The Hitchhiker Vanishes

BY Susan Slaviero

It begins with a thumb that bends outward,
a red scarf, an impending earthquake.

She tells your fortune, claims
the soybeans will fail, your complexion

will turn to ash, a body will appear
in your backseat at the stroke of midnight. 

She might ask to be dropped
off at the abandoned K-mart,

the parking lot at St. Bridgets church,
the farmhouse with yellow paint

peeling away like the scabs on girls knees.
You rub your eyes and shes gone

a glass witch, a sodium vapor. 
Later, you might find her coat

on a tombstone or claw
at your car windows when you see

a flicker of dark dress.


This might have something to do with predation, a paper cocoon
in a dead girls mouth, a bloody arrow drawn on an oak leaf.

Nothing is so slick as the red marrow from a femur, the red skirt
draped over a thigh. Call her a striptease, a hotel keychain, a pool

of wet painted under the body. She was breathing when you began
whistling between your teeth. Now there are beetles in her hair,

and she is folded over, raw fragments, the knucklebone
you swallowed, the plastic bag of fingernails you keep

under the backseat. She is the pair of lips you tattooed on your wrist
that means something, the secret you tongue when you're alone

in rented rooms, the damp graffiti you left on the pavement
in the shape of canid claws. You imagine she might return

as a mouse, something dark and skittering in your peripheral vision.
This is a trick. You appear in numerous guises, but her ghost

always knows you by the damage you cause to exterior tissue,
the oval tracks that lead away from the pretty carcass.


Ghost Ocean


Susan Slaviero's first full length collection of poetry, CYBORGIA, is available from Mayapple Press. She has two chapbooks: Apocrypha (Dancing Girl Press, 2009) and An Introduction to the Archetypes (Shadowbox Press, 2008). Recent work has appeared in Kaliedotrope, Mythic Delirium, Goblin Fruit, Requited, and Artifice Magazine. She designs and edits the online lit journal, blossombones, and is a cast member of The Chicago Poetry Brothel.

The Philodendron

BY Susan V. Meyers

After a period of nothinga presence.
One afternoon, six slow buds
at once. Six split chili spines.

Six red waxy hearts. The stem, in chorus,
begins to bleed: sugar beads bursting
through skin. Like confetti or diamonds.

The sweet-sudden ritual of arrival.
And because they are edible, temporary,
you scrape and suck all you can find: these gifts

from a plant that opens once a year
for an hour. An eruption more red than flower.
More promise than exposure. Now it turns.

Shuts. Reclaims the things that belong to it.
And pulls back into itself, the way
failed bone grafts absorb back into skin.


Then the room is thick with absence
Absence swelling the folds of curtains like wind.
Dripping like bats from lampshades.

Books fall open on shelves: blank page after blank page.
And suddenly, your life hits you. Passes through you.
Like the startled air that breakspartsfor an unexpected train.


A Seattle native, Susan V. Meyers has lived and taught in Chile, Costa Rica, and Mexico. She earned an MFA from the University of Minnesota and a PhD from the University of Arizona, and she currently teaches at Oregon State University. Her work has recently appeared in Calyx, The Minnesota Review, Rosebud, and Dogwood, and it has been the recipient of several awards, most recently a Fulbright Fellowship.

Down It Came

BY Arielle Nelson

     after Joshua Beckman
The walls. The water running through
your hands. The house and the walls
and the hallways in the house
flooded. The water. The crushing grin
creeping across your face. The walls.
The broken frame against the floor.
The water. Your face. A broken
frame against the floor. The walls.
The frozen. A broken frame against
the floor. The living. The frozen. Water
through your hands. Seizing. A broken frame
against the floor. The frozen. The living.
The floor. The skin. Your face. The frozen.
The living. A broken frame against the floor.


Now you pack up her aging dolls,
fold their arms across shallow chests
that silently hemorrhage sawdust.
She wanted to find the phrases
that you would pause for; like the sound
of steam, simple and searching.
Her fingers were knit in her lap
waiting for the door to open.
Her fingers were digging crescent moons
into her arms, but she didn’t notice.
When it’s finished and we’re lying
in our narrow beds, remembering the way
she whispered to porcelain faces
she won’t hear you
shut the door.


Arielle Nelson is not a mermaid, nor does she play one on TV. She’s from the tiny suburb of Hinsdale, IL, though she spends most of her waking hours being blown between buildings in Chicago. She is the former editor-in-chief of Chimes Magazine and is the current editor-in-chief of Oyez Review. She spends much of her time roaming the halls of Roosevelt University hot on the heels of an MFA in Creative Writing, but in her off hours she enjoys flexing her poetry muscles and playing with her pet rats.


BY Lisa Marie Basile

You are my secret habanero bloodstream.
When it comes to the morning,
I break the windows with my open eyes.

You are the wind wild at the glass,
what tornados sing I hear in you.
I let you have me for miles. 


The last skeleton wanted me to
bathe him.

There were no more sunlit days after this,
he drew the drapes and counted in every
language he could remember
un, due, drei.

His humanity fell from him
like ribbons, curling softly to
the ground. It was la
couleur de sang, so bright and
so true he was left pale without it.

He became so crude there in my arms,
hating me for my love.
His femur was beautiful in the water,
and by midnight he became dust.


Lisa Marie Basile was born in the Eagle Nebula. She is the founding editor of Caper Literary Journal. She will have her full-length poetry book released by Cervena Barva Press in 2012. She currently works with PEN American Center's Prison Writing Program and is an M.F.A. candidate at The New School. She's earned 1st place in both poetry and fiction from Pace University's annual writing contest. She's read at the NYC venues KGB Bar, The Back Room (with the Poetry Brothel) and hosted a literary event at Happy Ending Lounge.

the trouble with redheads

BY Timothy Snediker

their hair does not taste like cinnamon.
you cannot snap off pieces of it,
pop them into your mouth 

unless it is freezing outside.
anyway, you'd be better off
throwing your coat over her shoulders, 

perhaps stealing a kiss from
her cheekbone, but the freckles
are not sprinkled nutmeg, not

spicy at all unless she has
been eating bell peppers, habaneros—
some incendiary flammable mexican dish,

the vapors and particles spreading
slow and sure like a smile
or an uncalculated blush across

the dimpled fresh landscape,
and still you'd be better off
simply offering to pay for her meal—

even better, offer her a cigarette.
if she accepts you will end up kissing her
later in the evening under the pretense

of cleaning her lips of the deadly nicotine.
if she refuses you'll have the cigarette
to smoke while she kisses another man, or a wall,

or a woman, the delicate cream of a stout lager.
but if she saves a kiss for you, departing
into the night like a torch into some

subterranean lovesick grotto,
remember your pocket tin of altoids,
pop one

or two
and put the cinnamon
back into her.


Timothy Snediker resides in Fayetteville, AR, and is pursuing a Bachelor's Degree in English at John Brown University. He is made of stars.


BY Chris Wiewiora

I wave good morning to the blonde who lives across the street in the house adjacent to mine. A man takes her trashcan to the curb. His sedan is parked in her driveway. As his back is turned, she waves a good morning to me. We never speak—our invisible distance. I don’t cross the street, like I’m not supposed to date my secretary. So, I only sleep with my secretary. I keep things professional, like my blonde neighbor filling in her doorframe with her terrycloth robe.

I bet the blonde grew up feeling like a girl about to be beautiful, but never became that woman for the man. Her freckles dash on her face like sprinkles on Christmas cookies. She must taste like strawberry jam. The blonde probably counted on clothes to draw the attention away from her face, that she might have thought ugly, and down to her bust: directing, lifting, and offering. The pops of her toes’ knuckles ricochet to me kneeling down to pick up my newspaper. I look up and imagine those piggies in my mouth: tooth and nail. She scrapes her bare feet on her welcome mat, before going back inside.

At work, my secretary wears a halter-dress revealing a Chinese dragon tattoo on her shoulder. I think about the blonde’s sloping breasts tugging against her robe, above the square knot at her waist. I ask my secretary if she is busy that evening. She negotiates and for the first time we have dinner before going to the hotel. At the restaurant, I look through the candle on the table trying to burn my secretary blonde. My secretary licks her fingertips and pinches the candle’s wick. The wisps of smoke curl and dissipate.

In the hotel’s swimming pool, my secretary ebbs and glows with the water’s green haze. She shines the same way under the fluorescent lights at my office. My secretary’s tattoo melts as she skinny dips. The chlorine bleaches its ink. I think about the melting candle wax dripping onto the dinner table and the light fracturing my secretary blonde. My secretary’s tattoo floats on top of the water like oil, blurring us together into a rainbow prism. Naked. Pure as a baby’s bathtub photo. She stares red-eye into the camera, slick like a newt slithering between rocks.

In the middle of the night, pulsing needles prick my hand. My arm is asleep from cradling my secretary’s neck. I hear her breathe. The same sigh after she comes—like a sneeze. A quick gasp, then a long exhale. I wonder if the blonde yelps. I withdraw my numb arm. My secretary curls up like a shrimp, hugging warmth from her body, not mine. I clinch my palm into a fist, demanding blood flow to my fingers. I would be tempted to give my secretary a peck on the forehead if her hair shimmered blonde. I would tuck my secretary’s bangs behind her ears and tuck the bed sheet over her shoulders before I left. I think tomorrow I’ll ask my secretary to dye her hair a platinum brilliance like the morning sun peaking through the blinds.

In my neighborhood, the man’s sedan pulls out of the blonde’s garage. The blonde’s arms are crossed over her chest. Last night, the man probably pushed into the blonde. She’s a wheelbarrow with a flat tire—stuck in place, deepening a rut. The sedan’s tires squash over the gutter. The blonde waves from her welcome mat. Her hand ushers me over. I look both ways down the street and cross our invisible distance to say good morning.


Chris Wiewiora is the assistant editor of The Florida Review. This year, his stories have appeared in Bateau, A cappella Zoo and on You Must Be This Tall To and and more are forthcoming on and in Pocket Smut, Now & Then, and Yemassee. He works at a pizza place in Orlando called Lazy Moon.


BY Rachel Levy

The ground is sinking between my house and yours. A puddle-sized hole, filled with mud and dead grass. We watch it grow from our respective second-story windows.

Now the puddle is a canyon collecting snow and rain. Now it’s a lake, nearly half a mile across.

It’s becoming an ocean, attracting sea creatures from the distant Atlantic, the remote Pacific. Fish, squid, shrimp, and crab. The creatures move over dunes of cold winter sand, slide along icy asphalt highways. They cross miles of sleeping farmland. The legged ones crawl, while the others flop and writhe over the crisp December fields that encircle our town like spiders’ webs. They arrive travel-weary and slip headfirst into the water. At the bottom they build simple shell-and-bone structures, fastened with pieces of kelp.

Mornings, you watch me from the opposite shore. I pull on swimming goggles and tuck the broken ends of my short, yellow hair into a bathing cap. I enter the water, hold my breath and kick my legs, and when I return to the surface and the light, I’m clutching stolen pieces of strange architecture.


Rachel Levy is currently working toward an MFA in Fiction Writing at the University of Colorado. Before Colorado, she lived in southern Ohio, where she acquired an MA in English at Miami University. At Miami, she received both the Graduate Fiction Writing Award and the Outstanding Graduate Writer Award. Before Ohio, she lived in New York. And before New York, she lived in North Western Pennsylvania.

Share Her with the Ocean

BY Cee Martinez


Stephen first noticed the young woman sitting at a nearby table when
the slippery green silk of her dress flowed between her thighs,
catching his eye and leaving his throat parched.

Maggie held a glass of untouched champagne. She’d never the taste for alcohol in the twenty years they’d been married. If a drink was
attractive enough, however, she was not above holding it.

“I don’t really know a lot of these people, to be honest,” Maggie
said, her blue, careworn eyes scanning the party. “Dear God, could I
be related to this many people? What if we suddenly discover a mutual cousin?”

 “I hope not!” He grinned, and when he turned back around, the young
woman was no longer at the table. Disappointment seared his cheeks



“Are you afraid of the water?” The girl in the green dress asked
abruptly. Her voice was as whispery as the lapping waves.

“No, of course not,” he replied, letting go of her.

She awkwardly took to her feet. Her spindly slim legs were covered in
sugary sand. A trickle of sticky blood coursed down the inside of her
thigh to her calf and ankle. The green silk dress a wrinkled, sandy
ruin and he did not know how he would explain to Maggie the wreck of his suit.


“Darling, are you okay?” Maggie asked, her soft warm hands on his
cheeks, “You’re flushed!”

“I…” Stephen couldn’t say anything because her touch brought blushing
to his ears and neck; sweat to his armpits and belly. “It might be the

“Hmph,” Maggie snorted, taking his hand, their palms quickly slick
against each other. “I know how much you hate crowds, dear. Take a
break; I’ll be fine without you for a few minutes.”

“I think I will thanks.” Stephen pulled Maggie’s pale knuckles to his
lips, the kiss bringing her cheeks to pink just like the first day
he’d met her. “I’m heading back to the building; the port-o-toilets
just don’t seem…”

Maggie laughed and shoved him; “I wouldn’t want you after you’ve been in one of those bacteria cubicles.”


A turn intentionally taken around the building to get away from the
party lights, the greetings of people he was not familiar with, the
winded conversations of the people he knew but didn’t like, and he
found himself back where he’d begun, staring at the girl in a shining
green dress. She sat on the sand with her tawny shoulders against the
white washed planks of the beach house and her long, slim legs bent at the knees and open.

Even with Maggie’s face in his mind, and every burning dart of his
conscience telling him to run, Stephen had nearly stumbled over
himself in getting to her.

His tie wrapped around her wrist, they kissed.


“When I walk into the ocean, let me go as far as you can stand,” the
girl said, looking towards the rolling water, “Rescue me. No one, not
even your wife, could hate a hero.” She smiled, showing white teeth.

“What if I don’t stop you,” Stephen replied, his pulse raced and his
hands were cold and trembling.  Perhaps it was the smears on the
lenses of his glasses but she seemed so luminous and soft, like a

She squinted, her forehead creasing gently with her frown. “I can’t swim.”

With no further words, the girl in the rumpled green dress began her
walk into the ocean. The slight breeze lifted her hair and the water
made deep, glugging sounds around her ankles. When she was knee deep, Stephen stood up, hoping she would turn around and return to him. His hope lasted until the water embraced her waist, the soft splashes becoming frantic slaps against the surface. Yet, she pushed forward until the water consumed her shoulders.

Stephen shed his coat and his watch and ran into the ocean, stopping
when it reached his shins and he saw the girl flailing, her green
dress mingling with the white foam.


The relative safety and monotony of modern suburbia has actually been an inspiration for Cee Martinez who cannot stop herself from turning over the rock on any idea and using the worms for inspiration. She has spent her entire life in a suburb of Denver, Colorado where she teaches piano on top of the time she spends writing, and doesn't imagine she'll leave that life anytime soon. Links to her other published works can be found at or you can tweet her

In Conversation

Never Set out to Trick Readers: ghost ocean talks with Christian Tebordo


Chrisitan Tebordo's short story collection, The Awful Possibilities, is available from Featherproof Books. His work has appeared in Avery Anthology, Sleeping Fish, Ninth Letter, and Lamination Colony, among many others. He also has published two novels. He teaches and lives in Philadelphia. You can find him at

Ghost Ocean: These stories are dark and disturbing in the best possible way. How do you get into the mindsets of such strange characters and situations?

Christian Tebordo: In these stories I started with a voice and let the language go where it went. Sometimes it was something I overheard; sometimes it was just something in my head. Once I get the first couple of sentences down, I usually have a good idea where a story's going, and my job is to keep with the rhythm while trying not to bore myself. That's usually enough to distract me from the more disturbing aspects of what I'm writing.

But then, "disturbing" is a relative concept, to both time and place, right? My stories have dealt with school shootings and organ thievery and friend-skinning, but earlier this year I was reading a lot of Jerzy Kosinski. He wrote this novel Cockpit that really has very little in the way of plot or explicit social commentary. (That latter is in there, though, if you read it closely.) It's pretty much a picaresque about a former spy who uses his skills to fuck with people and includes some pretty graphic scenes of rape and torture. Back in the seventies he was considered a major writer (and rightly so, I think). Anyway, his stuff makes most contemporary fiction look twee.

GO: A great part about these stories is the importance placed not just on who's telling the story but who they're telling them to.  And just when we, as readers, think we know: NOPE, we’re wrongthe story changes and becomes something more.  Can you tell us your thought process behind this?

CT: The relation of teller to listener has been really important to me. I say "has been" because I've been too much of a stickler about it at times and am trying to relax a little. But if you totally neglect that relation, it will lead to too much first person present tense fiction narrated by dead people, if that makes any sense. There's that idea we all learn about in high school English: suspension of disbelief. I have a much harder time suspending disbelief about how anybody's story got in my hands (what is this book doing here?) than I do about anything that happens in the story itself.

That said, I never set out to trick readers. I hope that the kind of reversals that happen in my stories flow naturally from the language and the kind of decisions the person using that language would make.

GO: What are the special challenges in making a collection of short stories? Do you find yourself consciously tying them together based on mood?Content?

CT: For me, the challenge in making a collection is in the individual stories. I've had friends who I think are really good writers tell me that they just need x more stories to finish their collections and I have no idea what that means. I would be much more likely to leave a story out of a collection for being too similar to another than I would to add one because something's missing. I want my stories to be in as much tension with each other as I can keep them while still not losing the reader. That's one of the reasons The Awful Possibilities is such a slim book. I guess what I'm saying is, my advice to anyone thinking about a collection is to write awesome stories and be willing to try anything. You can pretend you meant them to go together once the book's out.

GO: What are you working on now?

CT: I've got a novel done. It's called The Philosophical Apology of Knight Rider to Knight Ridder, but I'll probably have to change that in order to get it published. Otherwise, and always, I'm making short stories. Plus my wife and I just got our baby Wes and he is awesome. I'm going to learn his all-vowel language so we can do some collaborations.


In [Micro-] Review

ghost ocean combo: a glimpse at the universe in miniature in miniature

Patrick Somerville, The Universe in Miniature in Miniature. featherproof, 2010. 304 pgs. $14.95 paper. 

The Universe in Miniature in Miniature is, among many things, a lesson in voice. The voices of Somerville’s characters are so varied and so distinct and so real that, since reading it, I have often mistaken moments of their fictitious lives as half-remembered moments of my own. And while the opening and closing stories serve as the most beautiful pieces in the collection—both exploring what it means to have a dream, what it means to be alive—there is no love lost between each of the stories that fall in between. These are not stories written just for writers or readers or critics or scholars; these are stories written for anyone who is willing to take a closer look at what it means to be human.

But the most important thing about Patrick Somerville's new book is this: it makes you want to bend time; time with individual characters within the world of each story; time in your life—it makes you wish you could stretch those 24 hours into something longer, where you don't have to put the book down for work or dinner or parties or sleep. This book is the machine that makes you forget Facebook and texting and cable. These stories and characters, unlike Grandma Beatrice in "The Peach," do not evaporate, but rather, they permeate, allowing the magical, imaginative worlds in Somerville's universe to forge with your own. It’s this sort of book—one that uses unique, memorable, flawed characters as vehicles for hope—that you’d be lucky to hold as one of the last books on earth.

—Heather Cox

With The Universe in Miniature in Miniature, Patrick Somerville has brought us a short story collection that touches on big, capital BIG themes. Humanity, love, death, science, absurdity, existence, hope: these are not small topics to tackle.

But Somerville manages to bring up all of these issues, not only that, he smashes and grinds them all together – the tension is there, here, everywhere, and you feel it and you can’t put the book down, and by the end of reading, you’ve been laughing, crying, stirred like some mad man or mad woman.

You will not take long to finish this book. Even if you have no time, you will find time to finish this book.


Because it doesn’t matter if the story is about a hitman trying to manage his anger, or aliens who carelessly blow up planets, or a secret college that prompts people to follow their absurd ambitions. It doesn’t matter if you love science fiction, comedy, or the ill-defined realm of literary fiction…you will love these stories. Because he loves writing these stories.

It shows.

You know what else shows?

The characters. Patrick Somerville makes them real, unique, fragile, sad, and powerful. You will root for these characters.

This is not just a great book, it’s an important book. Read this book. I’m going to say it again. Read this book.

—Timothy Moore




Heather Cox is the founding editor-in-chief of Ghost Ocean Magazine.

Timothy Moore is the fiction editor of Ghost Ocean Magazine.