Ripe – Jimmi Campkin

When I stand on her footprints my shoe engulfs them, but the memory swarms across me like low autumn shadows. Her goosebumps are Braille to me, without them I am blind. Without my fingertips dancing across her arms, and down her back, I am lost. I live for touch and scent. I cannot feel her bony shoulders anymore. I cannot smell the incense and cigarettes when we bathe in the sun. I long for long greasy hair, bad breath and sweat packed against the shoulder-blades.
I fell in love with her through violence, and I think she would’ve appreciated that. Grabbed by the lapels by a stranger to me, pressed against a wall, staring into eyes wired and unfocused by cocaine and disappointment, I was told; you have to do this….you’d be a fool not to. But I am a fool; always have been. And I always choose not to.
When I run my hands down the contours of her flesh, it is not foreign to me. I know every dimple, I know every crease and I know every fold even as my fingers explore unknown territories. That thrill; the new and the familiar, pulses through me even as all the blood rushes confused like commuters at a station closure between the mind that races and the witless organ that twitches and throbs. I long to lick those teeth, and I long to drown in those thoughts, and I long to be useless next to someone who can activate me.

Jimmi Campkin is a “Writer, photographer, creator of SANCTUARY. 16bit child, INFP with clinical nostalgia and red wine for blood.” You can enjoy more of his work at jimmi campkin.com.

To Quote Walt Whitman

by Mick Hugh

 

whitman

Are there pastorals in a pixel?

I’ve heard it said so.

That a perfect moment holds life’s memories…

yet the playback waits for death.

 

No better than the world

in a meek man’s hands:

show me the roses growing naturally in the graveyard,

or a romance with a wick for the years.

 

We can get high enough

if we run the old Buick

with the garage door shut.

 

We can get high

walking the Lincoln Tunnel,

or gasping for breath

from a Newark overpass.

 

A thousand office faces

find their dreams in computer screens,

still glowing when the day shuts its lights.

Wither the aortic valve,

just from a lack of use.

 

Lazy eyeballs,

cataracts,

myopic Coke-bottle glasses.

The smoke-stacks in a Cezanne.

Mesothelioma

in the gold mines of a wedding ring –

are we done yet?

 

Febrile seizures on a death-bed

awaken his famous past:

canyons in the skin

that ran the red of roses.

 

He’d take his books for walks

till his legs got lost,

down by the waterfront,

down Washington Street.

 

The clamor of half-built high-rises,

soot of the tent towns

under the highways:

the fast clacking of sharp shoes on the sidewalks,

a briefcase to withstand the bullets.

 

Strange creatures that lurked down the streets,

mange and tendon and quiet whisper.

The dog with chopped ears

pawed the Plexiglass shell,

and whimpered,

as the clerks and the lawyers brisked past.

 

A daisy grew in a pavement crack.

A daisy grew and the seasons churned

on a playback twice as fast.

Stop.

 

Stuck at a stop in the traffic-thronged street was a truck,

hauling concrete to the next empty lot, being filled.

The driver could barely be heard:

the hum of idling traffic,

the overpasses rumbling above;

 

beneath the sounds of airplane thrust

and the debates of World News Tonight,

the truck driver,

red faced,

barely heard,

shouting out,

“I loafe and invite my soul, I lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer grass!”

 


Mick Hugh is a writer for Sudden Denouement, and the groundskeeper at Mick’s Neon Fog.


 

Dyserotica-Basilike Pappa

He wants me to play dead in a clearing on Hymettos, under the open sky. I lie down on a flat rock surrounded by anemones and chamomile, and he spreads my hair in a fan shape.You are so pale,’ he says, as if he sees me for the first time. He arranges my limbs in different positions, and I can assure you his touch is clearly academic. He walks around the rock to look at me from different angles, talking all the time about aesthetics. His vowels are precise, his sigmas soft and his nus ring of the best education money can buy.

He drags a finger over the childhood scar on my knee, asks how I got it. I could invent a heroic story; but the rock is smooth, the sun gracious, the breeze carries the scent of thyme, so I just tell him the truth: I don’t remember. He’ll think I’m lying anyway.

His finger now follows my veins, starting from my wrist and traveling upwards until he reaches the web of angry blue that spreads on the inside of my elbow. Blood test, clumsy nurse. I don’t go into details. This is all about the skin, not what’s happening underneath. There is a stinging gleam in his eyes when he asks if it hurts. His thumb presses slightly on the bruise; I give him an exaggerated flinch and he withdraws. He suspects that if he really tried to make it hurt, I’d be making ribbons for my hair out of his face.

He lies on top of me, fully clothed, flat like a plain. ‘Pale,’ he says, ‘cool-skinned and with a heartbeat so faint it’s almost dead.’ Mouth against my ear, ‘Vrykólakas‘ he whispers. Even though his breath is warm, his sigma snakes through clenched teeth and bites. A tiny muscle twitches on my upper lip.

The next moment I laugh so hard and wide the mountain echoes; birds stop their chirping and take flight. ‘Impale me then,’ I say, shaking with laughter. ‘Why don’t you?’

He rolls away from me, thinks we should be going. I don’t do him the favor though before I show him by my own hand what an orgasm out of sarcasm is like. When I’m done, I put my clothes on with deliberate slowness – a reverse strip tease. Then, without another glance at his faint, lifeless face, I take the path down to where we left the car. He follows like a good boy.

It’s a quiet winding drive down to the city. He keeps his eyes on the road; I look out the window. As we reach the outskirts of Kessariani, the sky starts to pulse. Gold flows into the blue, making it transparent. Tides of gold over the white of buildings and sidewalks, pink glinting off side mirrors, glaring off glass doors. We stop at traffic lights. From the car next to us the first notes of Debussy’s Rêverie unfold, and we look at each other. We smile luminous. Smooth and easy. Together. And I think I feel. I think I know.

He wants to take me home; I say I’d rather walk.

We promise to call each other soon, but we won’t.

As a gift.


 

Basilike Pappa lives in Greece. She likes her coffee black, her walls painted green and blue, her books old or new. She despises yellow curtains and red tape. She can’t live without chocolate, flowers and her dog. Places she can be found are: kitchen, office, living room. If she’s not at home, I don’t know where she is. You can find Basilike up late with a notebook in the Silent Hour.

Only One of Us Gets to be a Martyr Part II-Sarah Doughty and Nicholas Gagnier

It was the defiance in your gaze that caught my eye at first. The way you did the opposite of what anyone told you, for the sake of proving them wrong. Sometimes you succeeded, and sometimes you didn’t. But it never stopped you from being you. Down to the core. Making your own way, on your own terms. Maybe that was what fascinated me for so long. What left me in awe. Maybe it was some of the things you said. What left me speechless.

(But I’m restless, 
full of 
condescension, 
ruling my own city without mandate or 
consensus, putting up 
fences, making 
contestants of 
first 
impressions,
taking something so breakable as penance
and helping it
be bent
in pieces.)

Being alive is not a competition, but death calls to my indecision.

I didn’t know how to respond to such a comment. Indecision was never a part of who you were. And I knew, in that very moment, that I would happily die in your place, just to rekindle those fires that burned inside you. Because a world without your fiery passion is not a world I want to live in.

(And yet, I’m obsessive 
with my tenses, past & future,
as ghosts of
the present 
debate
the 
metronomes that 
menace every last
paragraph
and 
sentence, 
trying to mention 
events without
saying
your
fucking name,
and I’m reckless, shaking
rowboats and the
dust from
sarcophagus
serenades) 

So, darling, let
me be
the martyr.

You deserve to rise and become so much more.


Sarah Doughty is the tingling wonder-voice behind Heartstring Eulogies. She’s also the author of The Silence Between Moonbeams, her poetry chapbook, and the acclaimed novels and novellas of the Earthen Witch Universe. Good news, they’re all offered for free, right here! To learn more about how awesome Sarah is, check out her website, stalk her on Goodreads, or both.

Nicholas Gagnier is a Canadian writer and poet, and the creator of  Free Verse Revolution. He has published several poetry books, as well as a novella releasing this July. Nicholas supports and engages in conversations around mental health and social welfare, preferring strong literary voices and self-expression to traditional narrative and poetry. He lives in Ottawa with his young daughter, where he runs FVR Publishing and works on a million projects at once.

Two Parts- Erich Michaels and Sarah Doughty

She was a breath of fresh air
He grew up in the tenements
She was a mountain range
He was that sweet something
After too much saltiness
She grew up listening to country
He was her first taste of jazz

She was his first night under the stars. His first taste of the wild. She was the reprieve he needed from the concrete and smog. He brought her excitement and city lights, but still danced with her under the moonlight. He showed her that there was more to her world, just as she did for him. At last, they felt like two parts made whole.

Unfortunately, time has a way of making even mountain ranges nothing more than a tattered backdrop at a rundown portrait studio. Even jazz can become background noise—Muzak in a department store. Two completely different suits in the deck can become just cards, just as he and she, spring and fall, became seasons that never seemed to touch.

But that was what made them work. That was what kept them together all those years. All those things became the backdrop of their lives, and the glue that held them together.

Stanzas 1&3 © Erich Michaels

Stanzas 2&4 © Sarah Doughty


Erich Michaels describes himself as  “just trying to share the human experience.”  He has a bachelor’s degree in creative writing, but find himself writing SOPs (lather, rinse, repeat) in order to make a living, which can be detrimental to the creative process.  You can find him on the road to recovery at Erich Michaels.  Every journey begins with a single step, right?

Sarah Doughty is the tingling wonder-voice behind Heartstring Eulogies. She’s also the author of The Silence Between Moonbeams, her poetry chapbook, and the acclaimed novels and novellas of the Earthen Witch Universe. Good news, they’re all offered for free, right here! To learn more about how awesome Sarah is, check out her website, stalk her on Goodreads, or both.

Coming Soon from Sudden Denouement Publishing- Pantheon by Eric Syrdal

“I won’t spoil the brilliant conclusion of this novel, suffice to say, if it is your desire to read something astoundingly original, from a writer who is not only a truly breathtaking author, deft with supernatural words and ideas, but a dreamer of worlds, who will blow any preconceived notions you have away and leave you shell shocked by the sheer power of his mind, then I cannot recommend Eric Syrdal and his novel Pantheon more highly. “I built this beach / and the stars / and the moon …. I turn back the wheels of heaven / and make time stop and rewind / over and over ….. Because I don’t know how to tell him / A machine had a wish.”

Candice Louisa Daquin, Pinch the Lock

Bereft- 1WiseWoman and Sarah Doughty

I’m parched
A pariah
Desolate
Dehydrated by lack
Of human touch

No matter how surrounded I am by all the warm bodies, I’m bereft. Longing to be held. To be seen. To be touched. By you. But, here I stand, desperate for a drink of contact with no drop in sight. 

Drowning in dry desert sand
Tethered by rope
Stretched taught with hope
That it may snap
Sending me into your orbit
A melancholy mirage

Coughing through every grain that falls into my mouth, I gasp for air, hoping against hope that I’ll find you in the dark. This rope — my hope is all that’s left of me, I hold on as hard as I can. With my life. 

Not meant to be marooned
Amongst the masses
A single star pulsates
Through callused hands
Resonating with echoes
Of my name

With the beacon as my guide, I pull my way through the din, searching for its source. I keep telling myself over and over again that I’ll make it. I have to. My life depends on it. And as I gain some ground, seeing that light growing larger by the second, I know I will make it.

Stanzas 1, 3, & 5 © Laurie Wise
Stanzas 2, 4, & 6 © Sarah Doughty


1Wise-Woman: I am living, fighting, and thriving with mental illness and chronic disease and a need to express myself. Writing eases some of the weight I carry.” When she isn’t yanking shadowy strands of leathery clumps of unconscious, and tenderly placing them into word documents, she is creating at A Lion Sleeps in the Heart of the Brave

Sarah Doughty is the tingling wonder-voice behind Heartstring Eulogies. She’s also the author of The Silence Between Moonbeams, her poetry chapbook, and the acclaimed novels and novellas of the Earthen Witch Universe. Good news, they’re all offered for free,  right here.  To learn more about how awesome Sarah is, check out her website, stalk her on  Goodreads, or both.