Inside of a Pink Plastic House, high in the attic is The Haunted Dollhouse. Someone hid away along time to protect us from its terrible contents, but in the pandemic we were bored and excavated the house looking for any secrets. We dusted off the dollhouse and out of one room, a small crow fell out and sang this song below. What other stories does The Haunted Dollhouse contain? Visit the submission guidelines page and follow the directions to submit a story you have “excavated” from the haunted dollhouse of your heart.
Dark Womb / C. Cimmone
Parts / Meagan Johanson
come closer, he unzips his pants
he’s plastic smooth beneath her hands
aren’t you a doll, he pats the bed
she lifts his chin, pops off his head
pulls off his arms and both his legs
hairless torso, pale and strange
the head still speaks, now where’s my kiss
behind her back, both hands in fists
she pecks him once, last lip line tight
then separates herself, despite
Meagan Johanson writes from her lair in Oregon. She loves music, books, new obsessions, and anything with butter on it. You can find her writing in Lunate Fiction, Berkeley Fiction Review, Versification, and elsewhere. Twitter: @MeaganJohanson.
dead leaves and rose hips / Rachael Gay
Name the burning leaves in funeral incense
in this time of scarcity.
A replacement of frankincense and myrrh
with this tribulation to the fading summer.
For today only the farmers will don priests robes
to create glorious high-burning pyres.
Each unknowing call to the firefighters goes ignored,
the phone hanging from the hook and gaffers tape over the dozen flashing lights.
The sky blackens and it is not a threat
but a glorious thing to behold.
Ask me, can you name this the same action
if it is not the self committing the undoing?
To let the thorns of the rose bush
I could have easily detoured but crash directly through,
rip at my skin with unconscious ferocity
it only goes half as deep, won’t scar,
mostly doesn’t bleed, beads like the finest ruby necklace.
My cat loves to bite and that is
entirely my fault for letting her gnaw away again the skin never breaks
as I feel her canines rub against bone and tendons
and do not pull her head away.
I ask the remaining rose petals,
the ones that have not withered
into nothingness in this drought
if I am still clean,
if my sobriety an aching lie?
Is this passive violence still visible in the cracked mirror?
Rachael Gay is a poet and artist from Fargo, North Dakota. Her work has appeared in journals such as Anti-Heroin Chic, The Laurel Review, Rogue Agent, Ghost City Review, Gramma Poetry, FreezeRay Poetry, Rising Phoenix Review and others as well as the anthology What Keeps Us Here.
Char / Justene Dion-Glowa
The Unbuilt Dollhouse / H.E. Casson
There’s a candy tin
In a cardboard box
In an unused room
In my house
In the tinboxroomhouse
Are the smallest things
There are gachapon
From Pacific Mall
Characters and plastic plates
Birthday cakes and baby wipes
There are stamps
Like paintings shrunk
Framed with toothpicks
Made for walls
Just inches high
From Barbie dolls
Their scale just right
For the dollhouse
I would build for you
There’s a system
Near my pelvic bone
Between my hips
Under my skin
That’s never kept an occupant
But were that small-house better built
My plan was
While I carried you
To build a dollhouse while you grew
Of all the tiny things I’d found
Just left around
H. E. Casson is a queer poet who lives in Toronto. Their words have recently been published by Serotonin, Lunate, Mineral Lit Mag, and Malarkey Books. They are the winner of Apparition Lit’s Topside Test Flash Fiction Contest and are listed in the Who’s Who of Emerging Writers for 2020. They can be found online at hecasson.com and as @hecasson on Twitter.
GREEN LUSH CARPET IN MY CHILDHOOD BEDROOM / Christina Strigas
As a teenager, I used to walk on grass
thought that prizes would last
watched bronze cups turn gold.
I’m a stranger now—
when you promise to promise seeds
mark me with words
entwine me with calculated lies.
I’m sleeping in my old changed room
with ghosts that never stop to dream
with a river of books
with no one to see my past—
but me. Staring at the white ceiling.
of 1976. Time has grown up
nap, coffee, wake, eat, forget you
too hot to breathe you in.
Montreal’s on fire
slowing down my gas.
Writing retreat in my old bed
with new 1980 dressers
let’s please be realistic
and knock the plans out—
be a shape together
the ones that do not connect.
Listen up to the way
the words line up in my mind.
How can I know what you think?
Double entendre and lovely children
you can continue like this forever.
My exit has arrived.
I do nothing until it’s over
I stop before I hit the falls.
I stop before I lose myself in the earth.
adorned (for elithabess) / Grace Alice Evans
she endures –
existence in a benumbed embrace
under sheets of angel-skin,
which transpired from celestial vaults
when They proclaimed her premature ruination.
a mask to veil pale flesh,
make her appear real –
shield the revelations
keep vigil for seventy-two hours prior to supplanting gore with vapor
its gentle lullaby;
wrecked, the music-box becomes an apparatus of destruction
bracing itself for a serene war waged for what was exhausted
she let her sorrows dissipate,
she let her mask become armor,
adorned it –
in hearts and lace,
in needles and chains.
The skin I live in / Nora Blascsok
lies on the bed.
I’m muscle, fibre, organs
running through me
blood supplies my brain
with memories of touch
I want to lie down
the couch chafes
no lips to form
sounds I shiver numb
I reach for my skin
in vain my heart pumps
through layers and aches.
Foot Opus / Sandra Feen
See tall index toe of left foot violated.
See its ligament pushed aside to axe bone, normalize frame.
It was a freak toe, one towering over harry barrel toe
misaligning all intention. Raped toe rebels,
puffs like a purple blowfish.
Surgeon ignores bulbous aftermath, injects
nerve blocker in leg, picks his own nose.
Young intern wheels man to his freak wife’s mangled maroon Nissan,
its scratches. Hers. He blows bubbles with gum,
in sweet baby pink cartoon blow fish precision.
She opens her passenger seat.
Her orange scrunchie weakens on a high jeanie ponytail
too young to crown a head with middle aged jowls.
Hairs disease a pink ephemeral bubble flirting in wind,
and intern pulls wad out so fast, lets it all deposit in gossamer,
then packs patient and all his stiff appendages in as quickly
as he can say shit the bed. See wife drive man home
like a teen failing maneuverability. She yanks strands, bitches
about gum overpowering her mane. Man insists
she turn on the radio though she prefers quiet.
She finds Robert Palmer’s “Addicted to Love,”
pulls out her dark valentine lipstick to be one of his backup singers.
See frenzy stoke up their driveway.
Watch man open his door before halting the joy stick.
She yells, or did she put on the brakes?
Not even the garden hose knows.
He mutters some expletive, drags foot and leg
like a wet rag across crumbs. He staggers up his driveway an hour after
surgery, cast unraveling, blood spotting already freckled pavement.
See man collapse. See neighbors’ curtains open to glimpse at sanguinary,
irked couple, then shudder, close shutters, to pick at their ears.
Paramedics arrive starched, brazen, grabbing man’s armpits
to hoist him inside, while man laughs with a foot cast
unraveling like yarn mixed with cottonwood in its shittyseason.
Nerve blocker kidnaps all feeling but laughter. He laughs
and laughs, while they toss lead in a recliner.
When ambulance exits, he tries to move his left,
big half-bandaged toe to his mouth to suck like a thumb,
while a praying mantis plays hopscotch outside with blood polka dots,
taking a lick from one circle, throwing dice in another.
Recliner nearly topples man; wife prevents the catastrophe
but drew lipstick down her chin and across her neck in the process.
A deep red Palmer fetish means extra scrubbing tonight.
Nerve blocker never wears off. Blockers camp in his left leg,
roast maggots for man’s sensory delight when its finally time
for their exit.
There Are Never Enough Endings / Aura Martin
Cento from The Unfinished World and Other Stories by Amber Sparks
She paced the woods with her sketchbook. They hold up the sky and fence in the killing fields, and make a hideous trinket of barbed wire and wood. The world is doing just fine without a plot. Then why bother making all this art? It hides the hungry darkness inside.
They dressed in black and spoke in whispers, and lived in a house that was nothing short of Gothic, with winding trees and blood-colored wallpaper and old furnishing covered in sheets. All that genius given, all that misery marked for both of them. They confused themselves with their own chronicles. There was a room full of sea battle dioramas, another jammed with full-size decorative staircases to nowhere. Ceramic dolls and jelly jars. The doorbell rang again.
To create life, one must be a keen observer of faces. She needs to get the eyes right, those terrible pink eyes, slick and toxic as rainbows in an oil spill. It’s the poetry of it, I suppose.
Louise stands over the long blond body. His name was Morris, and he was a pianist, yet another man who relied on his own two hands. They met only once, at a piano recital in her hometown. They have different muscles now, different thin and fat places, different soft and hard places. He is so tall and looks threatening, though of course really he’s as soft and malleable as clay.
Just a bad night last night, that’s all. Anyone could see that. She puts her trembling hands over his body, butterflies over flame. It is the only thing that is hers.
Aura Martin graduated from Truman State University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. She is the author of the micro-chapbook Thumbprint Lizards (Maverick Duck Press). Her work has appeared in FEED, Flypaper Lit, and Kissing Dynamite, among others. In Aura’s free time, she likes to run and take road trips.
Mistaken Identity / Adam Ai
What kind of lunatic keeps a sword in the house?
She made her way to the kitchen, floor all jelly.
He was exact with a blade. Behind her.
He pressed a drop of blood free, like a promise.
I know what you’ve been doing, he said.
Adam Ai is a Puerto Rican / Basque poet, and U.S. Army veteran from Los Angeles, California. He has previously been published in Chiron Review, Kanstellation, Thorn Literary Magazine, Ninshar Arts, South Florida Poetry Journal, Art Times Journal, Ancient Paths Literary Magazine, Abstract: Contemporary Expressions Magazine, The Pointed Circle, and Xenith. Connect with him on Twitter @AdamAiPoems.
Shirley’s Surly Sons Stuffed Shirley’s Corpse with Sugar / Noah Farberman
Shirley’s sons sell Shirley’s treats from Shirley’s Candy truck. When Shirley died from cancer, surely the sons would not give it up. Shirley’s truck’s profits are always low and Shirley’s truck’s rent is extremely high and the event is only fourteen days once a year, Shirley’s favourite fourteen days. Shirley’s youngest son’s in charge, his children help, his wife sits where Shirley sat, same hat, less likely to slip me a fiver when I stop by. Shirley’s eldest son and his sons still toss me candy, through the window or the back entrance, cotton candy and snow cones are classics. Frozen bananas are new since Shirley’s passing. In passing I’ll get a shout, a wave. In newspapers I’ll see the truck in its new spot. In a video made for Shirley’s youngest’s entertainment business I’ll see myself at age one, in my mother’s arm, Shirley’s youngest’s hands handing me a bag of popcorn as big as myself. In a video made for Shirley’s youngest’s entertainment company I’ll see myself at Shirley’s Candy truck smiling. In the reflective silver lining of the truck I’ll see myself smile at Shirley’s Candy truck every year for at least one of fourteen days. In a funeral speech I learned that Shirley told every one of her fourteen grandkids that they were her favourite grandchild. I choose to believe that when I was with Shirley, I was Shirley’s favourite. I think Shirley’s husband told her the same, that she was his favourite. Shirley’s husband fucked around and spite killed himself and Shirley’s sons continue to sell Shirley’s Candy from Shirley’s Candy truck to this day.
Done You Wrong Spell a witch’s glosa / Juleigh Howard Hobson
A white door
In a dark lane;
A bright core
To bitter black pain. —Elinor Wylie (Incantation Poem)
A big wide mouth jar, with a screw top lid,
rosemary leaves, black candle wax, red wine,
a waning moon, past midnight, winter’s best,
three old photographs of the two of you,
rock salt –the bigger the crystals it has
the better, finely ground coriander,
hot pepper flakes, a broken mirror shard,
angelica root powder, lemon juice,
vinegar, anvil dust, fine splinters or
scrapings of paint taken from a white door
left in an abandoned building. You must
put everything in the jar as they are
obtained, things will settle as they have to
after a good shake up. Methylated
spirits, scissors, a length of red satin
ribbon — cut into pieces, flat champagne,
nine grains of rice — burned black, nine rusty nails,
nine bent pins, nine steel needles, nine dead black
ants. a nine inch section of broken chain,
nine jagged stones gathered in a dark lane.
You don’t need all these ingredients, but
the more you can get, the stronger it grows,
and the faster it works. His name written
in red ink — crossed out in black ink — on a
piece of white paper. Any trinkets you
have that remind you of when you were sure
he loved you but he didn’t after all.
If he’s really done you wrong, add these things:
saltpeter, lizard tail, steel dust, sulphur.
They’ll add a kick to the curse, a bright core
of dark power, so to speak, around which
the rest of the magic will resolve. Throw
in some black thorns, some bee stingers, chopped up
wasp nests, coyote bones, dried up worms, sage,
mullein, hair from off his pillow, brick dust,
charcoal, feathers from a black hen, dogbane,
henbane, black mold, black ink, black soot,
love letters burned to ash. Put them all in
there, screw the lid down while you say his name,
and shake it. Leave him to bitter black pain.
dolores trapped / nadia gerassimenko
my silence cowered
at never parting.
my silence chattered
my silence cried
Self Portrait by Charlotte Alexander
Nadia Gerassimenko is the founding editor of Moonchild Magazine and proofreader at Red Raven Book Design. She is a freelancer in editorial services by trade, a poet and writer by choice, a moonchild and nightdreamer by spirit. Twitter: @moonmoonmother
Gutted / Elizabeth Barton
He is the sickness of the worm
Creeping with his infernal vespers
In the silent crypt of her verse.
He is the malign moth that flies,
Plundering her precious sanity,
Beating on the rose of her mind.
He cannot leave you the hell alone,
Not even after death has claimed you.
He is a huntsman hot with triumph;
His hook is as sharp as a spire
Driven to pierce the elliptic rise
For his trophy some dim primal desire;
He flits through the despising darkness
From hellish depths to hellish heights.
A black heart opens like a yawning grave
To keep you prone, frozen in life.
Death in life, like a gutted fish
Gasping its last on the edged tower
Of strife; scorched with hungry tongues of fire
You fall in a cauldron of rage and crisis.
What is love? Love died in the airless smoke,
Crushed by the hands that held it.
Engraved on your headstone is a name not your own,
A bound inscription, the huntsman’s chains.
photo by Kristin Garth
Procedural / Sarah Hilton
Illness starts at hands in dirt, mud
pies on days lifted from fog, drowned in morning
dew – heads in other skies, drowning. They invented the game
to fill the silence – the girls in the grass: the older
weaving twigs like yarn, the younger playing doctor –
worms dissected in thirds and fourths, their lining
undone by fingernails. Mother, on the porch, watches the head
or ass slice off, walks headless herself to the kitchen –
scrubs away at the guts in her palms. Their happy is sharp
on her skull, slices at the paper skin that wraps her hands.
They pretend to be this and that, their hands deep
in the bloody pulp, they track it into the carpet and paint landscapes
on the walls, gallows, guillotines. Home is a graveyard
growing from their fingers. When mother cries she plays
the game with them, pretends to cut onions, the onion
beneath the knife. Worm under fingers.
Sarah Hilton is a queer poet from, Ontario whose work is currently featured or forthcoming in Contemporary Verse 2, FEELS Zine, Hart House Review, the League of Canadian Poets Chapbook Series, FEEL WAYS: A Scarborough Anthology, Cypress Poetry Journal, Ithaca Lit, and elsewhere. She is a Master of Information student at the University of Toronto’s iSchool, and she is currently compiling a collection of poetry.
Petaluma Dump / Savannah Jensen
daddy takes us to the dump. it’s a
sister in her green
dress, mint like an easter egg. i
hold her hand as we sift through
chipped hand mirror, snow globe,
teddy with the one eye
one man’s junk,
another man’s treasure
i count my baby dolls, three in a row
pigtails that curl like christmas ribbon,
and dirt-crusted from
their curbside snooze
the men in uniform excavate, sign
neck wound, ear to ear;
the phrase hatches in the mouth,
takes flight, maggot to fly,
feasts on the heme as it pools
i take teddy home to guard me
but i dream of blonde locks and mouths,
limbs like a faint
to awake to pale dollies
hovering over the bed
calling back to the flies,
VIGIL / JESSE HILSON
The slope of denial tapers off,
That state of mind the family’s in,
When the daughter won’t come home.
A reporter’s passive voice declares
Her missing, implies she may
Be nothing but an object now.
Gas station footage has been seized.
The knife has come back positive.
The drowning family puts out a statement:
“She’s our stubborn little girl, she’s a fighter.”
And the toast-and-orange-juice crowd
Senses something slope away.
They tumble to what the family can’t.
Unbearable to watch the father’s quick
Gasp of hope back beneath the facts.
Within a crowded park at twilight
Her grade school siblings build a shield
Around their mother out of pity flames.
Dani’s First Dollhouse As An Adult / Samuel Strathman
for Kristin Garth and her dollhouses
Satellite around the front yard
of the dollhouse and discover
the cutest doilies and fringes
from mother’s old sweater –
the turquoise one we love to hate.
On the inside, I throw hair curlers,
and everything else
from my secret bathroom vault –
gears from the blow dryer –
cocaine mirror –
extra fanny pack –
champagne cooler –
There is enough snorting glue
on this baby to get a whale ripped
for the slaying and flaying.
Mom comes in
for a peek, ends up
spitting her wine.
She leaves the room,
comes back with a lighter,
opens my closet,
and sets the clothes on fire.
This spectacle is dumb.
I think momma forgets
that the wardrobe was bought
with daddy’s homewrecker money.
The joke is on her now,
because before long I’ll be living
on my own, hanging up pictures
in my pajamas.
There will be no lighters
in the new house – just the smoulder
of human ruins.
The Beckons / Amy Suzanne
Fine linen for the fire
Throat burning from a choir of No
Slouching in sodden snow
I am easy to know. Open.
My face a button of Astrid.
Purple bruise hue, blasted by wind
And grief. You glean thin-skinned lost girls
For the wreath, thorns and curls
May Queens, ribbons to twirl. Ask:” Are
You held by him?” My scar
Beckons. “Days are longer now, see?
Come find a home with me.”
Amy Suzanne is a widely-published poet and artist with work forthcoming in Louisiana Literature, Menteur, and others. Her illustrations will appear in Crow Carriage by Kristin Garth (The Hedgehog Poetry Press, 2021). Follow her on Twitter @iriemom.
ENTER, EMERALD CITY / JULIETTE VAN DER MOLEN
“Can you even dye my eyes to match my gown?”- Dorothy Gale, The Wizard of Oz
practical, this change of eyes
because we can’t have you
seeing things the old way—
beautiful, this change of eyes
because I want to see you
my way, instead—
metal pressed cold to skin,
forehead bunched, eyebrows
raised— perilous surprise,
these eyes, unblinking, pulled
wide, red pockets welling wet
above and below, a dart side
to side, wishing for a wizard
like Oz, for eyes to dye and
poppies to breathe.
painful, this change of eyes
a process imprinting
for binding tight—
flash of a scalpel, blinding light
hush now, hold tight
while I affix your emerald eyes.
MARY PULCIFER AND THE SEELIE PUDDING / MAGDA KNIGHT
Why good Doctor,
I’m pleased to bid you welcome in my cell.
I’ll tell my tale again,
Just as I did with all the other Doctors
Who came knocking on my door of iron,
And if I tell you lies?
Then I’ll have damned myself to Hell.
Mary Pulcifer’s my name.
But you already knew that, hmm?
It’s true, what the papers say.
I am a Cook by trade.
A fine one, I have heard it said.
But when I joined the staff
Of that Lord Mabworth, may he rest in peace –
Yes, of Mabworth Hall,
Do not interrupt my story
Or I’ll tell it not at all –
Why then, that is when the trouble started.
When I arrived on that first Winter night,
A chill wind tugging at the air,
I was presented with a sorry sight.
A mansion fallen into disrepair.
A roof shorn of tiles,
Each fireplace unlit.
Enough fuel for the kitchen,
Yet nowhere else was warm enough to sit.
No, I did not conjure up a flame –
I am no Witch. I don’t bend wills nor fire
To do my bidding.
My sole alchemy is this –
I make an utterly exquisite pudding.
Many a grim night I spent in Mabworth Hall.
Its Lord was a man of few words,
And his wife spoke not at all.
She had suet looks,
But plain suet has a lovely nuanced texture, in my books.
No, the problem was that my new Lord and Lady
Were entirely dull in terms of company.
I’d been used to working for vivacious wits;
Sprightly types possessed of less land and more spirit.
In his cups, the Lord would confide in me
And claim he could have married better
If he’d had the money…
Well, Doctor Lightfoot, it
Meant less than nowt to me.
I locked my door and took up playing Patience
To be spared their joint nightly misery.
Rest easy, Doctor. I’m not put off
By the scratching of your pen.
Please do take notes, for then I shall not
Need to tell this sorry tale again.
Write it down for posterity –
And then, perhaps, I will not have a
Constant trail of Doctors
Fussing over me.
Now then, here lies the rub!
Lord Mabworth rushed into my unlocked room one night –
So impolite, but even by a candle’s light
I could tell his eyes were aflame
From some unusual light within.
It was not love but fear
That made him act like a possessed lover.
Fear and resolution.
As he spoke, he tossed a light pouch
Into my apron.
“I just met a man,” he said.
“A strange man, Miss Pulcifer.
A man like no other. Dressed in green,
In velvet, in no fashion I’ve seen,
Not on the Continent nor in London,
His hat adorned with a giant iridescent feather.
‘He leaned against a stile,
At his ease in the heavy rain. His coat stayed dry
And he smoked an acorn pipe all the while,
His face wreathed with singular satisfaction.
‘“Help me, Mabworth. My cart needs repair.”
I wondered how he knew my name,
But he wasn’t wrong – a broken wheel lay split in twain,
And then it dawned on me that Gentry work was afoot,
For the cart was hitched to a donkey and a goat,
Both sporting matted hair as long as weeds and black as soot.
‘I did as I was bid, and once I’d done my best
I turned away. It was a poor job with the wheel,
I’d barely improved its aspect at all,
But I was cold and wet
And I did not like his donkey or his goat,
And I wanted to be on my way.
He laid a hoof-like hand upon my sleeve
And in iron tones he commanded me to stay.
How could I demur?
One must always do the bidding of a Good Neighbour.
He asked me why I’d helped him,
And in truth I would rather help a stranger in the rain –
At least until discomfort and boredom set in –
Then come home to yet another dismal evening.
‘He laughed. “Dear man. I shall reward you in a manner
That befits your nature.
I am not as other men, for I am Green John.
These are my lands you walk,
And this is my rain that leaves you soaked.
I have with me a vial
Of something much like honey
That will make your wife as fresh as any flower,
As sprightly as a daisy,
As slender as a lily.
If you were to add it to your dinner
For yourself and your fair lady,
It would please me.
‘The thought of my plain wife made beautiful
By the Wise Folk Beyond the Hill
Seemed, Miss Pulcifer, almost too good to be true.
But it is true.
And now I present this vial to you!
Open the pouch’s drawstring, for it lies therein –
And I would bid you add it to our evening wine.
‘Some for my unlovely lady,
And some for me.
And then,” my master tittered,
“We shall see!”
Well, we did see, Doctor.
That’s why I’m in this gaol.
That’s why the people want me burned
And the system wants me treated,
But I promise you… I’m neither vengeful
Once my master left,
I sniffed the contents of the glass ampoule.
Astringent resin laced with something sweet, like honeysuckle.
I know a thing or two of taste; this would be foul in wine.
I resolved not to carry out my master’s bidding.
Instead, I put it in the evening’s meal – a lovely hare and plum pudding.
No, good Doctor. I did not taste the meal myself.
My Cook’s skills are so tempered that I need not taste my own repast
To know how it will taste; it will taste better than the rest.
I knew this pudding was destined to be delicious.
When dinner-time came
My lord and lady licked clean their dishes.
And I left them then,
To busy myself with cleaning the kitchen.
A house this large with but one servant –
There was more than one act of drudgery to complete,
And each with my name on it.
And when I returned to clear the table,
What lay before me was a sight unimaginable.
Not a man and a woman,
A profusion of them, entwined in two towers.
On this seat was a willow meshed with hyacinth and rose,
Wearing my lord’s buckled shoes and his gentleman’s clothes.
And beside him? A graceful statue of forget-me-knots,
Adorned with fragrant lilac tresses,
Clad in one of my lady’s old worn linen dresses.
I ran, then.
I fled to the nearest village in the rain.
If you paid my weight in gold,
I would not go back there again.
When I reached Stonemere’s roadside inn
I knocked on the door, hoping I would find a warm welcome.
As I ran, I kept an eye out for Green John.
If I saw him, I would make the evil eye at him…
But of velvet-clad strange men there was no sign.
I told the keeper of the inn what had happened,
For I knew not what else to say.
Kind and gentle, he bid me stay the night
In a spare room for free.
But my door was locked come the morning,
Then a man from the asylum
Restrained me and took me, shackled, to London
To get some rest, he said,
And succumb to endless visits from Doctors
While chained to this here bed.
Will I be decreed a lunatic?
Or a murderess who is to hang?
I do not know, but I will never drink another flask of ale
Nor eat another pie – nor anything, unless I know
What ingredients within it lie.
And I’ll tell you this for free –
Never trust a man who calls himself Green John.
And never say yes to a slice of Seelie Pudding.
stigmata / erik fuhrer
my body is stigmataed for every single death
every day another rendition of someone’s personal crucifix
a haunting greater than anything that rattled
in the heart of a ghost on the day of their wedding
you are the wishbone I bullet swallow
and my body is full of holes by morning
so I smoke my body like a glistening pig
I am a kaleidoscope of teething hearts
the case of my ribs a chipper belly feeding
stigmata is the cloth I shine myself with
stigmata is the christ that I gorge myself on
stigmata is my body a temple of cooked pork
Erik Fuhrer is the author of 4 books of poetry, including not human enough for the census (Vegetarian Alcoholic Press). His 5th book, in which I take myself hostage, is forthcoming from Spuyten Duyvil Press at the end of this year. He can be found at www.erik-fuhrer.com and on twitter @erikfuhrer
Museum of Impending Death / Juliet Cook
The large black cloud looms and grows
into an impending tornado. The lights all go out.
When the lights come back on, they are red.
Broken glass cracks every mirror.
Our faces bifurcate
into a good side and a bad side.
Broken nose that won’t stop dripping.
Bloody mouth that won’t stop screaming.
An eye that wants to escape
being forced to stare at the other eye
dangling out of the socket,
trying to rip itself away from this fate.
The Idyllic Pre-Death of Isaac Plank /
Ten years from now / the occult death of Isaac Plank / will cause chaos / but today / Isaac and his father are on the road / fighting over the car radio dial, toggling between folk rock and thrash metal / to distract from the fact that that are visiting / Isaac’s mother’s grave / “That poor boy” / they said of Isaac / when she passed / that was long ago / though / and no now one in town has much sympathy / for the wild child who wanders / the woods at night / dabbling in spell-casting and sacrifice / “His poor father” / Lawrence Plank / was always exceptional / in his banality / how he produced a kid like Isaac / no one knows / a small-town accountant / the type who attends church / out of habit / votes the same way each time / doesn’t talk politics / or much of anything, really / a quiet man / he’s telling Isaac now / how k.d. lang has the most beautiful voice ever to be put to record / Isaac raises a pierced eyebrow / and throws out Ronnie James Dio as an alternative / Lawrence shakes his head / “You keep telling yourself that, sweet pea” / above them, clouds swell, grayish purple blending into the mountain fog / “Do you ever feel a sense of doom?” / Lawrence says / out of nowhere / “Yes I do” / his son replies / His father places a hand on his shoulder, leaving the other firmly on the wheel, and squeezes it affectionately, trying to restrain himself from telling his troubled teen the tortured dreams he has been having in which Isaac dies / in agony, too young / after placing a curse on the town / the dead walk, houses burn, strange things reign / “How’s the new school treating you?” / “Fine” / “Try not to get expelled from this one” / “okay” / “I won’t go as far as to say, stay out of trouble – I know you’re incapable” / Isaac laughs / it’s a hollow sound / like his own ghost / why do I keep thinking that / “You’ll be okay,” Lawrence says, and smiles at his only child / who’s been deemed a delinquent and a deviant and a drain on the strained social services dedicated to wayward youths / if this town had their way / Lawrence thought, with a tinge of bitterness / they’d burn his boy at the stake / maybe they do deserve whatever they get / “Did we miss the exit?” / “Oh fuck, shit” / “Language” / “Oh, fuck off old man” / Lawrence rolls his eyes, remarks / “I don’t care what anyone else says, kiddo, I did a bang-up job raising you” / and thinks, apropos / of nothing / if he lives long enough, he’ll be a lot like me.
Linear / Sarah Little
Good girls dress
Fresh from department-store
glossy satchel to office runway,
dainty blouse tied with a
bow. Feast for the eyes,
gift to the scenery.
Tuck a blouse into a
slim black pencil skirt.
Lines run up and down,
story of a body untold. Department store
display mannequin comes
Black polyester lining and a split
up the back;
it’s a box they’ll bury you in.
Sarah Little is a sometimes-poet who scribbles when she remembers and gets tetchy when she goes too long without writing. Her work has appeared in L’Éphémère Review, Alien Pub, and Milk + Beans, among others. Her first poetry micro-chapbook, Snapshots was published with Broken Sleep Books in July 2019.
Drowning / Z D Dicks
Z. D. Dicks has been accepted by ‘Fly on the Wall Press’, ‘Obsessed with Pipework’, ‘Salzburg Poetry Review’, ‘Sarasvati’, ‘Stride’, ‘Ink, Sweat and Tears’, to name a few. He works tirelessly to promote poetry and is Gloucestershire Poet Laureate
furious wildflower / Linda Crate
CONFIDENTIALITY / NICK MORRISSEY
The Corruption of the Specimen / Kristin Garth
(a Crow Carriage sonnet)
Is it the bargain, words both say, why he
allows a subject to wander away
unmedicated from feathered belly
of a crow? No maiden before today
let go. All ferried to a secret lab
dream communal in a nobleman’s house
limbs waifish, jabbed, as what skitter from this cab.
Was it the violence blabbed from a mouth
so young, the certainty of what had been
done, the corruption of a specimen? Sea
green of eye, mottled pitch, carrion
crow egg iris blinks, a tiny witch. Can
he allow a second pair of these to close —
a specimen but not what he supposed?
art by Amy Alexander