Issue 5 Poetry


a boy I know teaches me how to noodle for catfish

I tell him that his face is an octopus, 
just like the one nursing my ankle, except like hell
he would ever find someone to make out with.
Not even an ankle would want to get near a face like his

except to kick it. This is the seventeenth time I’ve told him so,
one for every year he’s been alive. I have no regrets.
I think I love this boy, and when you love someone 
the best thing to do is fake hate them 
until they almost believe you.

The finger he flips me is a squawk of an insult
jumping off the crest of a breeze and so practiced
it’s perfect. Maybe he also loves me just as much
as I love him and this will remain unsaid forever

even if we drown here today in six inches of water
even if they find our bodies in the split lip of the river
with his hand in mine. It would be so embarrassing 
but at least we’d be dead.

If we died here today, where would they bury us? 
I point to a hole in the sand. In here?
Catfish lay eggs in those holes, he tells me
and they sleep in there too. So no. 
He chews on the sticky licorice of a pause.
Stupid, he finally says. 

On the count of three we burrow our arms elbow-deep
into the mud and the sky opens underfoot, a flurry of catfish,
sand and sea smacking us around until we are two soaked through
with God’s wrath. I know He’s screaming I’m sick of you two.

Behind us the sun winks down, 
sugaring the trees with grapefruit light 
and the half-baked rind of a moon.


Melissa Anne currently lives in the DC metro area. Her poetry and fiction have been recognized by several publications and organizations, including Rust + Moth, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, FreezeRay Poetry, Yuzu Press, The Adroit Journal, and the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers.

Issue 5 Poetry


A Cranberry Pops In Central Wisconsin

In Kentucky, I hold my wrist with one hand
and my rifle in the other. It’s a short walk

to wherever I’m going but I never know
when I’m there. The sun points downward

and beats me to a pulp-less version of selfhood.
A bird sings because it wants to sing, no, because

it can sing so it does, it does indeed.
Branches break into smaller branches,

mimic the cells that grew them in the first place
like babies growing up to be bad parents

after their own mothers and fathers. Rifle in hand,
I worry I’ll be a bad father, too. It’s sunrise

and the sun knows I’m waiting for it this time.
I’ll hunt and I’ll walk but I’ll never take aim,

not this time, not after the doe walks the fawn
across the road (I forget the punchline) and

no cars send them packing early. It’s too easy
to see motherly love and know God is a she.

It’s too easy to watch sunlight dance between leaves
as it glides across morning blueness and think:

all of this is worth the seconds between the nows.
A version of me is bamboozled by the revelations

of a walk through the woods, rifle in hand, when told
to kill or never come home (jokes on them, I couldn’t

find home if it was an open door, a warm meal).
It is confused and hurts itself in confusion. It is concerned

and holds itself tight with concern. A woodswalk bibliography
could say a few things about Emerson or red cardinals or

dandelions transitioning to daisies or squirrels twirling
around the upper reaches of trees or how lonely it can be

to be alive or how lonely it is to walk, rifle in hand,
in the woods without bloodlust in the heart. It can be

so lonely, so full of wishes it may pop, like a cranberry
in Wisconsin, way back at the start, before it meant anything

to end up the dad who spent mornings alone in the woods,
rifle in hand, working out ways to love a child who wants love

more than the sweet breath of early air, plus a dozen Christmases,
times the days a version of the child couldn’t love itself, not one bit.


Noah Powers is a high school English teacher in Kentucky, where he was born and raised. He writes poetry and creative nonfiction, with poetry published in Rejection Letters and creative nonfiction published in Blue Marble Review and forthcoming in Autofocus. While a student at Western Kentucky University, he won an interdepartmental poetry contest judged by writer Erin Slaughter and finished runner-up in the same contest a year later, that time judged by poet Mackenzie Berry. In his free time, he plays disc golf and cherishes his partner whom he plans to marry.

Issue 5 Poetry



Because it’s June and there’s nothing better to do,
we go to the strip mall at the edge of the city.
Someone’s mother drives us; it isn’t mine.
These girls—they’ve got hair blaring red
as a siren; no curfews, boyfriends and rumours
going all the way. I’m fourteen and buttoned in a
blue floral blouse, bespectacled, and a little shy.
Last summer, I tried to die. Which
makes me interesting.
We loiter in the moist heat of the parking lot, calling
lewd things to strangers across the anguished sea
of asphalt, laughing with our whole mouths.
Every part of us gleams: our licked fingers
from caramel Krispy Kreme,
lips glossed cheap cherry. We’re not
that old, but young enough for men—which to know,
is close. We bare our thighs in shorts
like secrets that have hurt us.
Sitting there, impatient, one girl might kiss another,
leaning against a brick wall, giggling, shadows pitting
in the parking lot.
And then there’s me, ever the apprentice
in tenderness and nerve. I’m fasting and picking
pepperoni off dollar pizza slices like skin blemishes
and trying not to complain.
Then, when a man, inevitably, approaches—
we rise like all birds do: flushed and feathered,
heaving against each other as if to escape a fate
we know to fear but can’t name.
& when the sun swells like a blushing bubble, we wander,
snapping Hubba Bubba as street lights pop above us,
offering toothy grins and gossip like they’re
makeshift stars.
The sky gloams. We wait for someone to
wonder where we are, find ourselves
waiting long in the sky’s anguished navy.
I think we like this better, the night falling onto
our shoulders like a warm sweater, the blonde
grasses whispering as we circle and circle
the unclaimed lot—know we’re forgotten and not.
And if we listen hard, before someone comes for us,
some nights our names are called between guitar riffs
on the classical rock station, blasting from rusted cars,
patio bars across the street, songs
we know by heart. Songs
our fathers once sang to our mothers
before they were ours
or anyone’s, ballads that made them believe
it was possible they could, a lifetime, love, be
loved, desperately, like that.


Morouje Sherif is an Egyptian-Canadian writer who adores apricots, verdancy, and temperate climates. Growing up in the Mediterranean, she has a vicarious thrill for feel-good compositions and the traverse of truth. Her work has appeared in the international Minds Shine Bright prize, published in the CONFIDENCE (2022) global anthology, The Poetry Society of UK, The Blue Marble Review, Reedsy Prompts, SOFTBLOW, and elsewhere. Asides from writing, she enjoys judging dubious architecture, the colour sage, and drinking herbal teas on the weekends.

Issue 5 Poetry


The Moment It All Went Wrong

When the name Adam meant person in Hebrew.
When I ate fruit from the Tree of Life and became mortal 
and knew I was not Adam
	to my family.
When the Fairness Doctrine was repealed. Long before the 80s.
When you hit your head.
When I lost the thread in the labyrinth. 
When the light was just the light and nothing more. 
When I forgot to say I’m sorry when I heard
	howling wounded children 
	and sent only prayers.
When my marrow failed the treatment.
When your airplane.
When hope became a four-letter word and war a sporting event.
When winter did not come.
When Sarajevo.
When the Northern Lights went south.
When the price of insulin went north.
When I was hungry and ate you.
When China ate Tibet.
When love did not evolve.
When Vietnam did not come home.
When the boy in the bubble went free.
When you lost your anchor and drifted on the Trade Winds 
	to God’s waiting room.
Cuando mi casa no es su casa.
When breathe when breathe when breathe.


Katherine Leonard grew up as a post-WWII Navy brat traveling to Massachusetts of John F Kennedy at the time of his assassination and the segregation of rural Texas at the time of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination. She continued the pursuit of diverse outlooks with careers as a chemist, a geologist and an oncology nurse/nurse practitioner. She currently lives and writes in the Central New York area and is actively involved in the YMCA’s Downtown Writers Center.

Her writing has been deeply influenced by time spent in New Mexico, Texas and Colorado for space and heat and Vermont and Maine for ice and clarity and by living in Washington, DC for lies and redemption.

Her work has been previously published in literary journals, including Sonora Review, Hole in the Head Review, Speckled Trout Review, FERAL, and Stone Canoe. Her work is upcoming, Allium and the Central Texas Writers Society Anthology

Fiction Issue 5


Astronomical Bodies

In a Bahan nightclub where all the stars take their pants off and scorch the Earth, I felt incredibly lonely in my brown suit. I was small as dust, spilled hydrogen, the kind that has an X for a name—and they were all fire; even craters burn with their potluck pebble soups. So I stayed motionless, in tandem with the Earth burn marks. 

Just then, a red dwarf peered down at me—I shot out a ray of light. You up for a dance? Sure, you saw me. We swayed and glitched and I felt my period decreasing by one in a billion—one in a million—one of a lakh—we were proper dancing.

And mid-delay I beachcombed their body—so many watersheds and they still looked so lorn. I thought watersheds meant water and water meant company, but guess not—what then was the point of joints without muscles? What did turning points do if not refashion pebbles into rivers, wax sand into seas? Hey, I asked, why did you come here? Earth’s belly really was dry, the kind of dryness that cracked soils meant for water. Earth had an open throat was their answer. 

Me? I questioned, and they looked star-dazed—what do you mean? You came here the same way, through the throat, in the belly; we all did. No, I meant—and I didn’t know the point of asking someone the intricacies of my own body—do I have an open throat too?

After a flicker, they replied: I don’t know, you never showed me. Then you? Do you have one? I’m not sure, but I’m lonely

My nuclei almost fused. Yeah—and I was overridden with joy to say this, the sacred phrase—me too. 

We continued dancing—clouds collapsed, dust rose, and I could hear the wind blowing from all the stars that towered us two.


T.R.San (they/them) is a queer writer based in Yangon who writes horror without meaning to. Their work has appeared or is forthcoming in Cobra Milk Magazine, INKSOUNDS, and others.

Fiction Issue 5


The Peeling

Too hot. Her father hasn’t called someone who can fix the air conditioning in his trailer yet. Their city got to 116 degrees yesterday afternoon, ten degrees away from the county’s record-breaking high from eight years ago. According to the purple suit-wearing lady on the news her father watches. The lady who looked like wherever she was, she wasn’t feeling the 116 degrees her glossy lips were talking about.

Or at least not the way she can feel the 116 degrees sitting on a faded black leather couch which the backs of her chafing thighs are stuck to like the butterfly stickers on the bed frame she has in her mother’s apartment. Stickers she put there when she was too young to think and now they won’t come off no matter how hard she pries. Real life butterflies give her goosebumps. She doesn’t like having those black legs above her while she sleeps.

Right now, her mouth is the worst part—makes her think of the desert she watches fly by on the freeway. This dryness is more pressing on her mind than the flicker of movement darting by the kitchen window again, the window that sits over the sink. She’s lost track of how many times she’s seen it through the corner of her left eye. She wishes the window had blinds she could close.

She’s also lost track of how long her father’s been gone to get water, which they’ve been out of since two days ago when her mother dropped her off. Sink water isn’t good here, not clean, says her father. So she made the warm water bottle she had in her backpack last about six hours.

He’s been gone five minutes. Or ten. Or more or less. Her head is too heavy on her shoulders for her to care. 

She thinks she can hear someone calling her name outside except that no one ever calls her the full thing: Soledad. So it can’t be. Sol is what everyone calls her. Even those girls who go to her school and live in the neighborhood next to the trailer park call her Sol. They called her Sol when they chased her last year on her thirteenth birthday because they wanted her to admit she’d stolen one of their pink mechanical pencils. Which she did, but she’s never going to admit it. Not when she can’t even show it off at school. When their hands connected with her back, it was her knees that took the brunt of the fall. That was the same day her father said he got a used pull-out couch so she wouldn’t have to share a bed with him anymore when she came over. Her name, Sol, was a taunt and a sigh that day and today it isn’t here at all. 

Sun is, though. All 116 degrees of it.

Last night she watched her father turn over all the couch cushions. He said he was cleaning. Nothing was cleaner when he put them back. She thinks he was looking for loose change, even though he looked when she was here last month and there was nothing then. There was nothing last night. He taught her to keep track of every penny she has. Maybe she slipped or he slipped because this morning he found some quarters. Didn’t tell her where he found them. Just put them in his pocket and loaded up the truck with two empty five gallon bottles and headed over to that refill place next to the Mexican market they go to. Water Garcia charges 75 cents for a refill of one type of water and a buck-fifty for another. He always gets the first type. She doesn’t get why there’s more than one type of water. 

Water. She’ll drink two glasses of water when he gets back. Maybe even three. Someone whispers Soledad again. That or it’s the dry wind picking up the dry dirt. Her dry mouth. She’ll drink three glasses of water when her father comes back. Maybe even four. She’s so tired. If she lies down, she thinks, she’ll fall asleep but she wants to be awake when the water gets here.

The neckline of her father’s old hole-filled XXL college t-shirt that she’s wearing is sopping wet like the bottoms of her sweaty feet, which stick to the floors that look and feel like plastic. Floors that were white once, she thinks, before she came around. The dry granola she ate for breakfast keeps reminding her it’s still in her stomach. The television is nearly muted but the bright colors of some old The Big Bang Theory episode her father left on are becoming streams, assaulting flashes blending together with whatever keeps flickering between the light coming in through the window. She can hear her own heartbeat. That or it’s someone else’s heartbeat. Her heartbeat shouldn’t be this loud. She can imagine someone else’s heart beating this loudly but not her own.

Soledad, says someone or the dry wind. She rises, watching sweat fog dissipate on the floor with each step she takes. Before her mother dropped her off, she had a glass of orange juice with a piece of Bimbo frosted toast for breakfast. There’s an orange on the kitchen counter and little else that’s edible. It shines when she squints at it and is deceptively soft to the first touch—it takes a special effort to get through the peel with the first stab of her overgrown thumbnail, which her mother keeps saying she’ll cut. She doesn’t know why her mother doesn’t teach her to do it herself. She’s never held a nail clipper in her life.

Sun catches the orange when she presses her ribs against the edge of the sink that catches pieces of peel. She’s not good at peeling so she carves out tiny bit by tiny bit. Halfway through, she glances up and out the window, gaze flitting down before her chest clenches and she looks again. 

Two wide dark eyes are staring at her through the blinds of a window in the trailer across from her father’s. 

Except that there’s never been a trailer across from her father’s. Especially not such a shiny and new trailer. There are never such gleaming trailers in this trailer park. Just normal and then beat-up trailers, the worst of them worse than her father’s trailer with its rusty scratches curving up and down one side of it. The half-free orange falls from her grasp. The gap in the blinds slams shut. She stares. Five minutes pass. Or ten. Or more or less. She would’ve noticed if there was a trailer there when she arrived. Or maybe she wouldn’t have. When her mother pulled up in front of her father’s trailer in the white sedan her family’s had since she can remember, she ran straight inside and started catching him up on the past month. Because she leaves bits out of their thrice-a-week phone calls so she can tell him all of it again in person and still entertain him. 

Too sour—the smell of the orange. Her head is spinning with the acidity in the air when the blinds fold up and fling open all the way. There’s a girl standing there, looking like her stomach is pressing against something, too. Wide eyes and what comes with them: features that alternate uncertainly between harsh and soft even though she’s always had perfect vision and she should be able to tell which one it is. Also unnaturally bright white sleeves, and hair that looks like it’s been combed. Not like the unruly zigzag craft scissor cut hair that earned a murmured Oh, Sol last Christmas Eve before her mother burst into tears and didn’t stop till maybe 2 a.m. They had a loud fight and she’d thought it would be a good way to get back at her mother, because when she was littler her mother seemed to have a lot of fun tying her curls back in tight braids. She wasn’t scolded at all, though, and when winter break was over, practically everyone made fun of the uneven frizz her mother wouldn’t pay for anyone to fix.

The girl in the window holds up an orange and starts peeling. Properly—the way it’s meant to be peeled. A challenge, or something else, but really a challenge in the end. So she digs her spear of a thumbnail back into the messy thing in the sink. Reclaims it. Keeps going tiny bit by tiny bit. Finishes peeling and starts to divide the slices but she’s no good at it and it’s orange mush in her hands, miniature rivers of juice running down her palms and wrists and joining bits of peel under her nails. Her tongue is running all over the juice on her arms before her eyes flicker up and she remembers that there’s someone watching—someone who now has a perfect little slice in one hand, the rest of the imperfect orb surrounded by a hand of manicured fingers. 

She’s punched by that cold feeling that punches her when she thinks she’s been caught cheating on an algebra test or when her friends that are supposed to be her friends leave her out of the conversation or when she’s taken her whining too far and now her father is going to take away TV privileges for the night. When she starts shoving the dripping orange mush into her mouth, she’s thinking about that Friday with her father last month when she lost TV privileges after telling him she’d rather kill herself than mop the floors, so she spent all night sitting outside on the concrete, staring up at a starless inland desert sky until it got dark enough that she started getting scared and retreated inside, where her father’s snoring scared her as she entered. Even though she’s used to his snoring. Even though it’s white noise, like the construction they’re doing by her mother’s apartment, or like the way her parents used to fight until one day they stopped and then her father was telling her that he was moving into the trailer park by her school. That night without TV privileges, the white noise of her father’s snoring scared her so badly she jumped. 

Which she does again, juice all over the tip of her nose and chin after she’s chewed through every bit of the range, when she looks up in search of the girl in the window and sees there’s no one there anymore. She grips the sink so hard her knuckles turn white like the floors used to be, then lets go and stumbles back like she’s been pushed. Though it’s just two or three steps it feels like she’s taken fifty. Her chest has never moved forward and back this fast before. Fast like the way she runs to the trailer door and throws it open, tongue covering every inch of her face it can reach. Sweat and orange. She doesn’t want to waste a drop of the salty-sweet juice and she doesn’t want to let that girl and her perfect little orange slice get away like that. 

Out here the sun is so bright that everything is tinged with a ring of searing white. It’s not till she’s gotten halfway across the strip of concrete separating two rows of trailers that she realizes she’s still barefoot. Her feet are on fire and she thinks it should hurt more than it does so she ignores it. Keeps limping. She stops at the white steps leading up to the white door and she’s reaching out with a hand that feels disconnected from her body when she hears her name again. Over and over: Soledad, Soledad, Soledad. She twists her neck to the side and there’s the girl standing at the end of the trailer row, nearly all the way by the white brick wall that surrounds the park, an anger on that harsh-soft face that shouldn’t be so easily seen from all the way over here. She opens her mouth and tries to speak. What comes out is the click-click-click of a dry mouth. Sharply, the girl turns around on the heel of a white sneaker, knee-length white dress, or what is something like a dress, swaying in the dry wind as it heads toward the wall. 

She runs after the girl or thinks she’s running. It feels like she’s going nowhere and like she’s never run faster in her life. Don’t go, she shouts at the girl, don’t go come back who are you and why. The girl gets smaller and smaller. It must be louder than she’s ever screamed, she thinks, because she doesn’t hear the car engine until it’s right behind her. Until she’s crashing into the brick wall and there’s no girl there with her.

The engine shuts down and when her father’s hand comes down on her shoulder and he says Sol, Sol what are you doing, she’s scratching at the brick that’s as dry as her hands are and as dry as her mouth is. 

Where did you go, I don’t understand, why did you go, Sol shouts at a girl she can’t see anymore. Her father is asking her something, talking to her and trying to get her to turn around. The nail on her left hand’s index finger bends. It hurts. She turns around and in her father’s shadow, a moment’s reprieve from the assailant sun, she closes her eyes and lets herself fall.

Too hot.


Alex Luceli Jiménez is a queer Mexican writer based in Monterey County, California. Her fiction has appeared in Berkeley Fiction Review, Barren Magazine, Southwest Review, Moonflowers & Nightshade: An Anthology of Sapphic Horror, and others. She is currently revising a queer young adult horror novel as part of the WriteHive Mentorship Program. Visit her online at and send her book recommendations on Twitter and Instagram @alexluceli. 

Fiction Issue 5



The imitation Bowie knife, created by hand that is to say handcrafted by the lanky man who wears a stunningly beautiful pink brooch on his collarbone as though it were a military applique.

The knife is going from his hand, he’s throwing it. He’s standing in the doorway of our protagonist’s room and he’s throwing the knife in a very fierce, unforgiving path toward our protagonist who, so far, has no name.

There was a man. He had two legs although not all men have two legs. This man loved coffee very very much, especially all day long, even late at night he could not sleep without a cup of coffee. If he didn’t get his coffee he would get a big headache. …The man wore a blue shirt, even though blue was not his favorite color, because he found an entire box full of sturdy blue shirts for a really exceptional price at the Goodwill store.

The knife is taking forever to fly through the air so it can embed itself in the shoulder blade of our protagonist whom we will soon give a name, let’s call him Caspian.

Caspian is a man with a developmental disability. He has several guardian angels with bad breath. Halitosis in varying degrees of severity permanently dwells in the mouths of his seven guardian angels. …Harold is one of the most nerdy of the guardian angels: he was gargling when Caspian was under attack by the tall lanky man wearing a pink brooch, to whom I have referred to either before, during, or after this paragraph.

This man, Caspian Alders, is a big admirer of the surrealist Manifesto of Andre Breton. Even so his culture demands he write realism. He is standing in his room. He lives in a room with green…w- w- walls in a house with a lot of other people. …Please do not say anything in this story that is not related to realism.

His coffee cup is round, it has a handle; this large red coffee cup is made of happy yet stubborn porcelain just like most other coffee cups of this era. Caspian could not find the coffee cup he really wanted so he bought the closest thing and then he painted a yellow splotch onto the side of the coffee cup because he loves the color yellow.

Once the imitation Bowie knife embedded itself in Caspian’s shoulder, he fled because of the sharp robust pain. This lightning-high degree of pain was born, screaming and blood-wet through the force of the knife; very few people think that a knife has the force to knock you over but the combination of the force of the knife—because the tall man with the pink brooch was quite muscular, quite forceful, he had been a boxer…he had been a weightlifter, he had been a fry cook, and he had been a waiter although he didn’t like being a waiter. The man with blue eyes, that tall, lanky man who threw the knife, had a very clean mouth because his brother-in-law was an insatiable dentist who demanded that everybody in his sphere of influence have super white, super clean, super flossed, super brushed teeth, and that they gurgle-y-gurgle constantly.

The knife went through Caspian’s shoulder blade with such force that it cracked the bone. Blood was surprisingly quick to respond, gushing out of his back, more gushing out of the front of wound, both back and front, quite efficiently ruining his blue shirt, forcing him to the ground as though he’d been hit by a car. Caspian fell in the worst way, his head against the corner of his desk. He died instantly.

Please remember this story must have a protagonist, hence our Caspian Alders, and it must have what else?

There was a tree out in Caspian’s yard.

So if Caspian is dead, who is the protagonist of the story? Is the story over? Does Caspian’s brother Napoleon decide to come by two days after Caspian was killed…quite into the floor of his room in the Board and Care home? Or did Napoleon’s half-sister Ruby, unrelated to Caspian in a complicated way, decide to come by and give him his favorite pastrami sandwich only to find him dead on the floor with blood and blood?

Our Napoleon was sad; he looked down at the dashboard of his 1961 Chevy Impala and simply cried while sitting in the driver’s seat of his red Impala for the loss of his dear brother Caspian. Ruby as it turns out was in the trunk of his car tied up. Napoleon and his sister Ruby had a big fight and Napoleon had had enough and what is a brother supposed to do to teach his sister a lesson? Is Napoleon the man who threw the knife at Caspian? Could it be possible Caspian’s death was a family feud?

And what about our guardian angels? I have dispatched a team of dentists and halitosis experts to hang with the guardian angels to clean up their act so they can be part of the story. I have made it very clear and I have even therefore demanded that if the guardian angels don’t clean up a little bit: wash up, take a shower, brush their teeth, shave, get haircuts, dye their hair, maybe put on their Hollywood makeup. Otherwise they cannot participate in this story.

Napoleon was jealous of Caspian because Caspian, with his developmental disability, was given a certain amount of favoritism both by their mother through lots of affection and by their father who left a higher percentage of money to Caspian for his care for the rest of his life than he did to his two relatives: Napoleon and remember the sister Ruby who is oddly unrelated to Caspian?

Do we dare introduce an old boring trope in which Napoleon had a twin brother who was adopted out to a different family…? That brother whose name was Benito as in Benito Mussolini (let’s not be too obvious)…yet we must—at the very least tangentially—let’s please be very obvious because people nowadays (really people nowadays?)…want hints, people want and need “obvious”…people want realism.

Caspian’s last thoughts as he bled out were beautiful. He didn’t see a white light but he did see yellow. He saw the yellow arches of McDonald’s and dreamed of having an extra helping of fries. Caspian was just three days away from finally getting his passport to time travel, but three days is still three days and because of this knife attack, he died completely.

The people who managed the group home where Caspian Alders had happily lived…and all the other residents of the group home, had never actually had somebody die so completely before this. People were very curious, sad, and interested…Several people had to call their parole officers, their therapists, their case workers, because of the shock. A lot of police cars responded to the actual death which was ruled a murder even before he got to the M.E.’s office. Caspian, may he rest in peace, is not an angel, he’s a dead body; there is a whole stadium full of maggots who saw the murder. How and why is that possible, since Mr. Alderson was killed inside, the Board and Care, not out back in these gentle serene woods, where he might have laid decomposing…for weeks, for…nonetheless, the maggots—yes, denied a delicious meal—are clapping and appreciating his body.


Marc Isaac Potter (they/them) is a differently-abled writer living in the SF Bay Area. Marc’s interests include blogging by email and Zen. They have been published in Fiery Scribe Review, Feral A Journal of Poetry and Art, Poetic Sun Poetry, and Provenance Journal. Twitter is @marcisaacpotter.

Fiction Issue 5



Just here, said the five-and-a-half-year-old, standing barefoot under the apple tree. He was matter-of-fact, same as when he told me what cereal he’d like for breakfast or the book he wanted to read at bedtime. Only now he was talking about where to bury our dead golden retriever, whose body was growing stiff and unwieldy in my arms.

I laid it on the lawn, glad of having directions to follow—a plan to enact. The child nodded his approval and said, where is the spade? His knowledge of how to deal with dead things would have been surprising were it not for what happened to the ducklings.

His school had a pond behind it where, every year, in March or April, a duck arrived to rear her young. The headteacher told us this proudly at the open day six months before the children were due to start. Like having some ducks there for a few weeks every year would matter to the parents as much as the outstanding Ofsted reports, or the middle school’s newly built science labs.

When the duck showed up with her babies, the primary school classes began taking turns to go out to see them in the mornings. Throw seed for them. Notice their downy feathers growing sleek and dark. Watch them paddling further from their mother, out from amongst the rushes and into the glinting black water. 

On Miss Woolf’s class’s third visit to the pond, they couldn’t see the ducklings. They were not on the pond or huddled at its edge, a quivering mass of feathered bodies. 

One of the children made a sound and pointed across the water. A scattering of black and brown feathers lay on the pond’s far side. The class approached and saw what had been obscured in the long grass. Mangled duckling bodies. Just pieces of bodies, really. A shattered beak, a torn wing. Sinew draped across foliage. Blood soaked into earth. 

A bird of prey, perhaps, was responsible. Or a fox. But why would an animal leave its prey like that—to fester? The parents and teachers could only speculate. The mother duck wasn’t there anymore, alive or dead. They supposed she flew off, having no reason to stay now that her babies were all gone.

The children stood and watched as the caretaker, a bald-headed man, adored for his impersonations of various teachers, appeared with a shovel and dug a hole in the lawn. He gathered up what he could of the ducklings and buried them under two feet of earth.

Some parents complained afterwards—why hadn’t the kids been taken back inside? Why were they made witness to this grisly spectacle?

At assembly the next day, the headteacher wore all black and played a recording of “Abide With Me” on the stereo. Some parents complained about that too. Because what had Christianity to do with anything? 

This had all happened months ago. Still, the child instructed me at every step.

  1. Dig a deep hole. 
  2. Lay the lifeless thing inside. 
  3. Cover it with earth.
  4. Scatter over daisies picked from between cracks in the patio paving stones.
  5. Stand silent over the grave: a minute (at least).
  6. Throw away the remaining dog food, no longer needed. 
  7. Clean up the remains (blonde hairs scattered on the kitchen floor.)

When bedtime came, he skipped happily up the stairs and asked me to sing “When the Saints Go Marching In” to him, which I did. When I stopped and pulled his constellation-covered duvet up to his chin, he asked me to start again.

It’s late, go to sleep, I said and kissed his peach-soft cheek. Before I closed the bedroom door I turned and said, hearing my voice crack: we will miss Rufus, won’t we? 

The five-and-a-half-year-old’s eyes were already closed. Without opening them he replied: we will see him again in the spring.


Emma Raymond is a writer, editor and curator from London, now living in Scotland. She completed a Master’s degree in the history of books and enjoys vegan baking, playing the piano and running.

Issue 5 Visual Art




“Lanternfly” and “Tomatoes” are both linocuts that I made in 2021. The former was a potential logo for a zine-anthology of ecopoetics I helped design in a class on poetry and print culture; the latter was a gift for my grandfather, who has taught me how to care for the plants around me. Lately, I’ve tried to experiment freely with techniques and media rather than obsessing over making my art “perfect.” This comes across in the rough textures and imperfections of the prints. I’ve found, overall, that experimentation has allowed me to grow much more.

These pieces also make me think about questions of imperfection in an environmental sense. Spotted lanternflies are highly invasive in the US, first introduced to Pennsylvania in 2014. Meanwhile, tomatoes, native to South and Central America, are grown widely across the world, but are not considered “invasive” because they do not spread beyond where humans plant them. Invasiveness, therefore, is measured by the utility of the introduced species and the perceived threat to the ecosystem. It is undeniable that invasive species and diseases often have catastrophic effects on native life; Hawai’i has suffered an incredible number of extinctions due to Western colonialism, for example. But dialogue about invasive plants and animals in the US often fails to acknowledge that species from North America are invasive in Asia, Africa, and Europe, and some non-native species actually benefit our environment. This raises questions about how such black-and-white binaries of “good” and “bad,” “native” and “invasive,” shape our politics, cultures, histories, and languages, and how we might reframe them to become more nuanced. While my art doesn’t explicitly deal with those issues here, I think getting to know the plants and animals around us can teach us a lot about the world in general.

Quinn Gruber


Quinn Gruber is a poet, artist, scholar, and translator from New York that finds endless joy in little things like leaves, doodles, and tiny doors that go nowhere. Their art and writing has appeared in DoubleSpeak, Q-INE, and Equilibria, and they’ve published short reviews in Jacket2. Most recently, they had the good fortune to present at this year’s International James Joyce Foundation symposium on Joyce’s challenging of nineteenth-century degeneracy theory and ableism in Ulysses. They’re currently working on a translation of Italian poet Margherita Guidacci’s The Sand and the Angel and figuring out their next steps after university.

You can tip Quinn on Venmo: @QuinnGr

Issue 5 Visual Art


Woven Rocks

My work focuses on the relationship between learning, scientific exploration, love, and understanding. Through my work, I aim to explore histories of storytelling, art, and science as the means by which we understand the natural world. This piece is based on the decimation of eels in the Shannon river basin and how their loss will impact our understanding and relationship with nature. As someone who grew up within a stone’s throw of the river, these creatures are as much a part of my life as the air itself. In the face of collective mourning of culture and people at the death of a species that has preceded them and shaped our world, does our curiosity and love of the world continue to hold meaning? ‘Woven Rocks’ is part of a series of handwoven wool pieces. These pieces map sedimentary changes, water levels, and eel migration patterns in the Shannon river in recent years. Drawing on images of eels through their life cycle, our attempts to map out and understand their behavior and the ecosystem of the rivers they inhabit.

Ellen Harrold


Ellen Harrold is an artist focused on the human connection to science and nature. She is currently completing a masters degree in Art, Science, and Visual thinking at Dundee University and has recieved a bachelors degree in Fine Art from IADT in Dublin. A core aspect of her practice is the use of painting, drawing, text, and textiles to explore the connection between conscious mind and our understanding of the world around us. At the moment she is focused on how scientific understanding was, and continues to be understood through the lens of art and storytelling. She has taken part in IADT student shows such as New Translations in IMMA (2019), On Show in IADT (2022) and Propositions in IADT (2022).

You can tip Ellen on PayPal: @elliebelle2015