Fastening Up the Feathers On My Back | Ari Shey

Isaque Pereira via Pexels

Flight is impossible without the updraft, yes, but it
also needs air pressing down. Just the right amount.
With enough weight from the wind but not so much
it holds us to the ground. It keeps us around,
waiting until the balance is created. Lifting up from
underneath, steadying it with pressure capped, lifting
off. Otherwise do we rise too high? Fighting as
gravity magnetizes us to the ground constantly.
Holding us down in a grounding way. Otherwise,
would we just float around? Flying free is never easy.

As Soon As I Finish This Chapter | Cindy Cramer

via Pixabay

She was relieved to find that she was once again a person who read books.  That she could always find a bookmark because they were strewn carelessly throughout the house—falling like leaves from whatever book she had just finished.  There had been a period of years, when the kids were babies, when the bookmarks were corralled in a pencil holder on her nightstand.  Unused.  Unloved.  Ignored.  Now, they were like breadcrumbs in the forest, leading her further into the woods. When the children came home from school, they followed the bookmark trail to find their mother and demand snacks.

Cindy Cramer’s work has appeared most recently in Short Story Substack and CP Quarterly. She lives and reads in Gig Harbor, Washington with her family. Twitter: @CindyCramerWA

Bell’s Lane | Keith Taylor

James Lee via Pexels

In the wood-fenced field of grass where crickets sing
seven Whitetail Deer graze in golden hour.
Do they know today marks the first of the Spring?

On an overhanging branch two hawks stretch a wing
while in the shade below the field mice cower
In a wood-fenced field of grass where crickets sing.

The mourning doves perch and together all cling
on drooping wire that gives farmhouse power.
Do they know today marks the first of the Spring?

A red fox from a meadow calls himself king
of another corner with violets in flower
In a wood-fenced field of grass where crickets sing.

Meanwhile, the cows, unbothered by a thing,
with heads low search for patch of grass to devour.
Do they know today marks the first of the Spring?

Then the clouds roll in and thunders distant ring
they all run in as it begins to shower.
In a wood-fenced field of grass where crickets sing
Do they know today marks the first of the Spring?

Keith is a student at Mary Baldwin University in Staunton, Virginia, studying Shakespeare.

Do You Understand? | Shirley Aparicio

Athena via Pexels

I slip on mud and fall flat on my back


I call out to You and it takes you a minute to understand me


Before you turn and reach out Your hand





I like to pretend that my body still knows how to speak Your words I catch myself repeating them over again

even though i can hardly get them out


even though i nearly forget


even though it hurts


even though my tongue slips on mud almost dried on the roof of my mouth





But I pick it up and repeat Them again





This I won’t let turn to brick


So I’ll scrape and scrape away until that mauve flesh erodes into craters like the moon’s

               and stitch it back up with earth toned lining


Until I can freely speak Your stories


Their stories


My stories                     Our story






Because This I won’t let turn to brick

Shirley Aparicio, she/they, is a poet, and fellow at Sadie Nash. Her work focuses on themes of decolonization, (re)connection to indigeneity, self, other, and Earth through rage and joy. @aparicions

Genesis (the band?) | Daisy Rosenstock

Johnmark Smith via Pexels

Genesis (the band?)




In the beginning dad mowed the lawn and tilled the garden. 2 And the fire pit was without shape and smoldering, and dew was upon the handles of the wheelbarrow, and when Saturday afternoon came at last, he returned from the fire, red-faced and sweating, 3 and he said, “Come and see,” and so I went and I saw. 4 Dad said that the irises needed to go this year, and we separated root from earth. 5 Dad called the work “good,” and I deemed it “sad.” And the dirt was replaced, and the dirt was smoothed—and dammit it was so.



Daisy Clar Rosenstock is an MFA Poetry candidate at Boise State University.

Goddamn Radical Left, Eatin All My Corn Nuts | Gark Mavigan

Gersh dern Laura Dern, thinking yur all that & a bag of Corn Nuts cuz you deep-tissued a triceratops. Dern the whole Dern Crime Family: Bruce Dern, Laura Dern, MoDERNa—yur all in cahoots & ladders w/ Bill Gates & Skynet & George (Tyrant)Soros Rex.

Tom Hanks, you mermaid pimpin 1930s hitman shootin airplane savin sleepless pedo in Seattle, seducin chitlins with yur FOOT PIANO.

Obama: from Chicago. Al Capone: from Chicago. DO. THE. ALGAE. BRAH.

Bout had nuff of aunt tifa & fake nudes media & Dank Brandon & vagina candles &—

Goddamn Corn Nuts. Eatin me up inside.

Gark Mavigan is a prose-fessional, rapper, and music journalist based in San Francisco. His words have appeared in/on: HuffPost, WGN Chicago, and EARMILK, among others. Follow him at @GarkMavigan.

Miasma | Ilan Jones

Lukas Rychvalsky via Pexels

“Are you coming tonight?” Allison’s voice crackled over the receiver. “Or what?” The frustration in her words accented by a heavy electric buzzing. David thought for several seconds about how to tell her but there was no easy way around it. She was going to be mad either way.

“I just don’t think it’s a good idea.” Came his timid reply. “I mean, have you looked outside?” Before the words had fully left his mouth he could hear her heavy sigh. A burst of static blared over the receiver forcing him to hold the phone away from his ear. What the hell is going on? He wondered as he tapped on the cell phone screen to see if he could determine the cause of the madness outside. Surely, there would be some sort of notification or public safety announcement. One would think that the police or the government would, at the very least, want to warn people to stay indoors.

“Are you kidding me?” Allison’s distorted voice squawked out of the hovering phone. I knew she’d be mad. She’ll only get angrier if I don’t respond and then she’ll get mean or worse start crying, he thought, whilst fumbling through his phone’s display. After finding nothing of value to aid his situation he placed the phone back up to his ear.

“I can’t believe you David! I told you months ago that this dinner was coming up and now you’re trying to back out? You know, sometimes I wonder if-” her tirade carried on and on, answered only by David’s halfhearted “I know”’s and “I’m sorry”’s. He knew this script and all of his lines. She would carry on about the importance of herself, and her job, and her friends, and her boss, and just how bad he was making her look in front of all of them. When she tired of that she would assuredly move into pointing out his faults and why he didn’t deserve her. She offered no surprises tonight. Under ordinary circumstances he would listen for an opening to issue one of his rehearsed apologies, but as he stared out the window of his apartment he was finding it exceedingly difficult to keep track of all that she was saying.

The scene on the streets below was something he never could have imagined, nor was it something he was comfortable admitting was real. Though, in light of everything he was witnessing, it was impossible to deny that the rules of reality were no longer discernible. Here it was supposed to be five in the afternoon on a once sunny summer day and yet, the city was completely dark. It wasn’t merely dim outside. Not like the passing of a cloud over the sun’s face. No, it was dark, dark as night. The city was devoid of light, save for the smattering of lights shining from apartment windows and the ghostly orange glow of street lamps.  It was as if the sun itself had been consumed by some creeping malignancy. He hated thinking about things in such terms but that’s exactly how it had been.

David had only just made it home to shower and change his clothes from his jog, when the fog or smoke or whatever it was had descended suddenly upon the city. In an instant the world outside had gone completely dark. The moment the curtain of false night had fallen he heard the collective screams of the crowds of people who had been milling about the streets only moments before rising up to an agonized crescendo. He raced across the room to see whats was happening, but by the time he had made it to the window all he could see were the silent streets below littered with the ashen shapes of fallen bodies disintegrating slowly into the gentle wind outside. The glittering embers at the edges of their crumbling forms made him think of the white line silhouettes one would see at a crime seen.

“Are you even listening?” Allison’s harsh voice pulled him back to the present. Despite her fury, he still could not tear his eyes away from the slow moving chaos outside.

“Yes, of course I am.” He said, watching the little pulses of light erupting here and there in the thickest parts of the fog. Ranging from lavender to crimson, the crackling bursts of light seemed to materialize out of thin air and reminded him of thunderstorms when seen from far away. Entranced by the macabre beauty, his heart nearly leapt from his chest when the bright lights of a yellow taxi came creeping out of the black fog and meandered its way through the lines of abandoned cars. It was the first movement he had seen outside since all of this had  begun.

“Then you’re coming, right?”Before he could answer his attention was drawn to a flutter of movement out of the corner of his eye. Glancing upwards, he saw it was the cute girl who lived in the apartment across the terrace. Bianca? No, Bridget He remembered as he watched her looking down from her window with her phone pressed against her ear. The taxi must be for her he thought as the car pulled into the loading zone out front. He watched her hurriedly throw on her coat and shoes then immediately disappear from sight. In the next moment the light from her window snapped off as she ran out her door. Maybe things aren’t as bad as I thought.

“David?” Allison’s voice had grown shrill “David, are you there?”

“Yeah, babe. I’m hear.”

“Then why won’t you answer me? You know sometimes I don’t even think you care about me. Is that it, huh? You don’t love me anymore?” Were Allison to have had anything new to say he may have found it easier to take his mind off of the troubles outside. As it was, he could do nothing but fixate on the entrance to the building across the way, wondering when next  Bridget might appear again. He had only spoken to her a hand full of times but every encounter they shared left him reminiscing for hours about what it would be like to be with someone who always had a smile for him. When Bridget spoke, however brief their conversations had been, he would hang on her every word, preferring her melodic, lilting speech to Allison’s constant complaints and put downs. Afterwards, he always felt bad for comparing the two in his head but as circumstances were none of that mattered. Right now he could only hope for the girl’s safety. If she took the elevator she should be out any second, he thought watching the swirling mists. It was becoming harder and harder see through the sooty gray vapors and the rapidly increasing flashes in the dark did little to ease his anxieties.

“I swear, David. Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one in this relationship! Is that how it is David? Are you no longer in love with me?”

“Allison, no! Its not that! I just. It’s just, I’m…” There she was! The door of the opposing building flew open. Through the dark he could only just make out the figure of the young woman as she ran towards the glowing beams of the taxi’s headlights. What was that? Had the wind shifted? No, the fog was moving of its own accord! It was was gathering in the wake of Bridget’s every step and moving fast. Faster than her! If she didn’t run faster it would soon overtake her! She passed out of view of David’s bedroom window. Running to the kitchen window, he nearly crashed through the glass trying to get a better view, but she was not there! Had she made it to the taxi? Was she safe somewhere else? Desperately he scanned the courtyard for any sign of life.

There she was. “Or that’s where she must’ve been” he muttered, staring at the hovering cloud only a few yards from the awaiting taxi. Low to the ground and flashing with all the intensity of an electrical storm, a pitch black mound of fog enveloped an area about Bridget’s size. Her escape had been for nothing. He knew what would follow. He didn’t need to wait at the window to know that in the next instant the cloud would dissipate leaving behind only a charred pile of ash like it had done for all the others. Slowly the taxi pulled away. Its glowing red taillights disappearing into the dark like the eyes of some beast dragging away its prey.

“Excuse me?” Allison’s static filled voice burst its way over the receiver. “Do you mind telling me who “she” is?” Every word she spoke dripped with caustic accusations. He couldn’t think. Why couldn’t she shut up for just one moment? This is why he kept silent most of the time. It had always been easier than to argue.

“Where are you?” He said ignoring her question.

“Where am I?” She scoffed “I’m at the restaurant, where you promised you would be! Look everyone else will be here soon, you need to hurry! I don’t want everyone to think I came here alone. Do you understand? You owe this to me!”

“I can’t Allison! Have you seen the weather outside?” He could feel his pulse rising. She didn’t like when he snapped at her. He would really be in for it now.

“The weather?” She said, somehow ignoring his slight. Maybe the poor signal had covered it up? “David it’s a beautiful seventy five degree day. What are you talking about?” Why would she say that? How could it be just fine? The restaurant was some twenty blocks away. Could it be this “event” was local to his neighborhood alone? He couldn’t comprehend what he was hearing.

“You’re saying there’s no fog there? Or smoke? No tiny lightning? What about people? Are their people still out on the streets?” Hearing the desperation in his own voice scared him even more. How could something like this have gone unnoticed in other parts of the city?

“David,” She said “Is everything okay?”

“No everything is not okay! Answer my questions!”

“Sweetheart, everything is fine here. Seriously, what is going on with you tonight?” Her voice sounded strange, almost sympathetic, for her anyway, but strange none the less. Like it had been layered or mingled somehow with the voice of another. He couldn’t quite place why it sounded so wrong. Was it deeper or, perhaps, echoed? Whatever he had heard was undoubtedly foreign to the Allison he knew.

“What’s wrong with your voice?” he asked, finding his own voice quavering. He could feel the invisible hand of some nameless fear creeping up his shoulders to grip around his neck.

“My voice?” She said sounding genuinely confused “Nothing is wrong with my voice. Its probably just the signal. Where are you? The reception has been horrible this entire phone call.” She had a point.


“Yeah?” He said after a long moment. He no longer knew what to believe.

“I’m worried.”


“Yes worried. All this about fog and tiny lightning, are you sure you’re feeling okay?” He didn’t know what to say. He had felt perfectly normal just a few hours before but now he was doubting his sanity. Never before had he heard her take an interest in his well being. He didn’t know what to make of it, but at least it gave him a moment to breathe.

“I… Yes, I’m feeling okay. Its just…” He heard her sigh through the phone as he struggled to find the words to explain.

“Its okay, I get it.” She said. The caring tone of her voice made her sound even more alien than before.

“You do?”

“Yes! You’re overworked!”

“I am?”If he was, he hadn’t noticed. The bank hadn’t been anymore busy than usual, his bosses were pleased with him and in general he had never found his role as a loan officer as anything but boring.

“How else would you explain all of this David? If I didn’t know you like I do, and let’s face it I know you better than you know yourself, I’d say you’re starting to go a bit nutty.” He let the condescension wash over him while watching the flashes of electric light outside that seemed to pulse and dance in time with her every syllable. “Who can blame you? You’ve been working non-stop to pay for our wedding and the honeymoon and everything else. Sweetheart, you need a break!”

He sat down at the kitchen table thinking about all she had said. He couldn’t speak a word. He could only listen to the warbling signal coming over the call while staring out the kitchen window. The wind parted the now very dense fog exposing the cobbles of the courtyard below. Black streaks were all that remained of the ashen piles of people he had seen. Or, at least thought he had seen. A shiver ran down his spine. Maybe she’s right. No, he decided she’s always right.

You know I’m right.” Her voice broke through his thoughts. So often was she right, that at times he swore she could read his mind. “I tell you what, let’s skip tonight’s dinner.” His breath caught in his throat from disbelief. He wasn’t sure which was more shocking, the murderous fog outside or Allison’s new found demeanor.

 “Are you sure?” He asked timidly. “What about your work friends?”

“I’ll just make something up. You’re more important.” He couldn’t respond, he had never heard her say anything like this before. “You know what, meet me at my place, and I’ll do the cooking. I’ll have to stop at the store, so just let yourself in.” He felt sweat welling up on his temples. How could he refuse her? He couldn’t her remember the last time she had been this kind. It was a reminder of all the reasons he had fallen in love with her in the first place and yet, what if she was wrong? He couldn’t ignore the gnawing feeling that everything that he had witnessed this night was real. He could not explain how any of it could have been possible, but the truth of what he had seen was undeniable.  What if the moment he stepped foot out of the building the fog found him and reduced him to a pile of smoldering ash just as it had done to Bridget? What if this is all a fantasy, a delusion? The fear of falling into madness scared him most of all, twisting his stomach into painful knots. Should he leave or should he stay? It was either Allison’s wrath or potential death. He found it hard to breath.

“I…I don’t think I can leave here.” His throat felt dry.

“Nonsense,” The voice spoke. It didn’t sound like her at all. It was metallic and cold, almost physically so. “I’ll call you a taxi.”

“But-” He swallowed hard against his tongue sticking to the roof of his mouth.

“No, no. You can thank me later. Remember all that I’m sacrificing for you tonight. All you have to do is climb in a cab and come over.”


“I’ll see you soon, David.” The line went dead. She was no longer there. Panicking, he tried to call her back but the call refused to go through. In the silence of his apartment he closed his eyes as hard as he could. He hoped that when he opened them again it would all just go away. When he finally did the world was still dark. There had been no change at all. He watched out of the kitchen window at the soot stained world outside wondering just how long it would last. Maybe I should just stay here tonight. Maybe it will all be gone in the morning. Maybe sleep is all I need.

Contemplating his options he realized there was only one left to him. He had only ever had one option. He knew this as he watched the sickly yellow glow of the taxi’s headlights pierce the miasma just as it had done before. Lazily creeping through the graveyard of derelict cars, the taxi swung in to the loading zone, and parked, waiting for David to come down. His hands shook, he could feel his stomach lurch as if it wished to leap out of his mouth. I’ll be alright. It’s just in my head. Allison was right. She’s always right. I just need a rest. She just wants what’s best for me.

As he left the apartment he stopped and cursed himself, turning around only to turn off the light.

Ilan Jones is a horror author that lives and writes under the shadow of the mountains near the Salish Sea.

The Great Devourer | Elyn Turne

cottonbro via Pexels

Fleeing from reality.
Bioclerics in the cloisters,
Gentle as they put me away
Inside the Supermainframe:
The soulreaper.
In love with Seraphine.
Hold her hips,
Watch them swing.
For every action,
There is a reaction.
Shrine’s in a storm drain.
The starry-eyed songstress,
Sings to my soul.
Or the Cyberdemonic Demiurge,
Feasting on creation.
Digital sunset fractures.
A crimson smog haze,
The corrupt simulacrum.
Overwriting my mind,
Screaming in the maze.

@elynturne (twitter)

The Mythology of Violence | Alorah Welti

cottonbro via Pexels

Two fighters enter the ring
to begin their first round of three.
Their skin is clean,
unbruised and unbloodied,
their own names tattooed on their backs
so the saints can keep them straight.
Their gloves and mouthguards become ritual objects,
the cage, a temple,
and even the clock becomes holy.
The bell sounds,
and where men stood a moment ago,
animals pace.

They assess each other,
testing one another until
they become possessed with
their human hurt and their need for divine approval
and in their fury,
they go too far
and the dance becomes cruelty
from which their souls will never recover.
The God of War will accept nothing less
than a true blood sacrifice
and this is the only way
men know how to bleed.

The referee is the priest in this ceremony,
the crowd, a holy choir,
and the moderators are mouthpieces,
judging these two men
by how much of their body they can give,
and how much of their opponents they can take.
The men’s wives sit in the stands
counting every time the one they love nearly dies,
praying with a primality
and a salty-sweet vehemence
that rises like smoke and falls like ash.

When the next round begins,
they go in wild, all pain and power,
colliding together into the chainlink.
What is left of their minds kicks in,
and they thrash
with blood in their eyes
and sweat in their throats.

One gets lucky
and catches the other’s neck.
For a moment, they look like Cain and Abel,
and I wonder if losing is more holy.
The winner is awarded a championship belt,
a temporary godhead.

I asked God once what he thought about all this,
and he said that every strike is a confession,
that the mat is an atonement field.
He said that after a while,
the fight is what they repent for.
I laughed, and said,
And who’s fault is that?

Alorah Welti (she/her) is a nineteen-year-old Minnesota-born feminist, synesthete, and emerging poet and artist. She lives just north of North Adams, Massachusetts. Her Twitter is @alorahsky.

Mothers | I. Thielking

Lucas Pezeta via Pexels

You left her there, in the driver’s side footwell of your dead father’s truck, violently shivering and biting her tongue. You could barely hear the screams over the pounding heartbeat in your ears. A hollow breeze gently rattled the skeleton trees lining the drive up to your childhood home.

Winter never truly left your comatose, desolate town.

At some point after you pulled the keys out of the ignition but before you died and left her with more trauma than any eleven-year-old knew how to handle, the screaming stopped. You still don’t know who it was.

i. thielking can be found a number of places: drinking tea, on sunrise hikes, complaining about legal jargon, constructing vague metaphors about grief, and being tall. Also on twitter @ithielking.