Sun Fungus

I haven’t said my skin is ash. I hyperpigment where the band of my sports bra rests, where a racer back runs rigid between my blades, where my favorite strand of pearls wants to lay. I sliver tiny shavings of my skin where these polka-dots amass. I fragment, and I flake, but I fold myself in scarves and sweatshirts so nobody sees.

I haven’t said this collects on every person’s skin, just better on mine. It appreciates the four hours every weekday I spend outside, where it can absorb the hot, humid air. It appreciates that I sweat when I work out, that I moisten it, that I quench its thirst. It appreciates that I supply it with neighbors too—like asthma and celiac. Yes, this appreciates me.

I haven’t said my skin is scales. Fine scales. Pale scales. Pink scales. In the shower, when I exercise, after sunlight. My flesh courses itself into rigid plates. On my back, they look like uneven roof tiles arranged in concentric layers. Patches overlap from head toward toe. Between freckles, they sink their uneven edges like teeth into my ribcage. They indent and project and flex and multiply, and multiply, and multiply.

I haven’t said Malassezia furfur. Since this inhabits my skin, it will return. Since this can’t leave, I can only hope the pale pigment patches on my right shoulder and the russet spots on my spine blend with my natural Band-Aid colored tone. Since I can’t seem to shake this species that shadows me, I’ll keep itching.

I haven’t said my skin is rash. I apply lotion, shampoo, cream, foam, soap. I want to control this, to keep it from growing. Over-the-counter, prescription, topical, homeopathic, breathable, non-greasy, hypoallergenic, who cares. This is here to stay.


by Ruth Towne


Ruth Towne is an emerging author from Southern Maine. The Literary Yard recently featured her piece “Four Passages” on their website, and Blotterature published her short “This Is More Than Homesickness” in their Winter 2015 issue. She currently studies Professional Writing and Information Design but loves creative writing. When she is not working, she loves to visit her family’s camp and explore the New England woods.

Fourteen Years Before

A straightened line of cold rounded

sand still manifests itself in a

circular formation of lost

privileges and guarded chances,

falling, tumbling, surrounded in a

broken mist of past ignorance, sealed

by hot assurances of  desire  and want,

hidden by incremental degrees  of solitude

and hope.


by Joseph Buehler


Joseph Buehler lives in northern Georgia with his wife Trish. He has published three short stories in the “Kansas Magazine” and a short story in the “Canadian Forum” long ago and three poems in “Bumble Jacket Miscellany” and a poem in “Defenestration” in December 2011 and have an upcoming poem in the spring/summer 2012 “Common Ground Review” and poems in “Theodate”, “Mad Swirl”, “Indiana Voice Journal” and other places.

As Young

and green and fresh as a cucumber pickle,

sharp in the mouth, and soft green too,

soft and new as the sweater you bought me,

holding me young.


As young as love, a humble sip,

the smallest sip of warm green tea,

grounded like gymnasts learning to stick

fast to the landing.


As young as a flock of parakeets,

chattering green, holding us up

to the air, clumsy blunders of green,

dashed into shivers.


As young as green in the eyes of a cat,

the eyes of a cat eternity’s green,

what we take with us after we’ve shed

what’s left of our thunder.


by Gwen Jensen


Birthright, Gwendolyn Jensen’s first book of poems, was published in 2011. Her second book, As If Toward Beauty, was released in 2014. The print and online journals where her poems and translations have appeared include The Comstock Review, Harvard Review, Salamander, and Stickman Review.


This blood is a waltz at dawn.

A soul splinters on the ground,

a thousand red vessels smashing


to pieces. The doctors take pictures

instead of putting it back together.

A human soul—the honeysuckle


leaking out. The janitor comes

instead, leaking capillaries brushed

away beneath a Bauhaus mop.


by Ruohan Miao


Ruohan Miao lives in Arizona. Her work can be found in Cicada, Aerie International, Cargoes, and Navigating the Maze. When not writing, she can be found marveling at the vastness of space.

Rochelle Shapiro

The Dying Sister


You fell in slo-mo like a mimosa petal caught in a small breeze, sprawling, nearly soundless, on our parents’ speckled linoleum. I, five years younger, didn’t know you held your breath to make yourself faint. I didn’t know you’d whittled yourself down to taut skin over sharp bones by spitting meals into your napkin. I cried because I thought you had the “C” like Aunt Ceil. When you slept until 4:00 p.m. and Mother put a mirror to your parted lips, I never expected breath. Those “slashes” on your wrists, grazes that didn’t need stitches, healed to pearly stripes.

Black widow spider, you wove us all into your worry-web, yet went on to outlive a husband and three live-in men. How old were you when you first fell in love with death?

Somewhere I remember you and me leaping from your twin bed to mine, the bottoms of our nightgowns ballooning, your chestnut hair flying up from your shoulders. You, airborne, born of air. We had to grip your arms to stop you from throwing yourself into Father’s open grave.

When a doctor would tell you to see a psychologist, you’d switch your doctor. I changed my phone number, returned your letters unopened. Then Mother would say, “But she’s your sister.” I would phone, and soon your silky thread would begin to spool itself around me.

Hatching your latest death, you bought a mobile home in a trailer park smack inside a hurricane belt. I startle at loud noises, as if your house had just blown here from Florida and thunked down in my yard.

Last night I dreamed you were laid out in a coffin on palest blue satin, your hair in tendrils on the lace-edged pillow. Dry-eyed, I felt myself take full breaths.


by Rochelle Shapiro



Eating With Ghosts


Here I am, eating with my son, daughter, husband,

reminding myself to chew, to not cup my hand

at the rim of my plate to shelter my food,

as if my dead father could reach for it again.

In Russia, he sucked on bark, even stones.


Here I am, asking everyone about their day,

leaving some food on my plate

to please my mother’s ghost.

“This way you won’t get broad in the beam.”

Her hand pinches the small fleshy roll

at the waistband of her girdle.


At night, when everyone is in bed,

you can find me in the dark kitchen,

bending into the open fridge,

the glow of its cold bulb,

eating leftovers with my fingers,

choking on unchewed food.

Shh, don’t tell.


by Rochelle Shapiro


Rochelle’s novel, Miriam The Medium (Simon & Schuster, 2004), was nominated for the Harold U. Ribelow Award. Her short story collection What I Wish You’d Told Me (Shebooks, 2014) is just out in audio. She’s published essays in NYT (Lives) and Newsweek-My Turn. Her poetry, short stories, and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in many literary magazines such as The Iowa Review, The Doctor TJ Eckleberg Review, Stone Path Review, Santa Fe Literary Review, Stand, Inkwell Magazine, Amarillo Bay, Poet Lore, Crack the Spine, Compass Rose, Controlled Burn, The Griffin, Los Angeles Review, Reunion: The Dallas Review, The MacGuffin, Memoir And, Moment, Negative Capability, The Louisville Review, Amoskeag, Pennsylvania English, Rio Grande Review, RiverSedge, Peregrine, Gulf Coast, Existere, Passager, and Willow Review. Her poetry has been nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize, and I won the Branden Memorial Literary Award from Negative Capability. Currently, she teaches writing at UCLA Extension.

Ann Robinson

Notes To Myself

When you are an American in a Middle Eastern country,

do not walk alone;

your bare arms will betray you,

your sandals become stone.


Walk lightly;

the shadows behind you are not yours.

Anyone can change in the blink of an eye.


When in another country,

do not fall in love with a countryman.

It is your children who will love you least:

your sons who watch you with knives.


When you travel by bus through the mountains,

the roads seem always upward;

only the brightness of children pulls you along.


When I tell you this,

I am shaking the travel dust from my body;

I know it is the edge where you thrive.


Do not go there, just as I have done.

Even in my own country,

it is the past I live on.



When Water Leaves Us

What fool marches upward for streams,

thirst made from the dimmest of dreams?

They labored up the small hill,

buckets knee-high:

Jack, shirtless and chilled,

Jill, narrow and strong.


The well was cracked and dry.

Vines ran through the stone and earth;

famished roots mined deeper into the ground.

The lad tumbled down,

the lass soon after.


They lay in the shadow of the sky,

their bodies made of clouds and doubt.

They were young enough for hope.


The buckets stood on top of the hill—

an empty sound.

Who knows the secrets of rain

from a make-believe sky?

Who knows when they will fall again?


by Ann Robinson


Ann Robinson’s work is forthcoming or has appeared in American Literary Review, Atlanta Review, Coachella Review, Chagrin River Review, Compass Rose, Connecticut Review, Crack the Spine, Diverse Voices Quarterly, The GW Review, Fourteen Hills, Freshwater, Hiram Poetry Review, Inscape, Jelly Bucket, Natural Bridge, New York Quarterly, Nimrod International Journal, Passager, Poet Lore, The Portland Review, RiverSedge, Sanskrit, Schuylkill Valley Journal, Serving House Journal, Spoon River Poetry Review, Storyscape, Streetlight Magazine, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Weave Magazine, Whistling Shade, Willow Review, and Zone 3, among others. Her book of poetry, Stone Window, was published by Bark for Me Publications in 2014.  She has been the recipient of the John Spaemer Award for Outstanding Fiction, a Marin Arts Council grant, a Pushcart nomination, and a scholarship to study at a Hofstra University conference.

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