If You Haven’t Figured It Out Yet You’re the Island

BY Alexander York

You’re actually a lot of things like the milk.
The lighter fluid. The tigers. You are exactly
the way you need to be. You’re the party,
but you’re also the punch, the squished cigarettes,
and the long drive home to Dayton, Ohio.

I think I’m the raft, the particle, the astronaut
left floating aimlessly in space. There’s so much
time here and I think there are hundreds of volcanoes
all over your body. I believe in your lava. I’m here until
I can’t swim anymore.

I say, this is a lot like reverse Pangaea.
You’re the avalanche I’m running from or you’re
the ground splitting between my legs, forcing me
to choose my left or right side. I think of how messy
this entire situation has become and the whole time
I wait for an angry mountain to put me out
of my misery.

The Women in Black

I go to the beach to see
the women in black.

They hold their
children tight.

I see them pointing
at the lake like
a deep painting.

If no one stops them,
they will walk

endlessly into
the water
like a funeral

march or
the saddest



Ghost Ocean


Alexander York is a writer originally from Ohio, but currently living in Chicago. Alexander would someday like to meet William H. Macy, but has accepted the fact that his Twitter is about as close as he’ll get. Alexander’s recent work can be found in Word Riot, Another Chicago Magazine, The Madison Review, The Oyez Review, and Dark Sky Magazine.

Back into the Living (Again)

BY Crystal S. Gibbins

           after Ben Westlie's "And there are Ghosts"

At night you can hear
                    them, whispering
                              about when they were alive,
when it was them sleeping
                              in your small room
          you now lie down in, 
                                        shut your eyes in, 
depart from the real to the dream world in
                    just for a few hours. 
Sometimes they sound angry—
                    a dull thud and clunk
                              of the furnace fires into life, 
pipes shout words, each syllable wrapping
                    around your bones like new muscle.
And why shouldn’t they display such bitterness? 
                                        You are the body, 
                    the life, you get to still feel, 
                              you have the time they envy. 
You are too scared to walk
                    across the floor to switch on
                                        the light. You hold
     tighter to the warmth—
                              the blanket
                                        —that is your shield. 
                    Silently you call for the rhythm of water, 
the ocean with its thousand bodies
                              singing and dancing, 
          to seduce you into sleep, but you can’t
                              help but hear
     scraping sounds on the porch, 
                    which you tell yourself is just small
animals from the woods, you can’t help
                              but hear footsteps
                                        outside your bedroom door, 
          which you tell yourself is the freezer’s
                                        thrum and shiver, 
                              you can’t help but hear breathing, 
which you tell yourself is just air
                    finding the cracks in the window
                              frame, and you hope
                    they do not glide
through and enter.


Crystal S. Gibbins is pursuing her PhD in poetry at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where she also serves on the editorial staff for Prairie Schooner. Her work has appeared in dislocate, Free Verse, Canary, Literary Bohemian, Yellow Medicine Review, among others.

White Delirium

BY Margaret Walther

A white fox has settled on my chest.  

She is chewing a nest through bone.

The white spokes of a windmill churn into my lungs.

A terrible instrument, the white viola.  

Steals your breath.

Paradise’s fruit beckons.  Peeled.  White.

Oh, to lay my body against the green harp of the earth.

To let the sky, euphoric organ, azure through me.

To be wick’d by the sun, ancient gong.

Each breath, a quest.

A question.

Fantaisie on an Opal

throats of hummingbirds
inside you
peacocks bare
smoky tails and scream
a wolf stares at the

crystal harps
or beaded lanterns
scrape a river
fish glint by, their fins
the tiny
of rainbows

quickened by light
you evoke
the panther's
a butterfly's erratic fan
the dark blue thighs
of lakes

glide through


Margaret Walther is a retired librarian from the Denver metro area and a past president of Columbine Poets, an organization to promote poetry in Colorado. She has been a guest editor for Buffalo Bones, and has poems published or forthcoming in many journals, including Connecticut Review, anderbo.com, Quarterly West, Naugatuck River Review, Fugue, The Anemone Sidecar, Chickenpinata, and Nimrod. She won the Many Mountains Moving 2009 Poetry Contest. Two of her poems published in the online journal In Posse Review in 2010 were selected by Web del Sol for its e-SCENE best of the Literary Journals. She has been nominated twice for a Pushcart Award.

Bradley Beach Epitaph

BY David A. Porter

The decades blur.
Time is a palette knife,
a stab wound.
You bleed in ochres, grays,
that sea green beneath the pier.

Everything is reduced to rinds,
burnt skin,
the crumpled accordion blossom
of a lemon Italian ice,
cold syrup pooled in its bellows.

An easterly breeze,
the scent of coconut oil,
her yellow sundress flutters.
The world,
for a moment,
bestride the Atlantic.

All mermaids return to the sea.
You are older again.


David A. Porter, formerly of New Jersey, now resides in Nicosia, Cyprus with his wife, Antigone, and his infant son, Leontios. His music criticism and his comic strip, Pretty Sure, is available at Caught in the Carousel. He is currently at work on a collection of short stories, Protracted Adolescence, and is always available at porter1306@yahoo.com.

Just the End of the World and Me

BY CJ Hallman


The man sitting at the next table in the diner in Studio City hacks. His cough heralds in the apocalypse, and beckons a waitress, who asks him if he wants more coffee. He nods, yes, because he can’t speak with his shredded throat. He coughs again, filling the air, and she fills his cup and walks away, and he reaches into his polo shirt pocket, pulls out a handful of white pills. One of the pills squirms out from his grubby grip and kamikazes to the floor. The man stares down at the AWOL pill for a moment, as though contemplating its rescue, but then shrugs to no one (fuck it!), and forces the remainder of the pills into his mouth, swallows them down with a gulp of hot coffee. Thirty minutes after the man pays his bill (hack hack!) and leaves, the same hairsprayed waitress who filled his coffee comes by with a broom and sweeps that little pill into a dustpan—and the moment is erased and the broom scratches against the tile and the side effects are gone. And somewhere in Hollywood, on some city street lined with parallel-parked cars, a man is sitting in his Audi and clutching his chest, breathing his last breath, marveling at the possibility that spreads out before him like the sunset across the desert sky, finding peace and meaning and nothing at all in this rare and final silence. 

The supermarket employees, congregating around the out-of-service check-out stands, the empty cash registers, each other. The supermarket employees, standing around the supermarket late at night, waiting for the world to end. The supermarket employees, discussing whether the rich man who left ten minutes ago, the man in Bruno Maglis who just gave them coupons for the Red Lobster is the real and actual owner of the Red Lobster. The supermarket employees, wearing vests, wearing different clothes in a uniform color, wearing weary eyes. Speaking English, speaking accented English, succumbing occasionally to Spanish because it’s easier there to express fully the passion that resides in a good bout of speculation, it’s easier there to feel free because the security guard and most of the late-night shoppers/stragglers are foreign to this tongue. Not noticing the ghost girl before them for a good few minutes, and then asking if they can help her/me, if one of them can ring up my provisions—a bottle of vodka and a bag of mini rice cakes and one of those air fresheners that plugs into the wall because when the end is upon us and the freeways collapse and the bodies start rotting, I want my impending demise to smell like gardenias. 

There is a phoenix on my windowsill. I watch her, and I drink from the vodka, and I think about the pills, and in advance, I mourn the death of everyone I know and have ever known.
     The phoenix is on fire, but she’s not ashes yet, and I don’t drive an Audi, but my room smells like flowers. With shaky hands, I reach over from my bed, the sheets soaked with my sweat, and I feed the phoenix a rice cake. I know it won’t stop her from burning, and it won’t save the world, and it won’t help sustain me, but I do pause and take a moment to marvel at this tiny moment of beauty—the beak, the flames, the smoke—eating from my palm. 
     Today, I fell out of love. So for today, at least, and for tonight, there will be no tomorrows.


CJ Hallman is twenty-three and currently lives in Los Angeles, where she enjoys bringing her laptop to Starbucks and pretending, with everybody else, to be a writer. Unfortunately, her acting leaves much to be desired, and most of the other coffee shop patrons/"writers" probably just think that she is working on her taxes or playing Solitaire or something. Oh, well. Her fiction has appeared in Identity Theory, the 322 Review, Everyday Weirdness, and amphibi.us, among many others.


BY James Tadd Adcox

Sam has had imaginary friends since she was two. Now she’s eleven. Most of our conversations involve her imaginary friends. This worries me, a little, but my wife says it’s fine. It’s a strong indication of developing creativity and empathy, she says. “I don’t remember ever having imaginary friends,” I tell her. “Well, you never had much imagination.”

Around Christmas, Sam and I are in the kitchen making a gingerbread house. I’m melting the candy for the moat that surrounds the gingerbread house. We’ve already baked the gingerbread drawbridge. Where gingerbread houses are concerned, Sam and I go all out. Sam’s talking to me about her imaginary friend Leonard. Leonard, she says, likes Barbie dolls, which she finds strange because Barbies are girl toys. She herself does not like most girl toys. She is perched on the stool by the kitchen counter, using a plastic knife to cut shapes in the excess gingerbread dough. The candy moat is nearly ready to be poured. I turn off the burner and lift the saucepan from the stove. “Which one’s Leonard?” I say. I can’t keep track of her imaginaries.

“He’s the man who walks with me from the bus stop.”

I put the saucepan back on the stove. “What does he look like?” I try to say this calmly—after all, why shouldn’t she have an imaginary friend who walks with her from the bus?—but Sam clams up, looks like she’s worried she’s said something that will get her in trouble. “I don’t remember,” she says, quiet and careful.

I tell my wife about Leonard. She has a long conversation with Sam while I’m in the other room debating whether or not to call the police. My wife returns to tell me that Sam has assured her that Leonard is imaginary. “Can you be certain?” I say. “Are you absolutely certain she’s not just saying that?” “Sam wouldn’t lie to me,” my wife says. “We have a bond.” “Right. Me she would lie to, but you have a bond.” “You know that’s not what I meant.” “Look, these men, they’re like, I don’t know, like hypnotists, they convince kids to lie to their parents all the time…” “What, you saw that on the news?” “Sure, it’s on the news all the time.” “You’re paranoid, Martin. Sam’s not going to lie to me. Not when it’s important.”

The next day I drive from work to the bus stop to meet Sam there. I sit in my car with the engine off, waiting for the bus and scanning the street for Leonards. I think about those news stories where family members talk about how the man who preyed on their child was the last person they’d expect. I try to think if I know anyone named Leonard, or anything similar. Then the school bus arrives and there’s Sam, jumping off of the second-to-last stair and landing on the curb. It’s mild out, and she’s wearing her coat tied around her waist. It flutters like a skirt as she walks. I get out and wave her over.

I tell her we’re going to get ice cream, as a surprise. “Because it’s a warm winter,” she says. “Right,” I say. First, though, I want to drive around a little, and I want her to tell me if she sees anyone she recognizes. “That’s really weird, Dad.” “I just need to know… Look, I just need you to do this for me. Then we’ll go get ice cream.” She seems unsure. She seems worried. Every person we pass by, she’s acting like she’s trying not to look at them too long, trying—is that it?—not to give them away. She works with her fingers at the place on the door where the fake leather is coming unglued. Each man we pass, I say, calmly, so calmly, “Do you know him? Does he talk to you?” It feels horrible, like I’m twisting her arm, but I have to know. She doesn’t say anything. She shakes her head, she cries, but without sound. I can hardly breathe. It takes forever. When we finally make it through the neighborhood and go to get ice cream, she holds the cone carefully with both hands, like a gerbil or some other small, nervous animal, and refuses to look at me.


James Tadd Adcox is the editor-in-chief of Artifice Magazine. His work has appeared in PANK, Another Chicago Magazine, TriQuarterly, and Lamination Colony. He lives in Chicago.

The Forest in Our Home

BY Joshua Young

When we were kids, a forest grew in our living room. Trees had grown from the carpet, roots snaking in and out of the orange shag our parents refused to tear out because at one time in each of their lives they had played on shag such as this, because it reminded them of the first time they made love in my father’s basement, and because they claimed to love the feel of its touch between their toes. As little children, our father would hold us up on his feet to play airplane and we’d pretend that below us laid a strange orange sea. 
     Now, in the room, the branches brush the ceiling, scrape against the walls.
     Our friends like to come over because we can maneuver through the trees, into the corner of the room, and, if our parents come looking, we can hear them pushing through. Sometimes, our visitors leave the door open as they come and go, and breezes from outside shake the branches, sway the trees, producing noises like cutting oranges down the center through the pulp and rind. The smell, though, is pine. Thick and damp like syrup. Outside, our friends have to peel the smell from them.
     Animals move in between the trees and birds make nests, and the wind brings clouds and water. At first, there was a small stream trickling through the center of the room, but as the forest grew, and rain fell, the stream turned into a river. 
     Tired of the frontiering, our parents take to the guest home and stay. We cut down a tree or two and build a cabin. We live there till we each marry and build other cabins to accommodate our families.
     When smoke creeps into our homes, we do not know that our neighbor’s son hates our forest. He hates that it is ours, that it is confined to our home, and that he cannot be a part of it. He hates that we never have to leave, that we can just live in here, that we have made lives between the trees. 
     On Sundays, he’d skip church service and stand on our back porch, staring in through the sliding glass door, watching the forest thicken. Some Sundays, outside our house it was sunny and hot, and inside rain fell. 
     He hates that we have our own rain. He wants his own rain. He wants his own forest. He wants to hike through it. He wants to clear branches from his path as he walks. He wants to build his own cabin. 
     So tonight, he lights matches, opens the glass door, and leaves them at the foot of the forest. He doesn't watch. He runs home and lets it burn. 
     When the fire quits the next morning, our house is gone, but the forest keeps growing. There isn’t a charred leaf. We go back into our cabins, and inside, forests begin to grow.


Joshua Young holds an MA in English from Western Washington University, and he will begin an MFA in poetry at Columbia College Chicago in fall 2011. He currently lives in Washington State with his wife, son, and dog. His website is http://thestorythief.tumblr.com