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Issue 51 • January 2024
edited by Robin Wyatt Dunn

Table of Contents

Editor’s IntroductionRobin Wyatt Dunn

Cats • photo by Isabel Gómez de Diego
In Miami as in Berlin • Daniel de Culla
Finding the Bird Skull in the Backyard • Jacqueline West
A Martian Named Smith • Bethany Pope
Black Coat • Gary Bloom
Largo • Judith Skillman
tradition • henry 7. reneau, jr.
Post human poets of the psychosphere • B. Lawrence
Red Phantasmagoria • saira viola
Death  Is a Rainy Street • Frances Skene
Unsolved Elevator Disappearance • L. Acadia (王莉思)
recyling • Crystal Sidell
Detail • Richard Magahiz
Down Beside the Glowing Bars • Mariel Herbert
Her Humid Embrace Among Midnight Motors • R. J. K.Lee
it's sunday morning… • Martins Deep

Cats photo by Isabel G. der Diego
Cats • Isabel Gómez de Diego

In Miami as in Berlin

In Miami, as in Berlin, people dress up
To attend charity events
Where everyone admires themselves
For the elegance of their suits
And how well these clothes look on them
Taken out of the closet to do charity.
What hypocrisy, oh my god ¡ seeing me at the “Diamond Ball”
Held at the Loews Miami Beach Hotel
At the Annual “Wild About Kids” Gala:
A Night in Motown—Boys & Girls Clubs of Miami-Dade
At the Loews Coral Gables Hotel
Or at the Choose Your Sound Halloween Ball
On Jungle Island
Or with the South Florida Youth Symphony
At Miami Shores Country Club
Making an Escape to Neverland
In benefit, after a great dinner
From the Nicklaus Children's Hospital Foundation
Or from South Florida Music Students
Or at the Rendezvous at the Paris Opéra
—The Pink Diamond Affair Gala
At the Ritz Carlton Coconut Grove
Or at Campfires to Cocktails
With the Girl Scouts of Tropical Florida at Camp Mahachee
Or Make-A-Wish Southern Florida
At the InterContinental Miami
And other luxurious gatherings and festivals
Forgotten children, men, women and mothers
Who are massacred, tanked or shot
In Palestine right now, and every day
As in many other parts of the Globe
As before in Berlin that terrible beast
That made a fire of bones and skulls
Not Jews, because they were gassed
But yes of agnostics, atheists and anarchists
Vilely persecuted and murdered for their ideas
Having a great time in that luxurious brothel
Berlin’s Salon Kitty, spy center
From Nazi German Intelligence
Where the criminal and murderous Führer
Addressed, in these terms, foreign dignitaries
German businessmen and officers
After a beautiful German girl gives him a handjob
First-class prostitute:
—Drink and toast with these skulls
It may be that one day not too far away
I drink from yours.
What happiness here far from wars
Tripping really well, and with a navel full of crumbs!
This is life, the rest is death.
Now I enjoy Make-A-Wish Southern Florida
At the InterContinental Miami
With the 18th Annual Claws for Kids Fundraising Luncheon.
I'm already trying to get laid at the Biscayne Bay Yacht Club
Leaving the door half open
From where I see the Coral Gables Museum.
My head is spinning like in a Caribbean film session
At the Pérez Art Museum Miami
Feeling like a warrior performer
At Thomson Plaza for the Arts.
I want to go to war to liberate Peace
On a Moonlight Kayak Tour at Deering Estate
And not like others who are going to eat chickpeas or beans.
I don't know if I woke up
But I open my eyes and I see myself naked
In front of the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science.
Bombings, missiles, tanks and explosions
The destruction, the deaths, the ruin of the human being
These look like the Frost Symphony Orchestra to me
And the Vampires 101 Pop-up Exhibition together
Making my whole body shake.
I open one of the three eyes; I don't know which one.
I’m looking like Polyphemus
A bearded giant with only one eye
In the middle of the forehead
And the pointy ears farting (the ears)
Like someone who sings a song in his sling.
I look happy because I am far from the Wars.
Lords of wars, murderous criminals
Death is your mother-in-law¡

—Daniel de Culla

Finding the Bird Skull in the Backyard

says my five-year-old
we will all have birds on our shoulders

Some will be falcons
and some will be ravens
and some will be parrots or chickadees

and they will ride everywhere 
with us, except when they fly up to watch 
from above and come back to tell us what they’ve seen

This might be exactly
what we need—sharp eyes
on a pair of wings, giving us

all points of the compass at once
all signs of danger or sparkling treasure
all possible paths between two points

And even when 
the birds are gone
says the five-year-old

we’ll still have them
because the parts we remember won’t leave
and we’ll make things that were alive

into new things that are alive
and anything that dies will come back
and hold on tight to us again.

—Jacqueline West

A Martian Named Smith

A hard, cold wisdom is required for goodness to accomplish good. Goodness without wisdom always accomplishes evil.
—Robert Heinlein

The last time we spoke, you were working
for an off-brand convenience store
on the gulf coast. It was a job
you could get after prison. You pulled
fire down to the white ashes, tapped 
the butt out on your sister's living room rug,
and said, “Since I can’t drive, I’ve got a room
set up in the back. They gave me a cot.
Might as well have a chain around my leg.”
I said something about it being an easy commute,
and you smiled, just a little, a narrow fish hook
jag of the upper lip. It was Christmas,
but you didn't eat. You were as skeletal as usual; 
black hair going white, and you kept excusing yourself
to the garage. When you came back, you didn't smell
of booze, but there was a burnt chemical smell
so it was probably meth. 

Ten years ago, you met a woman on the internet
and drove out to California (in a stolen car,
without a license) to be with her. Forever.
She never wanted anything IRL,
never expected a visit. She was married, I think.
You came back a month later, on a greyhound,
wrapped in a church-basement coat,
and you never answered any questions. 

I remember that we talked about Heinlein,
about wanting to touch and be touched,
and the way that you quickly squeezed my breast
after Grandma’s funeral. I remember pulling back,
hiding in the cloak room among vestments
that had been shed and piled like skins.
You kept repeating, “My mother is dead, 
my mother is dead. My mother is dead.”
You smelled like vomit and vodka and the nutty,
sour stench shared by all lonely men.

You weren’t much of an uncle. 
As a father, you were so piss-poor
that your only daughter probably won’t hear
about your news for another week or so. 

When I was eight, you gave me a working tool kit
and taught me how to hammer a nail straight.
The tools were bright yellow, half scale,
but they worked. You taught me how
to unkink a bent spike, how to measure twice,
cut once. You gave me your stained copy
of Stranger In A Strange Land,
when I was too young for it.
You tried to teach me multiplication, but gave up
pretty quick. Every time I did something
my father didn’t like, he’d say, ‘You are going
to wind up exactly like your Uncle Bill.’

There isn’t going to be a funeral. 
They found your body five days late,
when the neighbors reported a smell.
You couldn’t afford the dignity of the grave
and nobody has offered to pay this tab for you. 
And all I can think of, now, is how hurt you were,
through your whole echoing life, how hurt
and how lonely, and how long five days can be
in the heat and the sun.

—Bethany Pope

Black Coat

I put on my black coat
On sunny days
And on days when it’s raining
If I fumble with the buttons
It is only because
The coat never fits quite right
A little short in the sleeves
A little tight around the collar
It can sometimes feel
Like it’s choking me
Or compressing my chest
Like an iron lung
This black coat can be a son of a bitch
It hangs in the closet
And waits for me.

—Gary Bloom


Notes with thick spider bellies,
syrup of winter,
chaste imaginings. The bow
suspended, slowed beyond belief,
ephemeral. There are only
two worlds: in one a horse
with a platinum tail
tears grass, in the other an old woman
sits in a chair, her hair wound
in a bun. You are the go-between.

—Judith Skillman


this story’s validity is intensified 
                   by the number of generations it took to reach here
; this story , about prolonged suffering/ : a stand of pink flamingos 
starving on nuclear-brown suburban lawns 
, drought-stricken , as a synonym for [in]justice   , the blood 
of our murdered children  
that martyrs the yellowed margins of obituaries   , or
our submission of prayer 
reduced to whispered words after tragedy—the plaintive pleas of rote  
stitched onto tribulation , like a long wait for a train don’t come
                                                                            during those moments 
when We fled , suicidal , to the cliff’s edge                  & exhaled hope 
; it seems everything We do ends up glass half-empty 
                                                                    , dis-remembering 
an equatorial breeze pulsing through our veins   & 
a Middle Passage on the horizon 
, portending all the impossible horrors one should never endure 

. the cogs , wheels & spindles of a great manipulated dynamic
—the life of things now given over to an economic disparity 
honed into religion   , & less than 
rationalized by the clinical deconstructions of academia

—like Jesus walking the Blue[s] is how They always know Black

, a keening sound , weaving federal-green dreams of Freedomland   
, our silence mewling blind hope on stealthy feline feet   , a nocturnal 
stealth , as in , the noble savage , born again to suffer now—be greater later

—the desirable shade , a lily-white hue that de-nigger-ates potential 
, breeding architects of our own self-destruction

, & the headlines read/ : ICE-BOX KILLER CLAIMS EIGHTH

& here come 5-0 gangbangers under color of long-arm Johnny Law 
, a biased blue line between ballin’ & 25 to life       , roamin’ ghetto streets  
, circlin’ the block   , searchin’ my niggas’ inside out         , pullin’ semi
-auto nines   & knots 
out they pockets & they socks   , findin’ dope        , the concealed Glock  
, whether theirs   or not
                                     —as the uptown white collar 
                                                   dumps a ninth victim in a vacant lot . 

—henry 7. reneau, jr.

Posthuman poets of the psychosphere

Posthuman car crash eroticism
Posthuman poets of the psychosphere
X-Ray Demons n future corpses
Raw with Ennui N Illegal Xanax

—B. Lawrence

Red Phantasmagoria

Death is not ladylike or politely dressed in muted tones of lavender  
she is the spiky-haired supersonic turbo charged campus big mouth fighting to take control of the microphone screaming at the greying cocks of sleepy academia 
dropping ransom notes on a chorus of insurrection 

Death hides secret messages in her pantyhose and laundered money in the folds of her skin 
He thought DEATH was always elsewhere somebody else’s muse swapping drunken stories about plaintiff and defendant swallowing the siren of suburban traffic and the circular freeze of debt 

Death is a perpetual hoarder collecting the tear-stained nursery rhymes of satin-eyed children  
summer dresses and the flick-knifed manifestoes of suicide bards  

riding her artistry on air guitar.  

When her wings brushed the tip of his heart it was like a window had opened up in his brain and he saw red horses and pink honey buttering the lips of laughing cherubs 

SUPER GALACTIC swirls of neon phantasy creaming the apple trees and paint balling the meadows with pop art faces.

His ashy stutter tied close to the hick-hick-hick of blood-inducing cough syrup
In the supermarket of life no discounts no trade-offs no special offers no one is talking back 
but now he can see a gold-domed moon and flying streaks of light shot with dancing purple stars and orange bosoms of forever a small snatch of time in the gallery of God’s dust. 

His existence no longer policed by WEALTH or those white-coated demons prowling the operating theatre and as his eyes slide beneath the ruby crown of the sun he wraps his soul in noble joy and sails across the blue and yellow of a diamond morning.

—saira viola

Death Is a Rainy Street

Death is a rainy street in the 
middle of a small town, 
the stores closed at dusk. 

You splash through puddles 
above leaf-clogged drains. 

Over there: a skinny dog with 
glowing eyes. 

You follow it into a dark lane,
toward vehicle lights 
                         in the distance.

—Frances Skene

Unsolved Elevator Disappearance

“Rekindled glimmer of hope”
news stories promise cold case
clouded in mystery: police 
resume investigation 
after disappearance of 
second mother-daughter pair.

Following family quarrel, 
mother sweeps up four-year-old 
daughter in arms wet with tears, 
storms into elevator.
CCTV footage shows 
them entering, then


evaporate, vaporize
never exit, like falling
into “parallel time, space.” 

Twelve years later to the day,
in a similar building, 
although another city, 
not far, video records 
mother and daughter enter 
an elevator, strip their 
coats and shoes, flee the frames of 
cameras swiveling after.

Elevator shafts, pipes, cracks,
ground floor restaurant to rooftop 
water tower, crevices 
between: hallways searched, neither 
building is a gothic house.

“Netizens speculate” now
about a pool, the women’s
intent of stripping off clothes;
will they swim through a portal?

Recall Elisa Lam in 
L.A., her missing footage: 
floating into posh hotel 
elevator to submerged
in rooftop infinity 
pool, perhaps now water ghosts?

—L. Acadia (王莉思)


she lies on the hammock, russet eyes unpeeled—
Bumblebee buzzes across the drying corneas
gathering nectar for the community garden

—Crystal Sidell


the dust reckoner 
a single seat shuttle 
following the curves 
in space 
to each rendezvous, 
never stopping to refuel 
in a place where 
the supply of 
is abundant 
and free

there is no 
cargo space 
to fill, 
no reports to transmit
no testament 
to execute

the craft 
slides in without 
a flight plan 
and is never late

the single seater
runs silent 
on its way to the next 
unthinking ember—
here some rubble 
crusted with blood 
there a tendril 
of energetic 
flare breathing 
the methane ice 
into vapor

a gauge drops 
to zero 
an indicator 
turns red 
the pilot
is willing to wait
for the swing
of gravity
or the hand 
of any human

at the edge
of occupied space
the burden
is light
and nothing
stands in the way

—Richard Magahiz

Down Beside the Glowing Bars

sunrise again again I take my best friend out
to bless an alien city block past a nightclub
for that predatory apex of rich and invisible
spider silk outlines at the stroke of midnight
deep to blood burst sclerae we're two ash piles
two fire ant colonies beneath a bench done in
alternating slats of sunlight shade sunlight shade
I retract the leash and halt his nose to lithic
excavation / we drift home to our sealed room

there's a dovecote where my heart once beat
two burial mounds together in the end
I wipe the shadow’s belly full translucent
baptize his paws in the memory of holy
waterfalls / back inside our silent station
we fade in out in

—Mariel Herbert

Her Humid Embrace Among Midnight Motors

her stiff face

cicada clack snap buzz
lamps click whir murmur

shaking her murky hair
in wired vines
sweat dreams swell

where her grandmother
sighs slurs
rambles musical as motors

stuck grinding
brakes slumped

clung to by the damp
pulsing of everything she was

and may be dragged down by
if i don’t wake her up
from there

—R. J. K. Lee

it’s sunday morning, i’m dead, and the first butterfly comes alighting on my grave flower

the way light touches pebbles to illustrate grace; it says, here, the tenderness of stone—they keep slipping off slings, keep missing a lark on the head of goliath, & goliath; the grace that points pass a canvas to rusty zinc sheets in ibadan.

oh,  i’m wide awake, solitary as a dead star in the shadow of another dead star. i mean, i died behind a friend in a car, shaken off the ashes of my unmaking, and now awake on this side under skies the last breath that escaped my nostrils floats pass, bringing a tribute in electric blue, velvety black, and the gleam in my lover's left eye three lunar eclipses after mourning. i tell you, nothing could be worth sneaking out of the land of the dead for. insect the incarnate of innocence returning only to be recognized by they who have no memory of it in whose lives it died. insect thirsty for the nectar on these forget-me-nots to not be forgotten. and how many walls have you cried fissures into to meet me half asleep on an en dash trapped between two dates? two, six, ten, a thousand? butterfly as a love i’ve given returning to me to take something from me that belongs in me to belong elsewhere? oh, i’m wakeful, wakeful to the presence of this fluttering gift a stage away towards becoming. the last stage where a boy peels its exoskeleton off his body and calls me father—a boy calling me to the very edge of a cliff to be pushed into the flight path between grace and wonder.

—Martins Deep