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Myna Girl

I know I’m home when amid thunderous Viking hair, my glass eye droops

I know I’m the one clean thing—tear this website down with my teeth, find another inside of me

I know you expected tea light séance, not radioactive mist

I didn’t want my head to be so huge & flat

I didn’t ask for such adulation—really, darling, stop eating the hem of my dress; it’s plastic

I didn’t want this doll face with round wet mouth wound

because they are going to stuff me with donuts instead of spices from canopic jars

because they are going to make me into a religion, a new one, a cult built on my x-rayed bones

because the “remove bones & organs” sign on my chest is a reminder to myself about what I need
to do to break free

~Eileen Murphy~



Duct Tape Dad

Dad, duct tape your heart

like you used instead of
Scotch tape to wrap Mom’s
Christmas present

Dad, duct tape your hands

like you lap over the insanely
sharp edge of the safety razor
you keep loose in your tool box

Dad, duct tape your fingers

like the fake ring you made me of tape
then threw out

Dad, duct tape your mouth

like you seal the fish you catch &
gut & throw in the freezer

Dad, duct tape your feet

like you tried to stick together my mug
I got from Grandma
you kicked on the floor & broke

into a million pieces
b/c you were mad at Mom

Dad, duct tape yourself

like my favorite doll--broken, you wound sticky
silver stuff all over
her—now unrecognizable

alien—like you

~Eileen Murphy~



Abort Mission

you need collision
you need disaster
you need to stop thinking about the past
you need a shot of bourbon
you need another shot of bourbon
you need to clear your head
you need a lobotomy

you need collision
you need disaster
you need a stranger
you need to check ID
            because anyone under 23
                        is simply too young
you need a shot of bourbon

you need collision
you need it again
you need a line of cocaine
you need another
            and another
you don’t need another shot of bourbon
            but drink it anyway
you need to forget the past
you need to be the disaster

you need collision
you need to run away
you need a plane ticket
you need a country with a language
            other than your own
you need to find unknown territory
            (you need to be the disaster)
you need to be uncovered
you need to be consumed

you need to be the disaster
you need collision
you need it all over again
you need the world to revolve around you
            it does, but it’s not enough
you need to run
you need to keep running
you need to keep running
you need to run away

you need to conquer unknown lands
you need flesh, untranslatable
you need to find a stranger
you need to be a stranger
you need to be 22
you need to be 35
you need to keep running
            you always keep running
            you always keep running away
you need to keep running
you always need
            collision, disaster




Everywhere is the distinction between the air and air supply.  I have already been called
kindling.  That is the language fire knows.  That is the language fire breeds.  Once again
we are all searching for the water’s edge.  That’s fine.  Stick your heels in the pool.  Turn
to the flames.  Move with the tide.  Become the time.  Keep breathing.  Let the fear
drown behind you.



Four Worn Out Wheels 

Four worn out wheels and a beaten up padded chair. 
A set of broken brakes and a pair of useless legs. 
A man once full of hopes and dreams 
now lives with the reality that 
very few, if any, will come to fruition. 

He often feels his existence is pathetic 

and the autonomic worthlessness consumes him 
as his independence is slowly stripped away. 
No longer able to reach his goal, 
doors and stairs block him from his destination. 

People are constantly staring at him. 
They stay away as if he’s contagious. 
Children stare and point, 
so do the adults. 
Onlookers' whispers start and spread 

as if they were the audience and 
he was on trial for the crime of being different. 
None ever approach him and ask the questions 
that need to be asked. 
If they did things would be different. 

But they don’t and things aren’t. 
The man is lonely and feels 
like an outcast from the rest of society. 

The man has many fears. 
One consumes him every time 

his eyes close or the lights go out. 
He will never find that special person. 
Someone who will look past the outside. 
Someone who will love during the good and the bad. 
He will never get married. 
If he loved her why put her through 
the same pain and torture? 
And if he is to never marry, 
then he will never have children of his own. 
His kids can’t be disappointed in him 
and won’t have the possibility of sharing 
the same disability. 

All that this man can do is dream and write. 
He can keep on keeping on, 
do what needs to be done, 
and push his fears aside. 
He waits for life to roll on 
upon his four worn out wheels 

and beaten up padded chair.

~Craig Firsdon~



Lily Water

                        A toast to Convallaria majalis—

Raise a crystal vase, sample humility, sweetness
and toxin—Our Lady’s tears or maybe Eve’s

when she was kicked out of the garden.

Bite the red berries, dig rhizomes running underground
mash fragrant floral bells and count to thirty-eight,

the number of cardiac glycosides decelerating our hearts.

Liquid shards of glass pierce the tongue, esophagus
and comprehension. Drops of the Return of Happiness

tattoo Ladders to Heaven on our chins.


On this Duvet

I have spilt ink:
for a second, it sat imperiously
on the downy surface
glistening; a perfect dome
before it fractured.
From a bubble trapped under a fragile film
blue rivulets burst forth.
The skin is cracked – fractal –

blue lines relentless – running over soft fabric;
soaking into the white cotton fibres
and marking each thread with a stamp of blue.
Royal blue.

Soap froths up – mad –
scolding each stained strand into a meeker,
less vibrant version of itself.
Yet still the ink remains –
relinquishing nothing but a blush,
remaining a blur of psychiatrists’ logic,
sitting there – frowning.

~Zoë Sîobhan Howarth-Lowe~



Tits on a Boy

Because everyone here is older than you,
means it’s your job to carry down the concrete saw
the mini jackhammers down the ladder

the wrench of your back, the quiver of your knees.
Because of thieves, you chain 40 hours of work to rusty I-beams,
the wet saw that numbed your hands,

the hammer drill that kicked you off a 12 foot ladder,
smacked the work ethic out of your wrists.
It’s not safe to wear a watch here, but you’ll know it’s over when they tell you it is,

when someone pulls a static radio by its tail
and Led Zeppelin stops playing. No one invites anyone to anything,
but you’ll know it’s Friday from the plume of exhaust,

the rattling trucks you’re meant to follow
to the bar you’ve never heard of,
sit next to a man who called you useless as tits on a boy, laughing.

Keep watching as their faces change with every shot they throw back
the next beer they buy you. They are smiling.
They’ve waited their whole lives for this



Persecution is a Team Sport

The potato sack over his head
reeked of potatoes
and he wanted to complain
to the flight attendant
but he spoke no English
and was pretty sure there was
no flight attendant
on this flight.
There was nothing, in fact.
Just the noise of the plane engines
for many hours.

And when it landed
he was wheeled into some kind
of air hanger
surrounded by many angry men
in uniform
who wanted to know
what he didn’t

for months,

his testicles many times
as if he were a

that wouldn’t



A Better Place

No corpse
just a box
with her ashes
in it
and her picture on the wall;
she went up in flames,
to wherever--
a dark-eyed over-sized priest
who looks as if he stepped
from "The Godfather" movie
says that she is in Heaven
with Christ;
my older brother gives a eulogy
that brings a tear to my eyes
and causes my sister-in-law to weep;
there is nothing else for anyone
to say
except for the priest
who insists that she is in
a better place,
to which
no one disagrees;
we put our coats on
and shuffle out the door
for the eats
at a restaurant which
none of us has been to
since the last funeral.

~Wayne F. Burke~



Dull Dolls

Unstillness needs to seep—
I’ve had my fill of dull dolls wearing symmetrical dresses
in and out of the parade always staying in focus
for the ubiquitous camera;
keeping a pasted smile, the wrought porcelain face
appearing lifeless; empty black eyes numbly staring straight
through, missing the core of compassion; the cheeks doused with rouge
to the point of partial red; pallor reigning suspiciously
supreme among the textures of existence,
with the darkest shade of motionlessness
simultaneously residing among the limbs, I notice their stride—
a broken march harvested in the name of lobotomy;
legs meeting each other’s pace— a seeming herd of lemmings
roaming a landscape of cliff-sides; fragile bodies
caped in the pretense of solidity; soldiers of the futile lifespan
of a June midnight; their frames glisten with a blinding pallor,
saturated in the colorless embers of stolid minds
growing densely blank with each day on the shelf—
fake hair dangles to its proper pose;
brushed to the side; keeping clear of the dust
that hangs in the air above their immutable oneness;
mandatory salutation keeps them in the onslaught
of similar greetings; the smiles always curved to the stance
of acceptable angles; hollow kinships emerge,
worn in addition to their dresses as an announcement
to the world that they are involved; hypnotic stillness
consumes their faces always blushing with an unpalpable personality;
blanketing their bodies kept polished
to a lifeless hue; defining their glass heads
propped on a strict spine; keeping their dresses unwrinkled.
as they imagine themselves to be in the meat of their lives;
these dolls with lifeless black-buttoned eyes;
so skinless and unflaked by the time turning in minutes of their unmoving perch;
I shake my head and say again—
unstillness needs to seep.  


My Friend Nemesis 

You are my hollow oak,
my left-outside-too-long staleness,
my crutch; I lean on you in bad times
and in good—you, the powder, the poppyflower, the wretch,
the thunderstorm inside my head,
always brooding, beckoning with that flash, that glimmer
always heavy with a bucketful of evil,
the tempt, the blade behind the smile,
tilting to one side, disrupting the balance.

Always there to console me as you nail me to the cross,
to keep in limbo my life turned lame,
burnt to smolder in the ash;
the nothingness you churn with a grinding grin;
the gentle fields, the massage of the thoughts,
the hoax, the vex, the vicious demon disease unshakable,
the makeshift savior, my lost spirit,
my powder, my poppyflower, my wretch.



The creaking door of
an old farmhouse,
the sheep skull knocking,
the clap of shutters,
the sough of rotting
palings in the wind.

The thud of driftwood
on a beach at night,
the clack of shell,
the hiss of foam,
rattle of shark bone
on the wearied rocks.

~John Grey~