Atomic Dog by Cassandra Dallett

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Atomic Dog

What is there to write
when summer has turned cold
the sky pressing gloomily down
Tiki torch lynch mobs
plan rallies near you
a thousand posts
on what you should do, can do,
won’t do
guts knotted and afraid to leave the bathroom
this is no surprise
just a campaign promise
the unveiling
of the pale sick country
we belong to
now you know
the white kid handing you a hot dog
an aspiring Klans-men,
oh you’ve known some
skinheads, and white boys
who joined the Brotherhood behind bars
can wish them nothing
but boots upside the head
you’ve heard the ridiculous
rationalizations
freedom of speech arguments
typed madly to the Alt Right abyss
too many masters
manipulating
stirring up fear and paranoia
Othering Othering Othering
we should all be
terrified of the terrorists among us
white dudes talking take back
shit that was stolen in the first place
we all pointing fingers and wringing hands
it’s here
the year they promised
at all those rallies
all the red hats
telling you it was this
birther bullshit
go back to Africa
calling slaves migrants
migrants criminal
vegetables rotting on the vine
stop the rewriting
the propaganda
fueling painful flames
stop protesting Top Dog
and listen to your God
or your Dog
my God,
we might be busy killing each other
when they drop the bomb
My Dog,
hand me my machete
these white boys might be the zombie apocalypse
we’ve been preparing for all along.


About the Author: Cassandra Dallett is out here trying to function. She has been published online and in many print magazines. Cassandra reads often around the San Francisco Bay Area, she
hosts the monthly writing workshop OnTwoSix, and the quarterly reading series Moon
Drop Productions. Her first full-length book of poetry Wet Reckless (Manic D Press) was
released in 2014. In 2015, she authored five chapbooks one of them, On Sunday, A Finch
(Nomadic Press) was nominated for a California Book Award, look for her full-length
collection Collapse (Nomadic Press) in early 2018.

 

All the Ways I Am Tired by Kristina Ten

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All the Ways I Am Tired

I’m tired.

I’m skin tired, I’m bone tired, I’m head tired, I’m brain tired, my fingers are tired, my knees are tired, my breasts are tired, my eyes are tired, my toes are tired from gripping the ground, my hair is tired, my mouth is tired, my teeth are tired, my throat is tired, I’m tired.

I’m tired. I’m wake up late tired. I’m miss the bus tired. I’m call in sick tired. I’m stay in bed tired. I’m forgetting to feed the dog tired. I’m dog tired. I’m remembering to feed the dog tired but not myself tired. I’m remembering to feed myself but not to chew.

I’m tired. I’m you don’t look yourself today tired. Too much makeup tired or not enough tired. I’m couch potato tired. I’m armchair broccoli tired. I’m every piece of furniture plus every kind of vegetable tired. I’m too tired for your thing about how potatoes aren’t vegetables tired. I’m waiting for a fight tired, just try me.

I’m tired. I’m crying at Google commercials tired. I’m the dog doesn’t love me tired. I’m staring at screens unable to sleep tired. I’m feeling your tiredness from across the room at the party and it’s making me so tired tired. I’m not really wanting to hear about how your pain is like my pain tired, but also I think I need it, also I think it’s the medicine that’s bad going down but better making for four to six hours. I’m crying at Subaru commercials tired. How does that joke go: When is a person like a car?

I’m tired like it’s my name: Tired.

I’m skin tired, I’m bone tired, I’m head tired, I’m brain tired, my fingers are tired, my knees are tired, tired is my euphemism, what’s your euphemism, what’s your metaphor, I’m like new denim that knows it has a long way to go before it can break in, be comfortable, a little less stiff.


About the Author: Kristina Ten is a Russian-American writer living in Oakland, California. Her work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and has appeared or is forthcoming in b(OINK)Word RiotThe AwlJellyfish Review, and elsewhere. 

Great, Greater, Greatest by Fordy Shoor

Amber Parker 2


GREAT, GREATER, GREATEST

Sure, you can call it a Recession,
if that allays your depression.
Not to despoil the legacy of
The Greatest.

Can’t betray collective memory, so
let’s keep it fuzzy; soft focus on
our great edifying atrocities. History
of good works.

A positive country; nobody was
The Worst Generation, since Great in
the absence of greatness portends
only “great

Then if the “nothing” quotient rises,
my “something” axis should
move accordingly, my output
always  > .

Now for a generation to own a title
requires an ownership of cars,
houses, sufficiency to supercede
marketability.

No. No time to destabilize a chat,
only connect, only collect. No
positive life to report, only TV’s
great episodes.

How about call it a regression,
Delayed progression toward
Superheroes, coloring books, the
Greatest games:

Bonded stock, the legal gamble,
we shop in manic markets, ill
but not illegal, only < legal. No
greater timing

for > popular economic systems
to continue operating at greatest
viable longevity. It’s time to call it:
The Great Possession.


About the Author: Fordy Shoor studied at Sarah Lawrence College before graduating from UC Berkeley. He is a graduate student at CSU East Bay. His work has received the 2015 Elizabeth Mills Crothers and 2016 Markos Prizes. His writing has been featured in Atom Magazine, CLAM, Shotgun Honey, and debuting in The East Bay Review.

Artwork: Amber Parker

Maybe I Believe Too Much in Signs By Laryssa Wirstiuk

Woman in Chair_Brittany Bobois


Maybe I Believe Too Much in Signs

Tell me the dumbest story you know. No,
I’m serious. I’ll get this conversation going
with a confession: I don’t ever want to feel
like I did that day I was told, “You’re the most
self-obsessed girl in the world.” I won’t give
more clues about what happened on New Street
or why eye contact is so intermittent. Do you see
what I think I’m giving away? I had to prove I wasn’t
an egomaniac by following a narcissist across
a landmass. But tonight instead I’m documenting
what I look like when I’m content. I’ll forget
on Friday morning that my camera roll is full
of blurry, rye-soaked smirks, all because
you only sometimes give me your best
smile. Are you ready with a story yet?
Or are we still referring to this as “adventure”?
Don’t apologize in advance. Put your head
on my thigh to offset the bourbon. Sweet
man. I approach all with single mind, but shit
I’m always surprised when one man wants to get
to the good part, while another is a rock moving
across Death Valley. It’s all just selfies now,
no texting my ex-boyfriend to explain I miss
the heightened hope he’d help himself. If
only I didn’t have to listen, wishes are valid.
I’m sorry we won’t spend the longest day
of the year together, but I’m not ready to replace
that memory: Harlem in June with a best friend,
the now-ex, and a Cuban cigar. Holding his hand
was everything I wanted for an entire train ride.
It’s dumb, right? How far we’ve come from Times
Square meat signs to observatories named for men
with two first names. I don’t know if I could handle
another trial kiss. The photos are tilted and too dark
to know if it’s me or some other bitch who’s handled
one too many drinks. Have I mentioned your smile?
Are we there yet? And by “there,” I mean, is it over?
I’ve seen a closing, a hardening, a narrow space
that can barely fit anything more than a hand
on your knee and a kiss on your cheek. I’m focused
on the moment, and the best news is I can breathe.


About the Author: Laryssa Wirstiuk is a poet and writer based in Los Angeles, where she lives with her miniature dachshund Charlotte Moo. Her self-published collection of short stories The Prescribed Burn won Honorable Mention in the 21st Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards. Laryssa was born and raised in New Jersey, and she spent a few years teaching creative writing at Rutgers. But now that she’s in LA, she can safely say that she’ll be okay if she never sees snow again. http://www.laryssawirstiuk.comTwitter: @ryssiebee

Artwork: Brittany Bobois

Friends Don’t Fuck By Madison Silva

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Friends Don’t Fuck

I’m remembering the first
time you threw down
your dress in front of me
reminding myself, don’t look

Yet I still want
to count the moles
on the insides
of your thighs

I want the hard
wood floors to feel
your back against them,
while I’m against you

I won’t think about
a kiss, that goes
from cheek to mouth

I won’t think of
the way your bed
feels with the both
of us in it,
or a better way
to keep ourselves warm


About the Author: Madison Silva is a 21 year old writer living in Oakland, California. She began writing poems back in 2014, mainly focusing on discovering her queerness and her experiences as a young woman. She’s currently studying journalism while interning for a local publication, and writing poetry in her spare time. 

 

 

Bye Bye Baby, Don’t Be Blue by Joel Landmine

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Bye Bye Baby, Don’t Be Blue

While peeing
I blew a spider
off of a porcelain clown
and out the open window.

For a moment
it made me feel
like a God.

A casually angry, vengeful God,
reveling in the arbitrary violence
and senseless chaos
of a world I’d created by accident,
and had long lost any real control over.


About the Author: Oakland poet and filmmaker Joel Landmine’s work has never been nominated for a pushcart prize. Yeah, Well…, his first collection of poetry, is available from Punk Hostage Press.

Preparing the Dead by Meg Yardley

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Preparing the Dead

                                                            for Jamie

To prepare the dead I dig out
one purple rubber glove
from under the kitchen sink.

The city of Oakland will take her body only
for sixty two dollars payable in person
between the hours of nine and eleven a.m. on a weekday.

Yesterday she was clinging to a sapling,
dark slit eyes in sharp pale face,
babies climbing over and under.

Today her belly quivers under my glove
as I draw her up. Wisps of hair, tough feet
sliding into a garbage bag. Sweet dusk

coming down over our heads. Your eyes are red.
Stripping off the glove, I put arms around you.
We too are bureaucrats of death:

for lack of an animal control officer
we let her die. From the deck
we could not see her pouch caught on a hook

in the tree (a hook we did not place
and did not remove). Holding fast, she weakened.
Tomorrow two of her babies will die

huddled in the rain even under
the cardboard shelter you laid out.
You’ll have to tell the children.


About the Author: Meg Yardley lives and works in Oakland. Her writing has appeared in Rattle, Hanging Loose, Leveler, AMP, and others.

Answering the Demand to Renounce Mostafa by Tamer Mostafa

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Answering the Demand to Renounce Mostafa

 1.

Do not assume my declarations are disingenuous,
that I have neglected the chronicle of records
and an epithet chosen for revelation.
This conviction inscribed in permanence
is existent, under the flaws of my practice,
the admission of failings skimming naked
like a wrinkled film of wax over a date’s skin.

2.

My father’s emigration began with a stage name
accommodated to a Western spelling and motif,
a mold of typecast formulas guised in his shadow,
anticipating the first film of night to surrender,
prostrate in salutation to this                  our soil.

3.

He was convulsed back to nativity, its wet heaviness,
the revival of deprivation, a fidelity for the familial.
They have not forsworn me, a memento of vicarious lore
natant through a cyclical undercurrent.

4.

There are others, universalities favored to reasoning,
the enmity of absent names from the optics of impotence,
a “Miracle Baby” dependent on rubble turf.
His name is Mahmoud, our emblem for unanimity
serenading the hands that hold him      those of wounds.

5.

I have been assumed access to this working microcosm,
my achromic skin a mute password to doorkeepers
deadened by an archival recognition of supremacy,
the progressive panic of a tempered power.
And I, with cryptic oriental vitals, will be revealed
testifying their sedated handwriting in ivory.


About the Author: Tamer Said Mostafa is an-always proud Stockton, California native whose work has appeared in nearly twenty various journals and magazines such as Confrontation, Monday Night Lit, and Mobius: The Journal of Social Change among others. As an Arab-American Muslim, he reflects on life through spirituality, an evolving commitment to social justice, and the music of Bone Thugs-n-Harmony.

Warmth by James Croal Jackson

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Warmth

I want to fold the dog
into an origami pipe
smoke it
and forget this
was ever a dog

later I will want
this dog nestled
next to me
asleep
fire lingering

instead I
fold creases
into blanket
wrapping
out the cold

I can’t shake
but for what
it takes
to sleep
through dawn


About the Author: James Croal Jackson‘s poetry has appeared in The Bitter Oleander, Rust + Moth, Isthmus, and elsewhere. His first chapbook is forthcoming from Writing Knights Press. He is the 2016 William Redding Memorial Poetry Contest winner in his current city of Columbus, Ohio. Visit him at jimjakk.com.

Rubber Love by Karen Petersen

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Rubber Love

Miss Tina, resplendent
in stilettos and fishnet,
lace-up black bustier,
size 38c,
cracks her whip
and he trembles,
waiting
for the pleasure
of her key
in his lock.
He’ll roll over
and play dead,
bark like a dog,
croak like a frog.
Whatever she wants.
You see,
on a bad day
she’ll give even the devil
the blues
But on a good day
she knows all
the right moves.


About the Author: KAREN PETERSEN, adventurer, photojournalist and writer, has traveled the world extensively, publishing both nationally and internationally in a variety of publications. Most recently, she was published in The Saranac Review in the USA, Antiphon in the UK, and A New Ulster in Northern Ireland. Her work has been translated into Spanish and Farsi. In 2015, she read “In Memory of W.B. Yeats,” at the Yeats Festival in Santa Fe and at the KGB Bar in NYC. She is currently at work on Four Points on a Compass, a collection of her short stories from overseas. She holds a B.A. in Philosophy and Classics from Vassar College and an M.S. from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.

 

Music Swells By Zephir O’Meara

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Music Swells

I tell my kids don’t worry
You’re not the ones
That gentrification is there
It’s happening
We’re not forcing anyone out of their homes

I want a big tent daddy, like the homeless ones have
I want one of those

We warm this house
You’ve never really been hungry
You’ll never really be hungry
Not if I can help it under this roof you eat
When they don’t finish their plate
When they casually demand breakfast
When we’ve been playing at the park well past dinner time

What part of the movie is this
Are we at the end
Has the redemptive bit happened already
Or is this part of a training montage
Where nothing we say really matters
As music swells to determine mood

Circle back around again it’s always food
For good or ill
Sitting around a table
Breaking bread is important
Systemic institutional ritual
Politics makes strange bedfellows should ever be discussed at the table

Is there anything more wondrous than smashing something
A bottle on cement
Priceless ming vase
A dropped pint
If you don’t know maybe you need to smash something
Maybe you need time to slow down
Think about what you’ve done
Think about what you’re going to do next
Because at this rate you might never catch up


About the Author: Zephir O’Meara’s writing has appeared in the Oakland Review, Be About It, sPARKLE & bLINK, Naked Bulb Anthology, and other secret places. He has three cats, two kids, and a dog.

Post-Industrial Idyllic by Natasha Dennerstein

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Post-Industrial Idyllic

 

East 12th Street, Oakland, the decaying light industry
harmonizes with the warehouses, alongside the BART line,
the disused freight train tracks, the bridge to Alameda.

The signs are a song: American Emperor,
Overseas Asiatic Coalition, Union Meat Company,
Five Harvest Wholesale and Fidelity Packaging,

where cheating-ass boys in unsmogged cars
get side-eye from their side-bitches in the back-lane
or get BJs from CDs on the DL.

East 12th Street, where the pot-holes hum in B minor
and the gas-stations and auto body repair yards
sing a chord with the discount furniture warehouses.

You find your tune again, by the meccano drawbridge
under the overpass, over the railway crossing,
fantasizing better days to come.


About the Author: Natasha Dennerstein was born in Melbourne, Australia, to a family originating in Belarus. She worked as a psychiatric nurse for many years, which gave her an interesting perspective on the human condition. She has an MFA from San Francisco State University. Natasha has had poetry published in many journals including Landfall, Snorkel, Shenandoah, Bloom, Transfer, Red Light Lit, Spoon River Poetry Review and Foglifter. Her collections Anatomize (2015) and Triptych Caliform (2016) were published by Norfolk Press in San Francisco, who will also be publishing her novella-in-verse About a Girl this Fall. Her recent chapbook Seahorse (2017) was published by Nomadic Press in Oakland.

At the Old Babar by Jan Steckel

brb by Kat Bing (www.katbing.com)



At the Old Babar

The poet cements her dentures in
before she approaches the open mic
for a semantically anarchic address
to hipsters in their thrift-store best.
Her cream-colored cable-knit cap
looks like her exposed brain.
Sea cucumbers taste like bitter tires,
she informs the members of the bar.
Many are cold, but few are frozen.
Chickens don’t have tits,
so it’s kosher to fry them
in their own eggs.
When the sun goes down,
giraffes begin their low humming,
the only sound they ever make.
Tuvan deep throat singers intimate
it’s time to drape that canary.
A blind woman wearing a fascinator
sits in the front row of the reading,
blocking the poet from view.
A former virgin, she chews
blackberry-hyacinth Gummy Pandas,
her ankles an archipelago of insect bites.
Trapped deep in Greenland’s ice,
88 yellow rubber ducks wait for the thaw
to form their synagogue under the sea.


 

About the Author: Jan Steckel is a former pediatrician who left the practice of medicine because of chronic pain. Her poetry book The Horizontal Poet (Zeitgeist Press, 2011) won a 2012 Lambda Literary Award for Bisexual Nonfiction. Her fiction chapbook Mixing Tracks (Gertrude Press, 2009) and poetry chapbook The Underwater Hospital (Zeitgeist Press, 2006) also won awards for LGBT writing. Her fiction and poetry have appeared in Scholastic Magazine, Yale Medicine, Bellevue Literary Review, BiMagazine, Red Rock Review and elsewhere.

Artwork: Kat Bing

Crocus by Halina Duraj

Art for Crocus (untitled_uncredited)


 

Crocus

J. and I

eat ice cream bars

on the front porch.

I am moving in

soon.

 

Somewhere, a shovel

scrapes dirt. Today

feels like spring

but isn’t yet.

 

Purple crocuses

grow thick and low

by the porch steps.

I put my face in dirt

to smell them.

 

It seem right,

greeting spring like this:

getting on the hands,

getting on the knees.

 

Yesterday

J. and our poet friend

stayed awake all night,

writing.

 

Our friend wrote

a book-length poem

about the crocuses.

He called them cups of light.

 

J. will design the book’s cover. Vellum.

Translucent as a bridal veil.

Red birds and clocks.

 

Later, the poet will burn all the copies.


About the Author: Halina Duraj‘s fiction has appeared in The Harvard Review, The Sun, The 2014 PEN/O. Henry Prizes, and is forthcoming in Ecotone; her poems have been published in Bat City Review, Cimarron Review, and the Poets of the American West anthology. Her debut story collection,
, was published by Augury Books in 2014 and was a finalist for the 2015 Council of Literary Magazines and Presses Debut Fiction Firecracker Award. She teaches literature and creative writing at the University of San Diego.

 

Girl in Fulton Street by Sergio A. Ortiz

fall2 by Kat Bing (www.katbing.com)


Girl in Fulton Street

 

They’re not really strangers
reflecting off the windows,
they’re men afoot on a crowded street.
I am one of them, a girl in drag
abating the neon lights.
Clearing my way through a wilderness
of leaves, dry and quiet rhymes
without stretch marks,
on the banks of a wistful sea of cocks
where metaphors grow old.

 


About the Author: Sergio A. Ortiz is the founding editor of Undertow Tanka Review. He is a two-time Pushcart nominee, a four-time Best of the Web nominee, and 2016 Best of the Net nominee. 2nd place in the 2016 Ramón Ataz Annual Poetry Competition sponsored by Alaire publishing house. He is currently working on his first full-length collection of poems, Elephant Graveyard.

Artwork: Kat Bing

The Pickle Shelves by Holly Day

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The Pickle Shelves

this bomb shelter is packed with corpses, jars
of heads line the walls as if waiting
to be used as some sort of accompaniment
to mutant fresh vegetables picked from radioactive soil
in some post-apocalyptic orgy to celebrate
an anniversary of the end of it all.
white eyes stare calmly

out through the glass, watching nothing, dreaming
of nothing, just waiting for the day when the metal lids
will be uncorked, the contents of the jars overturned onto
gigantic platters held by grubby hands
for the salted flesh to be poked at with tarnished fork tines
for inevitable consumption. until then

the heads will sit on these shelves, undisturbed
wrinkled skin filling out, growing smooth in the brine
swelling to fit the smooth confines of their jars
like old sponges left in the sink for too long.


About the Author: Holly Day has taught writing classes at the Loft Literary Center in Minnesota since 2000. Her published books include Music Theory for Dummies, Music Composition for Dummies, Guitar All-in-One for Dummies, Piano All-in-One for Dummies, Walking Twin Cities, Insider’s Guide to the Twin Cities, Nordeast Minneapolis: A History, and The Book Of, while her poetry has recently appeared in New Ohio Review, SLAB, and Gargoyle. Her newest poetry book, Ugly Girl, just came out from Shoe Music Press.

Bird Song by Kaily Dorfman

two2 by Kat Bing (www.katbing.com)


 

Bird Song

oh we’re done with heaviness

let’s get some light between these ribs  

 


About the Author: Kaily Dorfman is from Santa Cruz originally and did her undergrad at Berkeley. She spent some time in Salinas working as a literacy tutor for underprivileged K-4th grade students, and more recently got an MA in literature from UCSB. These days she’s a grad school dropout living in Alameda and working at a bookshop in Berkeley.

Artwork: Kat Bing

TOUGH GUY LOOKING FOR TOUGH GIRL, MUST HAVE OWN BRASS KNUCKLES by John Grey

Image - Chelsea Moore (Instagram ww_chelsea)


 

TOUGH GUY LOOKING FOR TOUGH GIRL, MUST HAVE OWN BRASS

KNUCKLES

 

Model yourself
on the young Robert Downey,
only with more tattoos,
cuss and spit,
form out of nothing but your heart
and your image in the mirror,
a brutal package.

It will help in your relationship
with the one
who dotes on real bastards,
who’s aching for a bad guy,
can’t wait to go public with him.
She likes to live dangerously.
You need to be dangerous enough.

You haven’t met her yet
but she’s out there somewhere,
warding off the too-good-to-be true,
hungry for someone who’ll stop at nothing.
Be whatever it is
will more than satisfy
whoever she is.
Remember, the road to true love
is lined with other wannabe lovers.
So beat up some guys along the way.


About the AuthorJohn Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Schuylkill Valley Journal, Stillwater Review and Big Muddy Review with work upcoming in Louisiana Review, Columbia Review and Spoon River Poetry Review.

Artwork: Chelsea Moore

Dear Neighbor, by Alan Chazaro

FOR CHAZARO - DEAR NEIGHBOR - (from stockpile)


Dear Neighbor,

it’s no wonder we drive spaceships and eat
inside caves around here. Yesterday, a teenager

confessed to seeing his first murder. Said
the car pulled up his block and smoked a dude

quicker than his Black & Mild. I don’t know
why he told me this, standing at the bus stop

but now I’m telling you. I took out
my earphones and told him I could hear

the gunshots in my neighborhood, too.
He paused, his lungs a giant comma

of smoke, before offering his blunt. I told him I quit
a long time ago. He nodded, took two

deep hits, asked what I was
listening to.


About the Author: Alan Chazaro is a public high school teacher pursuing his MFA in Writing at the University of San Francisco. He is the current Lawrence Ferlinghetti Fellow and a graduate of June Jordan’s Poetry for the People program at UC Berkeley. Recently, his work received an AWP Intro Journals award and appears or is forthcoming in Huizache, The Cortland Review, Borderlands, Iron Horse Review, Juked, and others.