broad back seems to swallow light in the dim parking lot. The younger cop thinks of catfish. More officers will arrive soon. The man can smell his blood in the wet cement that kisses his forehead. His arms are pulled far beyond any natural position. Wailing, he squirms, the cop’s knee pivoting his movement. Another car screeches to a halt just out of eyeshot. Soon another. The arriving cops’ steps are a faint rapping enveloped by shouting. The thwacking sound of a car door slamming or something worse. The arriving cops know only what they’ve been told; Some vagrant, possible burglary, resisting arrest. What is the legal definition of resisting arrest? Some officers use a sliding scale. Everything seems to add up, here. There’s no real time to assess. They’ve been trained to assist. Most importantly, they’ve been trained to assist their fellow officers. They shout at the man, telling him to calm down. The man is far far away. He is locked in a small closet in the basement of his childhood neighbor, amid half-empty paint cans and exposed fiberglass which he knows is not cotton candy. Just outside the door, the sinister giggling of children can be heard. His father, a police officer, is upstairs playing poker. The man can hear the screeching of the chair, sudden and sharp above his head, as he cries for help. He can hear the rapid thuds on the staircase and the children go silent as his father enters the room. He remembers how his father pulled him from the closet with just one arm and gathered his small body up under it, all the while, threatening to arrest whatever kid did this to him. No specific road led to this moment. Schizophrenics often begin to show symptoms around age 19. What is the legal definition of murder? The man cries for his father. Coming from the mouth of a 38 year old man, the cries sound a touch more helpless. The first cop, still on one knee in the man’s back, pushes the man’s face against the ground. The cop thinks of his younger brother. Children who are much smaller than him. He is annoyed and out of breath. He reaches for his taser. As he does so, an arriving cop fires his own taser. The sweet chatter like a tiny machine gun. There are many ways to skin a catfish. The man writhes uncontrollably. Now, involuntarily. The man has seen a gun before but never felt one against his skull, and certainly not at this velocity. He isn’t even sure it’s a gun. To be honest, he isn’t thinking about what just hit him. He is focusing on the gasps of air he can barely manage. The last thing he sees is a shoe, not unlike his father’s, kick him in the side. A wheel on a parked car. Orange light. For the rest of his life, the man’s father will wince each time he hears the word routine. His relationship with his old uniform will become troubled and somewhat problematic. He will remember his son, not as the swollen face in the news photos, but as he was before the illness took hold, a smart-mouthed boy, tiny and always afraid of being cornered.

The Coming Storm

Sarah Van Bonn

We knew how to get ready for it because we’d been through it before, just that fall, when a hurricane came up the coast. They said a hurricane meant violent wind, objects that don’t fly hurtling through the air, and ocean in places it shouldn’t be. It’s like nature getting into a bar fight with itself, the mayor told us.

What was on its way now was the violent kind too, worse, maybe, than the hurricane—worst, maybe. We knew we’d have to spend days inside, likely. I asked my element if you could come stay with us because I didn’t want to be apart from you that long, and they said yes. I was relieved although I also worried about how much food it would take to feed you since you are so tall. What if we ate too much in the first few days and then were running low? There was no way to know how long we’d be indoors. How hungry was too hungry? These were the kinds of things you really had to think about. I didn’t mention it.

I was waiting for you to bring the car over. I kept peeking through the curtain out the window, watching the snow accumulating on the streets. It was a dusting and a few minutes later it was a layer. I was anxious. You said you’d be there at five o’clock, but it was six. I called and your voice was there, thick with sleep. You were just taking a little nap, you said. You had to do a few errands and then you’d be over. You can’t keep doing this, I said or may have yelled. I didn’t yell. I was calm but I was worried; my voice was strained. I called you darling. Darling, you have to communicate with me, especially when you’re not going to be here when you say you are. You can’t take so many naps. Not at a time like this. You acknowledged it: you said yes, okay, of course, from now on, but you may have still been sleeping. Just be here soon, I said. I didn’t want to have to worry any more than I already was.

We gathered everything and made arrangements. We put things on the right shelves, made stacks, tied together bunches, and hung things the right way from hooks. I was heading back from the store where I’d gone to buy tins of beans, or maybe I was heading to the store, wondering how busy it might be, if there would be any bean tins left, because we had to be ready, because it would be there soon, when I noticed.

We were all standing outside. The streets were full. The snow was gone and nobody was wearing a coat and bits of green poked out from surfaces. I tried to remember the details of when, exactly, it was supposed to start getting really bad, but it was hard to pinpoint. How odd, I thought, that the mayor was so responsible last time, out there, all over the airwaves telling us what to expect and how to prepare and what not to do. But this time, silence. Wait just a minute, I thought, had the mayor even said anything at all? I couldn’t remember the last time I’d seen her or heard her voice.

Most of us knew to get ready because our friends knew, and were preparing, and our neighbors knew, and shared the details. And now here we all were, standing on the streets in a silent mass, not even moving, most of us, just standing there, gazing at the sky, waiting. We know, I realized. I could tell in my bones that we did. We’ve known all along what was coming. It may never be over; it may all be over. I was alone. Far away from you and all the others, but I stood still with everyone, all of us separate but linked, staring up. And that was when the first one hit.

Beneath

Sarah Van Bonn

Beneath

Indian Reservation Blues

Marshall Anderson

I rode outta town for just a rumor of wages. Board was promise enough to move me from Texas. Truth be told I needed the space, the action. Left the nicest gal I ever had. Fate schemes that way. I knew it from a dream. The rest was hard fact. No accident. I read Grapes of Wrath complete and went to a party. Met this old boy and he claimed to have a family farm in California, and I being broke, possibly wanted, recently evicted, and too far down a long line of broken nights to turn down a free home, shook his hand on the deal. On my last night in Texas  a friend of mine took me to Herbert’s Mexican joint then I drove off through the West Texas desert before the beans went down, before I got a chance to really clearly perceive starless nights, when the wind slammed my shutters and it rained without cease, and I could take a gander at any number of beasts for whom to blame for having spewn my garbage ‘cross the side of a mountain.

It’s flooding now, at the Requa, where the Klamath River meets the Pacific Ocean. Spilling over the banks onto a field and the highway. I’m highland on McMillan Road watching the county workers out my front window. Salmon seasons in a week and they’ll be strong against the current, dodging black bears and eagles and hooks of all sizes. It’s invisible and dense, formless as time the great spirits dancing here at the edge of America. The ancient Oregos weathered and mounted, guiding the salmon to the Yurok backwoods, where tributaries drain off the river.

Campfire

Annamarie Willett

Jack poked at the campfire and leaned back in his old folding chair. The chair had seen better days but hopefully this would be the last time Jack had to use it. There was a rustling inside the tent, the zip was pulled up and Evelyn emerged clutching a bag of marshmallows. She looked at the campfire and her brow wrinkled.

“I said a large campfire Jack! That fire isn’t large enough to heat or light up an ant let alone two people. Really Jack! Why must everything be so difficult?” Evelyn continued the barrage pointing out where Jack had gone wrong on everything from driving to tent pitching.

Over the last forty years Jack had learned, for the most part, to tune out Evelyn’s constant criticism. Now as Evelyn complained he let his mind wander. Things had been so different in the beginning. The first year of their marriage had been the best of Jack’s life. They had very little money but they had laughed, made plans and sometimes spent entire weekends in bed.
When their first child came along things started to change. Evelyn was consumed with motherhood and Jack was busy trying to make ends meet. Soon they moved into their first house and that’s when the criticism started. At first it was small things like his painting technique but over the years things got worse.

Evelyn criticised everything Jack did. Everything from the way he held his fork to the way he slept. Jack knew that part of it was his fault because he had allowed it to continue for so long. He knew he was a weak man and that this was what really bothered Evelyn, but for years he had felt too helpless to do anything about it.

But tonight would be the last night he would endure this torture. He would tell Evelyn he was leaving her and tomorrow his new life would start. At sixty eight Jack would finally be free. Free to go to bed when he wanted; free to watch what he wanted and most importantly, free from Evelyn!

“I’m leaving you.” The words were out and Jack could hardly believe he had said them.

“What? Don’t be ridiculous Jack!” Evelyn dismissed his words with a wave of her hand.

“I’m serious Ev. It’s over I’m moving out when we get back tomorrow. I can’t be with you anymore.” His heart was pounding and he felt powerful for the first time in forty years. “I won’t change my mind,” he said simply.

“Is that so?” Evelyn spat as she jumped up.

“Well when you change your mind, don’t think you are sleeping in this tent. You can sleep on the ground tonight. Maybe that will bring you to your senses!” Evelyn turned and stormed into the tent.

Jack was excited; tomorrow he was going to start a whole new life! As he reached for a piece of firewood he felt a sharp pain in his chest. It must be the excitement he thought. Then the next pain hit and he couldn’t breathe, his chest felt like it was being squeezed.

“Ev? Evelyn” he called in a weak voice.

“No way are you coming in here! I’m not even listening to you, Good night!” Evelyn snapped.

Jack rolled out of his chair and onto the ground. The pain in his chest was overwhelming now. He looked up at the full moon and tears trickled out of the corners of his eyes. It took about an hour for Jack to die and then finally he was free.