winter 2016

Rose Knapp

American spirit black
ash tapped perfectly
ugly old snowmound


Rose Knapp is a poet, novelist, short story writer, multimedia artist, and music producer. She has an experimental novel forthcoming and various poetry publications in Commonline Journal, Blue Lake Review, Poetry Pacific Magazine, Indiana Voice Journal, Shot Glass Journal, Chicago Literati, and many others. She currently divides her time between Brooklyn and Minneapolis.

Rose Knapp

KSD lo-dawn haze
Repurposed smashed glass
Brooklyn city blues


Rose Knapp is a poet, novelist, short story writer, multimedia artist, and music producer. She has an experimental novel forthcoming and various poetry publications in Commonline Journal, Blue Lake Review, Poetry Pacific Magazine, Indiana Voice Journal, Shot Glass Journal, Chicago Literati, and many others. She currently divides her time between Brooklyn and Minneapolis.

Brandon Hartman

Vehicles idle at a red-light
perpendicular traffic bleeding through an intersection
as determined drivers make left turns, heading westward

Where not too long ago a lonely, newly clothed couple
stood surveying a vista forsaken of a guarded garden
and began their search for another Eden.

Where sooner still, solitary ships ventured oceans
sailing to distant Atlantic shores
seeking settlements in the new world

And then, revolution!
the ambition of independence marching
in the direction of freedom

To chase treasures on western roads
crowded by hordes of covered wagon caravans
resolute scowls perched in prairie schooners

Still on their way to American Dreams
toward graveyards in landscaped cul-de-sacs
with macabre welcome mat epitaphs

And saying, onward!
laying claim to somewhere different than the rest of us
forgetting that we’re all going in the same direction

Like a secret everyone knows
but always forgets
that we’re all completely naked under our clothes


Brandon Hartman is currently in the throes of his third novel. He and his wife hail from South Jersey. He drinks too much coffee, but is trying to make the conversion to tea.

Alternatives to Churning Butter

Rich Ives

1.
When I sleep with a knife, we meet divided. The bodies do not underestimate, but the minds are in over their heads. Two of us side by side as if controlled remotely, one forbidden to talk and the other just doesn’t. (Babies go under, but they’re not our babies.) It makes it easier to misunderstand.

We’ve learned to value the lid of the bed, awakened, and finger moons chambered with tensile eye-knuckles, and naked feet running from the ceiling, night’s eye so big we don’t realize we’re inside. We’re not gang-related but visitational, the trees in the forest blackened with that unrelenting deprivations kind of thing.

2.
One seeker said to the other, When a man truly finds what he is looking for, he is at great risk of dying. (We had a great deal to look forward to in our despair.) I wished the man a long life of struggle.

(The hungry pond-fish swim day after day from one little ocean to the next as faithfully as the ocean swims in and out of its dirty pants.)

The letters you haven’t read, the ones you placed in the toolbox, are a toolbox.

3.
All you have to do is find something you haven’t done and approach too slowly. There’s a beautiful smooth nerve in a boat that doesn’t belong to you, that arrives at the porch where the boat shall never be, but the two left behind are arriving at your absence, which may be more successful than you wish. When goodbye to you was hello to another, you could have been missed.

4.
As for the tuba player mumbling in German, he hangs out at both ends of the engagement, an overly generous Weiner dog, and yodels to the tune of an old Bavarian march. On waking, he shakes a cricket out of his shoe, remembers his dream of a spilling police van and tap dancing mice chasing tap dancing cheese. He’s climbing an invisible ladder, and he falls. He’s painting a landscape, and he paints himself into it.

Hello a cow wearing a short skirt and suspenders. Hello a xylophone of wooden shoes, another lovely chicken march. Hello a stolen bag of mice. Hello the drawing of a car, in which he escapes. He draws railroad tracks, the train runs him over.

The tuba in his theme song turns into a saxophone, the notes turn into ducks shaped like wooden mallets. He pounds himself on the head with a wooden mallet-duck. An amorous carp swims out hammered thinking. Hello to a fish-wife with the scales of heaven on. She pounds him on the hammered head with a freshly carved mallet-fish. He sleeps in her lap,
but you have awakened, you have congealed, you can’t do it again.


Rich Ives lives on Camano Island in Puget Sound. He has received grants and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, Artist Trust, Seattle Arts Commission and the Coordinating Council of Literary Magazines for his work in poetry, fiction, editing, publishing, translation and photography. His writing has appeared in Verse, North American Review, Dublin Quarterly, Massachusetts Review, Northwest Review, Quarterly West, Iowa Review, Poetry Northwest, Virginia Quarterly Review, Fiction Daily and many more. He is a winner of the Francis Locke Memorial Poetry Award from Bitter Oleander and has been nominated twice for the Best of the Web, three times for Best of the Net and six times for The Pushcart Prize. He is the 2012 winner of the Creative Nonfiction Prize from Thin Air magazine. Tunneling to the Moon, a book of days with a work for each day of the year, is available from Silenced Press, Sharpen, a fiction chapbook, is available form Newer York Press, and Light from a Small Brown Bird, a book of poems, is available from Bitter Oleander Press. He is also the winner of the What Books Press Fiction Competition, and his story collection, The Balloon Containing the Water Containing the Narrative Begins Leaking, is now available.  

John Grey

At high school, a car always came for the rich kid.
And girls flocked around him
though he really wasn’t that good looking.
He always dressed better than the rest of us.
And he had a wallet.
Whenever a dollar or two came my way,
I stuffed it down my pocket.

One day, the rich kid offered me a ride.
But I was too embarrassed
to tell his driver where I lived.
I just said, “My mother’s coming for me”
though our family didn’t own a car
and then, when that Caddy was out of sight,
I began my long walk home.

Every step I took made me that much poorer.
By the time I reached home, my legs were tired
and I owed just about everybody.



John Grey is an Australian poet and US resident. He has been recently published in New Plains Review, Perceptions and the anthology, No Achilles, with work upcoming in Big Muddy Review, Gargoyle, Coal City Review and Spoon River Poetry Review.

Kurt Cline

Cold & clear   sky cerulean
Awakening a dream she could sink in
A little shadow-play
On sheets of white—
                                   An
apparition in flight!

A barista becomes
A nymph carrying
A coffee-urn—
                                   On
whose orders precisely?

Doesn’t matter now
But later
let my ashes
There be scattered
                                   Where
the riptide
                                   Gets
ripped
                                   Every
evening

Raven on the traffic light
Lamppost arching over
The Great Highway
                                   Where
morning ROCKS
                                   And
it seems like I’m okay. 


Kurt Cline is Associate Professor of English and World Comparative Literature, National Taipei University of Technology. His full-length book of poetry, Voyage to the Sun, was published by Boston Poet Press in 2008. Poems and stories have appeared, most recently, in BlazeVOX, Danse Macabre, Ealain, Burningword, The Tule Review, Mission at 10th, EastLit: Journal for English Literature of East and South-East Asia, Wilderness House Literary Review, HuesoLoco, Apocrypha and Abstractions, Black Scat, and Clockwise Cat. Scholarly articles have appeared in Glimpse; Anthropology of Consciousness; Concentric; Beatdom Literary Journal; and Comparative Civilizations and Cultures.

A Reconsideration of the Subject

– Rich Ives

Like a single disagreeable letter from several dead philosophers, the subject arrived at the barbeque wearing a torn sweatshirt. The mistakes of others were included, but maybe they were also his own. Maybe he claimed them even if they weren’t his.

Negligence gives us a rather large common ground of confusion to stand on while we disagree. There was no boundary between the thing outside (just thought) and the thing inside (forgotten). The wandering idea’s Teddy bear then perambulates more aggressively, saying Button it Bobbo to the tension walking next to the subject. The subject’s watch is larger now than he is because time stays generous when it’s not yours. Black silk and obsidian edge the incision in its darkness approaching, the darkness that spills on the letter.

Oh yes the subject was overly fond of the gathering’s idea sugar, but intellectual poverty is still poverty. So we wait with an obsessively selected thought donut and a goofy grin. Soon something as simple as weather arrives to unite us and to give us meaning. Yes, the subject wishes to control the weather, but he feels much better failing than worshipping the one wing of a maple seed brought to earth in a rich pile of worm fodder.

The subject, it seems, really does have too much to say about everything, which means it must be said twice or eight times. You swallow it all up, everything disappearing inside what you have been thinking, ushering it down to where such guests are still welcome.

The subject soaks you up like another dead philosopher, and the sweatshirt becomes a renewed fire of intellectual stains. So you take your self home and wash it, providing a more acceptable entrance to social functions. You find a circle in your brain. What’s it doing there? Your brain has too many childhoods. Put some of them in a very small burlap sack. Imagine it’s an ancient choked aspirin entering a dark hole, a landscape without corners. Hold it up to your basement thought, the one announcing separation. Consider the reconsideration.


Rich Ives lives on Camano Island in Puget Sound. He has received grants and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, Artist Trust, Seattle Arts Commission and the Coordinating Council of Literary Magazines for his work in poetry, fiction, editing, publishing, translation and photography. His writing has appeared in Verse, North American Review, Dublin Quarterly, Massachusetts Review, Northwest Review, Quarterly West, Iowa Review, Poetry Northwest, Virginia Quarterly Review, Fiction Daily and many more. He is a winner of the Francis Locke Memorial Poetry Award from Bitter Oleander and has been nominated twice for the Best of the Web, three times for Best of the Net and six times for The Pushcart Prize. He is the 2012 winner of the Creative Nonfiction Prize from Thin Air magazine. Tunneling to the Moon, a book of days with a work for each day of the year, is available from Silenced Press, Sharpen, a fiction chapbook, is available form Newer York Press, and Light from a Small Brown Bird, a book of poems, is available from Bitter Oleander Press. He is also the winner of the What Books Press Fiction Competition, and his story collection, The Balloon Containing the Water Containing the Narrative Begins Leaking, is now available.

– C.J. Cioc

On the bridge out of one city

into another city, in a sundress and sandals,

she holds her head screaming

into the line of stopped cars. I don’t remember her name.

She was running up and down the bridge, warning

each approaching car—


     carfire!

     theres a fucking car

     on fucking fire—

     get off the damn bridge!

     these police is retarded!

     these people

     are retarded!

the police set up sawhorses

around the Saab’s flaming carcass. Nobody was inside, though.

We all smell the burning plastic, so we emerge

from our cars, confident to step

on to the highway bridge and walk

towards the wreck—

The girl

whose name I don’t remember

ran back up and is

chatting up the taxi driver.

     I cant be stuck on this bridge, son

          I gotta go home

          get three hours sleep

     Well, I’m a escort, so— my clients in Jersey

     I’m fucking late

          Yoo, you said you’re a escort,

          if you ever need a cab—

     If you ever got clients,

     you let me know, kay?

          Aight.

The cab driver, smokes a cigarette with some

tired looking tow truck guys.

     Yo you said your name was Muhammad, right?

     I’m calling you that’s my number, there

     these people are seriously stupid, like they

     think we don’t know they cant

     get their shit together— 

          mhmm, you know it, baby

There’s this big blue junk van and this big black guy

is sitting in the driver’s seat murmuring

something to his friend next to him—

they sigh heavy sighs.

Suddenly, the white headlights of hundreds of cars and trucks

rolled over red like the scales of a venomous snake,

they make k-turns, all aim their cars to traffic.

On the drive back down, all four refineries

can be seen churning out cloud, with some stars

or medivacs or planes, coursing

through their short bursts. All down the banks

and across the bridge, skinny flare stacks gasflared

and broke brown night around the wrsh

traffic—

wrsh traffic—

stiffly gaining speed.


C.J. Cioc is a recent graduate of Rosemont College’s MFA program in Creative Writing. His works have been featured in Rathalla Review, Philadelphia Stories, and Calliope among others. He lives in the Pocono Mountains with his family and his dog, with whom he enjoys section hiking the Appalachian Trail.