Triptych personality and a taste for the beaten and crushed. Favoured positions. Preferred imagery including a crushed butterfly placed so sweetly on her navel- the one that swims with my seed. Specks of blood on the bed sheets from our collision- the one I try denying but keeps happening anyway. In lipstick upon the wall, I scrawl my desires in lowercase. I spell out what I mean to say which always seems to escape me when she’s gagging on my fumes. I’m a good guy at heart, but a single droplet puts me in a rage like you wouldn’t believe. Shards of glass and portals. Lonely roads and stories gathering dust, but there will come a day when everything makes sense. There will be a moment when the end is not the end and an exit is not an exit but a door to a river where resides the girl who started it all. I go in and out- I pass through on the off chance she’s around. Lights and nipples and stretch marks. Torn lingerie and tourniquets. Vampires, lovers, killers. A painter, a writer. There exists celluloid imagery of my actions. There are photos of body parts and vials full of hair which fuels the fantasy more and more. There was once a golden light but it was snatched away and now I take from others because my future was taken from me. Souls and slaves. The ties that bind. Scenes missing until she’s wrapped in a blanket because this world doesn’t care and although my hands are cruel I do it because I care and no one cares as much as me. She is mother and enemy. She offers salvation and torment but the more I do it the less I can tell which is which. Flowers pressed in a book. Numbed fingers from two bottles of wine as she shaves her pubic hair at my request. She is not her own woman, she is my girl. The girl by the river who visits me after I pass out in the early hours of the morning halfway up the stairs. She flickers in the eyes of those who get too close. She dances in the mirror and kisses my neck when the right scent ignites what’s left of me. That cherub heart, it’s been gone for years and no matter what I do, and no matter how many times I try bringing her back, it won’t beat again.
Laughter echoes down long hallways, gives way to arguments and eventually more giddy children’s laughter. Plastic toys are left in my restroom, socked feet bouncing on beds, falling down and I scream from the other room. There is silence that eventually erupts again with the delight and carefree abandon of childish glee. I bury my face in my hands at my desk, waiting, waiting, always waiting for everything to change, for the laughter to eventually stop, the shadows to take over, the long unwinding of a life built on endless toil–nothingness.
The sword of Damocles looms over me. My skull anticipates the shattering strike; blood and fragments of bones mixed in a concoction of death. My fate sealed by icy hands. Alas, they have come to purge me of what is left; they have come for my children. They have come for my words; a blind witness, left with the bloody rags of silence, childless, suffering for the sins of my oppressors. Blood upon blood upon blood. They relish in feasting on my fear and devour my heart, desperately trying pull the fruit of my loins from my bosom. Am I vanquished?
Splayed on cold table, I am pulled apart slowly. My eyes affixed on the past, the mistakes left in closets among unmatched shoes and discarded summers. It all rolls off of me as the they slowly drain my life, whisked the children away, leave my words fatherless, left as an empty vessels that once held such promise. I could have been better. I could have been better. They smirk and guffaw, standing over me with forks and knives, waiting to dine on my soul, exposing their vicious appetites. Will everything be enough?
There is something inside me that is immune to their illicit desires. I hear the hymn of sacred souls, the chorus of magnificence sang from distant places, songs of hope and sorrow. Each voice carries its own unique message of personal salvation. I am not alone; they cannot destroy my sacred vision, the words sewn with the sinews of travail and perfect love into each verse. I am a writer and a father, with undying affection for my children; the words create divine tapestries which can never be wrested away from me. They will live long after I am gone.
I stand steadfast in the light, accompanied by the remnant chosen for the articulation of suffering, their special dispensation due to the ability to speak the secret language of the universe, their affliction decoded and turned into consecrated arias. The shadows will eventually flee, leaving me vindicated, left to tend to my words, nurture my children, guard them from the profane hands which seek to drag them into the dark places, strip them of their beauty and joy. There is nothing that can stand against truth, innocence, and pure love. I hear a voice in the darkness, fingers intertwined with my own: “I love you daddy.”
There was a war that day
although, nobody talked about it
you would see them walking by a little faster
their funny hats tilting from side to side
Sometimes the sky would shatter above us
And bleed neon blue
the drains would flood
the cats drown in screeches
what good is having nine lives
if you don’t know how to stay afloat
People are all the same
Everyone would unfold their umbrellas
Hoping for the weather to clear
The shards of metal and from the air
they stay cramped in their corners
watching their toes rot away from the humidity
Under-dressed little girl
strutting about, singing
dead men can walk
madness her name
lost her little mind
in the deluge
the acid raindrops
digging trough her temples
like a poem
and when the streets eventually dried up
she would be found crying
in the sewer
bent over the smeared ink stains
the disfigured body
of a paper print lover
Henna Sjöblom, the goth girl next-door. Aspiring author. Monstrophile. Horror enthusiast. She writes to cope with mental illness and everyday experiences. Find her at H.JD Writes
The library has been converted into classrooms for fifth-year students. Shelves emptied and rearranged to fit rows of desks, projector screens, faculty offices and the Office of Student Retention. My exam is running late to complete. I am tapping fingers on the desktop nervously rapping away. My feet twitch uncomfortably. I scribble out essays and vague answers to questions I can only half-read. I don’t have the time. I don’t have the time and this afternoon you’re boarding a bus for a move to LA. It’s your mistake; you’re my mistake: I let you mistake me. I’m coming with you. I should. I spring from my desk and let the stapled papers fly apart through the air at the professor’s head. The race is on skip the elevator and dash the stairs, leave the books behind at the counter I’ll come back for them later if they really mean that much to me. I burst out the doors and check the time on my phone – bright fresh sun, and the aluminum numbness creeping deeper in my lower gut; I know I’m going to be late. I hustle across campus and halfway there double-back the other way; in my haste I made the mistake of trying to cut through the campus construction. But all I find in the other direction are new dormitories and expansions under construction for the new Department of Student Retention and I cannot find the god damned parking lot where it used to be.
Out of breath sucking wind through the sweat and jello’d legs, the aluminum numbness has crept up and blossomed into wilting fireworks of frustration and shame – standing alone on the curb sucking wind, just in time to see the bus trail away. Just a moment too late.
Dream catcher, forever just a moment too late.
I’ve awoken at a desk. Lifeless fluorescent lighting and drool puddled by the keyboard. The office is a warm fuzz of processors and clacking keyboards. Assignments due before the evening commute home, and three hours wasted in a sleep-haze fading out and in, out and in – lonely headlights passing through fog of an empty exurban town. I am standing at dusk at the bus stop with an aluminum numbness curdling my gut. I don’t know the time. But I don’t know the time. There was something I missed, and it still runs unleashed from my grip, ten years now past my prime. I don’t know if the bus is late or if I missed its final run for the day. I may not be home tonight. I may not ever be home again
in time to pay our taxes, or to consolidate our student debt.
Or to find a house to live in,
to keep us off the street.
In time to see the kids grow up,
or in time to grow old with you,
I can’t come home again. Ten years of shame and pain puts no hope to death by stone. Alone, and ripped at the heart, I will sit on this bus stop bench and wait for the late-night bus ride back to the dreams that could’ve been.
[Mick Hugh is the creator of Mick’s Neon Fog. And an all-around bad ass.]
a city map is sewn in the scalp;
looped in the goat-milk, or spit out,
tongued in silky blades of stomped
i’m crowned with high-pitched fingers
clenched in fur.
in octaves only shades can bear, i simmer
in their holy cradles.
i become the roughened corner of a mouth
grinning at its own joke.
there, the receding home in ranch-style polaroid’s of a dirty blond stranger and my mother squinting in the sun; some home not mine or yours.
in a woman’s left grows tiny,
and in a man’s more supple.
i keep alive by milking goats.
some like lifelines, some like ulcers
the city streets are braided in my hair.
Samantha Lucero writes at sixredseeds.
I saw her in the dark of my eye
stretched out on a polyester blanket,
puffed-up cheeks and threads of pink bubblegum stuck to her hair
maggot-eaten/ stockings barely covering up the /cigarette burns/ along her legs
riffles trough the pages of the /
holy/ bible, decides she doesn’t have time patient may sometimes experience feelings of irritability, grandiosity, or an increase in sexual desires
I masturbated to the image that night
and called /
my own/ name as I came, arrogant god that I am,
wrapped up in my own, gluttonous plane of existence
I would grab a stake and drive it trough my uterus
So that my guts would spill out, drenching your immobilized body
and you would cry out /
of being defeated
before I was holy, I used to know shame
I made up lists of people I /
sanctimonious beacons of chastity
I later took pleasure
in tearing apart
patient tends to be outgoing, easily angered,
I find desirable
each day, my idols grow smaller
or could it be that I am growing bigger
It’s hard to see from inside the Taurus’s jaws
so I do as advised, save my apologies for another day
and succumb to the feeling
of walking on thin, crystal ice
waiting for the finned shadows
inevitably about to snatch me back to the depths
from which I arise,
/drowned/ queen of the two-faced
[Murder Tramp Birthday, previously Malicia Frost, in real life known as Henna, a hobbyist writer and an aspiring novelist from Finland. She enjoys surrealism, sci-fi and horror, and her writing often deals with mental illness. More of her works can be found at her personal blog.]
A Drift of Dead Comics
by N. Ian McCarthy
You lay, balanced flat across the colonnade of my fingers. A lower-left corner wags with the intervallic oscillation of a floor fan—the limb of a cotton bed sheet, straddling a clotheswire in the wind. You are almost a breathing thing: the impulse of a contracting diaphragm. You are the sucking gill of an angled fish, one who cannot oxygenate without water. My wax lips strain around the vowels of an invented dialect, during the seventh minute of my resistance to pick at the flat-folded staples that run up the split of your faulted spine. Do I engender a quake that will defoliate your season of autumn? Can I scatter your sheets like loose cedar shavings, as mulch for the bed of my own Silk Road?
I am the yellow-eyed cat, lean and starved, who ladles the spoon of his tongue into the dish of the remainder of your souring cream. I mount a low mangrove branch to bay into the charcoal square of your nighttime doorway. Come not for me or for anyone. You are a reliquary of mutable fictions, and you behoove no further corporal appearances.
Are you more than the sum of your linearly arranged innards—this cardboard box lined with plastic sleeves and white splints to keep your keepsakes from creasing? Are you only your cut-to-fit pages printed in four-color process? Value is a future thing, fuzzy, until the future appraises it. I hold you by your edges and delicately, like a cautious amateur rolling through brittle Egyptian papyrus. And, in the ball of this lamplight, I become a tonsured vulture who stabs the vice of his beak into a gob of your dried rib meat.
Six years ago, I misplaced my hat at a bar ringed by soot-black acres of potato dirt, where notes of vinegar from a nearby canning plant punctuated the inferences of my nose. It was a driving cap, sewn with a damask label boasting Donegal Tweed on the bowl of its belly. The memory of its passing is an ash steeped in smudgy tumblers of neat whiskey—as all things that transpire while drunk are contractually forfeited upon embarkation. The recently tangible became only a murmur in the chill of my morning baldness. Am I more than those thick, raspy hands? The ones that likely scrubbed over its green-and-brown woven fibers? Is there any molecule of me still stitched into the band of its fit? Or do I become a novelty, minus all personal history, as is the fate of any found and inherited thing? Do I exist in a green garbage pile, awaiting my delivery unto the heap? Or am I hung lightly on a wood knob, in the corner of room buoyed by festive music?
May the serialized volumes of my being—like yours—be bound in clear plastic sheaths and filed horizontally by issue number, their values cataloged and fondled by speculators. In my collection, a body-warm cap, tumbled from the crown of a quite common skull. Worth is a fuzzy thing, indeterminate without precise coordinates in space and in time. Permanence is a windblown page printed in chalk.
[ N. Ian McCarthy lives in the southern United States, where he writes poetry and brief prose. His works have appeared on cocktail napkins and in bifold restaurant placemats since the early 2000s. He believes in the principle of essential human worth and in the incomparable value of stories and experiences; he hopes that by attempting to understand better, we attempt to be better. He’s been fascinated by outer space since boyhood, though he has an irrational fear of gas giants. He maintains a small blog at Mad Bongo Maze.]