Personality Overdrafting

By Changming Yuan

Born with a deformed heart muscle
You are as timid, introvert and cowardly
As a little quiet chick, but all your life
You have been trying to play tough, forcing
Yourself to be tough-minded, tough-bodied
Like an iron fighter rooster in the legend
Until now your worsening ischemia
Drives you into your old premature selfhood
With cardio neurosis, trembling, all
Thanks to a tenant, a sociopath, a rattlesnake
More evil than Satan, whose greatest joy
Is to destroy you as a petty landlord
Of a rental property full of foreign words


By Richard King Perkins II

It was my brother who first discovered
the body of a hobo who got Macked
by a midnight truck and who found
the bloated little boy face-down
in the community pool.

He was even there when they pulled
twenty-nine diced pieces of rotting
human flesh from a neighborhood
trash can, an event hushed up by
the local papers.

I swear God is always smiling down on
my little brother while I sit at home
reading books which mandate
a thousand deaths per chapter,
waiting for Jesus to grin and die
in front of me and for my brother
to confess it’s more than just providence
which guides him.

Eyeballing the Abattoir

By Ian Mullins

Wondering what’s going down
at The Egg, I imagine pushing
through a purple-painted door
to a cool clean air of peppers and eggs

pondering what they do
with all the eyeballs at the abattoir;
do they pop them in their mouths
and suck them like cherries,
or grind them to paste
and sell them as glue?

But at The Egg
there are only breadcrumbs
on the tables, cous-cous and saliva
and air so quiet and clean
you can look from the window
and believe the city
is a warm-cut potato sharpened with dill,
the table you chose is a dry metal spoon
there is bark at your back
and grass at your fingertips:

so when work-hours
chop me into pastrami salami
a dry, a mean, a tasteless meat,

I steal my eyes
from the mouths that cut, that cull
render me into fat

and wonder
what’s goin’ down
at The Egg.

By Andrew M. Feathers

his bath towel hanging on its rack, limp
& bone dry & dusty like a summer
undershirt out of that attic box
marked “warm weather clothes”

he wants to (has to) get it wet, really
wet with breathing sweat, or wash-water
whatever just wet & twisted up stiff &
whipping it, rat-tailing it ‘til it snaps
like an empty mouse-trap

like a rubber band the full length of his
arm: FWAP! SNAP! in the kitchen
in the back there right now, in front
of the restaurant manager & chefs & hot
cast iron skillets & stoves just

SNAP! his swinging, soggy, wound-tight
towel, off the waitress’ black curve-
cupping dress-casual work pants, in the back,
maybe in the walk-in cooler or something,
someplace ballsy where he is

reminded he’s there, guts & wetness
& blood & pumping through him
like a fresh pot of red java, warm
enough to hold & warm enough to drink

100 Watts

By Jason Hardung

Yesterday I read that a person at rest generates as much heat as a 100 watt light bulb. We are all lamps. We are all easy bake ovens. It takes us hours to bake a cake by heart beat and blood alone. I wanted to be a something more, a god, a million watt deity, at least. Maybe a bolt of lightning, lazy but powerful, exposing the horizon in half-seconds across a Blood Meridian sky. Unlike my dad who after working sixteen hours a day on the railroad just wanted to nap on the couch in his underwear. At a certain point providing food is more important than illuminating the world with unsolicited wisdom. One time while playing Madden 95 he said, “It’s harder to get in the NFL than to be a god.” I took him up on his challenge but I could never break eight seconds in the 40 yard dash, I wasn’t coordinated enough to run through old tires on a green field in autumn. I took up poetry instead. I want people to feel my heat before it escapes my corpse on summer day, the room vibrating of flies, sun shining through the window like nothing is wrong. All this thinking has turned me into a small candle. It’s dark outside and the wind blows, but I am warm and I understand metaphors. I’m not really made of wax, my head really isn’t on fire.

By Karl Koweski

since Brian’s life ended
beneath the steel wheels
of a diesel truck
on route sixty seven
two miles outside town,
I’ve heard this bullshit platitude
a hundred times
from a hundred people
who needed to believe it
more than I
needed to hear it

when it’s your time to go,
it’s your time to go

who can argue with that logic?

these empty words
must offer some sort of comfort
to those who don’t wish
to consider the infinite
choices and coincidences
which led Brian to be
on that stretch of road
at that exact moment
in the path of a truck
with a blown tire

when it’s your time to go,
it’s your time to go

this sentiment offered no solace
to the man mashed
into the Honda’s upholstery,
left leg torn off at the hip,
chest crushed, lungs perforated,
left eyeball dislodged
with the force of the impact
and still enough life left
to hear the encouraging words
from the first responder

if he had washed dishes
before he left the house
his vision wouldn’t be
fading out to the sight
of pebbled glass strewn
across the floorboards
like blood diamonds
as he struggled for air
his broken body no longer
held a place for

he could have turned
down any street
he could have driven through
the last yellow light

it was his time to go

according to the people
who haven’t went yet

America in 4013

By Donal Mahoney

Is that lava or simply mud
dripping from the cheeks
of this old woman asking me
why this library has no books.
I ask her where she’s been
for the last 2000 years.
Under a rock? In some cave?
After all, the year is 4013

and now the only book extant
is the Bible and the only copy
of the Bible is in Rome where
a few monks older than she is
sit in catacombs all day
copying pages of it

onto yellow foolscap, hoping
to create another Bible
no one will read, as was the case,
I’m told, when dusty Bibles
were in almost every home
and computers were a luxury.

But then I soften up because
I can see this woman was born
without a cell phone in her ear.
I tell her if she wants to read
something wonderful online,
as soon as a computer comes free

I’ll call her even though she has
no cell phone in her ear.
First, however, she must show
a number, not a name,
tattooed above her navel,
the only form of identification
accepted in America in 4013.