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.

the things she wants

By Caterina Lazzara

She wants to write some kind of clever paradoxical symbolic self-referential bullshit that smashes through the fourth and fifth and sixth walls and uses too many pronouns.

She wants to be that girl who implies things about herself but never lets on whether they’re true so you end up watching her and wondering if she could really be that crazy.

She wants to hate that girl, she really does—because that girl acts like nothing is worth her time, like she knows more about the world than you’ll ever know about her and she doesn’t give a damn about you—but she’s just jealous, so jealous she paints her nails green and red and green again.

She wants to run a marathon, not for the marathon itself but for the movement, the knowing she is running toward you and away from you but never with you because that would imply some kind of correlation, some kind of understanding she will never have with a you or an anybody.

She wants to be a martyr and a slut and a suicide, and that is not a lie, but none of those people would fit into her skin and none of them would let her refer to herself in the third person, so she’ll just shut up and watch the girl who’s watching her and wonder what exactly it takes to be larger than life.

She wants to be able to look at the door and say the door is red because she’s upset and it’s cold in here because she’s alone and the blinds are yellow when she thinks deeply about things because her mother used to wear a yellow dress when she went out, because she remembers the leaving and the clacking of those blue high-heeled shoes as she walked out the red door in the yellow dress, because that feeling of leaving and being left is all she ever thinks about anymore.

She wants to watch this mirror talk about the way she talks—how the things she says imply that she has issues with taking herself and her past seriously, so she’s likely in denial somehow—but she just finds herself watching her reflection breathe and wondering if she has somehow managed to become crazier than legitimate crazy people.

She wants to be a mystery and a lost cause and that weird girl with issues because that would write her three damn novels of worth your time, but her nails are painted for Christmas and the marathon is over and the door is white and the heels are gone and she burned the yellow dress, and what she was planning to say before you walked out on her was I’ve never really wanted anything, to tell you the truth.

The Wednesday Song

By L Wayne Russell

OK It’s Wednesday morning
my daughter and son are at it
again like cats and dogs, fire and
ice, heaven and hell…

I think to myself, “When will this end?”
Will we all be able to look back in
some reflection episode of our lives
someday (like they do on T.V.) and
laugh about it all?

My wife is ready for work, she darts out
the door, like a shot fired from some
high powered rifle, gone in a twinkling
of an eye.

My tween daughter is admiring her beauty
in the mirror again. I suppose that she has
a hard day of Summer vacation ahead,
painting her nails, reading books, and
morphing into the woman that she someday
soon shall be. YIKES!

My son and I depart to the bus stop,
only to smell the rancid odor of M.J.
he doesn’t know what it is and doesn’t
bother asking, he knows this town smells
bad anyway.

By Dan Nielsen

for Sam Kinison

Climbing stairs is a way to lose weight,
But when I get back down—
I’ve gained it again!

The raccoon situation
Became intolerable when—
It let the air out of my tires!

She sent me a text message
With my name in parenthesis—
Knowing I’m claustrophobic!

Butter, which was originally intended
As a lubricant for anal sex—
Is sometimes used for food!

I said something terrible to her
And then I hit her on the head with a hammer—
Hoping to cause temporary amnesia!

Temporary amnesia can last for up to five years
At which point it is considered to be—
Regular amnesia!

I am in tune with my plants,
So when I eat potato chips—
I give them extra water!

I was trying to remember what I was doing
When it occurred to me that—
I don’t know what I’m doing!

Trying to describe an airplane to a bird
Is like trying to describe a submarine—
To a fish!

When I look at clouds all I can see
Are vaginas and penises—
Because I’m bi-sexual!

When salamander eggs begin to hatch
The first male is named—

If cars were made of Styrofoam
The worst thing about a crash would be—
The annoying sound!

I was born at midnight on New Years’ Eve
And my dad was drunk and wearing—
A funny hat!

Everyone cheered, and through the window
I saw thousands of people—
And they were cheering, too!

I said,
What’s going on!?!”