I am six almost seven when the twister comes do you see it do you see it my brother asks it must be as far away as dickinson or fargo the hill we live on gives a view of the flat land and on it this afternoon with the sky gone gray as night this twister is a manic marauder a cone-shaped thing aladdin’s angry genie unleashed will it take us I ask you’re such a scaredy cat my brother says but he doesn’t realize I’m not really afraid he sleeps downstairs and can’t hear their fights mom’s muffled shrieks her squeals mirror glass shattering atop their dresser pipe or fist hitting the wall going through it on the other side of mine my little indian warrior clock with its big brown eyes coming free of its nail breaking off one pony tail when it hits the floor and bounces dead as I always knew hate you hate you I hate you she screams and so he hits her my father does hits or slaps I’m leaving you you’re a monster oh yeah I’ll show you a monster last night was the worst every evening is bad but last night the floor shook bombs exploded I expected smoke expected flames to burn their room to cinders but breakfast came and mom was at the stove frying flapjacks wearing a headscarf and jackie o sunglasses smoking silent as a hollow log saying stop your gawking and eat go on you let it get cold and I’ll whoop you sure as satan and now in the distance the cyclone is swiveling its smoke hips and I imagine it sucking up barns and buildings and houses with screaming children and astonished parents milk cows and chickens hogs farms being rolled up like rugs the moss place folger’s farm chicory square all of them slurped up that massive funnel of dirt while I wait our turn kenny says we better get downstairs come on you stupid turd I shake him off fine go ahead and die see if I care he might mean it he might know more than I think there the twister jerks pivots like a spastic ballet dancer made of dust moving through smolinski’s plot swiveling mowing pulverizing breaking things apart wherever it finds them a motorcycle comes flying this way hurled a mile through space like a chrome asteroid this is it this is it this is deliverance this is god acting saying I’ve heard your prayers this is his wrath that I’ve read about only at the bottom of bell street where the coolie sits the twister veers east without warning east east why east I’ve been waiting my whole life my short life willing eager to give it up and there you go god there you go you do not exist don’t tell me any more lies there you go no different than the gray ghost vapors my mother blows out of her nose when she smokes mom dad and me the fight between three maybe not tonight but tomorrow tomorrow the twister will reappear a different cyclone but just as savage and cruel and it might finally be the one that takes me the one that ends it all.
As Far as the Dog
only ever try to grasp love
as far as the dog
tries to bite the bicycle tire,
guided by the instinct
that the spokes could
tear out his fangs
Isak Bond is a teacher living in Phoenix. He placed his education as a poet in the public eye with The Sacred Spontaneity of Nakedness a few years back. He is easily recognized by the fact that his eyes are both on one side of his face, like a flounder. Or a Picasso. He is reading a poet a week and blogging about it at sempervirens. He appreciates you very much.
On the night our moon rose red,
my phone lit up,
my girlfriends sharing where they watch:
beside the ocean, from a driveway,
on the east-facing patio of a steak joint.
We know some things. The quickening
in our bodies, abundance, life
streaming through us and out,
the rich flow of crimson blood.
The moon, it isn’t just a light fixture,
an oddity in the sky.
We are full and engorged,
voracious for food, for love,
for the rising and falling tide.
This is not the icy water of my youth,
this warm amniotic ocean I swim in today,
Weightless and strong I dive into a wave,
my head down, forward, then rising,
up toward the sun, the way my daughter
did on the day she was born,
the way we animals emerge from our fluid world.
If only I could remember how
to breathe water.
A current pulls me farther
out to sea, I lose touch with earth.
Water covered us before,
will cover us again.
I float freely in this first world.
Later I will climb the stairs to take a shower
though I will never be this clean again.
Pam Davenport lives in the Sonoran Desert and recently finished her MFA in creative writing at Pacific University in Oregon. Her poems have appeared in The Gila River Review and The Porter Gulch Review. She has poems forthcoming in Bared (an anthology on bras and breasts), The Avalon Literary Review, Snapdragon, andRougarou.
Sunday, Across Our Distances
The day of Blue Laws, of darkened window storefronts and locked doors, of wine and beer and spirits banished from shopping carts. The day of waking long past church services we don’t attend, but watch the clean, sunny families flood the diner in good shoes and collared shirts and floral tea-length dresses. We don’t always notice them as we sip our coffee and stare at each other, watching the time tick by on the other’s face, a calculation of how long before it’s 6:00, when we’ll carry a heavy bag back to the trunk of a car. We don’t always wake hungover, needing greasy eggs, tabasco, abundant ice water to start our day, but when we do, it’s glorious; the night before spent analyzing bad TV, wolfing down take out, talking so late in the night that birds begin to chirp, despite the still-darkness. Sunday afternoon, an hour always reserved for hiccupping living room crying, demure driveway crying, the delirious joy of the other’s simple existence crying – all of which we insisted years ago we would somehow stop ourselves from doing, that we, surely by now, would have outgrown, or grown used to. Sunday morning, the moment upon waking when we silently assess if we should have gone to bed sooner so as to have woken earlier, to lengthen this already-abridged day that ends at Sunday afternoon, which we are sometimes lucky enough to see all the way through to the lavender dusk we catch sight of in our rearview mirror.
Lisa Mangini holds an MFA from Southern Connecticut State University. She is the author of Bird Watching at the End of the World, a full-length collection of poetry, as well as four chapbooks of poetry and prose. Her newest release, Ambivalent Nymph, will be available from Five Oaks Press in Spring of 2016. She is the Founding Editor ofPaper Nautilus, and a Lecturer at Penn State University. lisamangini.wordpress.com/
We're snorting fluorescent goo from fireflies on the roof of the rink. I'd been driving the Zamboni since midnight. The ice is fresh and glowing. I blow blistered fingers. Fog obscures the blue line. A yellow school bus careens toward the parking lot on a patch of black ice. White kids with hockey bags and sticks marching with the energy of fire ants. Fathers juggling Styrofoam cups, mothers' camouflaged muffin tops beneath mink coats. Camel smoke swirls from mittens. Lipstick glimmers on Marlboro butts in the slush in front of the entrance.
These people are animals.
We don't play hockey. They call us niggers behind our backs. We can't fit out skates over our sneakers. Our parents are zombie crackheads. The Zamboni is my slave-ship. Our great-great-grandchildren are captains of spaceships.
Ashley smuggles fireflies in her North Face. Ashley's a white girl. She breeds them. Her Daddy brews bathtub gin in his Homer Simpson boxer shorts. We'd been smoking bed bugs all winter. Eyeballing vodka and orange juice. Ashley shimmers, spun by cumulonimbus, fingers inside, ladybugs behind bloodshot eyeballs.
Morons swagger from their locker rooms. I consider somersaulting from the roof of the rink. A cannonball into a mound of lipsticked butts.
They have filters: the hockey players. Never say shit to our faces. We're the seeds of base-heads. Our ancestors hung from trees. I can feel my pulse inside Ashley. Yesterday's bunk. I got busted jacking fluorescent butt plugs. They'll print my face in the local newspaper tonight. Embarrassed by what the cashier might think—I'll take it up the butt from the whole town.
I peel glow-in-the-dark condoms from my wallet and burn rubbers in the Zamboni garage. Can't be identified by these expiration dates. Bubba's sharpening skates. You can hear sparks flying from the blades. Mothers with rabbit fur coats sucking hazelnut coffee through porcelain veneers. Ashley on her iPhone at the edge of the splintered bleachers. Parents screaming obscenities. Juvenile delinquents skating with purple veins. Men wrestling the obstinate scoreboard, lacing Starbucks cappuccinos with whiskey.
Racists dig me from the snowbank. Monsters never make love inside an igloo. They yank my hairy legs and make a wish. My vertebra is broken. The ice is glowing. My groin tears. I'm bleeding fluorescent snot into fresh snow.
Matthew Dexter is an American author living in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. His fiction has been published in hundreds of literary journals and dozens of anthologies. He writes abhorrent freelance pieces for exorbitant amounts of pesos to pay the bills while drinking cervezas in paradise with tourists. He is the author of the novel The Ritalin Orgy. His second novel, third novel, debut memoir, and debut story collection are forthcoming. @matthewbdexter
Driving on the opposite side of the road
you’re too high to drive but you’re not.
Sweeping dumb minutes instinctual
etched into August dark concrete
push of afterbirth, smooth sliding
along the perfect curve of 51,
Camry locked into brain.
I don’t remember east morning moon setting
Over Dreamy Draw, Phoenix preserve,
There’s no streetlights East of the highway,
darkness was voted on.
Glint of the road, the car
crash site hung moon
glowing ocotillo crag
winking lights, tinfoil, smoke
tv set built on location.
You know it was a UFO.
Kasie Henderson is a fifth generation Phoenix native and a first generation Portland resident. She attends Reed College, where she will graduate in the spring with an English degree and a thesis that explores different kinds of space (but not the "outer" kind, generally) in modern and contemporary poetry. She loves to write outside, under the sun with sunscreen and a coconut La Croix. Kasie is rather judicious in matters of social media, but she was encouraged to increase her “presence” by making a Twitter for such an occasion: @k_n_henderson.
Lara moved her island one handful at a time. She started with the beach. It was warm as summer clouds. Her hands were sand-sore. She took chunks of grassy hollows and tree tops, and sat them on the sea. When she’d put the island back together, she watched for ships and land. But she saw only waves.
Every day, the island travelled an arm’s stretch. She wanted to find the way to the water’s edge. She guessed the ocean’s size in whale shadows and storm echoes. At dusk, she tried to see city shapes in winds and clouds.
Years passed. She didn’t find land. One day, she used the island pieces as stepping stones; she thought she could travel faster. She tiptoed over sea beasts. Fish nibbled the tree tops. Birds bathed in sand-patches. As the other pieces drifted away on the tides, she stood on the last bit of island and watched the waves.
Rebecca Harrison sneezes like Donald Duck and can be summoned by a cake signal in the sky. Her best friend is a dog who can count. Through the WoMentoring Project, she was chosen by Kirsty Logan as her mentee. Rebecca’s been nominated for Best of the Net, and was a finalist in the first Wyvern Lit flash fiction contest. Her stories can also be read at Rose Red Review, Maudlin House, Luna Station Quarterly, and elsewhere.
Hole in a Wall
Daniel Brian Jones
If you look out at a field through the space in between two fenceposts or maybe through a hole in a wall, it's easy to tell which of the things within vision is the field and which is the wall, where you are. You can see the field running the length of your scope and on the outermost sides you can see the grain of the wood of the fencepost or the wall's plaster, depending on where you are. The field might look smaller than the area where you are, behind the fence or in the hole in the wall. If you look at the field for a time, you might start to feel that the dark around you behind the fence or in the wall is bigger than the field. It is after all behind you and beside you, the field only in front of you. And there is so much dark and only so much field. So much dark to be certain of. The whole world is standing behind you in the dark and only a simple field before you in the light.
I was born in another hemisphere.
I was born in the whirl of pollen
and sweating limbs.
I live as a child of the cold,
of mottled leaves.
These truths are tectonic plates
rubbing inside me,
shrieking like split ceramic.
Valentina Cano is a student of classical singing who spends whatever free time she has either reading or writing. Her works have appeared in numerous publications and her poetry has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Web. Her debut novel The Rose Master was published in 2014 and was called a "strong and satisfying effort" by Publishers Weekly.
Haydn Cooper—an Arizona State University art education student—contributed all of the groovy artwork to our second issue. We recently sat down for a chat mediated by the glowing screens of our computers. Below, Scott gabs about his love of Nicole Samorì, Montana acrylic markers, and eggs. You can check out more of his work on Instagram @hay_haydn and here.
Spilled Milk: You work in a variety of mediums (from printmaking to painting to photography). Is there an element of art you enjoy working with most? Why?
Haydn Cooper: Oh man, lately I’ve been digging Montana acrylic markers with the thick tips for sketching and doodling out these cute, plump, lil blub guys. My favorite medium rotates every month or so —I’d be really into pencil for a short while and then notice I can get some solid blacks with pen, so I’ll start to do a lot more of that. Though I think the transitions are inspired by elements that stand out to me in art I see on Instagram or Tumblr.
SM: What risks have you taken to get where you are?
HC: To be honest, I do as much as I can to not take risks, I’m a pretty safe and hesitant fella, generally. Except when I ride my bike, I should be using my brakes more often. Though I want to take more risks and put myself out to the public more often, such as creating more politically charged work.
SM: You seem to enjoy portraiture. Do you have a favorite facial feature? Personally, we’re terrified of noses. Eyebrows are fun to use in stories, though. So expressive.
HC: Ooo, it would probably be the nose or the neck. The neck is one of those features that our eyes just glance over if done right and it’s always really cool to see the varied shapes and lines our necks make. The neck can add a whole dimension of volume to a portrait by showing how the head is interacting with the body, and how that person is interacting with their environment.
SM: What inspires you? Generally or, like, at this very moment; what are you obsessed with?
HC: Favorite artist at the moment: Nicole Samorì. If you don’t know of his work, stop what are you doing here and please look up his work right now. And subject matter wise, I have been obsessed with these little plump fellas that you can see on my Instagram.
SM: A few weeks ago, you illustrated a series of breakfast food items. Personally, as a human being who probably consumes some form of morning sustenance, what is your favorite breakfast food item? Why?
HC: Shameless plug, but any of the breakfast provisions Lux! Their egg sandwich is my definition of the bomb. Their egg bake is also really good. They have some of the heartiest food in Phoenix and $2 unlimited refill coffee. I love anything that uses eggs and has coffee on the side.