Dear Hiring Manager by Sarah A. O’Brien

no, I don’t really consider myself
proficient in a design program I
can’t afford

I have never met a deadline,
but I’m sure I would be polite and
we’d hit it off right away

am I the ideal candidate for
this position? well, I am experienced
in many creative… positions

skills, skills— I have some.
I hope to grow in this company,
2 whole inches, maybe

attention to detail,
except for the detail that I’m broke, but
that’s why God created credit cards

to be honest, no desire to work here,
already bored, don’t like your décor;
send prompt payments please

(living at home is a huge drag.
I’d much prefer to wake up
nude beside my boyfriend)

thank you for your time
I look forward to hearing
great news from you.

Sarah A. O’Brien enjoys dark chocolate and light wordplay. Sarah’s work has previously appeared in The Alembic, Every Writer, The Screech Owl, Snapping Twig, Ampersand Literary, Third Point Press, Unbroken Journal, and is forthcoming in Allegro Poetry Magazine. Follow her adventures: @fluent_SARAcasm.

Arriving at the Edge by A. J. Huffman

Arriving at the Edge

of a mind, I knocked twice on a door
that might have been a wall,
painted to look like a door. If it opened,
the mind was mine, and I was
free to make a home among the illusions
of cracks that were really crevices
leading nowhere in particular. If it remained
shut, the mind was a mine,
an illustrious trap set to explode at my touch,
which would also make it mine,
I guess, though in a temporary trespassing
kind of way. So I stood, fist raised like a gun,
aimed at a frame I might enter
or shatter, and I realized as the wind came
to coerce the initial contact
between flesh and focal metaphor
of stability, that in the end, follow-through
was really all that mattered.

A.J. Huffman has published twelve solo chapbooks and one joint chapbook through various small presses. Her new poetry collections, Another Blood Jet (Eldritch Press), A Few Bullets Short of Home (mgv2>publishing), Butchery of the Innocent (Scars Publications), Degeneration (Pink Girl Ink) and A Bizarre Burning of Bees (Transcendent Zero Press) are now available from their respective publishers and amazon.com. She is a four-time Pushcart Prize nominee, a two-time Best of Net nominee, and has published over 2400 poems in various national and international journals, including Labletter, The James Dickey Review, Bone Orchard, EgoPHobia, and Kritya. She is also the founding editor of Kind of a Hurricane Press. http://www.kindofahurricanepress.com.

Living With a Boyfriend who Suffers from Depression/ Excerpts from a Self Help Novel Written by my Four Ex-Girlfriends by Steven J. Rogers

Excerpt from Chapter 1. Written by Michelle.

In college, when we first started dating, he made me mix tapes. You remember cassettes? He’d make collages out of pictures he cut out from art magazines and cover the cassette case with them. I still have some. I think they’re in my parents attic.

Even though he had the best taste in music, the tapes would veer down these bizarre esoteric paths. “Sicilienne” by Bach would be followed by “Girl from the North Country.”Midwestern indie hip-hop would follow Cuban Trova. It made listening to the tapes as cathartic as it was jarring. In retrospect, I should have known he would have trouble functioning in the world. There’s a defined order to things that I don’t think he ever understood.

After we graduated, we moved in together to save money on rent. Back then rent wasn’t as crazy as it is now, but we still had trouble paying it. I think he expected something good to happen. Like if he graduated, worked hard on his art, he could get a job with a BA in Fine Arts. I didn’t have such lofty expectations. I waitressed with my BA, but he could never hold down a job.

Once, in the middle of the day, I came home and found him asleep in the living room with the lights turned off. I assumed he lost his job at the shipyard. I woke him up and said some mean things — things I regret. At first, he didn’t respond, just sat there with a blank expression on his face. Then, out of nowhere, he punched the wall.

I cowered and put my hands over my face. I wasn’t afraid, it was just intense. It was so rare that he showed any emotion. He walked out of the apartment. He seemed as surprised as I was. The next day his stuff was gone, his key sat in the middle of the kitchen table with a bouquet of tulips, and note that read, “sorry.”

We saw each other once in a while after that. It was unavoidable, there were mutual friend’s parties, the coffee shop on the corner of eighteenth street, but we never talked. There was never any kind of finality in the break-up. I resented that. I wanted the end to mean something

I don’t know if I think he was depressed. A couple years after we split I saw an episode of The Sopranos, where the main guy is talking to his psychiatrist. She tells him that depression is just anger turned inward. Maybe that’s true, or maybe human emotion is slightly more nuanced.

Excerpt from Chapter 2. Written by Sarah.

You can’t control the way anyone else feels, but you can control your own emotions. The only thing you can do to make yourself truly happy is to live for others. Live for your community, your family, the people you love.

I know it’s silly, but I also think windows are important for happiness, or, at least, the right approach to windows. It’s more important to have a window that faces east than faces west. In the morning, when you wake, open that window up. Let in the sun. The life of the world is in the sun.

I read what I just wrote, and I don’t like it, but I don’t know what else to write. Who am I to tell people how they can deal with someone who is sad? No one can be happy all the time.

Most of the time, when I try to be happy, I feel like a selfish narcissist. I lived with a boyfriend who was depressed all the time, and after a few years together, I glommed onto that sadness. In a way, it felt natural to be sad. Comfortable.

The more I think about it, the more I think my earlier advice is garbage. If you try to make a difference in your community, go to a city council meeting or something, all people do is yell at each other.

What does it even mean to live for your loved ones?

I think I’ve read too many self-help books.

Excerpt from Chapter 3. Written by Jane.

I have a dog, he’s what they call a rez mutt, mixed with so many different breeds it’s impossible to tell exactly what kind of dog he is. He’s brown, about thirty-five pounds, and the sweetest animal in the world. I found Puggy on the outskirts of the Pine Ridge Sioux Reservation during a road trip when I was eighteen. There isn’t another thing in the world I love as much as this dog.

He’s seventeen now. I’ve had him by my side longer than I lived with my parents, longer than I was in school, longer than I’ll ever hold down a job. It’s hard to imagine a day when he’s gone, but that day is going to come sooner than later.

Puggy’s hips are displaced, some days they hurt so bad he can’t get out of bed. I take him to physical therapy, but it doesn’t seem to help anymore. There’s hard little balls that grow on his neck, and chest. I worry they’re cancer. He had cancer when he was eleven, but I got it treated. It cost nearly twenty thousand dollars. I’d spend that much every year if he could be healthy again, but that’s not the way mortality works.

By all accounts, Puggy should be dead. Fifteen, twenty years ago, before treatments for animals with cancer, he would have been. A hundred years before that, he probably wouldn’t have made it to five. I love him, but I really need to let him go. That’s the way it is with love, you just have to let it go.

Humans suffer a similar indignity through science. When we first crawled out of the primordial soup we’d be lucky to live for fourteen years before some wild beast had us for lunch, or the common cold killed us. People aren’t dogs, they aren’t easy to get along with. To expect people to be able to tolerate each other for long periods of time, when we weren’t even built to live much past puberty, is simply unnatural.

Appreciate your time with others, but don’t push yourself to unnatural levels of familiarity. If you have a boyfriend who has a great, creative career, a zest for life on good days, and an incredibly dark view of the world on bad days, learn to appreciate your time with him. If your dog loves him, that’s even better. Realize that it wasn’t meant to last, and when things get dark, it’s time to move on.

Excerpt from Chapter 4. Written by Sarah (a different Sarah).

Sadness makes people funny. Somebody said that once. I think. Or did I just make that up?

He was funny. Cynicism permeated every word that dripped out of his mouth. We’d watch the Republican debates, the local news, awards shows, and he would have me rolling with dark quips about the general decay of humanity. There was a point where the cynicism was too much to be around. Every joke a little bite at the core of my soul.

I don’t think about the bad times, though. Once someone is gone —

Time is the essence from which life is made. Somebody said that once. I think. Or did I just make that up?

Maybe I’m not making the right point here. Memory is fickle, the older I get, the more time I spend with misplaced nostalgia. Nostalgia can be as crippling as depression.

Maybe dwelling in nostalgia is better than waiting around to die. Somebody said that once. I think. Or did I just make that up?

Steven J. Rogers is an avid canoesman and beardsman from Northern Wisconsin. Alas, he currently lives in Los Angeles, California. Steven is not an absolutist, so he is willing to accept the idea that there might be a hell. If there is, he’s pretty sure that it would involve writing bios. He has a BA and MFA which he’d happily trade for some beer money. To learn more about him, and his upcoming publications please visit http://www.stevenjrogers.ink.

Thunder Moon by J. Archer

1. Thunder Moon

Tonight, we see the Thunder
Moon stretch a shallow arc
Across the sky. My children
Are safe in their beds, all of
Them still awake; still
Whispering summer secrets.
And that moon is the color
Of tea stains on a white
Paper napkin, where my
Mother has laid the Lipton
Tea bag to rest- the liquid
Slowly spreading to a rough
Approximation; or the color
Of her fingers, years of
Smoking Tarrytons and the
Messes of child-rearing; the
Grease and the tar and the
Sin. She found Jesus, way
Back when- when her teeth
Resembled that color, before
We were monied enough for
Cosmetic fixes- during the
Times when we were thrilled
That the essentials were
Covered- back then, we’d
Sit in the back yard on Coyle
Street- a ten by ten haven from
The ravenous city, behind our
Brick row house- with our
Neighbors all around, and we’d
Lift our arms when the wind blew
And crack jokes about the heat.
Once, while playing trivial pursuit,
My mother told me “Son,”
Over cup of Lipton tea and
In a haze of cigarette smoke,
“Be patient.” “I know, I know,”
I said, an astute six or seven
Year old, “patience is a virgin.”
And how the neighbors laughed
And laughed, because every joke
Is better when you’re outside in
The heat, below the summer moon-
Even the unintentional, or maybe
Especially. But I’ve never seen a
Moon quite the color as this.
Maybe I needed my Mother
to have died for this moon-
For the tea stained, cigarette smoked,
Kiddos-tucked-safely-but-still-
Whispering-Moon to mean what
It means tonight.

Writer, Poet, Songwriter James Archer believes that contemplation leads to revelation, and that somewhere between most and all revelations are things that are obvious, or should have been. He likes the ocean, and dislikes rules, and is very fond of both cheese and fudge, separately. He is stuck in the middle of this beautiful and terrifying culture, just like you.

we think we know what love is but we don’t think it’s enough by Joseph Parker Okay

that was the night we were drunk and had sex and were still drunk afterward. let me narrow that down — it was the night you used the bathroom then came back and caught me looking at myself in the mirror. you made an irritated noise and said, “you’re always doing that.”
“i know — i’m sorry,” i said, “it’s just an insecurity.”
“well yeah, i know.” we decided to get back into bed and shortly after turning the light off you finished your thought with, “i just didn’t know you knew.”

there was that night we got drunk and somehow legitimately argued over a song from the black parade — you left so i went to bed. in the morning i woke up remembering fragments of the night before and tweeted an apology @you.

there were those other nights we were drunk and argued over other small things and sooner or later i would take a deep breath and ask, “are we doing okay?” you’d make an irritated noise, you’d say, “yes we’re fine — why do you always ask me that when we drink?”

i waited for you to connect the dots but the picture didn’t seem to come together until the night we saw kevin devine open for brand new at that outdoor festival — it could have been the fourth of july but then again it could have been any other milwaukee summer night.

afterwards we were drunk and arguing again but sobering up and burning out. it was obvious we’d been wavering atop some very high up and far away precipice for an unknown-but-drawn-out amount of time — i still remember how my stomach lurched the moment i realized we’d finally plunged over its edge. you might have said something passive-aggressive or you might have not said anything at all. i disappeared into the crowd and left you standing there.

Joseph Parker Okay lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He’s been worrying a lot about the sunrise lately. You can follow Joseph on twitter, or check out his site.

Meditations of an Aging Whore by Shannon Barber

“Call me a pig.”

I hate this guy.

He is just like every other shit fuck dudebro I see.

“You are a filthy fucking pig.”

At least the dirty panties he has on are cute.

“I hate your pink porcine shit fuck face honkey.”

I boot him in his lace covered ass. Now I’m on autopilot, a few more swats, epithets and he’ll jizz in his drawers and I will be 700 bucks in the pink.

Later, after he’s gone, I have the hotel room to myself. I’ll order some Chinese food, balance the books and zone out on cable TV.

Two servings of extra spicy pepper beef, one beer and two reality shows later I’m ready.

Two more White guilt fueled domme sessions, one sissy, three more Bad Mommy scenes and I’ll be able to breathe for a couple of months.

I’m so close.

With my rent paid up for another few months by Daddy Moneybags I’ll be golden and in new shoes.

When I was just a little hard scrabble ho, I wish I hadn’t been so afraid of the weirdos with deep pockets.

Oh well, shit in one hand wish in the other.

Sometimes when I clock my ever downward heading tits and the start of crow’s feet around my eyes I worry.

Am I too old?

Or, am I just getting to be perfect?

Before I can drown in self-pity my phone chirps.

Daddy Moneybags texts me begging for titty pictures and letting me know he dropped a hefty deposit into my account to “help with my lady problems” – his code for PMS and my need for meat and new shoes.

My worries about aging and my own marketability dissolve away as I peel off my jammies to reward my patron.

For right now, I’m okay. I’m safe. I’m perfect.

Shannon Barber is an author from Seattle, Washington where she lives with her partner and a small collection of oddities. She is an avid writer, reader and blogger. She has a new self care book out and can also be spotted at Luna Luna Magazine, on Facebook and Twitter.

Bad News For Bunny By Bruce McRae

The bad news is
you’re not one
of
God’s little ponies
or an old hit
on the radio.

You’ll never be
a clever trick
that they drag out
at parties.

The sun will never
come from you.

I’m sorry that I have
to be the one
to tell you,
but it’s a short ride
and it’s a fast one.

For those of you
with aspirations —
aspire. But you,

you the one in the back
looking decidedly
sick at heart:

that feeling that you’re feeling
is right on the money.

You’ll never be one
of Heaven’s shiny pennies
now.

Pushcart-nominee Bruce McRae is a Canadian musician with over 900 publications, including Poetry.com and The North American Review. His first book, ‘The So-Called Sonnets’ is available from the Silenced Press website or via Amazon books. To hear his music and view more poems visit ‘TheBruceMcRaeChannel’ on Youtube.

Double Stuffed Oreo by Star Spider

I ate a double stuffed Oreo. You said life was meaningless. I considered the possibility of a sunny day in the midst of a snowstorm. You drank red wine with breakfast. I consecrated the bathroom with fire. You stood out in the rain. I asked my sister what she thought of communism. You spat on the dog by accident. I smiled at a bumblebee. You smiled at me. I sank my teeth into a stone and it cracked. You joked that there would be no more air soon, but it wasn’t funny. I revved the engine to make us go faster. You took a trip to the jungle in your mind and ate a wild flower there. I found a rabbit in the backyard and named it Frederick. You sang songs that were old and full of meaning you couldn’t quite grasp. I painted a picture of laughter with my fingers. You fucked your way to the top. I sank to the bottom of bathtub and noticed it was still black. You bared your teeth at the world. I cried tears of peppermint and olive oil. You told me things would never work out. I held you while you screamed at the night. You mourned a distant cousin who died of malaria. I danced around in circles until I puked. You walked until your feet got blisters but refused to stop. I went to the end of the world and looked over the edge. You blew the stars out like candles, but it wasn’t your birthday. I told a lie about elephants and cotton candy. You didn’t know how to ease my pain, so you cast a circle made of earth. I elevated myself to the status of a king, but in the end I was only a pigeon. You bowed before me like a branch in a strong wind. I ran faster than day or night. You circled in my orbit for far too long. I gesticulated wildly to the march sky, willing it to hail. You ate the last mango and the juice fell on the floor. I played the trumpet, although I hadn’t practiced since high school. You felt as though life wasn’t just. I aimed high and hit my head on the ceiling. You ate a wild flower in real life and shrank like Alice. I cupped holy water in my hands and drank, it tasted of salt and bygone hope. You promised blood and ceremony. I gave you half a pecan and an old piece of dried barley. You believed in ghosts and kept one nearby in case of emergencies. I allowed for all manner of ruckus fornication in our bed. You became an iron smith and forged a sword that could kill a giant. I dined on sugar plums and cognac with a high born elf. You learned voodoo from a woman with a pet goat. I bled in the basement to raise the dead. You swam with an otter and held hands while you slept. I devised a plan for a time machine I didn’t have time to make. You anticipated a journey to Alaska. I learned to speak dove and cooed over a lunch of bird seed and pink cupcakes. You painted an easter egg the colour of death and rebirth. I made my own pickles. You demanded a pool full of jelly beans to match your dress. I recognized my great great grandmother in a picture at the Louvre. You collapsed a wormhole in our den, causing the momentary dissolution of existence. I prayed to every god I could think of and only seven responded. You picked leaves from trees and dried the tears of a thousand children with them. I snuck into the porn theatre to listen to the men weep and moan. You decided you would be an opera singer because you liked the fragrance of music. I tried to chase my shadow but tripped on a penny instead. You wrote me a note for every day you were away. I put a tag on an empty bottle and sold it as enlightenment. You ingratiated yourself to distant tzars and minor demons. I sat on the dock at the cottage and watched the boats capsize in the storm. You drew runes on the wall and in the night they glowed. I made masks in Africa with horn and bone and hair. You dove so deep that something changed in you. I walked on water, but it was only a magic trick. You salivated over a grain of sand from an alabaster beach. I connived to build something so big it would make the world feel small. You kicked a bucket full of bottle caps and they scattered. I put a line of black paint on the couch. You promised you would join the circus when you were seventy. I catalogued all the ways miracles had let us down. You swore at a piece of sandwich meat. I vowed to make all things right and then wrong again. You felt as though you ought to put more effort in. I collapsed the table and put it away. You assembled the puzzle on the floor. I barred the doors with rosemary and wishful thinking. You misunderstood my riddle. I forgave all the sins of the world. You made the plants grow with your mind. I called three hundred random numbers and only seven people picked up. You were smarter than I gave you credit for. I was the greatest fool that ever lived. You kissed me in the gloaming. I wrapped my arms around you. You ached for the helpless insects. I danced on an unknown grave. You sang one last note. I combed the papers for word of my absolution. You cut the cantaloupe with a knife made of wood. I opened the portal at midnight. You dreamt of something more profound, a life where things meant something. I offered you a bite of my double stuffed Oreo.

 

Star Spider is a magic realism writer from Toronto, Canada, where she lives and works with her awesome husband Ben Badger. Star is currently in the process of seeking representation for her novels while she continues to write, play and frolic on the beach. Her work can be found in Grim Corps, Stories from the Fringe, and she was recently shortlisted for the Frends of Merril Short Story Contest. You can follow Star’s writing on her website, starspider.ca, or @MusingStar.