She Cackled
By Moriah Henkelman

Bristled broken backs beckon benign bruises. Inhabited blades, fluttering, haltingly suspended, cut down, smothered under mountainous snow. The trees, tempestuous. Braggarts burgeon broken bits. Coal black tips of fingertips, alternately warmed and thawed—responsive biting bitter chill. Hammers carve out lives through these taut sinews. She cackled: cloaked creatures, crane crocuses, cruelly crass crystalline choruses.

Headache evenings, throbbing overworked mind, unsettled by creeping sensations this may be flustered filibuster: borscht bought by blustered bourgeoisie bustles.

Click clack. Click clack, overgrown toenails against rough stone bits of imported flooring. She cackled, look the universe between its eyes: cloaked creatures, crane crocuses, cruelly crass crystalline choruses. Click clack. Click clack. Short shipments should stay. Forests feign felicity; swallow the morning of mere hours. Harken the evening, crushed close. Yet the rush of unknown fashioned fear misplaced. Yet. Yet. Yet. Hulking in the foreground but just beyond the periphery. The curl of toes, pinpricking needles through atrophied calve.

He claimed hope is zeitgeist zygotes. Cloaked creatures, crane crocuses, cruelly crass crystalline choruses.

Hereditary haste hackled Wordsworth. Shackled Coleridge. Tackled porridge. Rotting rolling retinal rays. Steady thrumming showerhead, water cascades like fingers down her spine. Corrugated metal cages. Unadulterated bliss. Wooly glove fibers, caught up in unsuspecting tongue, an answer to the burn of December, air wrested from lungs. One more whiskey swig, advancing arterial avarice anon; blood pounding all the while louder. Sherlock's hemlock harried her: cloaked creatures, crane crocuses, cruelly crass crystalline choruses. Where encroaching fingers grasp at straws of wily hair the muddied shifting surface of leather bewares. She waited. She cackled. He harried. She burnished. He finished. She shivered. He buried. She wavered: cloaked creatures, crane crocuses, cruelly crass crystalline choruses.

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Minnesotan trapped in Eastern Iowa reading literature, experimenting with writing form, dreaming of Scotland, and studying her arse off.


Established Caskets
By H. C. Turk

As a kid, I considered playing with my plastic soldiers an obligation because I knew that people faced off on the battleground and shot and shot and shot and shot one another and I should learn now, to be prepared. Never did my battleground seem to be a carpet. Little greenish statues that only moved if I made them.

Never does the battleground in this genuine war seem educational. Every square meter of this land is a battleground, because all the populace, the citizens, are ensconced in fighting mode, defensive manner, struggling with emotions informing them that common living includes peace only as a residue of damage.

Disembarking the ship, which stinks like metal and men, I stand with my friends from school. We're long past comparing the toy soldiers we brought with us for practice. One of us has the notion of hiding behind them for protection, but how to make them that big or yourself so small? My best friend, F, is practicing for real by analyzing a hand grenade, the foreign variety he's never handled before.

"As a kid," I ask, "did you play with grenades just like that one because you felt obligated to learn adult reality wherein soldiers like our daddies toss them and toss them at one another and they explode instead of just saying 'boom' in a child's voice?"

"No. I was a serious child."

F becomes very serious as an adult when he discovers that he's pulled the pin on this grownup grenade and has four seconds to educate himself regarding its usage. Three, two

Using an underhand motion, he lobs the little bomb behind his toy solders, all of which become plastic shrapnel when the grenade explodes, minuscule greenish extremities puncturing the crowd of foreigners who live here, but not all of them, one, nought.

After the war has ended (all the little soldiers lost), I find myself the leader of our phalanx, a job I neither sought nor would miss if it exploded. My final job in the military is to conclude the court-martial by executing a sentence of death against F. He missed the entire war while living in his cell with no carpet, playing with little soldiers but learning nothing of value for his remaining life, which is about their size. For some people, learning is always too late. He will be hanged then shot seven times, one for each.

Standing in the small field beside our barracks, watching distant farmers bend to their planting, I envision where I'll have him tied by his neck to a post near ground level. My tactic will be to secure a monopod to support my rifle so I can rip off all seven shots instantly. No one wants to drag this out. Though I will not participate in the hanging, I alone will conclude the execution. No squad of riflemen will assist me. They were not his friend. They did not give him those plastic statues.

As my men begin building the facilities, carving the post, news of this preparation spreads. I don't bother to read the news because I am the news.

Back at home, I return to working as a civilian. Painting someone's garage, using an oxide primer that reeks of metal, not men, I know I'm supposed to hurry because a senator is coming. I don't care to hear him. He's not the news. He's not my friend.

Back in the military, I see that my people have erected an instant garage for hiding/housing F. Yes, hiding, because the populace are setting up a storm. Though peace has arrived, the citizens are ensconced in vengeance mode, offensive manner, releasing emotions informing them that common living will only achieve peace when everyone is dead.

Local students, educated poorly by never having played with the proper tools, gather to shout toward that post in the ground. Much of their shouting comes as music and laughter, abetted by vegetable wine. They do not picket the prison building only because they are unsure which barracks houses him, so many. They do not picket the motor pool garage where F waits in a burlap sack, seated in a corner, apparently a lumpy bag.

They grow potatoes here.

To avoid a riot, I coerce my superiors into allowing me to hang the guilty party at night, so the populace of revelers, still engaged in a cultural set requiring personal damage for fulfillment, won't see, being drunk and asleep and dreaming of playing as children.

After I have hung the bag until it quits turning, I have my men drag it to the shooting post at dawn when the crowd awakens to hear me fire seven shots into the bag, which drools some unexpected fluid that looks like something they're drinking.

He is a foreigner to them.

After the bag is shipped to F's home, we all return to civilian duty. Across the way, my friend works in a garden, hoping for a good tuber crop. Bending over the soil that reeks of worms, the kind found in well-established caskets, he plants little plastic statues instead of potato sets. He should be shot.

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H. C. Turk is a self-taught writer, sound artist, and visual artist living in Florida. His novels have been published by Villard and Tor. His short fiction, sound pieces, and images have appeared on numerous web-sites.


Unintelligent Design
By:Donal Mahoney

An hour a day,
sometimes more,
I chipped away
with mallet and chisel
on a block of marble
I found in Carrara
and shipped to New York
on the deck of a trawler.

I offered the marble
to a famous sculptor
who told me he works
in granite only
so I grabbed his beret
and one of his smocks
and said I'd sculpt
the block myself
with whittling skills
picked up as a kid
from a drunken uncle
named Whittling Sid.

Several weeks later,
to my surprise,
I finished the bust
of a chimpanzee
simply by wielding
mallet and chisel
the way I wield
pencil and eraser
when hewing a poem.

Working with marble
or working with words,
a sculptor or poet
proves less is more
by chipping away
until something emerges
upright and walking
with a soul of its own.

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Donal Mahoney lives in St. Louis, Missouri.


Junkie Clusterfuck Jesus
By Nathan J.D.L. Rowark

Over thirsty drug addict hallucinates over water whilst tripping, as society writes him a useful epitaph with a future.

Needle field, seeping flames from yesterday's hit.
Rubbing arm, arteries sore – future past and nevermore.
Do you wanna dream about giant fucking octopuses in screaming pink elevators?
Neither do I, why should I care. I gave me a chance – I swear.
No bother, no good. I'm out in the wild fields again, amongst the dead poppies and the swaying soldiers.
It's a war, that's what it is. It's my uncle fucking Sullivan all over again, but I'm not sure.
Not sure if I want what you have. Not sure that it hasn't depreciated as you've gotten fat.
Another fat hit's what I need – so take your shot, reaper, and let me crawl back in your ocean to swim with your skeletal fishes and your overblown vile walrus full of vials of the stuff I like.
I probably don't make sense to you, or I, those people, I'm neither; or that guy.
I'm the living proof that dying in your mind is an acceptable profession for your mind to live and your body... to die.
No, I got it wrong. That's not right. I don't want that. That's fishy, a convoluted, over-bloated ink- penned conspiracy.
Who's writing this thing, it's supposed to be my say. Do I know you and why are you perving over my misery? It's mine, go away.
I need some piece and quiet, some Me time, while I figure out how to fix the tourniquet. STOP LOOKING, or I'll feed you to the fishes!
God, I'm thirsty – salivating with expectation, watching my tongue tears bounce on the floor, rolling like me when I first started, shedding like my fears to splash against the door.
Too warm this summer for too many layers, I'M NOT AN ONION! Time to shed my skin, to join my brothers.
Time to meet my maker beneath the (sings) b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l b-r-i-n-y s-e-a. I don't care at all. And as for you s-o-c-i-e-t-y; put your pen DOWN!
We'll see who's still here at the end, when the bombs have fallen... and suburbia’s fallen.
I'll still be sleeping with the fishes, to crawl out of the water once you're all asleep and start you all up again... PEN!

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36 year old editor and poet from London.

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